Zi71bFS9nQHnivtvUJquhejTHIQ The Story Factory Reading Zone: June 2013

Monday, 24 June 2013

Music Out of the Pages: Singing

"That man's voice must be absolutely unique in this day and age," he declared. "The trouble is that our choir, even at full blast, might not be able to drown it out entirely. It's the kind of voice they tried to suppress over a hundred and fifty years ago when they did away with castratos- only it's a lot more piercing and upsetting than castratos must have been."

from Hearts to Heaven and Tempers Raise by Reginald Frary

Tell us about your choir experiences

Monday, 17 June 2013

Music Out of the Pages: Religious Instruments

"To blow a shofar, you've got to form an embouchure, like you're blowing into a trumpet, and you've got to blow really, really hard. The idea is to call forth the faithful, to remind them of the mighty deeds of God. It was the shofar that was heard when the Ten Commandments were given, the shofar that brought down the city of Jericho, the shofar that for centuries has marked the beginning of a new year."
From A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Locating Eden

Crashing Eden by Michael Sussman
"Eden is a Sumerian word meaning lush plain. Some scholars believe that Eden was located in the Fertile Crescent. along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, corresponding to modern-day Iraq. Around 6000 to 5000 BC, after thousands of years of drought, came a period called the Neolithic Wet Phase, when rains returned the the Gulf Region. Foraging populations also returned, but they found the area resettled by the first agriculturists. The Garden of Eden story may represent the point of view of the hunter-gatherers, who regarded the farmers as sinning against God by taking matters into their own hands, relying on their own knowledge and skills rather than on God's bounty."

Friday, 14 June 2013

Faith Friday: Vicars and Ministers

Despite Booksups traditional feelings, however, the choir reckons that, as vicars go, the present man is actually not bad after all. He hardly ever tries to meddle with the music and simply joins in singing the tunes he knows with a very enthusiastic, generally flat sort of growl. There are two basses in the choir who also sing like that so no one complains about the vicar. An ever-optimistic married man with three lively teenaged daughters who never come to church, three boisterous Ladbradors who insist on coming and a wife who manages them all with a cheerful determination in their chaotic Victorian vicarage, the vicar rejoices in seeing happy people in church.

from Hearts to Heaven and Tempers Raise by Reginald Frary

Monday, 10 June 2013

Music Out of the Pages: The Heart and Soul of Music

Soul Music by Terry Pratchett
But you couldn't repair a musical instrument. He remembered the old bards saying that. They had a soul. All instruments had a soul. If they were broken, the soul of them escaped, flew away like a bird. What was out together again was just a thing, a mere assemblage of wood and wire. It would play, it might even deceive a casual listener, but... You might as well push someone over a cliff and then stitch them together and expect them to come alive. 

Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey
From the apprentices' hall across the courtyard, the singing was renewed, with vigor and volume. Beauty cocked her head, humming with delight and then, when Menoly shushed her, looked wistfully up at the girl.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

The Garden of Eden

Crashing Eden by Michael Sussman

"The Jews call it the Garden of Eden, and the Iranians, the Garden of Yima. To the Sumerians it was Dilun, and to the Egyptians it was Tep Zepi. The ancient Greeks spoke of a Golden Age, and the Hindus refer to it as Satya Yuga. From the Chinese Taoists to the tribes of central and southern Africa; from the Cheyenne of the Great Plains to the Yanomano of the Venezuelan rain forest, we encounter this universal myth of a prehistoric time of harmony and bliss that vanished due to some primordial crime."

Friday, 7 June 2013

The Power of Words

Soul music by Terry Pratchett
And if they're said with the right passion and the gods are feeling bored, sometimes the universe will reform itself around words like that. Words have always had the power to change the world.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Life after death

When he returned and stood at his father's grave, Holy Rainbow had shown little sadness, and it occurred to him then that it was because she, too, knew it was the way of all living things.
"The Frairs say we shall see him again," Holy Rainbow had told him. "In another place and time. Not like a spirit that returns to roam the earth. Not like that. But as a child opening his arms to those in his family who have wandered and now return home." Her eyes had been filled with tears when he turned to him. "It is a hope," she said, "and the promise of a good father."
from A Name of Her Own by Jane Kirkpatrick

What do you believe in?

