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The House by Helen Pitt

Trapped in Sydney Airport I saw The House, Helen Pitt’s history of the construction of the Sydney Opera House.
It seemed an irresistible subject having seen the structure most of the days I’d been in Sydney.
It’s a very engaging read weaving a narrative of the numerous larger than life characters responsible for the creation of the iconic structure.

Here’s an observation about architect Jørn Utzon working in Europe to visualise a building in Australia that is attractive no matter what angle it is viewed from:

At Kronborg Castle he paced out distances, his long legs stretching to count the meters as he tried to picture Bennelong Point. While walking around the castle’s ancient walls he realised that the Sydney Opera House would be like Kronborg: viewed from all sides. He had often sailed around the Kronborg peninsula, observing the castle from all angles, so knew the Sydney Opera House could not have an ugly side. It needed to be beautiful from all angles. Around, above and below. From a ferry on the harbour or from a car on the Harbour Bridge.

The House, Helen Pitt, Allen & Unwin, 2018, pg 106.

Even with the controversy surrounding its design and construction, it does achieve that brief.
No matter where the Opera House is viewed from, and no matter how many times you’ve seen it before, it is a pleasure to look at.


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Rhino – The Ryan Harris Biography

Getting into a holiday mindset takes a simple read or two.
Rhino by Ryan Harris is a perfect example: very readable and undemanding.
This sporting biography features not one, but two co-writers, but Harris’ story is interesting because of the mid-career recreation that he effected going from journeyman to spearhead in the midst of continuing struggles with injury.
The fact he experienced that season of success as part of the Queensland team makes it all the more engaging.
Sorry, South Australia.


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Pierre Durand, Huguenot Martyr – Simonetta Carr

Simonetta Carr introduces the forgotten people of Christian history, this time Pierre Durand:

Pierre Durand was not simply an isolated martyr in the history of the church.
He was one of the main architects in a concerted effort to bring the Huguenot churches to unity, order, and theological orthodoxy.

read about Durand here.


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Mr Eternity

Holiday reading starts with biography, and a couple of folk from Bible Study at MGPC recently said they’d enjoyed reading Mr Eternity – The Story of Arthur Stace.
It’s very engagingly written, a combination of personal affection and biographical account.


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In his autobiography, Born To Run, Bruce Springsteen reflects on the profound impact his relationship with his father, had on his life and performance persona.

Those whose love we wanted but could not get, we emulate. It is dangerous but makes us feel closer, gives us an illusion of the intimacy we never had. It stakes our claim upon that which was rightfully ours but denied. In my twenties, as my song and my story began to take shape, I searched for the voice I would blend with mine to do the telling. It is a moment when through creativity and will you can rework, repossess and rebirth the conflicting voices of your childhood, to turn them into something alive, powerful and seeking light. I’m a repairman. That’s part of my job. So I, who’d never done a week’s worth of manual labor in my life (hail, hail rock ‘n’ roll!), put on a factory worker’s clothes, my father’s clothes, and went to work.
One night I had a dream. I’m onstage in full flight, the night is burning and my dad, long dead, sits quietly in an aisle seat in the audience. Then … I’m kneeling next to him in the aisle, and for a moment, we both watch the man on fire onstage. I touch his forearm and say to my dad, who for so many years sat paralysed by depression, “Look, Dad, look … that guy onstage … that’s you, that’s how I see you.”

Born To Run, Bruce Springsteen, Simon & Schuster, 2016, pg 414


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Sinclair Ferguson’s Preface To Reformation Worship

When the Gospel was rediscovered at the Reformation a focus on worship accompanied it.
Paying heed to the practice of worship from the past is an insight into the impact of the Gospel on the gathered people of God.
This is based on an understanding of worship as a whole as a means of grace, something from God to us (vertical downward focused); rather than something that people are doing for God (vertical upward focused), or developing an effective content delivery system (horizontal focused) primarily to educate non-Christians.
In reality all three aspects have to be acknowledged and incorporated; and I’m sure the current horizontal obsession will mitigate over time and we’ll see less of Sunday morning as Christian TAFE and something a little more … worshipful.

Sinclair Ferguson writes an introduction to Reformation Worship, a new book on this classic subject.

This isn’t a plea for a wooden adopting, or a slavish imitation, of any or all older liturgies; nor is it an intimidating and metallic insistence that we should use them today “because the reformers used them.” That could—and almost certainly would—have a deadening effect on our worship. Most of us do not live on the continent of Europe, and none of us lives in the 16th century.
Our greatest need is for worship in Spirit as well as in truth today. But older liturgies should stimulate us to careful thought, and cause us to ask how we can apply their principles today in a way that echoes their Trinitarian, Christ-centered, biblically informed content, so that our worship, in our place and time, will echo the gospel content and rhythm they exhibit.
This is no easy task, and it requires wisdom, tact, sensitivity, and careful communication of principles and goals. But it’s also true that, at the end of the day, people tend to learn and to grow as much by experience as by verbal instructions. They need to sense and taste the help and the value of a better way. And since their appetite may have been blunted by a diet of modernity, it’s important to advance little by little.

source


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Nobody Welcomes Grace. At The Same Time Everybody Pants For It (via Paul Zahl)

Grace has to be the total paradigm, mix it with anything else and it can’t exist.
From Paul Zahl.

How can grace end-run its way around standards and yardsticks? It sounds unfair.
It is unfair, but it is completely unfair. It is the other side of the law, which is total grappling, a totally unsuccessful and failed grappling, with judgment. Because the law is completely fair, grace has to be completely “unfair.” The atonement makes grace “fair,” as is apparent in the teaching concerning the cross, But from our point of view, from the standpoint of its recipient, grace is unfair.
The unfair character of grace makes it persona non grata in the cut-and-thrust of the battle of life. Nobody welcomes grace. At the same time everybody pants for it; everybody wants it every second of every hour. Grace is an either-or proposition; it is not both-and.

Grace In Practice, Paul F. M. Zahl, Eerdmans, 2007, pgs 70-71.