The wonderful Leigh Kramer does a monthly ‘what I’m into’ post, and I thought that was a fab idea! So I’m linking up with her, and do take a while to look round her blog– she’s one of the nicest people in the blogosphere.
Yesterday I blogged on the best of the blog posts of the month. You can catch up here.
Music – CDs
It’s an all-Christian line-up this month, but Christian without the cringe-factor.
- Josh Garrels – Love & War & the sea in-between. It thrills my soul to see Christians making music that doesn’t sound ‘Christiany’. It has a sort of Gungor/Mumford and Sons/Noah and the Whale/Phillip Phillips vibe, and I love writing blog posts with it in the background. This is a brilliant album, and every track is a winner (apart from track five, which mysteriously has some rap – but this is to be forgiven, because the rest of the album is superb.) Get it from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com
- Nickel Creek – This Side. After my country/bluegrass education in the comments for last month’s ‘What I’m into’ (thank y’all so much for that!), Charity Erickson recommended that I would like Nickel Creek. She was right – I love them. Folky/bluegrassy – they sing comforting, plinky-plunky songs of longing for home. I loved them as a band – they had a real Alison Krauss/Eden Burning vibe. Get it from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com
- AnnaJo – Jackpot. AnnaJo is someone I ‘met’ on Twitter, browsed her website, listened to the samples of her music and loved it, so promptly bought her EP. She has a fun, quirky, jazz-influenced piano sound, with clear and pure vocals. The boy has been much taken with it, and on one 3-hour journey with Jon he insisted on hearing only AnnaJo and the Beastie Boys playing in the car. You can listen to samples to see for yourself and buy a copy directly from her website.
- Rend Collective – Campfire. This is worship music, but not as you know it. It’s in a similar vibe to Mumford and Sons, with more of a folky edge than Josh Garrels. They have a refreshing, homely sound, that does evoke joyous Christian festivals involving sitting round a campfire with a guitar. Fabulous album. Get it from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com
The Compassion Quest – Trystan Owain Hughes.
I was interested in this book, both for the content, and because I know the author. We overlapped at theological college, though he already had a PhD in Theology when he started his ordination training. My main memory of Trystan was singing the duet, ‘Something stupid’ for karaoke at the end of year ball. (We were pretty good, if I do say so myself. All the harmonies exactly – which isn’t easy for that song. )
This book is theology – but gentle theology. I mean that in the sense that it is more accessible than your average theology book: I found it slightly theoretical at times, but is well-illustrated and peppered with interesting quotes throughout, so it’s fairly easy to read. I also mean ‘gentle theology’ in the sense that Trystan’s gentleness comes through every page. He speaks truth, and sometimes some challenging things, but in a soft, Welsh voice that comes alongside and encourages rather than blaring and condemning you for your selfishness. He has a degenerative spine condition which left him in bed for almost a year, and he understands suffering. He speaks into our individualistic and narcissistic society about the truth of our interconnectedness, building a strong case from the Bible and Christian theologians. It was really good for me to be reminded that the New Testament letters assume a corporate application – the ‘you’ that we read is plural, when so often we apply it individually.
Here are some of my favourite quotes:
- “There is, therefore, no such thing as ‘your’ problem and ‘my problem’ in the body of Christ. The whole body suffers if even one person is sick, lonely, depressed or hungry.”
- “We are called to have the mind of Christ (phronesis) that is expressed in a self-emptying servanthood to others (kenosis).”
- “The aspiration to ‘mend’ or to ‘cure’ is clearly well-meaning, but the real need of people who are suffering is an incarnational and compassionate giving of time and attention.”
- “…as soon as we slap a label on a person, our understanding of that individual becomes distorted. We start to see the label instead of the person…”
- “This does not, of course, invalidate the concept of justification by faith, but simply completes it. Our actions do not bring us closer to God’s love, as God’s love cannot be brought any closer to us than it is already. It is only our acceptance and recognition of that love that is in question. As such, our emphasis on compassionate action must include compassion towards ourselves for when we fail to live lives of love.”
The Lighthouse – Alison Moore
This made the Man Booker Prize Shortlist for 2012, and I could see why. The prose was so tight and evocative, every image and smell chosen with precision. It is a story without much action; a man goes of a walking holiday after newly separating from him wife, and recollects the events of his life that led up to this point. It is the presence of inaction that speaks most loudly through this very passive protagonist, and it raises questions about what we leave undone as well as those things we do. It is delightfully misanthropic, and each chapter written as a perfectly constructed painting. The only downside was that that’s how it felt: like walking through a gallery of perfectly-painted scenes, without as much emotional engagement or movement as you would get from, say, a Khaled Housseini novel. But it’s cleverly and evocatively written, so I would definitely recommend it. Get it from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com
We’re loving watching Endeavour – Inspector Morse in his early years. We used to live in Oxford, where it is set, and it is fun to spot our old haunts in between the corpses.
I’ve been enjoying getting to know the other amazing women enrolled on Elora’s online writing course, Story 101. I’ve found it to be a really inspiration and motivating experience so far, and can definitely recommend it. I am also loving Elora’s 30 days of prompts: helpful questions to help you discover your ‘one thing’. Check out these courses on her website.
Here on my blog, my post on how the government’s benefits assessment system fails and abuses disabled people seemed to hit a nerve, and was retweeted more than 230 times. Thank you to everyone who shared it.
I announced I was writing a book, and explained how I was needing to Breathe In a little, and was overwhelmed by your messages of encouragement. Thank you.
My post for Micha Boyett on perfectionism and doing it anyway was also popular, and the lovely Alice Buckley sent me a card to encourage me to keep ‘doing it anyway’. I have it on my bedside table to remind me as I write.
And I am taking a week off social media and the Internet, and I explained more here.
I have been mainly writing, in the little snatches of time here and there. I am trying a new drug, and hoping it will help. So far, there are minimal side effects and I seem to be sleeping more deeply. But it’s too soon to tell if it will do any good. I will wait and see.
On Twitter, I did an impromptu survey of whether Beethoven or Mozart was better. It was pretty even, with just two votes pushing Beethoven over the edge (though I think one of those was a vote for the dog…) A significant minority voted for Bach, even though that option was not given. Bach obviously has some fans!
I am still doing the curly-wurly-twirly hair thing, and loving it.
(You can get these rollers here.)
I don’t know about April being the cruellest month, but it was certainly pretty darn cold, here. Winter seems to have lasted and lasted, and now in the first days of May we are having a few welcome glimpses of sunshine. I can’t leave the house very much at all, so I am grateful for my garden and the chances to lie out when the weather and my health are both good enough. And I am grateful for the reminder that the long winters do eventually break – all of them.
Over to you:
What were you into last month?
**Disclosure: I have become an Amazon affiliate, which means if you click on a link above of something I have recommended and buy it, you will donate a few pennies to me, at no extra cost to you! How good is that?? (Needless to say, I only recommend stuff that I like.)**
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