Wednesday, 1 February 2012

On my bedside table

I always have several books on the go at any one time - I just could not imagine life without reading! So, what I am reading at the moment?

Well I have just read 'The Kite Runner' Khaled Hosseini (Bloomsbury 2004). I never got around to seeing the film when it was out in the cinema so I was pleased to read this novel. However if the film picks up something of the book then it would be very difficult to watch, the horror described is awful. The British military continues to be engaged in Afghanistan with an ongoing haemorrhaging of life and we may be puzzled over why and how this situation came about. This book helps to put the situation into a historical context and brings to life a different kind of Afghanistan from the one we see on TV reports. At times I found I didn’t want to read any more yet felt compelled to do so such is the strength of the story being told.

Tom Wright continues to feature in several books I am reading and you might think I am about to go stalking him!

I am enjoying his latest book ‘Simply Jesus’ SPCK 2011. I am just about half way through and I love the almost scary way Wright presents Jesus, the Jesus of history and also the cosmic Christ, so much bigger, so much more to him than we might have ever considered. Just who is this figure (Jesus) what did he say and do – what did that mean at the time and what does he say today.  

I am also reading two of Wright’s ‘Everyone’ series – by the bed ‘Matthew for Everyone’ and on the breakfast table ‘Revelation for Everyone.’   I have worked through ‘Matthew’ before but ‘Revelation’ is a fairly new addition to the very fulsome library of books Wright has written.  Again Wright seeks first of all to understand the historical context into which the Letters were written. As difficult as it is we have to try initially to look though the eyes of a 1st century Jew/Christian hearing these words. Perhaps one of the most helpful insights that Wright has brought with his musical background and interest is that we must ‘hear’ Revelation as a symphony, layers of music laid on top of layers of music. As written words they have to follow each other and we can then think we are reading something that is happening or is to happen sequentially. I also remember some years ago working through a Local Methodist Preachers Course looking at Revelation and we were encouraged to think of it as a Greek play with various Acts and Scenes, that again I found very helpful.  What I am picking up is the big picture of God allowing evil to have full rein for a period so that having being brought out in full view it can then be dealt with – finally! And then, very importantly heaven will come down to earth – note, not that we will go to heaven!

I have also recently read Stephen Kuhrt’s book ‘Tom Wright for Everyone.’  Stephen is a vicar in New Malden and has ‘allowed’ Wright’s theology to inform and influence their church life in very practical ways. It was great to hear of how Wright’s theology can shape pastoral practise and mission.

And for balance because reading all of the above I am in serious danger of becoming ‘narrow’ I have a Christmass present book ready for holiday reading (holiday in February) ‘The Etymologicon’  by Mark Forsyth. This is a random reading on the origins of words beginning with one word that then leads into the explanation of another and so on and so forth and so on and so forth - you get the idea!  I have always loved words and discovering their origins.  For example just the other day whilst shopping with Jane in Sainsbury’s I looked at the oranges and wondered which came first – the fruit or the name!  And whichever came first just where did the word orange come from – and orange is of course one of the few words for which there is no other word that rhymes. 

Now, do you think Tabitha and Jane might just strangle me before the end of the holiday!

Oh and if you are interested Forsyth has a blog –

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