Heather Dowling, Revive editor, shares some useful tips for surviving the Christmas and New Year season.
Every day, we are in a position to create peace in our lives and for the people around us. If you need some positive ways to promote peace, Elsa Samuel recommends these sites.
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.
The Girl in the Ice: by Robert Bryndza, Hachette, 2017
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.
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.
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.
Domestic and family violence, climate change and voluntary assisted dying (VAD) were some of the pertinent issues discussed at Uniting Church in Australia’s 15th Triennial Assembly meeting in July. Elsa Samuel reviewed these sites that advocate and inform on these issues.