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Hay Festival 2013: General impressions

Credit: Finn Beales

I was lucky enough to manage to get to the Hay Festival, Hay-on-Wye this year. I'd like to share with you some of my experiences over the next week or so.
Read on and then do enter my giveaway to win some of the books by authors who appeared during the event.

Day One
A good day. The sun stayed bright (so bright infact that I have a bit of a suntan) and the rain didn't arrive. The Hay Festival is very interesting. The site itself isn't as big as I thought it would be. There are loads of cafes on site and its quite bustling. Driving through town, it looked like a really fascinating place to be.
Day Two
 This place is beginning to feel like home. All in all a great day. Comedy and education all built into one. This really is a great place to be!

Day Three
Watched some children playing today. Its amazing what difference being readers, or having parents who read seems to make. I saw a little girl plonk down on a bench and break it. I was expecting tears but, instead, this 6 year-old turned the bench over and began fixing it. Before her parents looked up from their book she had fixed it. In the meantime other youngsters were making their own entertainment; not an electronic device in sight!

Day Four
Terrible weather. Still, I managed to keep busy going to talks. Its very useful that the walkways are almost completely undercover.
Day Five
I feels like I've been here forever now, and I wish it could stay this way. I'm just so relaxed, and I'm really enjoying listening to (and meeting) such a variety of people. Getting up slowly in the morning and reading throughout the day is good as well. 
Day Six
Lovely sunny day. The birds are singing and the day is bright. A really thought-provoking day, finished off with a dash of comedy. 
Day Seven
A really beautiful day, which I spent exploring the surrounding area. The sun shone through and I saw some really amazing things. I returned to Hay feeling more excited and at home than other. Queuing was no longer boring. I was happy simply just to sit back and watch the world go by. 

Have you been to Hay? How did you find it?

The Idolatory of God by Peter Rollins (A Review)


In contrast to the usual answers concerning the Good News of Christianity, Peter Rollins offers a radical and initially disturbing statement in his new book: you can't be satisfied; life is difficult; you don't know the secret. Peter argues that God has traditionally been thought of as a product that will make you whole, remove your suffering, and give you the answers. In contrast, Rollins outlines an understanding of faith that asks us to embrace suffering, face up to our unknowing, and fully accept the difficulties of existence. It is only as we embrace, affirm, and celebrate life in all of its highs and lows that we can find God. Not as that which will make everything better but as a loving presence that enables us to say yes in the bad times as well as the good. Rollinss radically different approach to Christianity includes living in a community that is ruled by love. Rather than maintaining that we are correct, we allow those who differ with us to judge us, and we examine ourselves through the other persons eyes. Whether listeners are devout believers or distant seekers, The Idolatry of God shows that we must lay down our certainties and honestly admit our doubts to identify with Jesus. Rollins purposely upsets fundamentalist certainty in order to open listeners up to a more loving, active manifestation of Christs love.

A thought-provoking book, which encourages Christians to consider their beliefs and how they show them in everyday life. Each chapter raises a series of linked questions about faith, which build on each other as the book goes on.
Overall I liked this book, although there were sections like I found a little too complex and slightly confusing

Action Readers Action:  
 Give up your favourite thing for a day (or a week). Use the extra time to help someone else.

What are the idols in your life?

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Role of women

Among the women praised in Scripture are warriors, widows, slaves, sister wives, apostles, teachers. concubines, queens, foreigners, prostitutes, prophets, mothers, and martyrs. What makes these women's stories leap from the page is not the fact that they conform to some kind of universal ideal, but that, regardless of the culture and context in which they found themselves, they lived their lives with valour. They lived their lives with faitg. A much as we may long for the symplicity of a single definition of "biblical womanhood," there is no one right way to be a woman, no mold into which we must cram ourselves- not if Deborah, Ruth, Rachel, Tamar, Vahti, Esther, Priscilla, Mary Magdalene, and Tabitha have anything to say about it.
from A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans

