[REVIEW] Babe’s Bible: Gorgeous Grace @DLT_Ed

IMG_20150628_140422

Well, I was sent these books last year for review (not with a specific deadline), and I’d been avoiding them as I haven’t really found much Christian fiction I like, and the title Babe’s Bible grated somewhat, and the cover art gave the sense that they’d be a bit Mills & Boon like…

Well, there’s definitely some romance in the first book, which I’ve just read this morning, but it’s not M&B! In the middle of clearing out the house, I decided to have a read of the first couple of chapters to see what I thought of it … and I read the whole book! I need to put down the other two, as I have other things to do, but knowing that several of my friends had thought the same thing …

The book has as it’s central character, Grace, who’s in her first curacy, and her friendship with Chloe, the youth-worker, who has just had an affair with the vicar, which has had a range of ramifications. So – we start with adultery, and in seeking to understand this, Grace refers to her Bible, and the story of the woman charged with adultery, and creates a fictionalised account of Lila (the woman charged with adultery), making very clear the man’s part in the adultery. As the book continues, weaving stories between the past and the present, we get to see Lila’s friendship with Mary, the woman who poured perfume on Jesus. What I really loved, knowing that this is fictionalised, but coming from the perspective of someone who’s ordained (and therefore had extensive theological training), is that we really get to see the – often well known – stories of Jesus, through the perspective of women – something we often don’t see in the Bible.

The book deals with difficult topics including unfaithfulness, porn, abortion, sexual abuse, rape, healing, poor church leadership, busyness (the Mary we see is Martha’s sister), angelic visions, speaking in tongues, barrenness, and at one point something reminded me of Saying Goodbye. There’s lots to chew on, and lots of well-woven storylines. I’m glad I gave it a chance, as it’s always good to find new ways of re-engaging with Bible stories (why do you think I’ve worked with bigbible.org.uk for so long!)

[ENDORSEMENT] “Don’t Beat Yourself Up” by @TarnBright

tarn-bookThanks to Tarn (who I met at Spring Harvest in 2014) for writing this book, and inviting endorsement. The book’s out in August. I wrote:

Within the church, there are a number of topics that are often avoided, and a tendency not to admit that we are humans living imperfect lives, and struggling with difficult times. No one could accuse Tarn of this in this book, which mixes humour, insights, gentle challenges and a sense of support and encouragement as we learn from Tarn’s journey, and other voices that she has drawn upon! No one should finish reading this book feeling chastised, but rather have learnt to practice ‘kindsight’: an ability to learn to be kind to ourselves (and others) in our past, present and future. Tarn is an engaging public speaker, and this translates well into this book. Anyone who can get the phrase ‘codswallop’ naturally into a book, and recommends that “it is better to eat a Mars Bar with good friends, than to eat Broccoli alone” gets my vote!

Dr Bex Lewis, Director, Digital Fingerprint

Purchase the book.

[BOOK REVIEW] This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things (re online trolling)

30596_This-is-Why-We-Cant-Have-Nice-Things-Mapping-the-Relationship-Between-Online-Trolling-and-Mainstream-Culture-by-Whitney-PhillipsThis looks really interesting:

Why do trolls exist? How can such hostile online behaviour be understood intellectually, culturally and socially? Put another way: is the notorious Pedobear character “lulz” (hilarious) or an ambivalent tour guide through child pornography?

For her recent doctorate, communications scholar Whitney Phillips conducted an ethnography of these groups by entering the trolling subculture. Drawing on that research, This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things considers whether trolling is a deviant subculture or a more universalised online practice. As is common in digital media studies, while Phillips argues for the generalisability of trolling attitudes and practices, her dataset is restricted to the US.

Her book, which will be useful for theorists of digital ethnography, considers the subcultural origins of trolling (2003-07), its golden years (2008-11) as well as a transitional period (2012-15). Phillips is concerned with “the self-identifying, subcultural troll”, drawing a distinction between these practices and simple online cyberbullying. Her challenge was to study this community but not to “replicate trolls’ racist, sexist, homophobic, and ableist output”, which prompts a wider intellectual question about how to create a space for researching social patterns that cause harm to others

Read full review, and see piece I wrote on social media trolling last year.

[ENDORSEMENT] Bible Intro by @ChrisJuby

bibleintro_cover_120Pleased to have endorsed Chris Juby’s book: a “user-friendly Bible overview, written as an introduction for those new to Scripture and as a useful reference for experienced readers.”

“You’ve never been able to get a solid overview of the Bible so quickly. Juby clearly draws on a deep and passionate knowledge of the material, and clearly hopes to encourage us both back to the original text, and to transformational living.”

Dr Bex Lewis, Director of The BIGBible Project and author of ‘Raising Children in a Digital Age’

Watch Chris introduce the book here:

Mind Change: How Digital Technologies Are Leaving Their Mark on Our Brains, by Susan Greenfield

23568_book-review-mind-change-by-susan-greenfieldA review by Tara Brabazon:

Susan Greenfield is a neuroscientist with a high media profile, and this, her latest book, is aimed at the “general” (Daily Mail) reader. The accompanying publicity material refers to Greenfield as a “professional neuroscientist”. This adjective must be reassuring. An “amateur neuroscientist” would be a problem. Greenfield built her academic career on the study of dementia rather than digitisation, but this latter focus has now become a “professional” fixation.

The book is organised into 20 short chapters. Social networking, gaming, mobile phones and Google make up the laundry list of threats to society. The problem that undermines Mind Change is a lack of disciplinary expertise in digital cultures.

Read full review.