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A group of books as background to a film

I am not a great fan of films; however I have watched some very good ones (and avoided a lot of poorer ones!). Recently the Ladies’ Bible study group followed a course, which involved a DVD – The Theory of Everything. The book which accompanied the course is called The Mystery of Everything. It is described as a Lent course, but we followed it in the autumn instead of the spring. The author is Hilary Brand.

The film describes the life and work of the well-known theoretical physicist, Stephen Hawking, who suffers from motor-neurone disease and speaks using a computer. The Theory of Everything is based on a book written by Jane Hawking, which I have yet to read. (Background reading is not essential for the course, but I am a bookworm and the whole subject has caught my imagination.)

Since beginning the course I have read two of Stephen Hawking’s books – A Brief History of Time and The Universe in a Nutshell. I am impressed by the clarity of Hawking’s language in trying to express the mathematical ideas of leading edge theoretical physics to non-scientists. The second book is full of explanatory diagrams and not a little humour. While I have been reading these books, other people caused a website to crash by all trying to access his PhD thesis simultaneously. It had just been published on-line.

The Lent course consists of material for 5 sessions. An initial session is needed to watch the film. There is scope for discussion of the differences between science and religion, of morals, of the question of suffering. There are also Bible passages to read as a Christian discipline – although they would be suitable for non-believers wishing to learn more about Christianity. Each session ends with a set ‘meditation’ with Bible readings and prayer. Is it possible to know the mind of God or to develop a scientific theory which explains everything? This is a question, which the course allows people to debate, preferably in a fairly small group. Of course it is possible to study it alone, but other people have ideas, which are worth hearing.

I am looking forward to reading Jane Hawking’s book in order to learn more about the real-life background to the film.

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#Psalmtweets weeks 8 and 9

In the #Psalmtweets project the participants are now over 1/3 of the way through the Book of Psalms.

Ps. 50:Asaph speaks for God who owns all the earth.Thanks offerings are better than animal sacrifices&prepare way of salvation. #Psalmtweets

The next psalm is associated with the story of Nathan the prophet and his story of the “ewe lamb”. It is a contrast from many other psalms in this section, which relate to David’s enemies, his opinions of them and of God’s power to oppose them and to protect David and the righteous people, who will sing God’s praises.

Ps. 51: King David confesses his guilt & pleads for restoration of his relationship with God and prays for Jerusalem

Ps. 52: David addresses an enemy and predicts his downfall. He expresses his own trust in God, whom he praises

Ps. 53: David states non-believers are enemies, who live in fear. God will restore His (faithful) people, who will rejoice.

Ps. 54: David begins by asking God to save him from his enemies. He ends by praising God for deliverance.

Ps. 55: David takes his fear of his enemies to God. He looks for a way of escape, but ends by praising God for deliverance.

Ps. 56: Trust in God conquers fear of mortal enemies. David’s lament gives way to praise.

Ps. 57: David praises God for deliverance from King Saul, whose life David spared in the cave.

Ps.58: David describes the wicked and asks God to take vengeance on them, so that all will see that God judges and rewards.

Ps. 59: Another psalm beginning with the threat of enemies and ending in praise to the loving and strong God, David’s fortress.

Ps. 60: A psalm about war and lands. God’s help is needed for victory. Man’s help is worthless.

Ps. 61: David seeks God, asks for his blessing and renews his vows to God with praise and thanksgiving

Ps. 62: David finds rest in God alone. He warns against dishonest gain. God is loving and strong. Trust and confide in Him!

Ps. 63: In the desert David knows God provides for his soul. His mouth will sing praises to God. Liars’ mouths will be silenced

I have not found any illustrations to post for this fortnight.

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What I read in October 2017

Books I finished reading in October

Books I finished reading in October

Seaside Pleasures by Ann Lingard was recommended to me on Twitter by the author after I reviewed her earlier novel The Fiddler’s Leg. The reason she gave was that it included a scene from Allonby beach, where hubby and I had joined one of her walks at low tide. It happened that I found the book in a small collection of second-hand books for sale.

It is written from the points of view of four very different characters – one from an earlier time. The author’s note explains where the story deviates from historical facts.

All the characters are changed in some way through their experiences as told in the story. There is much background information about scientific research into parasites of molluscs. The beliefs of some of the characters were important to the plot. Art and music also featured. I was pleased to recognise most of the music, which was mentioned by name. (This would not be the case with modern pop music!)

There is much to think about in this book. I could only read a few chapters at a time before I needed a break. (I started reading it in September.)

It is a well-researched, well-planned and well-written novel.

 

Surfacing by Margaret Atwood was another book I found second-hand. I picked it because I had not read anything by this well-known author. It is a book about going back to a childhood home as an adult. This particular home was in a wild area of Canada. At one point I wondered whether the story was going to become as uncivilised as The Lord of the Flies by William Golding, which I had to study at school. One recurrent theme was birth control, which was uppermost in many people’s minds in the early 1970s, when this book was first published. At times I found it difficult to distinguish between what was going on in the protagonist’s mind and what was actually happening in her life. A good book.

 

A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking was one of the non-fiction books I began reading earlier and finished reading in October. The background to why I read this and the review perhaps require a post to themselves. Watch this space!

 

The Choir by Joanna Trollope was a second-hand book from a different source. I have read some of Joanna Trollope’s books in the past. I am unsure whether this was one I had read or not. It is about politics and family life around a cathedral choir. The story is good with all the characters developing through the circumstances of their lives. It was an appropriate book for me to read this month as I had been to sing in a Royal School of Church Music (RSCM) choral event at a cathedral one Saturday. That helped set the scene.

 

The Illustrated Herdwick Shepherd by James Rebanks was on display in the public library. I have followed the author on Twitter from the time before he revealed his name (on the publication of The Shepherd’s Life). The book I borrowed uses his photos and a sparse amount of text. I read more than half of it, while I waited for an appointment. Later I reread most of it to study the photos and avoid skimming through the text. It is a beautiful book, which describes a way of life unknown to many people in cities. I live within sight of fields of sheep (including herdwicks), although I have no experience of farming.

 

Go set a watchman by Harper Lee is another book I found at the library. I did not read it immediately after publication, when there was a lot of discussion about its merits and demerits. I have read the other novel by Harper Lee, To kill a mockingbird, twice. I read it in my youth and reread it more recently. I didn’t find that an easy book to read and remember the storyline. By contrast, I found Go set a watchman intriguing, easy to read and full of humour (it made me laugh) and wisdom. Strangely the theme of a fairly young adult woman returning to her childhood home from an urban environment is the background to this book as in Surfacing (above).

 

Out of Silence by Annie Try is the third published novel by this author. It is the second story featuring the psychologist, Dr Mike Lewis. I have bought all three books. I reviewed the others here and here. I spent Sunday afternoon and early evening reading Out of Silence from cover to cover as I didn’t want to put it down. Of all the books I have read this month, this was the one which affected my emotions the most. I found it impossible to remain detached from the characters. Tears streamed down my face at two points in the story. I prefer not to read the back cover or any reviews before I read a book, so that I do not have any preconceived ideas about it. If you want to find out more before you read it (and I recommend that you do read it!) the information is available elsewhere. Annie Try’s style is very readable. The book is set in London. I have been to some of the places mentioned in it and travelled on one of the bus routes!

Links to the books: Seaside Pleasures by Ann LingardSurfacing by Margaret AtwoodThe Choir by Joanna Trollope, The Illustrated Herdwick Shepherd by James Rebanks,Go set a watchman by Harper LeeOut of Silence by Annie Try