Ever Present

Ever Present​

Author Austen Hardwick
Publisher Authentic £9.99
Format pbk
ISBN 9781788931588

Subtitled ‘Running to survive, thrive and believe’, this is part autobiography, part spiritual guide. The author managed to survive three strokes in his forties, which encouraged him to think much more deeply about life and faith. For him, running became a discipline that helped him to re-shape his life and enabled him to think as well as improve his physical fitness. Austen began to consider his own fragility as a human being. One key phrase stood out for me: ‘I hope I don’t miss God when he arrives, life feels too short.’ There is a metaphor about the race of faith, which is fully explored, with reference to many biblical teachings and some of the great Christian thinkers. For me, the book does not quite work as an end-to-end read, but is far better to read a chapter at a time and ponder the questions that it raises. As the vicar of the Belfry Church in York puts it, the book ‘describes with vulnerability some of the joys and frustrations of following Christ in the race of life.’

Reviewed by CAVAN WOOD

Biography, Spirituality

 

Free at Last

Free at Last ​

Author Asia Bibi with Anne-Isabelle Tollet
Publisher Authentic Media £9.99
Format pbk
ISBN 9781424560721

After drinking water from the same cup as Muslim women, Asia Bibi, an illiterate Christian, was sentenced to hang by the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in 2010 on charges of blasphemy. For nine years Asia suffered persecution, resentment and isolation in prison. Her faith was severely challenged. A French journalist, Anne-Isabelle Tollet, was instrumental in bringing her case into the public eye across the world, and Asia was finally released in January 2019. She and her family now live in Canada. They will never be able to return to their homeland.

Asia’s life story is more than a heart-rending account of a fellow Christian’s experiences. I believe this book offers challenges which we all need to face. Perhaps it is a cry for faith in God to be recognised as non-threatening, to be acknowledged by everyone, and tolerated. People of other faiths have their own pathways to God, and intolerance of any kind is something that each one of us must be prepared to resist.

Reviewed by VERONICA BRIGHT

Biography, Interfaith dialogue