intraspace: the review lounge

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

the screwtape letters

the screwtape letters, by cs lewis

cs lewis strikes again! not that i should be surprised, he is widely regarded as one of the best christian writers of the 20th century.

this book is the record of letters sent by senior demon screwtape to his nephew wormwood. wormwood is on assignment trying to turn a new christian away from God. the more experienced screwtape gives advice to the young demon. this in turn gives us an insight into the way humans are deceived and tempted.

it's astonishing when you take stock of lewis's total literary output to realise just what a genius this man was. he has left an indelible mark on christian thought quite possibly for all time. he was a man of incredible intelligence and insight.

and so, true to form, this book is really brilliant. and, unlike some of his books, easy to read. not least of all because of the subplot of the human subject that screwtape and wormwood are trying so hard to mislead. you get to know not just the demons' methods but also some of the character and backstory of the man. the individual letters are short and interesting, and perception altering.

i'll add this to my list of crucial christian books.

on the headphones: 'everyday' by the cinematic orchestra, from the album 'every day'.

Labels: , , , , ,

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


ss-gb, by len deighton

and now, for something completely different. in need of a little light relief, i read this novel that anna picked up at an op-shop for a few cents.

len deighton is actually quite an established author and is known for meticulous research.

anyway, the interesting thing about this book is that it is set in great britain after it has fallen to the nazis in ww2. it is the story of a scotland yard detective who finds himself working for the ss police and trying to solve a murder that leads to all kinds of intrigue involving nuclear weapons development and falling in love with a leggy blond american journalist (as you do).

it ended up being a little bit too much of a murder mystery for me, and seemed to end quite quickly, the events not having the kind of impact you would expect them to. but nevertheless, i did get the entertainment i was looking for and the setting and premise was interesting. i suspect i'll end up reading more len deighton in the future - not least of all because i can see another four of his books sitting on the shelf here - they are very easy to come by for very cheap.

on the headphones: 'planet telex (hexidecimal mix)' by radiohead, from the 'high and dry' single.

Labels: , , ,

visual faith

visual faith: art, theology and worship in dialogue, by william a dyrness

three or four years ago there weren't a lot of books around about christianity and the arts. since my university days i'd been obsessed with the idea of a re-emergent arts movement in the church and it seems i wasn't the only one. in the last couple of years, a noticeable movement has indeed begun to take place. alongside that are an increasing number of books on the subject.

but i got this book when there weren't so many, and i aimed to get anything that came out. the rather drab title and the awful cover design put me off reading it for a long time - even the author's name sounds like "dryness".

finally, three years after buying the book, i finished reading it. and it turned out to be an excellent piece of writing.

dyrness begins by giving a historical survey of art and the church (interesting), talks about art in the bible (interesting), gives some theological perspectives (difficult), then talks about the challenges and opportunities for christians in the arts today (excellent). all up, a very good survey of the issues.

dyrness challenges protestant churches to pick up visual creativity and shows that it doesn't have to be at the expense of 'the word'. recommended reading for anyone who is interested in the application of visual media in the church.

on the headphones: 'all the time' by starflyer 59, from the album 'the fashion focus'.

Labels: , , , , ,

Saturday, April 01, 2006

bono on bono

bono on bono, conversations with michka assayas

for a long time i've held a kind of ambition to meet bono. i guess that is a fairly cliche ambition, but there it is. a wave of excitement swept through new zealand a few months ago - U2 were returning after about 12 years of absence. people went crazy paying amazing prices for tickets on internet auction sites, queued through the night, and spent hours trying to buy tickets online. in the event, for now we have all been treated to a stunning display of anti-climax. the tour was postponed, and for a very good reason - one of the band members had a sick relative (the edge's daughter?).

part of my build-up to the concert was reading this book. anna gave it to me for my birthday, a couple of weeks before the st patricks day concert. so, in lieu of the certainty of actually ever sitting down with bono and having the kind of conversation that takes days (or even decades) to complete and understand, michka assayas steps into the gap. and can i say right now, this book most definitely makes its way to the top of the pile of books on U2 or bono you should ever bother reading. bono, that man of mystery, is best revealed through his own words. not that that makes him any more straightforward - he describes himself as "a scribbling, cigar-smoking, wine-drinking, Bible-reading band man..." our friend alex, who's also reading the book said, "I'’m kind of surprised, impressed and disappointed in Bono'’s character all at the same time".

and so there he is. we all look for heroes - people who embody the ideal of what we believe. and after years of holding bono up as a hero (i've called U2 my favourite band since i was about 7) i'm learning to see him, and others, as people - complicated, flawed and open to acts of incredible stupidity and goodness. when you see that, you become more honest about yourself too i guess. so now i try to see bono as being bono, or better yet, paul hewson. and every time recently i've been tempted to see one of my heroes or friends as somehow removed from the harsh realities and complexities of life, the failings of humanity, the pitfalls of life, i think of biblical characters like king david - a shocking sinner and a man after God's own heart... crucially, david always admitted when he was wrong and developed some kind of real relationship with God, all the while acknowledging God as the higher authority. he was a man who undoubtedly knew the meaning of grace. and so, it seems, is bono.

as a christian i would have asked bono a different set of questions to those that michka assayas asked, and to be honest sometimes the conversation seems to get a little too hot in the spiritual kitchen for assayas, which can be a little frustrating. i found that conversations about bono's political involvements got a bit tiring, but i guess that's where things are at in his life.

anyway, this book is pretty addictive, the conversation style draws you in. this is easily one of the most crucial books (if not most crucial) on bono available. i hope there is another one in 10-20 years.

on the headphones: 'no more cotton' by sacred spirit, from the album 'culture clash vol 2'.

Labels: , , , , ,