Review: The Up-Side Down Bible by Symon Hill

Goodreads summary:

Attempts to read Jesus’ teachings with an open mind can be hampered by years of being told the ‘right’ interpretation in church. Christians familiar with the texts can gain fresh insights by listening to people coming to it for the first time, who may find the traditional readings far from obvious.

Symon Hill has led many Bible study groups with largely non-Christian groups and has discovered surprising and helpful insights that are less likely to be found among Christians used to reading the Bible. For example, these readers will often relate to different characters and find meanings that may surprise us.

In The Upside-down Bible, Hill presents alternative readings of some of Jesus’ best-known parables – focusing on topical themes of money, power, sex and violence – which will help us to consider the teaching of the Bible with a fresh perspective and gain a deeper spiritual and cultural understanding of the Bible texts. Each chapter includes questions, prompts and reflection points making it useful for group and individual Bible study.

Review:

“Jesus’ teachings are challenging, provocative and awkward. They don’t fit into neat categories and well-structured theories, whether liberal or conservative, Catholic or Protestant.”

This is such an interesting premise for a New Testament study. The Up-Side Down Bible examines the teachings and life of Jesus through several lenses at once, and aims to present different perspectives rather than draw conclusions from them. It invites people of any (or no) faith to come to the Bible fresh, and to make up their own minds.

In every chapter, the book focuses on one particular passage from the Gospels, referencing where else the story is told and offering definitions for words which may be unfamiliar. Hill discusses the historical context, the academic debate, and then invites his focus group to share their interpretations, in an attempt to drive his readers towards questions of their own.

The Up-Side Down Bible is good for those who are already familiar with the Bible, to see well-known passages with fresh eyes. But it’s also an easy and inviting access point for those unfamiliar with the life of Jesus, as it assumes no prior knowledge. It encourages us to remember that there is very rarely one single, simple answer when it comes to God’s word, and rather than building towards an argument, each chapter ends with a series of questions to encourage a continuation of the discussion. Hill reminds us that Jesus encouraged his disciples to question, and encourages us in turn to engage in debate rather than settle on one interpretation. You cannot ‘solve’ the Bible. But Hill’s book demonstrates that the issues Jesus discussed are just as relevant today.

Title: The Up-Side Down Bible
Author: Symon Hill
Publisher: Darton, Longman & Todd
Publication date: 26th November 2015
Page count: 192
This book is eligible for Beat the Backlist 2018, the Colour Coded Challenge and the British Books Challenge.
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Review: Daughter of Mystery by Heather Rose Jones

Goodreads summary: 

Margerit Sovitre did not expect to inherit the Baron Saveze’s fortunes—and even less his bodyguard. The formidable Barbara, of unknown parentage and tied to the barony for secretive reasons, is a feared duelist, capable of defending her charges with efficient, deadly force.

Equally perplexing is that while she is now a highly eligible heiress, Margerit did not also inherit the Saveze title, and the new baron eyes the fortunes he lost with open envy. Barbara, bitter that her servitude is to continue, may be the only force that stands between Margerit and the new Baron’s greed—and the ever deeper layers of intrigue that surround the ill-health of Alpennia’s prince and the divine power from rituals known only as The Mysteries of the Saints.

At first Margerit protests the need for Barbara’s services, but soon she cannot imagine sending Barbara away—for reasons of state and reasons of the heart.

Heather Rose Jones debuts with a sweeping story rich in intrigue and the clash of loyalties and love. Continue reading

2017 Blog Stats

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Hello folks, for the last time in 2017! Phew, it’s been a heck of a year – and I’m not sure next year will see any miraculous improvement. Briefly – because this is my blog and I do what I want – I would like to thank all the creators who’ve continued to create through everything this year. Various governments, natural disasters, and fascists have not made it easy to continue to strive for justice, equality, and the ability to look for joy in everyday life. I believe that we can make things better for everyone.

Human rights are not an infinite resource – we all deserve to be celebrated for our differences and for our similarities, to have equal access and equal pay, to be safe in our homes – to have homes at all – and trust that those who have power over our lives will be ruled by justice and compassion. It might not always happen, but that’s what we all deserve, without exception.

Wow, that got a little bit deep there, folks. Ahem. So now let’s move on to something utterly superficial – my blog stats for 2017! This has been my first full year of blogging, so I’m really interested to see what the data looks like (*cough* nerd). Continue reading

Top Ten Books of 2017

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Hello again, folks! I hope you all are having very merry Christmasses! The end of the year is nigh, and phew, has it been a year! I moved out of my mum’s, had a wisdom tooth removed, cut a lot of my hair off, and started dating.

This has also been my first full year of blogging, and I’ve so enjoyed hanging out with you all, sharing favourite books and yelling about equality and politics (on twitter, anyway, I try to be a bit more book-focused here). I’ve tried out a bunch of different memes, had high ambitions of year-long reading challenges, and I ran a whole series called Words for the Week (click here for the first post in case you’re curious). I went to YALC, NineWorlds and GollanczFest, and met some awesome writers, readers and bloggers *waves* hi, guys!

So to round off this incredible year (notwithstanding global politics and climate change, but this is a very escapist blog, folks), I’d like to remind myself of the best books I read and reviewed this year. I didn’t review everything I read – Tash Hearts Tolstoy stands out for me as one of my favourite books I didn’t review! – but I did publish a total of forty-one reviews, and I would like to share with you my absolute faves of those. Continue reading

Gollancz Festival 2017: The Complete Series

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Hello, folks! For those of you who aren’t sick of me going on about this year’s Gollancz Festival, here’s one final post to round it off – and on my birthday, which is kinda lovely. Click the links below to read the whole series from start to finish (they’ll be linked within the posts as well), or just catch up on that one you missed. I hope you’ve enjoyed this series, and found it both entertaining and useful. Let me know if you like this way of doing write-ups, or you’d prefer that I do it another way. Though this will definitely be the last such write-up this year!

Saturday morning:

Saturday afternoon:

Sunday: