20 years of friendship…

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The start of ‘Relay’ training.

The start of a year out programme that was fairly impossible to explain to anyone, um, a year of discipleship, helping CU’s in universities, helping people learn about God, encouraging students, reading the Bible with people, drinking tea and being generally lovely to students in Chichester and Bognor Regis, getting to meet up with other people doing the same thing a few times in the year. Working with a ‘staff worker’. People either stared at me blankly or smiled in a vague encouraging way. Kath is going to do something for God. Sounds ok.

This was our first time together. Relay 1. The first of three training conferences.

I sat in talks.

I sang the words, ‘your majesty, I can but bow, I lay my all before you now’. I felt entirely me, that this thing, this encouraging people thing, was what I had been made to do. I felt alive. 

The first evening.

Sent into a room after a talk on integrity to be honest with a few others, to pray, to start a journey together of talking about how we were really, deep inside.

Anna and Sarah. Anna showed us pictures of her new nephew. Sarah had an actual proper mobile phone contract, the first person I knew to have Orange everyday 50, she used it to talk to her fiance, James, each night. I would be working with Sarah in the year, she in Portsmouth, me in Chichester. Anna would be in Exeter.

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Anna and Sarah. I have no idea what we talked about on that first night but from then the expectation was set. We met up on team days and conferences throughout the year, thrown together in a room late at night to pray. The weirdness of being the only people we knew who fully understood this strange program we were part of drew us together. The wonder of being able to be honest and call out to our God together bound us tight. My sisters.

The end of the year- Relay 3.

The final talk. Where would we be in 10 years time? Would we still be telling tales of God’s work in our lives? Would we still be in touch with anyone from this formative year?

We determined that we would carry on praying together.

We’d been through something. We needed each other’s understanding of this year to process and move forward. We needed each other’s tender gaze and the simple question ‘how are you?’ We needed each others understanding that we meant the answer to be much deeper than the ‘I’m fine’ automated response.

We said, we’ll do it, we’ll keep on showing up and giving our lives over to our Maker together.

And we did. Through weddings, moves to London, moves back home, starting new things, doing the same old thing, journalism courses, knowing the next step, not knowing anything, through tears and pain, through joys and wonder, through cancer, through the darkest days, through a funeral, through the forming of new lives, through miscarriage, through finding partners to walk this life with, through more weddings, through childbirth again and again and again, through job changes, sickness, through the plodding on, through the seasons of our lives, we stuck together.

To say I am thankful for these two amazing ladies and the life we have shared over the last 20 years is an understatement. I don’t know how I would have ridden the storms of life without them, I am honoured to have shared in riding some of their storms with them.

I cannot express the wonder of friendships over the years, of people who know me inside out and have seen me throughout the changing seasons of life. I love these two sisters of mine. I’m so glad to know them and to know that we have a few more years in us to finally get a photo of the three of us where we all look good.

Anna and Sarah, I never had sisters, until I met you. Here’s to the next 20 years of journeying through this crazy wonderful life with God thing.

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Books I’ve read, the May-July edition.

Phoebe – Paula Gooder

A story based on the life of Phoebe from the letters of Paul. It’s a lovely imaginative piece which helped bring colour to the life of the early church and made me ponder all over again what it must have been like to be part of this crazy movement of people trying to take seriously the words of Jesus and start a whole new way of living. I think we often get so preoccupied with the minutia of how we are living as Christians, stuck in our tribal ways of acting, that it was refreshing to take a step back and look at a bigger picture. Paula draws us into the world of people eating and living together and trying to work out as best they could what Paul and Peter were on about when they wrote them letters about life with Jesus.

Searching for Sunday- Rachel Held Evans.

A beautiful manifesto for what the church could and probably should be. A bunch of weirdos trying to love and connect with each other because of the One who loves us and holds us together. Worth a read if you’ve ever struggled with church (I can’t imagine there are many who haven’t…). It’s a book that gave me hope again to persevere with the rather odd reality of church.

She says things like this: “The church offers death and resurrection. The church offers the messy, inconvenient, gut-wrenching, never-ending work of healing and reconciliation. The church offers grace”. 

And this: “But the gospel doesn’t need a coalition devoted to keeping the wrong people out. It needs a family of sinners, saved by grace, committed to tearing down the walls, throwing open the doors, and shouting, “Welcome! There’s bread and wine. Come eat with us and talk.” This isn’t a kingdom for the worthy; it’s a kingdom for the hungry.”

