Thursday, April 15, 2021

Don't Change That!

Image by Craig T. Owens
I don’t like change. When things change I feel uncomfortable, insecure. Maybe that’s what it is about technology that annoys me. I just get used to doing something one way and the next time I go to do it, it has been updated and “improved.” I use technology every day. It seems reasonable that it would become instinctive after a while. 

I started taking piano lessons at age seven. That means, I’ve been playing the piano for more than sixty years. The process has not changed. There are still eighty-eight keys, and music notation has remained the same all these years. So, with practice I have gotten better; by applying the same procedures over and over, I have achieved a level of comfort and mastery. Likewise, when I don’t play for a while, that level diminishes. It’s all quite logical and predictable.

Like technology, life isn’t logical or predictable. Life changes constantly. All living creatures experience metamorphoses in both themselves and the universe. I daresay humans are the only lifeforms that resist change. We might even become frustrated and angry when certain changes occur: the aging process with its physical alterations, the onset of a serious illness, the loss of a loved one. These are natural, expected metamorphoses. Yet, when they occur, they throw us into a tailspin. 

The more we resist change, the more frustrated and angry we become. Some changes can even challenge our faith in God. Why would a loving God put us through this? Why does God allow us (or a loved one) to suffer? How many times have you heard someone say, “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.” Poppycock! That saying isn’t even scriptural.

In John 16:33, Jesus is recorded as saying, “In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” Perhaps the false saying comes from a misinterpretation of 1 Corinthians 10:13 where Paul is talking about temptation. “God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape….” Even Jesus was tempted. It was not God who tempted His Son. Likewise, it is not God who tempts us, but offers us a means of escape. 

Even in the Old Testament, one Psalmist tells the Israelites, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea...the Lord of hosts is with us...cease striving and know that I am God (Psalm 46, selected verses).” According to bible scholars, this Psalm (hymn) was sung as long ago as the tenth century BC in response to the invasion of Israel by outside forces. The author reminds us that when change threatens to unravel our plans and even challenge our trust in God, it is not God who has changed. Rather, it is we who have rebelled against God (“our refuge and strength”).  

It has taken me a lifetime to learn that God is not the giver of trouble. Rather, God gives me strength and courage to face trouble head-on. When I abide in union with Him, God provides the means to handle whatever life, with all of its changes, deals me. 

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Friday, April 9, 2021

Channeling A Prolific Author

I enjoy discovering new authors. New to me, anyway. Recently, I happened upon the work of a British author, Catherine Cookson. Not that I’ve read her books. Rather, my husband and I found numerous movies on Amazon Prime based on her intriguing novels.

Born in 1906 in Northumberland England, Cookson was an extremely prolific author, having written around 120 books, including seventy novels. Perhaps the most fascinating fact I uncovered is that she dropped out of school at age fourteen. Imagine that! Yet, according to Wikipedia, “She is in the top 20 of most widely read British novelists with sales topping 100 million, while retaining a relatively low profile in the world of celebrity writers.”

Cookson’s stories, many written under her maiden name, Catherine Marchant, are complex and emotive, and her plots often take surprising twists. She writes about the nineteenth century working class in England, seeming never to exhaust her storehouse of fascinating subjects and storylines.

After watching a half-dozen movies made from her books, I became keen to learn more about Cookson’s life, which, I discovered, was most interesting. It seems that she was born the illegitimate daughter of a poverty-stricken, alcoholic barmaid, Kate, whom she was told was her older sister. She began working as a maid then a laundress in her hometown of Tyne Dock, but longing to escape poverty eventually moved to Hastings. There she met and married Tom Cookson, a local school master, who encouraged her writing. After winning numerous awards, Cookson quickly rose from regional acclaim to international best-selling status. In addition to seventy novels, this prolific writer penned eight autobiographical books, which I can’t wait to get my hands on.

Thus far, my husband and I have watched “The Man Who Cried,” “The Moth,” “The Black Candle,” “The Rag Maid,” and “Tilly Trotter.” If all of her novels have been made into movies, we have a long way to go. But, as entertaining as her stories and characters are on the screen, I am anxious to read her books to see how she uses language to paint her vivid pictures. Movie adaptations can never do justice to an author’s style or voice. 

Both Catherine Cookson and her husband died in 1998. She was ninety-two. They had no living children--a devastating aspect of her life that caused depression and surely influenced her writing. Upon her death, her bank account held 20 million pounds--all of which went to charities. 

If you have read any of Cookson's novels, I'd love to hear from you. As for me, I expect my Kindle reader to be busy for quite some time.

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