21 March 2010

Tea Time

I am reading Stones into Schools, by Greg Mortenson. I am doing this, in large part, because I read Three Cups of Tea by the same author. Those of you who have read Three Cups of Tea will, I think, identify. Reading more about Mortenson's project is practically mandatory.

Let me start by saying that I do not suffer overblown, preachy, self-serving, pompous diatribes against humanity with the best of will. I become twitchy when I think that writers are offering all problems and no solutions, puffing themselves up as the ONE good man/woman with the ONE good idea. I hate books that lecture - nay scold - me. We readers, I think, are decently aware of some of the big issues and certainly concerned.


Mortenson, bless him, commits none of these offenses. He asks little (and I hope receives much) of us. He does an enormously important small thing and has the great good grace to see miracles in doing the well-placed, well-defined, and limited "something." He builds schools from stones. Schools to educate all children (boys AND girls), children in far remote places. Places, by the way, that we assume hate Americans. Places that don't hate Greg Mortenson and his multinational staff. His basic goodness and the goodness of his mission have prevailed, as love must.

Here's the fun part - these books are truly exciting stories. There are fascinating and admirable characters, harrowing escapes, mortal danger, intrigue, humor, negotiation, politics, in short, all the elements of a good cliff-hanger. You can feel the piety of reading a book about giving and still get the thrill of an action-packed adventure! (Sort of the literary equivalent of chocolate multivitamins.)

So read! Enjoy! It's good for you. (And it's good!)

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