Contest Winners and More

$20 Bookshelf Challenge Winner

Today is the big day for one Redeemed Reader: the announcement of our $20 Bookshelf Challenge winner.  Thank you to everyone who gave it a try, especially Alane who was the first runner-up.  (Alane, I’ll email you with my idea for a consolation prize…) First place goes to Cathy for her very thoughtful list of beginner readers.  She’ll be receiving a copy of Joel R. Beeke and Diana Kleyn’s How God Used a Thunderstorm and Other Devotional Stories.   Just one book in a devotional series intended for 7-12 year olds, I have found it is a great book to read to kids much younger, if you’re willing to put in the work.  The stories are set in times past, and they feature both adults and children who experience the saving work of God in their lives, often experiencing great hardship for their faith.

This book is not for sissies.  The language is dense and often feels like something from another century, so it might not be good for every very young reader.  The stories themselves are often harrowing or involve plots that might disturb some children–for instance, in one of the earlier books, a boy gets kidnapped and is forced to work as a chimney sweep for many years.

Yet in each story, God appears as present and working in each difficult situation, and despite man’s sin, He brings redemption to those He loves.  And even if Cathy’s children have to grow into the story, I think they will eventually find it a wonderful addition to their bookshelf.

Grace City Church Update

I introduced a few of you to Japanese Missionaries Roger and Abi Lowther two weekends ago in a post titled When God Shakes a Nation: Real Relief for Japan.  I thought some of you might be interested in what’s they’ve been doing since then with some of the money we donated.  In the most recent post of their blog, you can actually see a video of people giving out the Onigiri rice balls that were made in the Lowthers’ apartment.  And if you would still like to support them and haven’t yet, you can go to their church website,, and click on their new earthquake relief “Donate” button.

Interpreting the Holocaust

And for those of you who’d like a little something extra to chew on today, this weekend I heard a brief yet fascinating interview of Sir Ben Kingsley.  NPR’s Scott Simon interviewed him at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. and the focus of the interview was the roles he has played connected to the Holocaust.  Those credits include a leading role in Schindler’s List (1993), the role of Otto Frank in Anne Frank: The Whole Story (2001), as well as the role of Simon Wiesenthal, a Holocaust survivor who hunted Nazi war criminals in the 1989 TV movie, “Murderers Among Us.”

I found the interview insightful first because I am preparing a Behind the Bookcase post for next week on the impact of Anne Frank’s diary in my adolescence.  I think Ben Kingsley’s words show just how central the story of the Franks has come to be in our national morality and even our national religion, if there is such a thing.  Like Kingsley, I believe there is a strain of American story-telling and thought that abhors the tragic, and as such, it cuts itself off from any possibility of real meaning or redemption.

At the same time, I was struck by the fact that Kingsley claims the image of a pagan shaman so freely.  One wonders whether it is more than just a metaphor for him… Yet I think we would be remiss to get too caught up in the trappings of his metaphor, since it is people who are obviously gods for him.  It is the redemption found in stories, in the knowing and loving each other through them, that he places his ultimate hope:

“And all great mythology that we love and respect has included loss and tragedy, as well as great moments of salvation. It braided in. After a performance I gave of Hamlet, I was walking across a field near Stratford-upon Avon and I saw a young woman on the other side of the field walking towards me, so I decided to go that way and she moved that way. So, I moved that way and she moved that way. She was determined.

And she faced me in the middle of this field and she said – ’cause I played Hamlet on stage the night before – she said, I saw “Hamlet” last night. How did you know about me? That’s my job. I know you. I’m trying to know you. And through knowing each other and holding onto that tribal bonfire, we’ll be OK.”

Next week I’ll try to engage Sir Kingsley on some of the reasons why, without Christ, his solution sounds as much like a concentration camp as any other human “solution”.  You can read or listen to the entire NPR interview here.

Be sure to also check out Janie’s review of Annexed by Sharon Dogar in Learning the Holocaust.


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