Her early death seems all the more untimely and hideous when she wrote such refreshing welcoming words, that gave hope to so many people on the margins of this Christian thing.

Middle England – Jonathan Coe

I love Jonathan Coe books, he seems to have an almost prophetic insight into what the ‘English’ mindset is like. This one is the third in a series following a group of friends from the 70s to the present day. It’s a fairly depressing read considering the political landscape we now inhabit but one with an interesting social commentary on our times.

The Outrun- Amy Liptrot

A beautiful book about a recovering alcoholic returning to the Orkney Islands where she grew up. Nature, the sea and living a more simple life all aid her recovery. Wonderful for her honesty, descriptions of the natural world and the sense of hope she leaves the reader with at the end. I loved seeing a life redeemed and the confidence of someone breaking away from most of the social norms we take for granted.

Being Christian- Rowan Williams

A pretty good little book of reflections on baptism, prayer, the Bible and communion. It left me feeling hopeful that there is a space for me in this being Christian thing and enjoying the breadth of people’s experiences of what it means to be Christian.

The Salt Path- Raynor Winn

Another redemption through the natural world memoir book. Two people suddenly have everything ‘secure’ in this world taken away from them and are left homeless, one with fairly debilitating health issues. They decide to set off on the South West Coast Path and see how far they get on £40 a week, sleeping in a tent on the side of the path. I got properly itchy feet after reading this one. It’s a beautiful read and asks pretty big questions about how close we all are to the edge of what we expect life to give us.

The Core of the Sun- Johanna Sinisalo

Because everyone needs a slightly odd dystopian scary world where women are trained to be fluffy and stupid, their only purpose to attract a mate, and men can pretty much do whatever they want with them. Throw in a few female outliers, an addiction to chili, some major chili dealers, then follow a female and male who don’t fit into the social norms as they try and get out to freedom and you’ve got a pretty good read.

The Clockmakers Daughter- Kate Morton

Another one of those books she writes so well, two or three different timelines woven together in a mysterious story across the centuries. Pretty engaging to read.

Trials of Morrigan Crow- Jessica Townsend

Billed to me as the next Harry Potter I eagerly jumped through this one. It’s pretty good, an interesting, different take on a lot of themes popular in YA fiction. Other worlds, magical happenings, trials of one sort and another, a main character learning a new way of looking at the world around her and who she assumes she is. I’m looking forward to seeing where this series goes.

Spiritual Direction- Sue Pickering.

Last year I decided that really all I want to do with my time is become a Spiritual Director operating from a campervan. I have the van, all I need now is the qualification to be a Spiritual Director. For those who aren’t aware, Spiritual Directors are people who are trained in the art of coming alongside others in their journey of faith, providing space for people to notice where God might be, where they might be in relation to God and to be a nurturing place for people to pay attention to the divine in their life. Someone to provide companionship, to walk alongside you for a bit of the journey. They aren’t counselors, not psychotherapists or mentors but occupy a space to help you think through life in relation to God. I’m going to be starting a training course in October in London to be a Spiritual Director and reading this book was super helpful in that discernment process. It’s a brilliant book for anyone to read as it covers so much ground in thinking through how we listen to God, how we hear the Divine presence in our lives, how we can listen to others, what stuff we bring to the table and how we can work through that in our interactions with others. It made me want to pay attention all over again to the presence of God in the midst of everyday life and be listening out to what God might be up to. She says things like this:

“As we, and our directees, begin to develop an awareness that God can be found in the midst of ordinary routines, and as we realise that any aspect of daily life can be used to aid reflection and connection with God, life becomes a real adventure. We become aware of the unexpected moments through which the Holy Spirit may touch and teach us, using the most common symbols or the simplest events.”

End of the World Running Club- Adrian J Walker

More depressing dystopian stuff. A fascinating insight into our society at the moment and a very honest main character who isn’t all that sympathetic but as he runs towards being reunited with his family through an England ravaged by meteor explosions he grew on me. Worth a read if you like that kind of stuff.

The Day the World Came to Town-Jim Defede

Story upon story of the week following 9/11 when 38 planes were grounded in Gander, Newfoundland as American airspace was shut down. Fascinating, heartwarming, humbling, inspiring, the superlatives don’t really do this true story justice. It was written a couple of years after the events and contains some of the stories told in the musical ‘Come from Away’, but also loads of other stories as well.

Where the Crawdad’s Sing- Delia Owens

The most beautiful book I’ve read all year. The story of Kya, a girl who lives out on the Marshes in the south of America. It’s so wonderfully written, is such a tender story, is full of the wonder of the natural world and had me in tears many times. Get it now.

