Review: The Wind Blows Where it Chooses

The Wind Blows Where it Chooses, by Kevin Treston, Coventry Press, 2018

Kevin Treston’s passion is communicating faith in our context. His focus on emerging Christianity might be summed up in words of Bernard Häring: “If the church does not listen to the world, the world will never listen to the church.”

Treston seeks to listen well, noting consumerism, materialism, loss of ultimate meaning, disconnection between humans and the natural world, and Christian reluctance to reframe the Christ story within the universe story, among others. He advocates engagement with the paradoxes and ambiguities of life.

Treston also seeks to read the Gospels for this time and a need to reconsider tradition. For instance, he sees an obsession with sin as needing to be reframed, and describes resurrection as a  cosmic event – for the whole of creation and not just humans. He follows with discussion about the life of the church and personal spirituality, ending with ‘Reflections,’ where he offers specific  means of enriching spiritual life.

Treston aims at enabling conversations that promote holistic approaches to Christian faith and life. Although a Roman Catholic, he seeks to speak to all Christians to encourage connection with people, so that the gospel may be shared in this context.

Ian Tozer

Review: The Girl in the Ice

The Girl in the Ice: by Robert Bryndza, Hachette, 2017

The Girl in the Ice, an international bestseller, is the first book in the Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) Erika Foster by British writer, Robert Bryndza.

Erika returns to work prematurely after some time off from a botched drug raid, where her bad judgement resulted in the death of her police officer husband and some team members. This traumatic experience leaves her a changed woman, harbouring a sea of guilt. Known for her skill in closing rape and murder cases, she answers a call from the South London police department to  step in as the lead investigator of a highly publicised homicide investigation.

Andrea Douglas-Brown, found frozen in a lake in South London, is a beautiful, wealthy socialite and daughter of a prominent businessman and influential Labour Peer who demands justice for his daughter’s brutal death. Erika’s mission is to find the killer, manage police politics, deal with Andrea’s family and patch up her broken life. Despite the push back from her police peers and Andrea’s family, Erika is tenacious and her nononsense style made me want to high five her.

“Now, DCI Sparks, you are in danger of contaminating the crime scene. If you wish to continue to observe, I’ll ask that you follow proper procedure, suit up and shut up.”

She does comes across as cold, sometimes irrational, but as her story unfolds throughout the book, we see her vulnerability beneath the hard exterior. I admired her determination to do the right thing, even if it means pushing for answers until it physically hurts. The closer she was to connecting the dots, the more her life was at risk. Continue Reading

Editorial: Symbols of peace

As I write this, my 16-year-old nephew is on the trip of his lifetime (so far) on a school exchange in Japan. It was just over a year ago that my family and I were also holidaying in Japan, having an awesome time.

Japan is truly an amazing place. We went during cherry blossom season and there were trees blooming everywhere. We rode bikes through Kyoto, sang karaoke in Osaka and played video games all day in Tokyo.

We also visited the Peace Memorial in Hiroshima. It was there that I was reminded of the story of Sadako Sasaki, the 12-year-old girl who made over 1 000 origami cranes from her hospital bed. Those cranes are now recognised as an international symbol of peace. Continue Reading

Moderator’s column: When God seems silent

Some years ago I received several prank  calls, the ones where the phone rings and there is no one on the other end.

It was rather unsettling to answer and find silence, when I expected a voice. For some of us, there are times when God appears silent. Maybe we have made an emergency call to God in the form of a desperate prayer and God didn’t seem to answer: we didn’t get the job we hoped for; the health of a loved one did not improve; or the conflict we faced got worse, not better.

In wrestling with God in prayer, we must recognise that God is not a divine Santa Klaus whose main job is to favourably answer all our requests. God is not at our beck and call. Disciples of Christ are invited to serve God and others, rather than behave like religious consumers who think that God should always be serving me.

Sometimes, I think that prayer is paradoxical; God answers prayer and God does not answer prayer. Jesus taught us to have a faith that will move mountains, not just smile at them. In the garden of Gethsemane, perhaps Jesus’ darkest moment before the cross, he agonised about doing God’s will. His trust in God is amazing, he cries out, “Abba Father, all things are possible for you”. Continue Reading

Review: Marathon Wheeler

Marathon Wheeler, by Heather S Coombes, Westbow Press, 2014

Now retired with the leisure of hindsight, Heather Coombes reflects upon her marathon journey in a wheelchair for the purpose of enriching life for those obliged to follow a similar rocky path.  Born with cerebral palsy, Coombes traces her family background to acknowledge the strength and inspiration she has received from the family into which she was born.

The author reflects on her adolescent turmoils in the years of her childhood and adolescence. Despite her father being the parish minister, her teenage thoughts were her own as she tried to make sense of being born into a body with physical disadvantages. Continue Reading

Review: Never again

Never Again: Reflections on environmental responsibility after Roe 8, edited by Andrea Gaynor, Peter Newman and Philip Jennings. UWA Publishing, 2018

The Roe 8 Highway extension and the related Perth Freight Link was a hugely contentious public issue in the lead-up to the 2017 WA State election. Never Again outlines, purely from the perspective of the project’s detractors, the reasons why they believe it should never have happened and, as the title suggests, why it should never happen  again.

Whilst it is narrowly focussed on the Roe 8 project, the implications of the discussion broaden its scope. Significant questions (and solutions) are raised about the state of our democratic  processes, transport planning, environmental protection and respect for Aboriginal culture and heritage. Some of the chapters, contributed by an impressive array of leading academics, give serious pause for thought across all of these issues. There is also an account of activist strategies, legal proceedings and citizen wildlife monitoring revealing how politicised the project became.Continue Reading