How have all our staff workers been keeping themselves busy this year? Hear how Lauren H kept busy this year, and what her top picks are for 2020.
Hi everyone, this is Lauren B with my COVID year, to let you know some of the things I've been up to this year (when I wasn't staffworker-ing!). Here are some of my favourite books, TV shows, podcasts, and other hobbies from this year!
This is both the shortest and punchiest book I've read on evangelism. Rico Tice thinks through his own experiences of evangelism, and many of the things that stop us from sharing the gospel with those around us, to help us remember why we want to share this message and think about doing it well. I would recommend this book to every Christian, because I think we all struggle with sharing the gospel at times! I've written a longer review here, but it was genuinely such a good book that I thought I'd mention it again!
Be True to Yourself
This book only came out this year, and takes a great look from a Christian perspective at what identity means for Christians, and how this is different to what the world tells us. Matt Fuller argues that it is only when we find our identity in the right place that we will truly be able to be ourselves: in the identity God gives us as his creation and people.
A Handmaid's Tale
This book has become a classic of dystopian literature, and is one that many people know about but haven't read, or have maybe read in high school (which is partly what motivated me to read this and the recent sequel, The Testaments, this year). This is a pretty confronting book, but one that does show the dangers of extremism and authoritarianism. I found reading The Testaments incredibly engaging, as it brings even more into this story questions around morality, asking the reader: can you justify doing terrible things, if this allows you to gain power in a corrupt system to undermine it from within? The classic human question here is: do the ends justify the means? There are a lot of questions raised by what happens in this book which can be pretty confronting, but I think the story engages you to think about these questions, which you can then apply a Christian worldview to and think through these moral issues from a Christian perspective.
I'll be honest, at this point I tried desperately to remember what I might have read this year that was a bit more light-hearted, but all my reading in 2020 seems to have been quite grim and serious- I've taken note of that, and I'm looking for some more light hearted books for 2021!
This is a podcast I've been listening to for a couple of years, hosted by Justin Brierly who each week hosts two guests with opposing views on a theological or apologetic issue. This is a great podcast partly because Justin is a great host: he always allows both guests to share their views and opinions, but doesn't allow them to be lazy in their arguments. If you're looking for a great Christian podcast that is intellectually stimulating and engaging, but could also be recommended to your non-Christian friends to help engage with some questions they might have about Christianity and the bible which are looked at from both points of view, this is it.
Some of the topics they cover commonly include current events and politics, questions around science and religion, suffering and evil, and morality. You don't have to listen to every episode, but looking through the back catalogue you might find some episodes on issues you think would be interesting to you or your friends.
Cooper and Cary Have Words
This is a podcast where two people discuss books, popular culture, current events and theology while separated by the Atlantic Ocean. Both of these guys have experience working in the field of the arts, and are particularly passionate about seeing good Christian art made in different media. One of the things I particularly enjoy about this podcast is the chance these two get while 'having words' to reflect on the culture of Christianity in these two countries and around the world right now, and I find it interesting to hear about how this looks different around the world!
You're Dead to Me
This is a new podcast I found this year that is produced by the BBC, and of course there was going to be at least one history podcast in here! This podcast combines two professions that rarely meet: comedians and historians. And it gets them to think about any topic form history you could think of, and learn more about humanity's story together. Covering everything from the history of chocolate to the pyramids and the Mughal Empire, there will be something new for you to learn for sure! And at the end of the episode, the comedian gets quizzed to see how much they remember which is will help you feel better about any exams you might have to do.
All In the Mind
This is a podcast produced by the ABC, focussing on all things to do with the brain and mental health. I find this podcast absolutely fascinating to learn more about how we work, and why our brains do what they do. With episode titles ranging from When your eyeballs become audible to Habits, and making them stick where can you go wrong?
One of the things I really enjoy about this show is not only that it answers all the crazy questions you might have about how your brain works, it also explores serious topics surrounding mental health. It also engages with people from a range of backgrounds to look at these topics, interviewing experts in the fields as well as people who are speaking from their own experiences of these things. I suggest looking it up and finding some episodes that intrigue you!
If you love drama and the royal family, stop here. The Crown is a show that I keep coming back to, because I love seeing this take on events that continue to affect our world today (no matter how much creative license the writers take. I also love corgis, so no further explanation needed.
Lost in Space
This is probably one of my highlights of my lockdown watching this year. This is a reimagining of a sci-fi classic, following the Robinson family and their interstellar adventures. Throughout the series it explores not just the dynamic of this family and their relationships, but broader questions about humanity and what is acceptable in the name of survival. Definitely recommend as some fun drama that also deals with serious issues (the alien robots are just an added bonus). Probably the most light hearted of what I've mentioned on here!
Other COVID Hobbies
Since I've spent a lot of extra time stuck at home this year, I've been working on some other hobbies I could do from home too! These are my top two:
Throughout COVID, my houseplants and pot plants have been getting more attention than they've ever got before. As you can see from these pictures, they've mostly survived it!
Covid has improved my life in one way, by giving me time to try and find my favourite brownie recipe! Give this recipe a try and see what you think! (I normally add in some frozen raspberries and extra chocolate chips to spice it up). Make sure you let me know if you try it!
Flinders ES- Lauren B