By John Sentamu
Darton, Longman &Todd – £8.99
What’s that relatively well known saying: what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger?
I’ve always been somewhat intrigued by the one simple fact that that it is usually pain, or indeed, some sort of struggle, which more often, than not brings out the best in people. A rather sad indictment of human behaviour if you really care to think about it, but one that is nevertheless, fundamentally true.
It was with such thinking in mind, that I both stumbled upon and approached Hope Stories – 20 Stories of Faith Changing Lives Today.
Compiled by John Sentamu, who is the current Archbishop of York (while previously, Bishop for Birmingham and Stepney), these authentic stories by ordinary people reflect how (Christian) belief is able to shine a certain kind of light within the parameters of a certain kind of acceptance.
Acceptance, surely being the key word here, for without it, it could be argued that very little light would ever enter the fray; which is why so many of these stories are what they essentially are.
For instance, story number fifteen, which involves a fella by the name of Andy Roberts who regales the reader with the following: ”When I was a child I used to watch a cartoon called Popeye. Popeye was a sailor man and if anyone messed with his girlfriend, Olive Oyl, you’d see the anger building up inside him until he couldn’t take it anymore and he’d crack open a can of spinach, from which he’d gain all the strength he needed to sort out the situation […]. I thought about Popeye when I was in Brazil […]. It’s hard to comprehend what it feels like to be approached by a ten year who is selling her body. The first time it happened to me, it broke my heart. That was my real Popeye moment, when I knew that I couldn’t take it anymore […]. Like Popeye, I knew that I had to do something, So, I suppose you might say that I turned to my ‘spiritual spinach,’ to show me the way.”
Needless to say, most of the stories throughout this book are of a similar persuasion; where faith, or at least, belief in faith, shows ‘the so-called way.’
As such, this book will undoubtedly appeal to all those who either (already) believe, or truly want to believe.