Normal People- Sally Rooney

I gave this a go having hated ‘Conversations with Friends’ when I read it at the beginning of the year. The characters in this are slightly more sympathetic but I still just didn’t get it. It felt cold at times, written well but with nothing I could relate to. I think that was probably the problem, there was just a disconnect that I’m struggling to articulate. Maybe me and Sally just aren’t destined to get on. Ah well. It’s just that everyone seems to tell me that we should.

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The term is over. The holiday has begun…

I’m feeling in the mood for a roundup of our times. It is the last day of term. Tomorrow we drive up to the Lake District for the start of the holidays and a return to my favourite place in the world.

Mostly we are in good shape. I’ve packed the van thanks to an excellent friend taking son2 off for the morning. The heat is making me very sleepy and I’m looking forward to finally being able to stop thinking about packing and get on the road in the morning.

We’ve been rolling along life for the last few weeks, undulating up and down, nothing too major, nothing too minor. Here are some of the highlights:

We’ve been loving our new van, combining the car and old van into one multi purpose van was the best plan. It’s a great layout inside and works well as a weekly transporter or longer get away vehicle. She’s called Hope because I want to lean into the reality that I can dare to hope in this world and not just sit and feel overwhelmed by circumstances.

I’ve come to the end of a block of counselling recently, it’s been a great journey of reaching into the past, not being scared of it anymore. I’m owning the affects it’s had but also enjoying it not defining who I am now. I’ve been working on loving my inner critic so she doesn’t need to beat me up anymore and enjoying the unfathomable reality that I am enough. It’s been a good journey and I think I have much to work through moving forward. I recommend counselling. Go get yourself some time to process life.

I’ve applied and got onto a course to train to be a Spiritual Director. Starting in October I’ll be heading to London every Tuesday evening to ponder how to walk with people through this journey of faith thing. One day faithinavan will be a reality and I’ll be offering Spiritual Direction from a camper van. I’ve loved reading Sue Pickering’s book about Spiritual Direction and the joy of finding something I think I was made for.

Somehow in the midst of all of that we appear to be coming to the end of the preschool years. Son2 starts reception in September. I have all the feelings. I feel somewhat unready for the changes. I have the feeling of having learnt how to have babies, toddlers and small people and now having to learn a new set of skills. (If you have read Quentin Blake’s Zagazo you’ll know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t go get it now!).

Aside from that. I think really I am ready. Ready for some new adventures with the time freed up. Ready to guide the small ones through the new stuff they will face. Ready to enjoy them and delight in them over the summer. Ready for books, hugs, baking, laughing, exploring, cycling, scooting, parks, wide open outside spaces and the beach. Ready for the fights and the making up and all the ups and downs of small boys finding their way through this world.

On Wednesday I sat in a park having a picnic with an Arrdvark Music group, we haven’t been to a session for about a year but Arrdvarks music was one of the pillers to keep me sane in the tiny people years. Songs of New York City life, songs about bagels, taxis and big old trees. Songs that didn’t want to make me poke myself in the eye like the nursery rhymes of old. We sang along and it felt fitting to end son2s preschool years with one last group. I looked around and knew I didn’t fit anymore. My boys are growing up. Life is changing and that’s really all ok. We are moving into the next stage and this summer will mark the transition. I’m looking forward to more chilled times with the boys and trying to remember the good moments when they are trying to kill each other.

And so we are off for some fun in the van. I’m going to clear my phone of social media and emails and just use it for music, maps and staring at the weather for the best day to head to the lovely Buttermere, my physical place of most joy in this world. I’m going to attempt to enjoy the simplicity of one place, one set of people, one focus for a week. See you on the flip side.

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Finding God in ‘Come From Away’

Life is hard. For many of us. Life is a long hard slog. Recently I’ve felt like I’ve been drowning in the dark, just surviving until the end of each day. There has, however, been a thread of light which is getting me through these times. Without fail, I think I have listened to the soundtrack from the musical ‘Come From Away’ everyday in the last four weeks since we saw it. This musical tells of the 38 planes which were grounded in Gander, Newfoundland, in the week following 9/11. It tells so many stories from that week of how the locals cared for the ‘come from aways’ and many incredible stories from people on those flights and how they coped with life against the backdrop of such a hideous moment in history. I am in love with this musical because it is so full of human hope and dignity. In a time where the worst of humanity was on display, the best was also able to shine.

