Monday, February 20, 2017

Good & Angry

Good & Angry, David Powlison                                 

I was keen to read this as Powlison is the lecturer who ran the CCEF course I did last year.   This book was as good as that course - in fact, it was the essence of the course with application to anger.  Much of the material I had already covered in the lectures or readings, which is a great recommendation, because they were excellent.  I was thrilled when provided with a pdf copy of this by New Growth Press, because I have high expectations of anything written by CCEF faculty, and have not yet been disappointed.

Powlison states his goal early– to enable us to more fruitfully and honestly deal with our anger.    He does not define anger as simply as you might think.   It does include the white-hot rage and seething that some have.  It also includes long term bitterness and complaint, as well as general grumbling.   He points that some things should anger us (ie injustice) but don’t.  He also includes the possibility of truly righteous anger – anger that is the right response to a wrong.

Breaking this book down into four sections makes the material more manageable and logical.   He also gives some excellent tips on how to read the book.  This is so rarely done in books it’s worth mentioning – he talks about underlining key sections, and writing out the questions raised for you as you go along.

Section 1 deals with our experience of anger, including some good observations on the real power of anger.  One chapter makes the point more clearly than ever:  Chapter heading:  Do you have a problem with anger?   Rest of the chapter is one word:  Yes. 

Section 2 addresses what anger is.   He deals with the key idea of anger being “I’m against that”, “That’s matters and it’s not right”.  He explains what happens to the whole person during anger – the body, mind, actions and motives.    He addresses that we have a capacity for just anger and a bent to bad area (thanks to creation and the fall).
“Your anger is Godlike to the degree you treasure justice and fairness and are alert to betrayal and falsehood.  You anger is devil-like to the degree you play god and are petty, merciless, whiny, argumentative, willful, and unfair.”  (p65-66)
Two chapters work through the idea of good anger being the “constructive displeasure of mercy” – that is, having patience, forgiveness, charity and constructive conflict.   And he points us to God, who can have both anger and love consistent with each other, whereas our anger and love rarely are consistent.

Section 3 looks at how to change by showing us how we play God with our anger and how God still gives more grace to help us.   He introduces 8 questions which help begin to tease out our anger, analysing motives and consequences.  This leads to thinking about how God speaks to that situation, and how that changes your motives and consequences into more positive fruit.   Having done this exercise with the course I did, I can speak from experience how helpful it can be when applied to an area of personal sin.

Section 4 tackles the hard cases, the major sins which lead us to say “I’ll never get over it”; the everyday angers which we pretend aren’t even there but come to define us; anger at ourselves; and anger at God.


I doubt there is anyone who can honestly say they don’t have a problem with anger in some format.  Powlison seriously claims there is no-one whom this doesn’t touch.    So, this book is highly recommended reading for all.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Sing

All three kids saw this and all enjoyed it, which is pretty high praise for a G-rated animation. 

Buster Moon, the koala, is low on his luck and running out of money to keep his theatre going.  In a world entirely populated by personified animals – he tries to turn things around with a singing contest, accidentally offering $100,000 to winning contestants.

A worn out frazzled mother pig of 25, Rosita, dreams of stardom; as does Johnny a gorilla trying to impress his criminal father.  Elephant Meena is too shy to complete her audition and cocky mouse Mike is convinced he will win.  What follows is an excellent soundtrack, fun animation and many solid subplots in an American Idol/America’s Got Talent type event without the nasty judges.

While it lags a bit in the middle (as evidenced by the toddlers and babies who all started to lose it in the session I was in!), it does rouse itself to a great finish. 


As I reflected lager, there was a depth to the back story of each contestant that would be lost on most of its target audience, but their parents and carers, like me, might get the chance to see some of that deeper meaning and emotion – the desire to be loved, to be accepted, to grow in confidence and to be a part of something.  

Monday, February 13, 2017

Assassin’s Apprentice

Assassin’s Apprentice, Robin Hobb

This first book of a trilogy (the first of a number of trilogies and other books Hobb has written) was recommended recently and I’m so glad I paid attention!  

I spent much of our holidays absorbed in all three books – Assassin’s Apprentice, Royal Assassin and Assassin’s Quest.  They follow the life of Fitz, a bastard born to King-in-Waiting Chivalry in the realm of the Six Duchies.  The fantasy world Robb has created essentially echoes the times of Kings, ladies, lords, knights, merchants, and beggars.  It is a wonderfully detailed world and society with enough echoes of ‘old England’ to sound familiar, yet enough differences to make you concentrate to figure out what is really going on.

Told by Fitz over 10-15 years, they chronicle his training to be the King Shrewd’s Assassin, as well as giving a history of the slow decline of the kingdom as invaders constantly threaten the safety of the realm and internal power struggles go on between the king’s sons.   Will the kingdom survive?  Who is the true king? 

There is a level of mystery as you are slowly introduced to the idea of the Skill, a mind reading ability mostly held by nobility.   The reader is also made aware of another ability, the Wit, where people can bond to and communicate with animals: does Fitz have it, and is it really the problem others seem to think it is?   

I really enjoyed this series.  Husband will attest that my nose was firmly planted in these three books for 2 weeks solid.   In some ways, they could be compared to an adult version of Ranger’s Apprentice.  As they have no bad language, romantic interactions are only generally alluded to, and the violence was not excessive, I was happy for Mr 13 to give them a try.   They failed to grab his interest at this stage – they probably required too much concentration – but I think in time he could enjoy them and I suspect that teenagers who want to put the effort in would like them.   I am very keen to move on to Robb’s other books in future holidays!