Of Mind or Matter by Sreejit Poole

Of Mind or Matter

Sreejit sent me this his book to review, so I hope what I say is ok!!!!

The book starts off on the good premise of Ballard leaving his home and randomly driving to somewhere new to begin a new life, this sort of opening really appeals to me, and once he arrives in Blue Bell, he meets an eclectic array of characters and begins new work, new home and people. There is an air of unreality in the treeless town which is engrossing.  Then there is the appearance of the strange woman who lives permanently under a tree. Here the plausibility broke down for me here, as this woman was so much an Eastern mystic that she didn’t for me fit into the stereotype of an American world, let alone when she appears in Ballard’s bedroom.   Likewise  Saul who lives with three  ex-wives reminded me dimly of some Eastern god, but maybe I’m wrong.

From this point the book, I’m afraid lost me because the underlying philosophy is so contra to my own Christian belief. If you enjoy tales of mystical enlightenment, then maybe you’ll love this, and on the whole it is well written. I did say to Sreejit I reserve the right to comment as a Christian and so I have to.  The ideas mooted here are the usual eastern belief that you have to work to get God with you, that you have to change yourself to find the way to sort yourself out. This misses completely the idea of God’s completely unconditional love, he wants us as we are, he loves us as we are, we need to undergo no long journey to find him, he’s already here.  Through Jesus we find healing from the hurts of the past and can begin anew.  Yes we will begin to change and address things, but he’s there with us, it’s not the lonely difficult unloving path that Ballard has to follow.

So this book, while well written, is not for me!

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Cold enough to freeze cows by Lorraine Jenkin

Cold Enough to Freeze Cows

Having run a small holding, the title got me on this and I even paid for this one!!!! I’ve done the dirty, old clothes and knackered old vehicles, especially Landrovers so could empathise with Iestyn for that.  He did seem a bit hopeless with his struggle with the farm but I can also remember just how it exhausts you, ties you down and frustrates you.  The two love stories are great, but they seem to be almost the backdrop for the picture of farming life and difficulties.  Technically the book shouldn’t work as the balance of the perspectives of the characters is uneven, such as the focus on Johnny, so you wonder just who is meant to be the central character,but it’s success is that each chapter leaves you on some sort  of cliffhanger or something funny which keeps you reading on.

However, what struck me most is that there is a rural subtext going on here.  The lazy Louisa, her parents and the farmer turned bad Estate Agent, don’t get a happy end. In fact when you’ve been expecting Louisa to shrug off her laziness and become and new person, but doesn’t all seems to point to a statement that suburban is bad, farming and rural is good.  The real nobility and integrity is with the farmers.  Even Johnny’s girlfriend is saved my moving to country life as does Iestyn’s brother and girlfriend.  Good, I think country is good, towns bad.It’s a great book, good romance and its different!

Eye of the storm by Alexander Kumpf

Eye of the Storm: Where is God when life hurts?

Indeed, where is God when life hurts?

This well written help book, has a really good balance between looking at our storms in life, anecdotes and scripture.  It starts in such a general way about life, that I think non-Christians wouldn’t feel ‘got at’ or being preached to.  As the book deepens, so does the scripture and just what God is up to.  My favourite parts were the explanation of how Nature groans  with labour pains due to the effect of sin and  Chapter 8, What would God say?  Here Alexander takes our questions that we cry out when we’re in pain, such as’God I feel so alone……’ and he answers them scripturally and in his own voice.  The answers are so comforting, I will turn to them again at times when I am low and questioning.

Great too, is the Bible Study with questions and verses to read at the end, easily usable in a group.  Its difficult to meet the balance of Christianity and the secular in a way that wont alienate, this book gets there!

I was sent this book to review.