Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Wisdom Hunter

Please excuse me while I vent for a moment. The US Post Office has been having major financial trouble. They are looking at closing offices and maybe even canceling Saturday deliveries. My hometown office has stopped sorting its own mail and sends it to another facility, supposedly saving $60,000 a year. I appreciate them looking for ways of saving money. As much as I like getting mail on Saturday, I can live without it. Even raising the price of stamps annually makes a bit of sense, especially when you throw in the forever stamps option.

Explain this to me: a couple of weeks ago, I was dropping a bunch of packages off at the post office to be shipped. Mom and I list on eBay and print off our own labels at home, so at the post office, we just put them on the counter and leave. Before I had a chance to go this time, the counterperson informed me that the one package I had that was media mail (books, DVDs, and CDs) was going to be inspected. I had to pick Mia up from school, so I told her to go ahead and inspect it and just send it back if they found something wrong in it (this after ten minutes of her searching the office in vain for the complete instructions, the line growing longer behind me by the minute). She said that all media mail packages will be inspected to make sure that no one is shipping anything other than the specified items.

So while the post office is running in the red and closing offices, they are going to be wasting their employees' time and our tax money searching envelopes to ensure that nobody is shipping a CD-Rom instead of a CD (seriously!). I get that there are probably people abusing the system, because media mail is the cheapest rate, but is it really time and money efficient to slow down the already lethargic postal service by searching millions of packages?

To add to my frustration, yesterday when I was shipping some international packages, the counterperson (a different one) informed me that she would let it slide this time, but in the future, I would have to weigh every single item in an international package and note its individual weight on the customs form. Why is it vital for them to know the individual weight of each of the thirteen books I am shipping to a woman in England? She explained it was because of security reasons, to ensure that no one was shipping possibly dangerous items. How exactly is knowing the weight of an item going to stop it from being shipped? And is some poor customs worker going to have to personally read every line on every single form that goes through? No wonder the post office is hemorrhaging money! Instead of getting compliance, what they are going to do is stop people like Mom and I from shipping internationally with the USPS and if it's too expensive with other companies to stop shipping overseas altogether. I can't be the only one who is so frustrated by the constant restrictions that I'm willing to surrender, and that can't be good for their bottom line.

I'm stepping off the soapbox now. Thanks for listening!

Wisdom Hunter
by Randall Arthur is a thought provoking look at legalism within the Christian church and having a true relationship with God. Pastor Jason Faircloth has been praying with absolute surety for 516 days that God will return his runaway daughter, Hannah, to him, she will repent of her rebellion, and he will forgive her. When he instead receives a phone call on Christmas that she has been killed in a car accident, leaving behind a granddaughter, Renee, he will never know because the father wants nothing to do with him. In the wake of her death, Jason's wife accuses him of Hannah's murder and wills herself to die as well. With both of them gone, he questions his faith in God and the faith that he's been teaching the congregants at his church for the last fifteen years. He abandons the church and his old faith, heading off into a new world to discover what it really means to love the Lord and with the everpresent hope of finding Renee. Initially published in 1993, this book ruffled some feathers with its presentation of legalism within the American church, and it's still relevant today. I had a difficult time truly relating to Jason; he went from hardline Pharisee to accidental drug smuggler and escapee from jail. Some of the story seemed a bit far-fetched, but once it settled down in Norway, I enjoyed Jason and his faith, although his almost stalker-esque pursuit of Corinna seemed unusual. There are some rough spots in the writing. The dialogue and descriptions could use a little polish, but the story still has a powerful message that needs to be heard in today's climate of moral relativism on one side and us vs them mentality on the other.

Thank you to Random House for providing me with a copy of this book!


Christy--Southern Sassy Girl said...

I swap a lot of books on PBS and BookMooch, and I had a package of books arrive to me yesterday that was stamped "Inspected by USPS." When I mentioned the inspection to the shipper, she advised me that Wisconsin and Michigan both are inspecting media mail packages. That was a first for me as a receiver, but it would've annoyed me to no end if the books had somehow fallen out of the package (it has happened to me before) b/c the PO didn't rewrap the package well enough after opening it.

I certainly agree with your frustrations, and jump up on the soapbox with you. :o) I wouldn't mind terribly if I didn't get a Saturday delivery either, if that would save money...I already don't get my mail until the middle of the afternoon anyway during the week.

Enjoyed your review, too. I have an older copy of that book on my shelf...seems like it's been released with a new cover this time. :o)