I can’t stop listening to the lives of the people caught up in these events. One song is dedicated to telling the story of the first female American Airline Captain who just happened to be flying one of the planes. The real life pilot has watched the musical over 60 times in awe of the way her part in history has been honoured night after night. I’ve watched everything I can on YouTube about this musical and been astounded by the way it’s brought together the actors and their real counterparts.

I love that this story has been told again and again and again. I love that hope is being shouted loud from the rooftops and that hospitality is being honoured as a way of bringing light in this world.

I love the powerful sense of identity that comes across in the community of Newfoundlanders. The refrain ‘I am an islander’ plays loud and strong in the opening song ‘Welcome to the Rock’. The rest of the musical unfolds and expands on what it means to be an islander, to welcome the ones who have come from away, to always keep the light burning for those who have left and to let all know that the door is open and the kettle is on.

To the ones who’ve left
You’re never truly gone
A candle’s in the window
And the kettle’s always on

When the sun is coming up
And the world has come ashore
If you’re hoping for a harbour
Then you’ll find an open door

(From ‘Welcome to the Rock’)

It’s here that I choke up the most. Because. You know. You have to know where I’m going with this. It is not a hard leap to see that this story of hospitality and harbour echoes loud and long the story of the hospitality and harbour of the Maker of this world.

I love this musical because it has become, for me, a profound symbol of God in this world, a profound statement of the God who always leaves the light burning. Who always welcomes the ones who have come from away, who always has a fireplace to come and sit around.

The other week we sat in church and Dave our pastor asked us to imagine God with us, to imagine enjoying God. I wasn’t really in a place where I wanted to enjoy anything but I closed my eyes and tried. Something new came to mind. I’m pretty sure it was influenced by this musical entrenched in my soul. It was of an old fisherman’s cottage on the shore of an island. It was an image of a darkening sky, an open door full of light, a fireplace glowing, 4 chairs around it, three figures in the room.  They were the ones, the ones who’ve walked this life with me, a couple of them turned to me in welcome, the other put the kettle on and all smiled that knowing smile of ‘Kath, dearheart, we’ve been waiting for you, come and sit with us a while.’

God in their personhood. God in their welcome. God in their trinity relationship dance of knowing warmth. God whom I could enjoy. God my harbour and open door. God my friend, my counsel, my smile of knowing, my safety.

There is hope. Walking around with us. My soul may be storm battered and bruised but I will always have a harbour. There is hope. There is a presence with us in the storm, a light that will not go out and an unseen reality I can no more deny than the air I breathe.

Now to figure out how I can preach on this in a few weeks time when I’ve been given free rein of talking about anything 🙂

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What makes a ‘safe place’?

I’ve been wondering recently what we mean by a ‘safe place’. I’ve heard this applied to places either online, our church and various other communities. These spaces are described as ‘safe’ and I’m wondering what is meant by that. 

This train of thought was sparked when I went to L’abri for a weekend with a friend back in May. For those of you who don’t know what L’abri is, it’s hard to explain. Their website is here. That might help. Briefly, they are an intentional community set up to help people explore the nature of truth and to find their creator God as they question what the heck this life is about. 

There is a monastic quality to life in the community with space set aside for work, study, creativity, prayer, play, tea drinking and discussion of big questions about life the universe and everything. They run on a termly basis with students coming for either whole terms or a few weeks/days. Onsite live a host of workers who help with the day to day running of the place and help to guide the students through their thoughts. It’s an interesting place to hang out. 

I hung out there a fair bit back in my days of working as a student worker for UCCF. Back then it felt like a super ‘safe place’ to explore my huge doubts and questions about this faith thing. I learnt there to enjoy the vast complicated space between the question and the answer and to soak in the wonderful creativity of our Maker. 

I hadn’t been back since the arrival of small people in my world and stepping back into the Manor House,where L’abri England is based, felt like returning home. I breathed in deep of the air of community life.

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(Small geek moment: It might sound odd but the place I love most at L’abri is the rota board, the clear rhythm of days laid out, who is doing what obvious for all to see. I love a sense of peaceful order. Anyways. It was good to be back.)

As I walked around through, I noticed some jarring elements. The library was full of books of my past. Books that triggered fears of exclusion, of being judged for my lack of exact theological framework, books that I feared because their counterparts weren’t there. The well argued other side of debates felt missing. I worried that my greater ease with the expansive nature of faith wouldn’t be welcome. 

I started wondering whether friends would find this a safe space and then started questioning what on earth was a safe space anyway. The next 24 hours gave me some ideas.

