SheReads

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Exploring Nepal, heaven, hell and the things we won’t say in church.

By Destiny Loeve

This month I spent some time exploring Nepal … Well, truthfully it was a more vicarious traverse through Conor Grennan’s book Little Princes. This story of an average bloke whose heart was moved by the children he crossed paths with was indeed like an exploration through the streets of Kathmandu, its surrounding villages and glorious mountains.

The most potent parts of the book dealt with a complicated and current social justice issue for this country, that of child trafficking. The disturbing reality of child trafficking seemed to screech to a halt in front of my eyes for me to grapple with. Indeed, the issue at hand was brought to life in a whole new way with the stories and faces of these vivacious children.

The nuts-and-bolts of the issue, as Connor presented it, is simply that parents are looking for a better life for their children. After being fed a multitude of lies they hand their very life-and-blood–their children–over to a trafficker who subsequently abandons them in the city or leaves them in harrowing conditions.

Here are two things I appreciated about this read:

1) Conor. He lets his heart be moved by the human condition. He finds his own “throwing a starfish into the ocean” niche (you know that heartwarming story, don’t you?). And he persists, even though uneducated about the issues and ignorant about how to proceed. It’s a bit of successful blundering and that gives me hope that I too can do my bit to make a difference if I find my passion and stick with it.

2) A greater understanding of the complexities. There isn’t a very neat wrap-up to this story. Conor is able to re-unite some trafficked children with their families. Indeed a success, but merely scratching the surface. For instance, “every parent was overjoyed to find their son or daughter again. But when they learned that their child was being well taken care of [in the children’s home], they were suddenly reluctant to take him or her home. Nepal is a terribly poor country.” Or this complexity: “[offering financial assistance] was likely to inspire neighbors to send their child off with a trafficker, hoping that they might miraculously end up in the hands of a Western nonprofit organization.” Hmm.

All in all this was an engaging, inspiring, read about an area of the world I’m not to familiar with, and an issue that seems to be on more and more people’s radar.

Here’s what some of our other contributors have been reading:

  • Danielle Strickland recommends Love Wins, by Rob Bell:

I know, I know – there is just so much hype around this book it’s crazy. None the less, a friend slipped it to me and I read it with joy. I always seem to enjoy Rob’s fresh take and his willingness to ask some really great questions. This book is full of them (good question) and some fascinating ideas and the hopeful conclusion that we really do serve a God of love and justice and we can trust Him for eternity. Does hell exist? Does God send people to eternal torment? Well, those are answers and questions you’ll have to read for yourself. Until then, I believe Rob’s right about one thing: love does win.

  • Stacy Wiebe recommends Beatrice & Virgil, by Yann Martel:

If history doesn’t become story, it dies to everyone except the historian. Art is the suitcase of history, carrying the essentials. Art is the life buoy of history. Art is seed, art is memory, art is vaccine.” So says Henry, the protagonist in Yann Martel’s Beatrice and Virgil.

Beatrice and Virgil—the animal protagonists in the book—are characters in a play written by another Henry, a taxidermist, who is the antagonist. Baffling? Yes. This book is perplexing! We see in the two Henrys the duality of human nature. And as the story (and the play within the story) unfolds, we come to grips with our ability both to create beauty and to destroy creation. Beatrice and Virgil attempts to put one of the darkest periods of human history into a new suitcase, a new art form. Whether or not Martel’s story-telling trivializes human suffering or enables us to feel it in a fresh way is something that you have to read the book to determine. Personally, I was riveted.

(Destiny interjects- I too was riveted by Beatrice & Virgil recently. Although certainly not a light read, it is very poignant and left a powerful impression.)

  • Kelley Johnson-Nikondeha recommends God is Not a Christian: And Other Provocations, by Desmond Tutu:

No one communicates African theology as honestly and eloquently as Desmond Tutu. He is an elder who embodies a spirituality that has been shaped on African soil and by African realities.  There is a texture to his faith and practice that never ceases to arrest my attention and draw me in, closer to hard, beautiful truths.  This recent book is actually a collection of addresses given over years, pulled together from various places and times around common themes. What surprised me is how offensive Tutu was (and is) willing to be for the sake of truth, for the sake of Christ, for the sake of justice. His smile charms you and his laughter is like a song- but many of his words knock the wind right out of you! He refuses to domesticate the truth when it comes to matters of justice in South Africa, Ireland, even Israel. I find him to be a compelling example of what true advocacy looks like- a deep understanding of the Biblical story, real insight into the systems and injustices of our day, a willingness to speak truth like a prophet, a truth that does not bend to accommodate the status quo but ignites action.

I’ve followed Anne’s twitter (@annejackson) and blog (annejacksonwrites.com) and have admired her willingness to be vulnerable and transparent and share from the messiness of her life. This book is the result of a question she asked on her blog – What is the one thing you feel you can’t say in church? This intrigued me and within minutes of discovering it, I’d downloaded the book on Kindle.  Anne talks about the Gift of Going Second – the idea of confessing something first despite fear of judgement or isolation, in order to give another person the gift of trust and an opportunity to confess and find healing. She shares beautifully and bravely from her own imperfect past. I love that she isn’t out to trash the church and her respect and love for God’s House is evident – and yet she encourages us to be real, and let others be real at the same time, acknowledging that we all need grace.

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So, our page-turning SheLoves readers:

  • What are you reading at the moment?
  • Have you read any of this month’s books? What was your experience with it? We’d love to hear!

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About Destiny

Destiny Loeve treasures most her roles as wife to one daring husband & mommy to three sunshiny children. She loves to see things grow in her garden, read great books, hang out at her church, meet all kinds of people & sit in her living room with friends. When not on maternity leave, she works as a pediatric nurse, and finds as many opportunities to volunteer in the community as possible.

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