I just realized looking back through this blog that it is a long time since I mentioned any of the books I have been reading, which is rather surprising since I read 4 – 5 books a week. Maybe the problem is that I have been dipping into a number of rather of uninspiring books lately. The best I have come across is Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, a delightful account of her family’s adventures when they decided to live only on local food for a year. It really inspired me to consider other ways that we could reduce our consumption of food that has been transported halfway across the world. Actually I am feeling pretty good about that at the moment – this afternoon Ricci Kilmer and I were out planting the autumn vegetables – cauliflowers, cabbages and broccoli. Part of the rhythm of life for Ricci and I (and her daughter Catie) is that we get together every Wednesday afternoon for a cup of tea, a chat about where we are at in our lives & then an hour attacking some project in the house or garden – at the moment we are usually out in the garden planting or weeding.
It is a great time to wander the garden – the spring flowers are in full bloom, the early tomatoes are starting to turn red (or yellow depending on the variety) and the first squash are growing rapidly. It is extremely satisfying, not just because we are able to produce so much of our own food but also because it is just wonderful to wander around and drink in the beauty of God’s creation.
Anyhow back to books. The other book I have been dipping into is Covenant of Peace: The Missing Peace in New Testament Theology and Ethics by Willard Swartley. It is a wonderful look at the concept of shalom (one of my passions) in the New Testament. I was glad to notice when I read the introduction that this book had actually taken 20 years to write. I have been studying and writing on shalom for 15 years. I too would like to write a book but I suspect that it will be another couple of years before I get around to it.
While I am on the topic of books maybe I should share a few of my favourites. They may surprise you. One book I have carried with me since I was 14 years old is a children’s story called All the Proud Tribesmen. It is a delightful story about a young Polynesian boy Kerri, who grows up on a small island in the South Pacific. There is a missionary woman on the island whom the islanders love and so they decide to give her a present – they give her Kerri as a son. After all in Poylnesian society children grow up as part of a community so they don’t feel that he is losing his family, he is just gaining another one. The story follows the islanders through the loss of their island and their move to another that is feared because it is believed to be the home of evil spirits.
When I was on the Anastasis in the South Pacific this book did the round of everyone on board. According to the Fijians and Tongans it was a very realistic look at island culture. I still pass the book around to anyone I can convince to read a children’s book.
Another of my favourites is also a cross cultural novel but this time a sci fi book called Hellspark by Janet Kagen. It is one of the best looks at cross cultural misunderstanding and struggle that I have ever read. And just to round off the list, another book I have carried around for years is Neville Shute’s Pied Piper. Like most of Neville Shute’s books it is the story of an ordinary man who does extraordinary things. John Howard, a man in is 60s is caught in Austria at the beginning of World War II and is asked to help get some children back to England. As he travels, dodging the advancing Germans, he slowly gathers other children. Anyhow I don’t want to give the story away so I suggest that you get hold of it at a second hand bookstore or at the local library.