Christian culture, summer grumpiness and the joy of decent people.

Today God gave me a loving, but firm kick up the backside.

For a while now, at this time of year, I have got a proper grump on.

I see lots of people on Facebook, Twitter etc going off to various Christian conferences – new wine, the 24-7 stuff, greenbelt, you name it… it all looks so lovely, but we can’t afford any of it. And at the end of September we will have even less as our first child arrives.

Gone are the days when as a youth group member my church paid for me to go on CPAS holidays or as a young adult I did new wine as a volunteer, because I could as a young free and single person.

Now we are not poor. We can afford Netflix and the TV licence. We also have a once a month date night budget. 

On top of all that I’m a youth pastor and my lovely church pays for my husband and I to go to the aog conference.

So really I have no room to moan. 

All the same, I know a lot of people with less money than us who live hand to mouth, and lots of people who like us can’t afford to go away for any sort of holiday, conferences included. 

It makes me cross that access to all this beautiful, amazing teaching, worship, general God stuff is only for the wealthy or those who belong to big enough churches they can afford to pay for their skint members.

So it was in a fit of grumpiness I responded to Krish Kandiah’s post about Books for life LIVE.

That’ll teach me… he, and others responded with such humble generosity. Take a look:

It’s left me both humbled and blessed… and wondering what solutions there could be for all those skint believers out there. 
At the.end of the day, speakers, preachers and authors also need to eat. But surely technology could bring stuff local? I know you can get lots talks on video, and that at big conferences stuff is streamed live from one venue to a second… maybe it could be streamed to local churches… I don’t know. There just has to be a way of being more inclusive.

Which brings me back to the book conference. Turns out if I had stopped and looked I would have known I couldn’t go anyway, it’s 13 days after baby’s due date.

But I do have a plan. You may have seen little free library on Facebook… I wonder if our church could have a Christian little free library? I mean, how cool would that be. I’m going to ask…

And I resolve to have more action and less grumpiness.

Advertisements

Review: The Shadow Doctor by Adrian Plass via @Hodderfaith

Adrian Plass writes at the beginning of his book:

This book, probably the most difficult I have ever written, is dedicated to my friends.

I can see why it was so hard to write. It is a beautiful, painful and deeply honest book about how hard life can be, how we think it should be and how it actually is.

It could only be have written by someone who understands suffering and it’s challenge to faith first hand.
I thought reading the blurb it might be one of those books where the protagonist offers beauty and light in a dark world and you go away feeling warm and fuzzy.

It wasn’t. It was so much better than that.

I don’t really want to recount any of the story but instead to encourage you to read it yourself.

Adrian Plass communicates truths through his rich and vivid story telling style which I don’t think I would have been able to receive through a sermon. 

The Shadow Doctor allows you to travel with its characters as they search for answers to faith and suffering. So much better than being “taught at” if you see what I mean.

I read this book with an ache in my heart but I finished it with such hope for the journey. I am profoundly grateful for the sacrifice Plass obviously made in writing this book.

I hope you will read it… Preferably more than once.

Book review: Finding God In The Waves by @mikemchargue via @hodderfaith

I’m not a fan of every book I review (although I always try to be respectful) but in this case, I am an all out fan. 

Mike’s book is honest, thought provoking and deeply encouraging. And besides, any book that provokes this many book marks has to be worth a read:

Mike takes us through the journey of his faith, doubt, loss of faith and return to a new deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. He also offers a way forward for anyone who is interested in faith but doesn’t want to compromise their integrity by pretending science doesn’t matter.

Although I found many of the difficulties Mike has faced didn’t apply to me, I still found all he had to say a trigger to exploring my own faith more deeply. And for anyone who has come or is coming from the same place as Mike, the book will be a God send.

While I found most of Mike’s axioms not enough – he states that each is at least– I found his Bible one to be what I have always believed and was taught at home:

THE BIBLE is at least a collection of books and writings assembled by the Church that chronicles a people’s experiences with, and understanding of, God over more than a thousand years. Even if  that is a comprehensive definition of the Bible, study of Scripture is warranted to understand our culture and the way in which many, many people come to know God.

I would add that it is also a way in which God speaks to me today.

Perhaps that is why I have never seen an argument between science and faith in my own life.

I do see it in people all around me though, especially amongst the young people I work with and Mike’s book is invaluable to me as a window into that perspective and a help in it.

Mike also has much to say about how the church treats other views to its own and how it deals with doubt and I found myself cheering him on as I read. We all need to learn that being a bully (ie stamping on someone else to make yourself feel better) never did win converts or keep people faithful.

Finally, I found myself deeply encouraged by Mike’s attitude and obvious, overflowing love for people and God. I finished the book truly blessed and I think you will too.

You can buy it here: Amazon

And here: Eden

You can also find Science Mike’s weekly podcast on iTunes and podbean.

Beautiful new #EnidBlyton books from @hodderfaith

If you are looking for a nostalgic present for an adult or a nice gift for a tween, take a look at these lovely Enid Blyton books:

I’m going to use them as prizes in my younger youth group and in church… There is nothing like a free book to bring joy. In the meantime if you want to buy them on Amazon:

Noah and other Old Testament stories
The first Christmas and other New Testament stories 
The land of far beyond

#Bookreview Rob Bell’s #novel Millones Cajones

So I just finished reading Rob Bell’s novel Millones Cajones and oh my goodness it’s beautiful. And clever. And free…
You can get it here:
http://robbell.com/portfolio/millones-cajones/

It has also been a timely read for me, but then I suspect it’s theme is one an awful lot of people need to think about.

As ever Rob Bell is clever, deep and interesting. His book is one I will have to read more than once as I percolate its meaning to me…

I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I have.

#Bookreview “colourless Tsukuru Tazaki” by #Murakami

I have been meaning to read a book by Haruki Murakami ever since “what I talk about when I talk about running” came out. I have yet to read that, but having read this novel, I intend to read everything he has written.

image

This book really is, as the Literary Review puts it “surprisingly painful and poignant”.

It is not a happy book, but it is deeply beautiful. There are some strong sexual descriptions at one point, and if that sort of thing puts you off, I wouldn’t read this book, but having said that, it isn’t gratuitous and is in context.

What I found especially powerful, is how well Murakami draws the reader into the world of Tazaki. It is like we have a little space in his heart and soul from which we can observe his life.

Particularly as a woman I was interested in the maleness of this book, it was a window into the way this man saw his life and himself, so familiar and yet so alien.

All in all, if you want a sunshine book, this isn’t it, but if you want to take a meaningful journey, to pilgrimage with colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and find your mind richer for it, this is the book for you.