Preach Magazine Issue 1 - Creativity and innovation in preaching - Page 36

36 REVIEWS JONAH: POET IN EXTREMIS FORGETFUL HEART Richard Littledale, McKnight and Bishop (2014) Lucy Mills, Darton, Longman & Todd (2014) Many of us first heard the story of Jonah and the whale as children and subsequently have missed its very adult themes. In this short and pacey book, Littledale takes us on a vivid journey with the runaway prophet and in the process opens up a whole world of complexity. I particularly enjoyed his description of Jonah working out where he was having been swallowed, which draws on accounts of a man named James Bartley who allegedly did some time in a whale in 1891. This book is for those who fall into bed at the end of the day regretting the time they didn’t spend with God, who feel everyone else is managing their Christian life better. It is a book to interrupt the busy. Does a strange little narrative involving a man implausibly surviving a few days in the stomach of a sea creature have any relevance today? Littledale has, ‘absolute conviction that the ancient stories of faith live again in the embodied reality of contemporary faith’. Along with a creative retelling of the book of Jonah, he explores the intersection of its themes with our faith and our lives, themes such as prejudice, fear, self-worth, and duty. The last section of the book is a study guide. I would highly recommend using it in a small group Bible study setting. I do feel duty bound to tell you that there are a distracting number of typos and typesetting errors. I was still able to enjoy the read, but for someone of a more perfectionistic disposition, this could be a bit of a barrier. JO SWINNEY LWPT8173 - Preach Magazine - Issue 1 v3.indd 36 It is thorough, personal, easy to read and provides insight into the roots of our distraction, in modern times, throughout biblical history and in many different areas of life. Its genre is difficult to pinpoint; sometimes selfhelp – with insights into dementia and psychology, at times autobiographical (it arises out of difficult personal illness), but it is predominantly, I think, a themed study guide. Each of the short chapters begins and ends with a Bible verse. There is poetry and a prompt for reflection. It can be read alone, as I did (I gained many useful insights) although it would be great for a house group or book club to read and discuss together. The layout of chapters facilitates this. It is theologically sound. The final part of the book is concerned with ways of remembering God. It touches on mindfulness and contemplation, but for me this section was a little full of searching and ‘we need to’. In places, it turned ‘busy forgetting’ into ‘busy remembering’. Peace for your own soul comes in learning silence, rhythm, and in outreach to others. I loved the way Lucy’s energy and honesty came across. She is sharing a personal journey of searching. I applaud her new writing career through books and blog ( and know there is a sequel here as her journey continues. I look forward to reading it. STELLA DAVIS 17/10/2014 12:54:04