#EmptyShelf 2016 #21: Allegiant (Harper Collins, 2015)

Last year, I read all three in the Divergent novels in one go. Teenage fiction is always fascinating, as it usually has a strong moral tone to it, and I’ve always enjoyed reading utopian and dystopian future books – especially ones where the things that we don’t even think about are encountered for the first time and have to be explained!

Over the past weekend, I’ve watched the two films that are available on Amazon Prime (trailers here).




The final part of the trilogy is not yet available outside of the cinema, but a few bits that I enjoyed from the book I’ll share here:

There is something deeply wrong with taking a person’s memories… Take a person’s memories, and you change who they are.

allegiant-quoteThere’s a section in the book when Tris and Four realise that everything that they thought was true isn’t real – and they question all the stories that they’ve been told, everything that they believed – and wonder how they’ve been ‘concocted by a bunch of scientists to keep us under control’ – and what does that mean for the behaviours based upon those beliefs (links to my PhD thesis there!)… as she realises that what she thought was her whole world is ‘so small as to be negligible’ in the wider picture.

The following from 81% into the book reminds me of Foucault’s theories of power-knowledge as used in my PhD – but also something I often say regarding digital technology – it’s like a brick – it enables certain things, but you can choose the actual use to which it’s put:

“Knowledge is power. Power to do evil, like Jeanine … or power to do good, like what we’re doing. Power itself is not evil. So knowledge itself is not evil.”

In the final book, there’s a notion that anyone who is not divergent is damaged, and there’s a struggle to overcome that notion, understanding that there is simply ‘difference’ arbitrarily defined by those with power, rather than one form of ‘being’ being better than the other.

“People are isolated, starving,” Nita says quietly. “They know only what they’re taught, they see only the information that’s made available to them. And who controls all that? The government.”

The people in the government bureau don’t appear to know their own history:

Evelyn tried to control people by controlling weapons, but Jeanine was more ambitious – she knew that when you control information, or manipulate it, you don’t need force to keep people under your thumb. They stay there willingly.

The book deals with some deep issues including what is love (not fairy tales, but a daily commitment to choose to love the other), ethical decisions (is it worth one death to save millions) and if so, whose. As Tris struggles with her brother’s betrayal:

To me, when someone wrongs you, you both share the burden of that wrongdoing – the pain of it weighs on both of you. Forgiveness, then, means choosing to bear the full weight all by yourself.

The leaders of the new order are challenged at their notion that they get to choose when others are ‘sacrificed’, and with Tris gone, Four (now Tobias) has to find a new ‘sort of bravery’

Sometimes it is nothing more than gritting your teeth through pain, and the work of every day, the slow walk toward a better life.

The book has lots of insight and depth – the film, not unnaturally, will focus more on the action and romance elements. The trailer does not look like it’s “too” close to the notion that ‘outside the wall’ the government agency is based in Chicago O’Hare airport, flying original old planes!


[FILM] Highrise

This film from Canada looks interesting:

Universe Within reveals the hidden digital lives of highrise residents around the world. Trapped in our highrise units, how do we find love, hate, peace, god or community online?

Visit Site… might fit well with this event from LST Faith in the Future


BETT: Education Changing Technologies


At the BETT show, there were a range of technologies indicating that they could change the shape of education, including 3D printing, wearable tech, learning analytics and big data, cloud-based services:

We asked Andrew McGregor, deputy chief innovation officer at education technology consortium Jisc, to give us his thoughts and mark each one out of 10 in four areas: innovation, potential to revolutionise higher education, usefulness and novelty value.

Read full story.


#AdventBookClub: Day 23: Hope for the Future


Tired, but this caught my eye as I’m heading to bed (I’ve been sorting out photo files on my laptop, and the software kept ‘spinning’ #slow… all good practice for #waiting) … and I think a number of us are waiting to see what we have in the morning, as the wind continues to howl around…

From now on… calls us to look forward positively whilst still living realistically in the present. It is a call to live with an eye to the future, not to escape the realities of everyday life, but to give hope to the present.”

Brian Draper looks over the past few weeks of #Advent20:

Nouwen wrote, ‘Each step is like a candle burning in the night. It does not take the darkness away, but it guides us through the darkness. When we look back after many small steps of love, we will discover that we have made a long and beautiful journey.’

Ron Glusenkamp looks for us to show compassion … to others, and I’m having to learn – to myself … I never think that I’ve done enough…


#AdventBookClub: Day 8: Surprising Futures


That’s how I might feel if I saw a primrose peeking out of some snow… although maybe not so much over these past few years!

There’s encouragement in both the readings today – Glusenkamp draws on the story of the 5 loaves and the fishes to say that there are constant surprises on the journey with Jesus, but that there is always more than enough for all…

Maggi Dawn encourages us to think about new directions that our lives can take, and that our imaginations don’t need to be limited to thinking that everything needs to be 100% new – there is continuity with the old … something that reminds me of a guided retreat with Brian Draper just before I moved to Durham – that moving there did not mean a loss of everything/everybody from Winchester .. particularly poignant as I’m spending the weekend here!

As I went for a wander through the Christmas Market yesterday – saw some from my church here manning the stall at the end of this busy stretch – and pray that they can help many see a future joy in life:


Life on the journey can be tough, and I’m finding it particularly so at the moment, but Maggi’s book draws on Genesis 11 to show how if we trust God, and follow where he believes he’ll take us – even if it means to leave the familiar behind – we’ll gain a vision for the future that will inspire and energise us.

So to finish with a thought from Pam (always encouraging to hear that those who are ordained may have protested too…):

That’s something he calls us all to do. The direction for each of us may be different, but God has chosen each of us for something.  None of that embarrassing waiting in a line to be picked like in PE lessons…