She thought of Holy Rainbow's God. Could he hear Vivacite? Did he care less that this infant was a girl? Would he have kept a boy child alive? She spoke into the moonlit night, wondered if her l'Ayvoise words would be understood by Holy Rainbow's God.
"Can you carry this child in the cleft of your back?" she whispered as Vivacite lay in the crook of her arm, only slightly heavier than the fur that surrounded her. "Is she your beloved? Will you keep her from hunger when I can't? Just a few more days, the guides say. Just a few more drops of milk to keep her alive, that's all we need. Or will you make her dying be a message to her selfish mother?"
 from A Name of Her Own by Jane Kirkpatrick

What do you think the role of women should be in the church (and society as a whole)?

Monday, 3 June 2013

The Plateau by Maureen Dudley (A Review)

Book Information:
What if you have half a second to stop the extinction of part of the human race? What if that pivotal instant involves you saving your own life but first you have to believe an undiplomatic liaison of a colony of Earth inhabitants who lives in an altered future timeline.
Catherine, an environmental engineer, lives with the constant pressure that is an innate part of her research and advocacy work. She believes in protecting the environment, not only for her generation, but for the future. When her father dies unexpectedly she begins to battle with sleep deprivation. Sleep eludes her and when it does come, she finds herself repeatedly dreaming about standing on the same high plateau with her greyhound, Addy, surrounded by plants and animals and insects. In each dream the living landscape appears and then suddenly transforms into ash.
Keitha, an archivist who lives two hundred years in the future in an underground colony that is living with the consequences of past actions/inactions, stands on the plateau with her dog Murphy. Keitha has no time for Catherine's doubts. She knows that Catherine holds the key to stopping the Machiavellians from changing an event that shifts Earth's future timeline, resulting in the extinction of Keitha's colony.
Catherine's belief in the Hau de no sau nee (Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy) principal that we have to consider the effect decisions have on descendants seven generations into the future is put to the ultimate test when she learns that 'the event' is her own death. In order to stop it, Catherine must walk directly into its path.

This book speaks truly to the heart. Full of facts and information, ye staying true to its fictional setting, Dudley's story is a warning to us all.
I loved the character of Keitha. She was head-strong, vivid and realistic. I could imagine clearly what she would do in different situations. The personalities of the dogs were also captivating, with their unique place within this tale. 
Various classic science-fiction and time-traveling notions are woven within this story, and yet Dudley somehow manages to keep it fresh and new. Complicated issues and paradoxes are never ignored, nor are they explained by fanciful inventions. Instead they are noted and skillfully become points for the characters themselves to discuss and debate.
I very much enjoyed this book. A must for all those interested in the future. 


Music out of the Pages: The Death Song

Dragonsong by Anne McCarthy

"Petiron had left more behind than his body. He'd left her every song he'd ever known, every lay, every ballad, saga, every fingering, chord and strum, every rhythm. There wasn't any way a stringed instrument couuld be played that she didn't know, nor any cadence on the drums at which she wasn't time-perfect. She could whistle double-trills as well as any wherry with her tongue or on the reeds."

Sunday, 2 June 2013

The Fall of Man

From Crashing Eden by Michael Sussman:
 "You've just seen me fall," she said, her eyelids lowered in embarassment. "Well, it so happens that one of the most universal accounts in the mythologies of the world is that of the Fall of Man. Ancient peoples and modern day aborigines all refer to a lost paradise from which humanity had been expelled....
... "What happened was the Fall," Alessa said. "Human consciousness was cut off from the divine source, and a former sense of oneness with the cosmos was lost. This estrangement was attributed to a crime of disobedience, often involving a forbidden fruit. In Greek mythology, the Golden Age ended when Pandora- the first woman- defied Zeus by opening the box he'd given her, unleashing evil into the world.
"With this fall from grace, humanity was expelled from Paradise and forced to deal with disease, misfortune, hardship, and sorrow. Everything was altered, as mortality, sexual regeneration, and the need for work became part of the human condition. Human nature gradually degenerated, resulting in fear, greed, cruelty, mistrust, violence, and insensitivity to nature."
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