The Amber Spyglass – by Philip Pullman

30 04 2020

Last year I read the first two books in this trilogy ready for the TV adaptation that came out, I watched a few episodes but can’t remember if I finished it or not! Either way, I wasn’t in a rush to read the third one. I kinda regret leaving it so long now as even with reading a synopsis of the second book, it was hard to catch up and work out what had happened!

It didn’t help that for a good chunk at the beginning of the book it feels like it jumps around between several groups of people quite quickly, and it was hard to keep track. Not only that but I really couldn’t fathom for a long time who was on what side!

All this said, after my blip with the second book, this was much more engaging and, as per usual, the last 100 pages I read in just a day or two – I’ve spent the whole of this evening since dinner just reading it. It’s so well told, I’m not even going to try and give an overview cos the complexity would make this a very very long post, but it was fascinating trying to work out how all the different parts would resolve.

As I had been slightly forewarned, this book does diss the church more, but the way I see it, it’s a very fictional church, very different to what I know church to be. As I think I said before, at the end of the day, it’s just a story.

Internet highlights – w/c 19th April 2020

25 04 2020

Genuinely interesting Disney facts. (Despite the clickbaity title).

Excuses for being late to Zoom Church.

Things people have learnt about their partners in quarantine.

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Internet highlights – w/c 12th April 2020

18 04 2020

People who did the job a little too literally.

Outdated problems.

Awkward things British people do.

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Internet highlights – w/c 5th April 2020

11 04 2020

The Queen wore green for her broadcast, so of course the photoshoppers got on it.

House uses fairy lights to celebrate the NHS.

The problem with cats when working from home.

A story about a whale carcass, dynamite, and how this relates to Coronavirus.

Films & TV Shows that predicted the future.

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The Screwtape Letters – by C.S. Lewis

10 04 2020

Many years ago I got my Grandpa’s very old copy (I think late 1950s, early 1960s?) of this book, which obviously was rather delicate and fragile, so I have kept it safely in a box ever since. A few years later I got the C.S. Lewis Signature Box Set which had a much more robust copy as part of it, and a few years after that, I’ve finally got around to reading it!

The book is a collection of letters from Screwtape (a senior devil) to his nephew Wormwood (a junior devil) – we can clearly tell that there are replies between, but we’re not privy to those. Wormwood has been assigned a ‘patient’ and the letters contain advice, critique and general feedback about how he is doing, what he needs to do differently, and what opportunities to look for.

It’s a confusing read to start with to get your head around the terminology. As a Christian, the phrase “the enemy” would normally mean Satan, and “Our Father”, God, but in this book the roles are of course, reversed! It’s very cleverly written and ends up challenging you in all sorts of areas. There’s a hugely strong warning against luke-warmness, they are excited when the patient is starting to head in the wrong direction, but thinks things are OK so long as he is still a church-goer.

I occasionally found it hard to read, the sentences got quite long in places, and C.S. Lewis is a very clever man, so I think sometimes it was just a bit beyond me, but mostly it’s readable, the content is good and the premise is superb. Definitely worth a read.

At the back is a section which I believe was previously published separately, called “Screwtape proposes a toast”, which is a 20ish page speech that he gives at the graduation at The Tempters Training College for young Devils. It was written maybe 20 years later, and again had good content but was a bit hard going at times – good to see Screwtape in another setting though!

Some of my favourite quotes are below (and remember to bear in mind, these are all written from a devil’s perspective):

  • “It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out.”
  • “The safest road to Hell is the gradual one – the gentle sloe, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”
  • “Let him think of [humility] not as a self-forgetfulness but as a certain kind o opinion (namely, a low opinion) of his own talents and character.”
  • “We have trained them to think of the Future as a promised land with favoured heroes attain – not as something which everyone reaches at the rate of sixty minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.”
  • “Here were vermin so muddled in mind, so passively responsive to environment, that it was very hard to raise them to that level of clarity and deliberateness at which mortal sin becomes possible. To raise them just enough; but not that fatal millimetre of ‘too much’. For then, of course, all would possibly have been lost. They might have seen; they might have repented.”

Internet highlights – w/c 29th March 2020

4 04 2020

How to stop false information from going viral.

Famous artworks, adjusted for quarantine.

Formerly busy public spaces – empty.

A dad set up a whole treasure quest for his daughter when she asked about the door in the ceiling.

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April Fools 2020

1 04 2020

There were a lot of people on Twitter saying April Fools should be ‘cancelled’ this year.
My position on it is that as long as it’s kept light-hearted and harmless, then it’s a great distraction for us all. There’ve been all sorts of other jokes out there to keep spirits up, people don’t seem to take issue with any other form of comedy, and yet for some reason people have written off today – it’s a shame.
(I’m sure most people will disagree with me, that’s fine, we’re all allowed an opinion.)
Anyway, disappointingly it looks like nearly everyone has erred on the side of caution; this is all I’ve found:

Not great in quality or quantity, but respect to them for giving it a go!

Let’s hope that this time next year life is back to normal and we can enjoy this properly.

UPDATE: things found after the midday deadline