Reclaiming The Common Good

Long term readers of this blog will be aware that I am a fiction writer, but in recent years I have also been developing my non-fiction. I am delighted to announce that Darton Longmann and Todd have just published ‘Reclaiming the Common Good’ an essay collection that I have collated and edited.

The collection was one of the keynote books at last week’s Greenbelt Christian Arts Festival. It explores what part Christians can play in building a better future of hope, peace, equality and justice.

 


Reclaiming the Common Good

After decades of political consensus, we are entering a time in which everything about the way we live today, and about how our society and communities are structured, is up for discussion. Many people are feeling empowered to ask:

 

What kind of world do we want to live in? One that works for a few, or one that works for the common good?

 

What part can Christians play in building a future of hope, peace, equality and justice?

 

Reclaiming the Common Good is a collection of essays which consider these themes. Beginning with an explanation of the history and meaning of the term ‘common good’, it explores how the sense of working for this ideal has been lost. Focussing, biblically, on issues such as welfare, austerity, migration, environment, peace and justice, it provides a compellingly fresh and insightful analysis on the state of the UK and the world today, and offers a realistic vision of how it could be better. This vision is rooted in the idea of a new heaven, a new earth, and a new Jerusalem, as suggested in the book of Revelation.

I have two essays in the collection, the others by a wonderful group of writers: contributors are: Dr Patrick Riordan SJ, John Moffatt SJ, Simon Barrow, Bernadette Meaden, Dr Simon Duffy, Rev. Vaughan Jones, Savitri Hensman , Ellen Teague, Edward P. Echlin, Henrietta Cullinan, Susan Clarkson and Rev. Dr Simon Woodman.

You can order it here.

We are holding a London launch of the book at Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church, 235 Shaftesbury Avenue, London WC2H 8EP on 20th September at 6.30pm. Tickets are free. All welcome. You can book via Eventbrite. Hope to see you there!

 

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Indie Debut – Three Dreams in the Key of G by Marc Nash

Though we’ve never met in person, Marc Nash and I have been online friends since we met through the #Fridayflash community. I have enjoyed his flash fictions stories for years as they are always clever, original, challenging, and intriguing. In the years since Marc has been busy, self publishing several novels and flash fiction collections, and having had one collection published by Gumbo Press.  I was delighted to discover recently that his latest novel Three Dreams in the Key of G here.

Marc was one of the first people to give me a spot to publicise Echo Hall, so it gives me great pleasure to return the favour and welcome him here. Three Dreams in the Key of G sounds typical of his inventive and surprising fiction, and I am can’t wait to get hold of a copy.

Over to you Marc…MN

 

“Three Dreams In The Key of G” is about motherhood and child development, in a most hostile environment, that of sectarian divided Northern Ireland. Mothers have to straddle a near impossible tightrope, between keeping their children shielded from the horrors, while also knowing they must not break rank and remain loyal to which ever side of the religious divide they find themselves born into. With the 1999 Peace Agreement there was great hope for the future, but it also entailed the men of violence being released from the prison H-Blocks or demobbed from the paramilitary units and returning to the domestic realm. And now in 2017 we see the Democratic Unionist Party with their reactionary politics brought (and bought) into alliance with the Conservative government in Westminster, while devolved government in Northern Ireland teeters on collapse at the Stormont Parliament.

 

The book also takes a wider view of the Nature V Nurture debate. Can there be any useful division between the two, if you not only get your parents’ genes, but you get their parenting as well? And what happens in a situation such as Northern Ireland where the environment of your upbringing is so tightly controlled, that Nurture too may as well be hard wired.

 

The human genome project began in 1990 and completed in 2003, maps every one of our human genes as we look to unlock the secrets of our decay and mortality. Only today American doctors were reporting that they genetically spliced genes in an embryo to correct a hereditary mutation that caused fatal heart disease. But humans being what we are, we don’t just stop at this, we also go off in fanciful searches for the ‘genius’ gene, or the ‘gay’ gene. The protestors shouting “Justice for Charlie” outside the law courts in the recent tragic case of Charlie Gard born with mitochondrial DNA damage, might be better shaking their placards at God or the blind drive and workings of microbiology which leads to genetic mutations and heart-breaking illnesses. But then we as a species ought to inquire into what mortality means to us and therefore what such insight can feed into how we live our lives. The human genome on the dissection tables between 1990-2003 is given a voice in the novel, protesting the invasion of its integrity, while taunting the inquiring scientists that they will never unravel its mystery and sublime structure, which means we will never truly know ourselves.

 

Throw in a Waco-like siege, as the FBI, ATF and DEA seem to have got the wrong end of the stick when they surround a battered women’s shelter in Florida and you have three female voices, all in a state of siege, all fighting to find their own language to resist their besiegers. A book that asks big questions about our species, our inheritance passed on to our children and as today’s events show, one that never goes out of date.