Monthly Archives: March 2010

Book review: Undercover by Chris Rogers

I have to admit being a “bookaholic”, I’ve normally got a number of books at any one time on the go, different types of book of different moods or even times of the day. My favourite genres are history, science fiction and psychology/business, working in book-selling where you are exposed to so many new titles,  can sometimes put you off reading a book that you know could be important.

The book “Undercover” by Chris Rogers is one of those books that I wouldn’t normally choose to pick up, I’m not politically minded, and dislike immensely the cult of celebrity, but whilst in a hotel this week, and knowing how passionate my publishing colleagues are about this title, I read an advance copy .

This is not a book that can be taken lightly or read easily. Whilst the headlines will focus the involvement of the Duchess of York & Princesses Beatrice & Eugenie, the real story is deeply disturbing. Chris Rogers is a journalist who goes undercover to expose the dreadful treatment of children held in institutions in Romania & Turkey, and of the sex trafficking from Eastern Europe.

You can’t read the book and fail to be sickened at the treatment of such vulnerable human beings, or fail to be shocked at the systemic cover up of these abuses. That it continues in the 21st century, should rock us to the core, but it doesn’t and taking the time to read a book like this helps us to see this.

The book does give hope that exposing this evil, starts the process of change. Let’s hope and pray that the publication of this book continues that process. There is huge credit to the author, his cameraman, and everyone else involved in producing this book, there was real danger involved in the researching and telling of this story.

This book is published by Authentic, a Christian publisher, well done guys for producing a book which addresses a really difficult but important subject. The Christian faith is a message of hope, and the values which it stands for are evident in this book,  I hope the book trade, both general and Christian, give good support to this title.

Here’s a video clip of the author talking about his experiences at a recent book festival.

Ooops…I forgot, I get to choose.

Most of the time, we get carried away by daily life, it’s busyness, the realities of living in current times, and I guess if we’re honest it’s the same for most of us. There are events in life that we just can’t control, that we have to just live through. A close friend has just lost his father unexpectedly, he didn’t want that to happen, in fact it was the last thing he wanted to happen.

The challenge is to choose how to react when living through challenging times.

As humans we do have a God given gift to make choices about ourselves.

Author Stephen Covey says it this way…

“Between stimulus and response is our greatest power – the freedom to choose”

I’m going through a fair amount of change and challenge in my own life at present. I feel myself being swept along, and in some ways, I’m letting it define me. It’s time to remember to choose my response.

So I today and each day I choose to…

…believe that God’s plan for my life is better than the one that I can create for myself.
…be more intentional with my time, energy & resources, to not let life and time fritter away.
…believe the best about the people around me.

right it’s time to get moving.

Book Review: Son of Hamas – Mosab Hassan

This is an unusual Christian book, it’s the story of a guy whose father was one of the founders of Hamas, the Muslim Palestinian movement, it traces his life and spiritual journey. It is written from a different perspective than most Christian books, and is a compelling read. Hassan writes well, and shares his memories of growing up, getting involved and finally escaping from the Israeli/Palestinian struggle.

It is a brave and personal book about his experiences that take him through living in an occupied country, being beaten & imprisoned, through to disillusionment with his brothers in arms, to his journey away from the people and faith that he had believed in since childhood.

Through a chance encounter, Mosab encounters the Christian faith, and begins to see in the person of Jesus, someone giving the message of peace & love that he believes is the answer to the Middle East crisis, which is spiralling out of control around him.

He holds a huge love and admiration for his father and family, and couldn’t reconcile the violence of Hamas with message of Christ. So whilst in prison he is recruited to work with Shin Bet, the Israeli Security Agency, he leads a double life for years, trying to stop the worst excesses of the fighting. Through this time his belief in the Christian faith deepens and becomes more real to him, eventually he has to leave his homeland.

So he is now telling his story publicly for the first time, he bravely talks openly about his role, the people he knew, and all the evil they did. This is could be dangerous for him and his family. This is an important new biography which should be read by widely as a reminder that we live in a very comfortable society compared to some others, it is politically bang up to date.

Well done to Tyndale in the US , and Authentic in the UK for publishing a book like this.

Envy of the simpler life.

There’s a guy that lives opposite me. I see him in from my bedroom window in the morning  when he lets his dogs outside. I see him from my office window as he works. He’s a joiner, a carpenter, and a good one, he’s fixed a lot of things in our home that I wasn’t able to, and he’s built stuff for us, from scratch, that I just wouldn’t know where to start.

He really only works locally, he’s well known, liked and respected. He grew up around here, he has his routines in place, and family and friends around him.

It seems to me that he has got the simpler life down to a tee. I find myself envying that.

I sometimes feel that with my life of corporate business development, sales, people connections, travel with multiple roles and varied projects that I can never really fully deliver, and that my brain is buzzing and my feet never really touch the ground.

My neighbour knows when he’s done a good job; he can see it in front of him, it’s physical, tangible, present and real.

Discovering that same sense of completion in a modern business environment is a whole different ball game. I need to search out the real successes more, and not let my lizard brain tell me that because your work is relational and broader that you aren’t delivering.

I’ve asked myself would I enjoy the simpler life of practical trade? My brain says “you can’t build a flat pack from IKEA, so why would you think you could do a trade?”

I love the idea of a simpler life and role, but I suspect my instincts to always look ahead for the next big idea, the next initiative, the next project would mean I would be always looking around, and not concentrating on the task at hand.

So I’m going to learn from my neighbour, and try and take pleasure, fulfilment and value from the simpler aspects of life. I am going to try and relax and enjoy just doing hands on stuff, as it’s value is as high as anything else in life.