Following a conversation on twitter this morning #GodNeverSays:
Following a conversation on twitter this morning #GodNeverSays:
The latest novel discussed in our book club was an accomplished first foray into fantasy fiction from established author Catherine Fox.
Anabara Nolio is a young private investigator in the city of Larrity trying to make her way in business, life and love. The world she inhabits is one filled with sub-species of humans each with their own attributes and traditions. Anabara is half Gull, half-Galen which means she can fly, although she isn’t supposed to within the confines of the city. It is also a world filled with charms, magic, faith and fairies – only these fairies are not ones you’ve ever dreamed of. Less Tinkerbell and a little more vampire.
When Anabara is appointed to investigate the disappearance of books from the university library and to report on the broken charms in the stained glass windows, she makes a solid start. But as she delves deeper she discovers layers of deception, corruption and injustice, even by those she loves.
I’ll not say any more as that would give the plot away.
This is a new style of fiction for Catherine Fox. I first was alerted to her when I was an undergraduate at Durham, and I was told that there was this new author, a former student, who had written a novel about theological students in Durham, and if you knew the place you could actually pinpoint where in the colleges the characters were. I didn’t really read novels at the time, but I gave Angels and Men a go and loved it. Her next two novels were in the same style mixing keen observations of faith, strong characters, humour and love together – this time following female vicars as they took their first steps into ministry. Wolf Tide is quite different but doesn’t disappoint. Anabara is a well rounded female lead character. She is good at her job, she obviously is looking for love but is not overly obsessed with make-up or appearance, yet there is enough that is vulnerable or uncertain about her 17-year old self which makes her quite believable. She relies day to day on St. Pelago, who is key to the organised religion of the town, and he usually comes through for her.
This is certainly a good addition to this genre. I was able to imagine the world quite well and I liked the central characters – always important to keep you reading. And in the plot Fox keeps the pages turning too. If I was being really picky, i might have liked a little more distinction between the human sub-species – Gull, Galen, Tressy, Zaarzuk. Their difference in character between the groups were described well but I had a little difficulty imagining their general differences in appearance. But that is being picky. Despite, I think, not being the intended demographic of readership, I enjoyed it a lot. I hope there is a sequel and I will certainly read it if there is.
(Photo from Greenbelt)
I recently came across these notes I made of Bill Hybels’ talk at the 2013 HTB leadership conference. Some useful thoughts on vision and team.
The local church is the hope of the world. There is nothing like the local church when it is working right. The local church will only work well if it is fed well and led well. Can’t talk about leadership without vision
Vision casting – often we start by describing the place we want to go. This may not be the most useful way to bring people with you, however well you cast the vision of that place. People like it ‘here’. They know ‘here’. It’s comfortable ‘here’. You might need to start showing them exactly what is wrong with the place you are currently. People need to see the problems. And they need to realise that we cannot stay in the place we are. Then a solution can be received. Start by building an airtight case of all the reasons why you can’t stay here.
John Stott from his Commentary on Ephesians.
When Paul says to us, ‘Be filled with the Spirit’, he uses a present imperative implying that we are to go on being filled. For the fulness of the Spirit is not a once-for-all experience which we can never lose, but a privilege to be renewed continuously by continuous believing and obedient appropriation….
To the defeated Paul would say, ‘Be filled with the Spirit, and he will give you a new love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness and self-control.’ To the complacent Paul would say ‘go on being filled with the Spirit. Thank God for what he has given you thus far. But do not say you have arrived. For there is more, much more, yet to come.’
I came across two stories from Jesus’ life in my reading this morning (in Mark 5). The first is the restoration of the demon possessed man, the one known as Legion, and the second is the raising of a little girl back to life – the daughter of Jairus the synagogue ruler. We recently thought about the second passage in one of our family services at our church.
Jesus is on the Gentile side of Lake Galilee when he encounters the man with the demons. They recognise Jesus as once and beg him for mercy. After the demons are expelled (into a local herd of pigs), the man who is restored is given the commission to “go home and tell them about how much the Lord has done for you, how he has had mercy on you” (5:18)
After a quick boat ride back across the lake, Jesus is teaching a crowd when Jairus comes and begs him for help. Jesus is now on the Jewish side of the lake and Jairus holds a respected position in the faith community. By the time Jesus gets to Jairus’ house the little girl has died, but Jesus encourages them to have faith and he goes into the house and raises her back to life. Then comes the instruction “He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this” (5:43).
