The Writing on the Wall – Book Review

The Writing on the Wall
Everyday Phrases from the King James Bible

I was sent this book following a promotion on Twitter by Sacristy Press. @SacristyPress and @KJVsayings

The author is Richard Noble.


Book Cover

I am interested in phrases in everyday use and where they have come from, as readers of my earlier blog will be aware.  This book takes one main phrase from almost every one of the sixty six books, which make up the King James Bible.

The meaning of the selected phrase in the Bible, other places it has been used including titles of books, songs and so on and possible changes in meaning over time are discussed.  There is also a short passage giving the background of each phrase’s biblical context.

This slim volume is a useful introduction to the Bible.  I have picked up some valuable insights from it.  In particular I had to recognise that language changes; it is not really a good idea to continue using a word in one narrow way, while the rest of the world has agreed a different meaning!

The book is well produced, including a glossary and an index to phrases, which includes more than the main text.  Unfortunately the cover has the same texture as another book I reviewed earlier.  I resorted to covering it with self-adhesive plastic film.

The emphasis of this book is on phrases, which have stood the test of time.  It is interesting to compare the ones chosen here with those chosen to exemplify each book of the Bible, as is done in The Amazing Collection from Big Dream Ministries.

The author recommends reading a more modern translation of the Bible than the King James Version, which had so much influence on everyday English for centuries.

This is a book to dip into, use as a springboard for Bible exploration and to return to for reference.


Gardening notes

Our garden is a mass of colour from May onwards.  Four varieties of true geraniums –pink, white, blue and a low-growing one I call rock geranium – aquilegia, (also known as columbine) and other flowers contribute colour.

Recently I have been trying to bring a little order into the explosion of new growth.  Although I spend hours in the summer dead-heading, the pink geranium was threatening to become the dominant species.  Left to itself our garden would only have ferns, geraniums, spurge (which I pull up on sight) as well as shrubs including potentillas, hydrangeas and hebes.  Another perennial, which has to be kept in check is alchemilla mollis (Lady’s mantle).  The seedlings are easy to weed out, but the mature plants become very large.  The flowers are pale green and turn brown as they go to seed.  I chop them off ruthlessly as soon as any brown appears. Some still manage to escape and produce new plants.  You can have too much of a good thing!

Aquilegia among the geraniums

Aquilegia among the geraniums

I have to admit that in recent years I have not done enough gardening and some plants, which could have been removed easily, are now causing problems by growing close to the roots of taller plants.

I am reminded of two of the sayings I grew up with: Nature abhors a vacuum and Laziness has to be followed up.

Plants grow in every available space and try to invade neighbouring areas, such as paths and lawns.  A job, such as pulling out a small plant, becomes a much larger one if the plant is allowed to become established.

At one time we had over one hundred iris flowers in bloom.  These were the irises, which grow from bulbs not rhizomes.  Over the years they have disappeared leaving only a few.  At first it was a mystery.  Had they rotted?  Our conclusion was that they had been eaten by a field-mouse.  A hole in the ground had been a mystery, but we do sometimes see a long-tailed mouse in our garden.  It is a pity that it preferred irises to Spanish bluebells.


Mental health awareness week

It’s mental health awareness week.

I have no formal expertise in this subject.  However, I have lived long enough to have encountered mental illness and to have formed some opinions about it.

The statistics for people becoming mentally ill indicate that any one of us (or our families and friends) is likely to suffer at some time.

There is still a lot of ignorance about mental illness.  It can affect children, young people, adults of any age and depression is not unusual among elderly people

There are many different forms of mental illness.  Unlike specific physical illnesses, which usually lead to the same symptoms in many sufferers, a named mental illness may appear differently in individuals.

The emphasis this week is on mindfulness.

I’d like to throw in a few more suggestions for recovery from mental illness, which is often stress-related.

Sometimes it can be useful to do something creative, which keeps one’s hands occupied.  Knitting, crochet, art, colouring, rug-making, puzzles of various kinds, embroidery and basket-making are examples.  Not everyone will be helped by the same activity.

Basket-making is rather an iconic form of therapy in this context.  I once heard that people were only discharged from old-fashioned mental hospitals, when they had succeeded in making a basket.  There is an expression used to describe someone, who may be mentally ill: a basket case.  The derivation is obvious.  Basket-making requires a certain amount of patience, dexterity, the ability to follow a pattern and strength.  It is not something that everyone is able to do, however well they may be.

As I understand it, mindfulness involves being in the present moment.  Anxiety and other stress-related conditions may respond to this.

We can only live in the present moment.  It is encouraging that God’s name is “I am”.  Present tense.  Jesus said, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  Matthew 28:20

Mindfulness seems to be helpful.  What I’d like to say is that prayer and trust in God are even better.

I am not saying that those with faith in God are immune to mental illness.  We are not.  Many suffer at various times from depression, anxiety, panic attacks and long term mental health problems.

Neither am I saying that people with mental health problems are to blame for their condition.

Many people with these problems are also lonely, partly because of the stigma associated with having a mental illness.

There are many blogs and other articles online about mental illness.  Some are attached to “official” websites such as the one I linked above and Time to change.

Some are by individuals experiencing problems in their lives, which they are brave enough to share with others for mutual support.

In my view some of the stigma arises out of fear of the unknown.  The media highlight cases where a tragedy has arisen due to the mental instability of an individual.  There are many forms of mental illness, which do not result in these sorts of tragedies.  It could be argued that with more understanding and acceptance, more people might be helped and suicides, murders and other tragedies prevented.

There are courses in first aid and in resuscitation, for example.  Perhaps it is time that the public should be educated about the causes, symptoms and treatment of mental illness.  The health service seems to be stretched to its limit.  Of course it is important to know when to seek professional help, but with better understanding and support from family and friends, escalation of a mental health problem to critical might be avoided.

I am publishing this post towards the end of Mental Health Awareness week.  At the beginning of the week I found this site, where Christianity and mindfulness are connected.  I also found this post about writing,which gives useful insights.  This one is a blogger’s personal account of dealing with a diagnosis.

Have you found mindfulness helpful?  What do you think about the early signs of mental health issues?