I chatted with one of the workers, still there from when I last came. As we chatted I had the profound sense that here was someone who wanted to know me beyond where my theological framework (whatever on earth that means) was at that moment. Here was someone who was interested in me as a person. What I believed was fairly secondary to the connection as human beings. I found this again in the lunchtime discussions, with 10 or so people around a table chatting about a big idea. As the hours unfolded I felt again that this was a different kind of safe space. A space between question and answer. A space where firstly it matters that you are a human being rather than a set of ideas. A place where disagreement can happen and there are always more questions and space for questions rather than a shutting down with the ‘correct’ answer. 

L’abri is a place that is searching for Truth so it’s going to lean more towards finding some answers, but, it seemed to me, a safe place to explore and be ok with disagreement because of this constant desire to treat people with dignity and worth. It isn’t a space where everyone agrees all the time and I wonder if this kind of  safe space is more realistic than my desire to have a safe space sprung from things we all have in common. Those kind of safe spaces, the ones born out of the rush of finding people who seem to agree with you on everything, can very easily can disintegrate into an ‘unsafe place’ when you change your mind and think things outside the tribal norms. 

(Should safe place have quote marks around it? I can’t decide…)

Anyway.

Maybe in our tribal world we should seek these kind of wider safe spaces, ones where different ideas aren’t stamped on. Places where we can treat each other as humans, before treating each other based on our set of ideas about a subject. I think it’s a bit like Brene Brown’s vision in Braving the Wilderness (Well worth a read). She argues for listening, for not devaluing people, for not forgetting that all those around us are just that, people to try to understand and love. 

Maybe it’s about not seeing people as ‘other’ but to seek to see each other as image bearers of the divine. To ask questions. To love through the differences. To be safe spaces for each other because we treat each other carefully and with kindness in the differences. 

Here’s hoping you can treat me like that and I can treat you like that. That we can push through the instant buzz of seemingly connecting with people who think exactly the same as us to the deeper work of understanding why we think differently and finding a deeper connection born of love. 

In any chat about what we think and believe let’s edge closely to the patience, kindness, gentleness, compassion, mercy and grace of our Creator in their insanely patient dealing with humans throughout the mess of history. (It comforts me immensely to know no one has ever in the whole of time got this God thing totally figured out) 

Let me know what you reckon. Is any of this achievable? 

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The yearly post remembering why I carry on blogging…

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I keep saying internally and externally that I’m a writer, that writing is part of my DNA. Whilst talking to a friend at the weekend we agreed that maybe it was time to do a bit of old fashioned blogging, the kind of riffing off a subject to get it straight in your head or to note it down for a future self or just to have fun expressing yourself. Often we get caught in the trappings of what will people think? Am I writing anything important or significant enough? Those thoughts often crush the creative process in me. I write for the joy of writing and to know I am not alone. That’s why I connect to other people’s writing, this sense and spark of connection, to know I am not alone.

That’s what good music does, that’s what a well articulated thought does, that’s what words telling it slant through poetry do, that’s what communal expressions of human experience do. They reach through the things which divide us and dive deep to find the stuff we have in common, the reassurance that in life we are not alone. With enough voices out here getting to the heart of the stuff which makes us human, we might just be able to reach the deep connection points that raise our souls to wonder and rejoicing in this world.

At this point I wonder if it’s an impossible goal. The stuff that divides us seems much stronger than the commonality of being on this earth with skin and bones. As one of those God botherer types I can see some way through this mess to the wonder of us all being different, and then that difference being a cause of celebration, not something to put us in trenches far away from each other. We bear the divine mark, we are image bearers. We have incredible dignity and worth and there is SO much that we can celebrate in each other before we express our different takes on the world.

Celebrating the divine image in each other might also lead to listening and learning from each other, from not treating each other with shame when we change our views on things, from asking questions and discovering the wonder of the person in front of us. Celebrating the divine image in each other might just lead us in the ways of love.

Er. I have no idea how we got there from the desire to blog again. But anyways.

My conclusion is,

I still want to write.

I want to create and express my thoughts, and then maybe have a chat about them, and then maybe come to a different point of view.

Scrap that, I want to blog because then people might adore me and think I’m a fantastic writer.

Scrap that, I must blog because it helps me process my thoughts.

Whatever the motivation, I want to write, to plough through the fears of what people will think and work this muscle which helps me so much in ordering and processing life. Glad you could be along for the ride…

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What I’ve been reading: Feb-April

I really thought this year would be different and I’d manage to maintain my excellent January rate of reading. Lots of things have got in the way and I find myself once more out of the reading habit. I’m hoping that by writing these notes down I’ll remember that I love reading and just do it some more. Here, as ever, in no particular order are the books I’ve read over the last 3 months.

