Monday, October 14, 2013

Holiday reading

We've just come home from a week away in Portugal. Wall-to-wall sunshine, lazy days walking around, sliding into the pool, playing tennis and reading.

I took my trusty pedometer with me and recorded my steps each day. I managed a creditable 124, 200 steps over the week (that's 17, 742 a day, or the equivalent of 8.9 miles a day!) It's staggering how far you will walk when there's no rush to get anywhere! Although we had a car, we didn't use it, except to go to and from the airport and one shopping trip.

I took my Kindle with me. I think it's possibly one of the greatest bits of tech kit I own. It does one job and does it really well. I can carry a wide range of books and reading material without getting my bags checked at the airport (it has happened to me once when I had a lot of books with me) or adding extra weight to my luggage.

I read "Zoo Station" by David Downing. It's set in pre-war Germany in 1939. The story begins on New Year's Eve '38 and centres around John Russell, a freelance journalist who sees the regime for what it is and how he drifts into spying and uses his connections to help get a Jewish family out of Berlin. It's the first in a series and I've got the second book to read now we're back home.

I also read "How to like Paul Again" by Conrad Gempf. I haven't quite finished this, but I've thoroughly enjoyed what I have read. Conrad was one of my tutors at college many years ago (over 25 years now I think about it). It's a really helpful book for those who have issues with some of the things Paul has to say and how best to handle them. There's great encouragement to get stuck into the task of understanding the nature of the text and the context too, before ploughing into interpreting.

Perhaps what Conrad does best is to make hermeneutics and exegesis something that lives and breathes rather than just some dusty academic exercise. He humanises the text, reminds us that these are "other people's mail" and that Paul was doing his best to address real situations among real people and not writing some abstract theologise treatise on your favourite topic!

Beyond those two, I dipped into a short monograph about exercise and health and I read the free e-book short from Jim Wallis about politics, Conservatives, Liberals, and the Fight for America's Future. It's abstracted from a longer work, but popped us a free offering just before I went away. It's well worth a read even if you're not interested in America or politics. The call for a more civil society, one in which we can honour each other even when we disagree is a call we all need to hear. As TV programmes seem more and more to be predicated on the principle of how insulting we can be about each other, and while live audiences boo judges with whom they disagree, a little civility wouldn't go amiss. Maybe our own political leaders would do well to read it while it's free!