I met Beth at the Revolution Conference in 2013, picked up the book, and read it fairly quickly. I kept meaning to write a book review – as Beth says in her book (and as reflected in this Facebook post) – reviews (especially on Amazon – see US reviews), make a huge difference to who Amazon highlights the book to, and the exposure it’s given … as well, of course, as one’s friends getting to see a book that you’ve appreciated and ‘trusting’ your judgement!
On my #staycation week last week I re-read it, and enjoyed it afresh! Beth presents a mix of ‘real-life’ vulnerability in the first half of each chapter, and a figurative journey with God in the second half of each chapter, as she visualises what it means to truly ‘let go’ and fall into the full life that Jesus promised. There’s an incredibly patient Holy Spirit accompanying her on her journey as she learns to submit her thoughts and actions in a way that is incredibly freeing.
I have always been fascinated by how we create our images of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit – often deeply influenced by our cultural context. One of my favourite @bigbible posts was this one by Rev Kate Bruce, in which she takes the time to sit still and allow her vision of God to make its way onto paper – what would (s)he look like for you? This was something Sheridan Voysey and I addressed in our culture sessions at Spring Harvest in 2014 also! The Holy Spirit in particular can be difficult for people to picture in any way, so I loved Beth’s image of an adventurous abseiler!
Another particularly strong image is that of the devil (p82), who has managed to side-track her with a beautifully comfortable bed, her favourite films, activities and food, but is suddenly exposed:
The devil acts very much like the snapping turtle. He is as patient as he is deceptive. This is easy to understand considering he’s the quintessential predator. He fights dirty. Below the belt is the only place he aims. He is so good he has some people convinced the prison in which he’s entrapped them is far better than what is outside. They’re aware of their captivity, but it’s what they’ve always known. So they fear anything else.
The Holy Spirit is gently, but deeply, challenging … on page 121, as in many others pages, he draws upon Biblical passages, reminding us that what God wants is all of our hearts, minds and souls, not the formal religious actions that look good to the world, but are meaningless to God. There’s a challenge to those of us who tend to over-intellectualise our faith. As Beth seeks to understand grace, the Holy Spirit asks, if someone gave you a watch, would you figure out how it worked before you would accept it? Why, therefore, do we insist on trying to understand grace before we will accept it… and there’s no need to continue living like “an escaped convict in hiding” (Les Mis!) fearing punishment from God.
The text is full of contemporary cultural references including Disney, the Hunger Games and Lord of the Rings. We get a sense of a difficult journey full of mistakes and redemptions, but the bottom of the cliff is not the end of the journey, but the start of further adventures together! On the surface an ‘easy’ read, but many challenges about what our journey with God looks like.
Another great piece on criticism – both from others – and from imposter syndrome… dealing with it, without losing our vulnerability.
Tell them, I see you, I hear you, but I’m going to do this anyway
‘Reform is a fresh and challenging magazine exploring theology, ethics, personal spirituality and Christian perspectives on social and current affairs’ published by the United Reformed Church. They asked what my top tip was for an excellent church website, and I said:
Reflect the church you are
Ensure that your website reflects the church that it serves; visitors should not be shocked by a disconnect between what is “advertised” and what they experience. This means that website content should be considered in every aspect of church life, which not only gives information for church regulars but also gives a powerful opportunity to show the life of the church. Use a clean, fresh design and KEEP IT UP TO DATE!
*Note that I’m currently completing a chapter on how the digital has affected those working with those dealing with abuse, addiction and difficult behaviour for a second edition of The Christian Handbook of Abuse, Addiction and Difficult Behaviour.
I’ve always wanted to go to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and just before I move away from being such a short train journey away, and whilst I had a free train ticket to use … despite being mid-packing & moving – what a lovely day out to look forward to, hey?
I had the longest list of ‘Favourites’, but for tomorrow have ended up with:
- 10.15: ‘When Life Gives You Lemons‘, queue dependent (1 hour)
- 11.40: Shaken Not Stirred (50 mins)
- 2.15: Heartbeats & Algorithms, which did fight with Clickbait and The Dark Net (1 hour)
- 3.45: Paul Kerensa: Back to the Futon Pt 2: Dude where’s my hoverboard?, queue dependent (1 hour)
- 5.10: Spillikin – A Love Story (1 hour 20… then run for the train)
Plus meeting a friend for a chat, hopefully … and seeing some random odds & ends. Expecting to enjoy it, so in future might go for longer?!
Fandom is not an area that I’m academically particularly familiar with, but as CODEC’s pitching into this event (Fandom & Religion Conference, Leicester), I thought it was an opportunity to play with some of my thoughts about the ‘fandom’ of Keep Calm and Carry On, and look specifically at those produced by/for those of faith. These are my slides from today’s session.
Just a short update. On Monday I was interviewed for the permanent role of Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University, based at the Business School (lovely new building). I used this presentation, focusing upon #thisgirlcan as the case study for ‘best digital marketing campaign in the world’ as taught to final year undergrads! Thanks to the many people who cheered me on, and partook in discussions on Facebook/Twitter… and the crazy buzzing noise my phone has been making since I shared the news on Facebook/Twitter! It was nice not to need to go to this interview this morning as well Meantime – my new office will be in here somewhere:
I look forward to starting September 1st, in between which I will be at the Fandom and Religion Conference in Leicester, speaking at the end of New Wine A and beginning of New Wine B, writing a new chapter for the second edition of this book (pref by end of this week), article for Preach magazine, and see how far I get with a journal article on anonymity online, and a book from @bigbible… and just the small matter of completing sale on house, finding somewhere to live in Manchester, moving, and a meeting with new employers to ensure know what we’re kicking off with ready for academic year 2015/16!
P.S. Here’s a “flattering” (ha!) photo of me taking the phone call – captures the moment!