Monday, February 29, 2016

Delighting in the Trinity #1

Delighting in the Trinity, Michael Reeves

There are a few books on the Trinity being read in our home at the moment, as Husband does his pre-reading for MYC and I have picked up two – both with the same name!   The first one was by Michael Reeves.   It is quite short for a theological treatise and therefore good for an introductory read.  Having said that, it is also dense and contains lots of history. 

Reeves helpfully opens up why the Trinity is crucial to our faith for we need to know God as Father before all other attributes.  It is the fact that God exists as Father in a loving spirit-filled relationship with his Son that enables God to be love, and to extend His love outwards to His people.   Reeves starts by thinking about who God is before creation, pointing out that if you start with God as creator rather than Father, you end up with an impersonal force, rather than a loving father as your starting point for God.  He then thinks about him as creator, which is what happens when God’s love overflows, and moves to considering salvation as the Son sharing what is His.  Moving on to the role of the Spirit, Reeves then encourages the reader to see how the Christian life is shaped by Him.   He finishes by concluding that if God is not Trinity, then we do not want him as God: 
If God is not Father, Son and Spirit, then he is eminently rejectable: without love, radiance or beauty.  Who would want such a God to have any power, or even to exist?  But the triune, living God of the Bible is Beauty.  Here is a God we can really want, and whose sovereignty we can wholeheartedly rejoice in. (p111-2) 
I found this book very helpful and enjoyable, although as I said, it was dense.  I did read it through twice.  I should also point out that while I didn’t mind the humour and found it amusing,  Husband found it a little smug.  

I’m sure I studied the Trinity at theological college, upon reflection it must have been in third year when my brain was addled by pregnancy.  I do not remember having fully grasped some of these points ever before now.   For the first time I have clearly seen how God as Trinity defines our faith as Christians and actually is an evangelistic tool.  The fact that God is a loving Father is a clear distinction from all other gods of all other faiths. It is very important to define not that we believe in God, for much of the world believes in a deity – but that we believe in God as Father, Son and Spirit and that fact defines and strengthens our faith. Our God is relational, loving and triune: “the triune being of God is the vital oxygen of Christian life and joy” (p18).    A good read to remind you of what you believe and perhaps help to put it into words you could express to others.

I’ll review Delighting in the Trinity #2 next week…

Monday, February 22, 2016

The Alchemyst

The Alchemyst, etc series, Michael Scott

This six book series titled The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, is an adventure packed read for youth.   Scott has picked up on a character of history, Nicholas Flamel, who keen readers of the Harry Potter series will also recognise as the alleged creator of the Philosopher’s Stone.   Nicholas and his wife Perenelle are immortal, that is, they are humans who gained immortality through The Book of Abraham which they obtained hundreds of years ago.  The series centres around Josh and Sophie Newman, 15 year-old twins, who Nicholas and Perenelle believe may be the famed twins of prophecy who are able to save the world. 

It seems many other immortals still inhabit the world, and here Scott has done a very interesting thing: attributing immortality to famous figures of history who end up in the modern day – so over the course of the series they also run into Shakespeare, Joan of Arc, Billy the Kid, Machiavelli, and others, including in a twist for me, the Comte de Saint-Germain (who also features in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series).   Then he has woven many ancient myths and legends into the series as well, so that the older inhabitants of the earth before humans were elders or archons, and are characters those familiar with mythology may also recognise, such as Mars, Bastet, Isis and Osiris and Hekate.   Therefore, for those readers with some knowledge of history or mythology, there is interest and sometimes humour in the characters and their roles.   The list of characters and the roles they play does get complex at times, and I struggled to really interact with his version of how the world was made through the myths and legends of the past.

A similar list of complicated gods and legend figures also appeared in Percy Jackson.  Seems that if you are going to write about mythology and ancient gods, there are long list to choose from! In fact, the action felt overdone in points.  Husband and I felt like they were a bit like a Matthew Reilly fiction for youth – lots of action, not a lot of thought and interpretation.   

Having said that Mr 12 and his friends have enjoyed these.  I also liked them, but found the series a bit long.  It did all reach a suitable climax though in Book 6, with enough complications and quirks to even consider re-reading it, once you understood the twists of the finale.

Monday, February 15, 2016


Itch, Simon Mayo

This action packed trilogy is a great read for youth – especially if they are science fans already, or perhaps you would like them to be! 

Itchingham Lofte (Itch) is a 14 year old boy disinterested in sport or computer games, rather he is an element hunter – aiming to collect all the elements of the periodic table.  To date, he has managed to collect a fair number and in the process of fiddling around with them has made some cool explosions and chemicals.

Things gets much more serious however when Itch comes across an element previously undiscovered, element #126.   Stable, yet incredibly radioactive, it presents huge possibilities both for future world energy production and nuclear weapons.  Not surprisingly, everyone is interested – governments, energy companies and seriously bad people.  Itch, accompanied by his cousin Jack and sister Chloe, must decide what to do as they are pursued by people wanting 126 for themselves. 

It’s full of adventure with kidnappings, chases, MI6 protection, bombs and runaways.  Mr 12 really enjoyed it (and as a result he decided to do a school project on the periodic table) and then all the kids learned a song of the table of the elements!  Turns out Husband and I quite liked it too.  Some fun, light-hearted reading.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

We arrived at the movies with a fair bit of expectation for this one.  My sister and I grew up on Episodes 4, 5 & 6 and could probably recite all the dialogue along with each, and as I said December I tend to have an emotional reaction to the music.  Episodes 1, 2 & 3 were seen, but quickly forgotten and ignored.  I managed to hear & know nothing about it beforehand, except seeing the trailers, which was exactly as I planned!

If you are a fan of Episodes 4, 5 & 6, you will like The Force Awakens.  It harkens back to the originals, with similar humour, concepts and characters.  It is surprising at points how much the story echoes episode 4.  The opening scenes with the scrolling words of explanation, the stirring music score and scenes of large spaceships remind you that going back to the past is the future for the Star Wars franchise.

I was very pleased to see Harrison Ford again as Han Solo, in a major role.   Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) are also briefly present.  With reprises also by Chewbacca, R2D2, C3PO and the Millennium Falcon, there is much appeal and crossover for long term fans.  Wisely accepting that time has passed for the actors, the story is set some 20-30 years later, the Force has been forgotten and the Empire is on the rise again in a new form, called The First Order.

The new character we meet include a young woman desert scavenger Rey who comes across a wandering droid with the key to Luke’s whereabouts; Finn, an unwilling and soon renegade Stormtrooper; and the new acolyte of the Dark Side, Kylo Ren, following in the footsteps of Darth Vader.

I wonder if part of the appeal with Star Wars has been that there is always had a clear distinction between good and evil – the dark and the light – and this time it is interesting to hear Leia says things like “I know there is still light in him”.  The ruler of the First Order in Supreme Leader and in scenes reminiscent of Hitler and the Third Reich, all the stormtroopers line up to pay homage to their first commander.

All in all, for existing fans, a great movie and a great reminder of why you loved the first movies.  It’s also entirely possible that a whole new generation of fans will enjoy them too, although I suspect they aren’t likely to be newcomers to the franchise, but rather the children of previous fans – our older two were keen to see it too.