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Book Review – Sacralized Youth Work – Sally Nash December 8, 2011

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The Grove Booklet Series is one that, for me at least, helps to provoke thinking and discussion.  Their very nature means that they are easy to digest but they are best read when chewed over for a time.  One of the most recent in the youth series is “Sacralized Youth Work” from Sally Nash.

This booklet questions our approach to youth work and helps Christian youth workers bridge the gap between the secular and the sacred.  Many of the ideas expressed here relate with the ‘Generation Y’ books recently published and so, to those that have digested them, this is a whistlestop tour of the developed thinking there.

According to Nash, there are 5 key elements to sacralized youth work which are: Place, Conversation, Shared Experience, Fun and Journeying.  These are fleshed out a little through the booklet and worth wrestling through with your team.

The one quote that has stuck with me over the last few weeks since reading my copy is; “young people wanted to talk more about spiritual matters, more than the youth workers gave them opportunity.”  This quote should challenge us all.

Get hold of a few copies and read it through – it will be worth it!

Book Review “In Sheep’s Clothing” May 12, 2011

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This book subtitled “In Sheep’s Clothing: Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People""” was bought on a whim but has proved to be most helpful.  We all have those people in our lives (family, friends, colleagues) that we struggle to cope with or trust but are uncertain as to why – our gut instinct is strong on the warning signs but the actual evidence is lacking.  This book highlights a distinctive type of person – the ‘covert aggressive”.  In highlighting a number of case studies the book is very practical and a quick read.  Its conclusions are helpful but in terms of the book, quite short and pithy with little meat on the bones.  Definitely worth a read though.

In a little more detail:

The book is split into 2 parts, the first concentrating on understanding manipulative personalities and the second part on dealing effectively with manipulative people.  The case studies are extremely helpful in terms of the way they are written and it is not difficult to see traits in anyone you meet.  The danger is that you may begin labelling everyone that you meet, when in fact not everyone is ‘guilty as charged’.  If you know of people who fit the character traits there are useful approaches in how to counter their manipulation but to most seasoned observers they are common sense.

All in all a useful tome that may be helpful to help search your own soul.  I am glad that it reached my booklist and am certain that it will be one that I refer to on more than one occasion in the future.

book review: Right Here Right Now, Hirsch & Ford February 8, 2011

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Being missional is quite a trendy thing these days.  The difficulty is understanding what people mean by ‘missional’ – there are far too many interpretations and ideas that people ‘put out there’ are often beyond the average church member.  This book, Right Here Right Now seeks to put things straight and is an excellent read.

There are 3 sections, after a lengthy scene setter, from getting our hearts into it, understanding it and the finale of actually doing something.  The book itself is an easy to read example of theory and practice intertwined and this is why it is such a good book.  You can’t simply read and ignore what has passed your eyes, you need to respond.  Simple actions as being aware of your environment, living what you believe, showing hospitality, all shine like beacons of hope from the pages.  Is there anything revolutionary here – no!  However, it is a practical wake up call to get out of the pew and actively seek to engage in our community with the gospel.  Hirsch and Ford give a great mix of theory, illustration and practical output.

There is a need to read (or at least understand) the previous Hirsch books to aid your reflection but it is not an absolute necessity.  My personal view is that you should go and read it – it will be worth the investment.

Book Review – “The Faith of Generation Y” Pt2 November 2, 2010

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The 2nd part of “The Faith of Generation Y” sees the sociological aspect of the research meet with theological reflection through the work of Stanley Haerwas.  The premise that christian “youthwork is only moderately successful in bridging the gap between church and society and raising young peoples Christian consciousness” is, according to the writers, that a ‘strategic liberalism’ has been taken up youth workers and that this is done outside , rather than rooted in, christian community.

The words that should adorn our lips in BOLD are ‘ story and engagement’ and these need to be rooted within the context of a wider christian community.  Tradition is important and whilst the “church appears to want the young people to discover their own way of being church”, the young people of GenY “do not want to be left to their own devices”.  This is a challenge to those of us working in the church with young people.

The conclusion that is reached from the research in this book is that  …..”the primary theological responsibility for the church is to give glory to God, the primary social responsibility for the church is simply to be its own authentic self”.

This is a whistlestop review – the book is far better than I have portrayed and one to read.  Read it and be challenged

Conquering the Atlantic July 12, 2007

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This book was given to me as a birthday present a few weeks back and I found it an exciting and riveting read. Just could not put it down. It charts the story of Ben Fogle and James Cracknell crossing the Atlantic and their brutal honesty is appealing. Two men, very different in outlook and approach, joined together as a team. Their motivations were different, the challenges similar but the determination to succeed in both men was extraordinary. Both men learned a great deal about themselves with Cracknell (an olympian) seeing his desire for competition as necessary to his life rather than Olympic Rowing was quite an eye opener for him and one that has since changed the direction in his life. Both men showed great guts in spending 50 days in an ocean separated from everyone and acting like a cork in a bleak watery wilderness. Some great insights and well worth a read!!

Brueggemann rocks! June 4, 2007

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Once in a while a book captures me and just recently this book by Walter Brueggemann has taken me by storm as I have read and re-read it, made notes, marked it (normally will never mark a book!) and taken in so much of what it says. Ok, it is not the Bible but the timing for me on my spiritual journey makes it poignant.
The book explores the life of the people of Israel in regards to its relationship with God and the “promised” Land, exploring biblical themes in times of promise, the land as a gift to the people and then into exile from the land. Brueggemann’s style is very easy to read and he has a clarity in this book which is not always apparent in some authors.
It has challenged me on how I live my life in relation to all that God has given to me. Do I hold the gift tightly or loosely? Do I allow the gift to become more important than the giver of the gift? So many questions and challenges. It would be high on my recommend list….and it is well worth the read.