Michelle Obama- Becoming. 

This is definitely one of those which is going to be high on the best reads of the year. I loved reading about this very driven compassionate woman and her journey through life. As much as I hate to admit it, I did get more interested once she and Barak got into the White House (it’s just so fascinating seeing how people deal with living at that high level of being known and watched all the time). I read it whilst we were in America for a week and felt fairly overwhelmed by the need to live a good life, to make a difference in the place we live in, to care about the systems around us. Being me I haven’t really translated that into much action but it did stir me to want to make more of a mark on this world and get involved in making life better for the people around me. It also made me pretty proud of the projects our church runs seeking to do just that.

Let Me Lie- Claire Mackintosh

Another one of those suspense novels, pretty good for a flight and engaging enough to wonder what’s going on and being marginally surprised at the ending.

Shadow Doctor- Adrian Plass. 

This is one of the most opaque books I’ve ever read by him. It felt like a story about the agonies of ministry, of pastoral work, of the complexities of actually being Jesus to people in their lives. I think I need to read it again to really understand what’s going on it. It felt incomplete and I think that was the point. Anyone fancy reading it with me and chatting about it over a pint?

The Sin of Certainty- Peter Enns

This book felt like a breath of fresh air. His basic premise seems to be that God desires our trust rather than our ‘correct’ beliefs. I loved it. Having joined, and now working for, a church from a very different tribe of Christian faith than I’ve been used to, I’ve become really aware of the shibboleths we all hold, regardless of the tribes we belong to. I’m tired of people talking about the right answers to massive complex issues as if we all have to ascribe to the right set of beliefs before we are ok in God’s eyes. Peter Enns points out that God is much more mysterious than we give God credit for, that we are called to trust rather than working everything out. After all no-one in 2000 and more years has really got this God thing all tied up and sorted. God seems to be ok with that (or the narrow road really is incredibly narrow). I would rather spend the rest of my life living in relationship with God, learning to trust rather than learning all the ‘right’ answers to all the issues surrounding this faith thing. That’s just me though. A book which made me breathe deep and love God all over again. I’m not sure you can argue with that too much…

The Bible Tells Me So- Peter Enns. 

Another one along a similar vein as above (yep he’s one of those writers that really only has one idea and says it in a very eloquent way) and made me want to read the Bible again. Another win.

(It should be noted that these are two books about God written by a man. I’m not sure I’ve read many of those in the last 6 or so years, but he’s pretty good. I realised I love him because he writes like the women authors that I love, like a person who is wrestling with this stuff and who has a personality, not like a dry person who has figured everything out and has no personality.)

Uncommon Type- Tom Hanks

Some short stories by the lovely Tom Hanks, all with some mention of a typewriter (I had to be told that by a review I read). Some were good, some I skipped over. It’s probably on the whole worth a read.

Shameless- Nadia Bolz-Weber

OOoooo I loved this. It’s billed as a radical book on sex but actually doesn’t offer much in the way of a new sexual ethic which I was a bit sad about. BUT what it does offer is honesty about a topic, all too often, not talked about in churches at all. We have to start talking about these things. I had a brilliant chat about it with some lovely women I know, it was unbelievably refreshing to talk about all the things raised in the book. It’s worth reading to start the conversations, to bring reality into any chat about sex, to start to wrestle with what on earth the Bible says about sex, to enjoy her love of the Bible and God, to maybe not even necessarily come to similar conclusions but to at least start the honest chat. And it’s most of all worth it for the grace and love that drip through it.

The Immortalists- Chloe Benjamin 

Best novel I’ve read this year. Four siblings get told their date of death by a medium style lady. The book follows them one by one until their deaths and shows how their stories are shaped by the knowledge they have been given. The characters are really interesting and it was wonderfully written.

Becoming Friends of Time – John Swinton. 

A beautiful book that I want to read again. An exploration of time God’s way, of the slowness of God, of the beauty of the discipleship of people who have no words or memories to express how we usually understand what ‘Christians’ look like. A wonderful book to help us all think through how we express our lives together as the community of God’s people and how we wrap everyone into that regardless of how they express themselves, their circumstances, illnesses or disabilities. It made me realise how much I have been given and also how utterly different being a child of God looks for each one of us. It broadened my awareness of the scope of God’s work and made me want to slow down so I can pay attention to what God is up to and not just plough on with my own agenda.

 

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