So – two miraculous events, but differing instructions on whether they are supposed to talk about it. Why would he say one thing to one person and another to the other group?
In a way, I can understand Jesus telling Jairus’ family not to say anything. Jesus was already having trouble moving around the area due to the large crowds that wanted him to heal. Gods new kingdom has come. Jesus is demonstrating how the world should, and will eventually, be. There are a number of things, including death, that are not as they were. The world is turned upside down as will be demonstrated ultimately through Jesus death and resurrection. His whole life (and death and resurrection) is a testament to that, not just the miracles. Jesus knows that a yearning for great and flashy miracles does not result in a secure faith. The result is people always wanting to be amazed instead of a more secure step-by-step everyday faith.
But I also wonder (and I’m just thinking aloud here) whether part of the difference had to do with the audience being Gentile on the one hand, and Jewish on the other. Religious on the one hand, and non-religious on the other. God often uses miracles to get people’s attention. Many people have had divine intervention to get them started turning their lives around. After that, once on the right path and walking securely with God, the miraculous become more infrequent. Perhaps Jesus expects the Jews to recognise signs of the new kingdom coming in, not just in the miracles he does, whereas the gentiles perhaps needed an added reason to start looking towards Jesus. (Interestingly, their first reaction to Jesus was “Please go home, we’re scared” – 5:17 ). Maybe I’m wrong here, but I wonder if new converts to the faith experience more miraculous signs in their early faith than those who have grown up in the church. (I have no evidence for this, it’s just a hunch based on hearing testimonies and anecdotes). Is this for the same reasons perhaps?
I remember hearing John Piper speak on suffering, and he noted that in the book of Acts the disciples and followers were given a command to spread the gospel “in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” There were many miraculous signs given to the early church too. Yet by the beginning of chapter 8, pretty much all believers were still in Jerusalem. It took persecution and suffering to get them out into Judea, Samaria and further afield. Miraculous signs are great, and we are encouraged to pray for them, but a walk of faith through suffering is often a more powerful testimony than a miracle.
Some thoughts/questions on the account in Mark 5:35-43 of Jesus raising a young girl from death back to life.
Disney’s latest animated musical offering, Frozen, has been well-spoken of since it first came out before Christmas. I started watching the movie on a transatlantic flight, but unfortunately the plan landed before I could see the end. With the DVD release, both me (and my children) were able to find out what happened. It gave us a few surprises. Some plot spoilers follow.
Why I liked it:
2. It contains a loveable reindeer and a talking snowman.
3. The movie depicts strong capable women who aren’t afraid to be who they need to be. They aren’t waiting around for a man before their life can begin. When Anna sees a problem which needs addressing, she goes off to sort it (dragging Kirstoff behind in her wake)
4. The storyline gears up for the day being saved and the curse being lifted by an act of true love, which we are led to believe will be ‘true love’s kiss’ – like Snow White, Sleeping Beauty etc. etc. etc. With two leading men and two leading women (sisters) in the plot you are left guessing who is going to end up with whom. But the ending is so much better than that. The act of love which breaks the curse is self-sacrificial sisterly love which Anna shows for Elsa.
5. Near the beginning of the movie Elsa forbids Anna from marrying Prince Hans, whom she has just met that day at a ball. This leads to the sisters falling out, but it is good advice. You cannot marry someone you’ve just met. And the guy in question turns out at the end of the movie to be a little bit nasty.
6. It is a story of salvation, redemption, and forgiveness. The character of Kristoff (the ice trader) exhibits a lot of these, putting himself out to protect Anna, but ultimately it is Anna who saves Elsa (and the kingdom) in giving her life. Now if I could only think of another story which has such themes? Hmmmm.
7. Love Conquers death. As mentioned earlier the love is a self-sacrificial and sisterly love. It has appeared that this act of love was the end of Anna’s life, but like many great stories (and the greatest story), love is stronger than that. Life wins.
8. It has inspired a whole load of youtube parodies like this:
and definitely this: