Should we leave “childish” things behind?

Many in the English-speaking world grew up in churches in the last century (acknowledged, many didn’t too). I did. And over the years I have watched the exodus of young people from the church institutions, many citing it as being irrelevant to modern-day life.

Every evening during bedtime with my young daughter, we read a Bible story, pray, and sing a song (or two). We’re currently working through the Junior Praise song book. Tonight one of the songs was “What a Friend we have in Jesus”. While singing through it, I couldn’t help but be reminded of how lonely people can get these days as people grow more and more suspicious of their neighbours, and how this loneliness leads to loss of hope, despair, depression, anxiety and for some, suicide. And I couldn’t help but think, “If only we could sing this song more to ourselves.” For it is such a beautiful reminder that there is ALWAYS a friend standing by who can be closer to us than a brother, sister, husband, wife, partner, BFF, parent or child can EVER be.

I’ve known that comfort that comes from knowing that Jesus loves me even as He knows my deepest, darkest secrets, even as He knows the terrible mistakes I’ve made (the ones I’ve struggled to forgive myself for before realising His love covers even them). Have you?

What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged;
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge,
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield you;
You will find a solace there.

Blessèd Savior, Thou hast promised
Thou wilt all our burdens bear
May we ever, Lord, be bringing
All to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright unclouded
There will be no need for prayer
Rapture, praise and endless worship
Will be our sweet portion there.

– John Scriven, 1855

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Review of Palimpsest by Charles Stross

Palimpsest. Noun. a parchment or the like from which writing has been partially or completely erased to make room for another text. (link)

Stasis. Noun. a state or condition in which there is no action or progress. (link)

Agent Pierce is a member of Stasis, an organisation of time travellers who have tasked themselves with the preservation of humanity and the recording of humanity’s history. His initiation into Stasis was to murder his grandfather – effectively writing himself out of the history books. When he survives an ambush, he is contacted by a doctoral researcher he eventually marries. But things fall apart when he travels through time to the Final Library and finds no record of the time line in which he marries the researcher.

I really really enjoyed this story. It certainly was a great way to end off my travels through The Time Traveller’s Almanac. In Palimpsest Stross creates an explosive cocktail of some of the themes I love best from scifi: deep time, time travel and the time travel paradox. While this novella is somewhat complex, at the same time it’s relatively simple. I could definitely see scope for it being expanded considerably, but I also like that Stross leaves some of the story to my imagination to fill in.

Definitely a huge thumbs up to this story from this scifi fan.

Rating: 5/5 stars.

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Review of If Ever I Should Leave You by Pamela Sargent

The narrator of this story remains nameless. Her husband is Yuri Malenkov, and when we meet them, Yuri is dying – having cheated death for around three hundred years – apparently that’s what people do. In the last six months Yuri has made many time travel trips, and he dies the night after he returns from his final trip.

The reason Yuri made those many trips was so his wife could travel to meet him again after he has left her. And eventually she does make use of the time slots he logged and visits with him as time passes.

It isn’t explained how people in this setting cheat death, but apparently they can rejuvenate – but only for so long. Then they age rather rapidly.

This was a really lovely, gentle story of timeless love, and I enjoyed it very much. And there’s a bit of a plot twist that just put the cherry on top of the cake.

Rating: 4/5 stars.


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