Reflections from outside the camp

When I set up my website nearly four years ago, the first thing I added was my writings that were then available in electronic form, including five books to do with my gospel preaching, community activism i.e. my efforts as a committed Christian to leave my comfort zone and “holy huddle” to engage in and practically influence the market place of ideas, attempt to carry out the great command of loving my neighbour as myself and to bring salt and light into a culture that in my view is often going in the wrong direction.

The Bible text that became my guiding principle was “let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach”, Hebrews 13:13. The image I used was that of the Scapegoat, upon which the peoples’ sins were transferred, which was released into the desert on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 17). The five books I wrote that specifically related to my community interests are:

  1. Outside the Camp
  2. Onward and Upward
  3. Theological Musings
  4. Spirituality and Mental Health
  5. The Gay Conundrum

The next thing to do was to start an activity that I have undertaken most days since – to write articles on subjects that seem pertinent at the time that I then post on my blog. People may then comment (provided it is relevant and respectful) and some do so, even offering alternative viewpoints. I have now written over 1000 blog articles on a widely diverse range of subjects, many of which are serious and try to go into the subject in some depth, and a lot is to do with things I touch on in my daily living, including fun stuff and things I enjoy. I try not to take myself too seriously, for if I did I could easily end up discouraged. To a large extent the individual blog articles carry on from where the books I have written have left off. It is true that much of what I write is about those things that interest me, and often it has provided me with a degree of personal therapy. Being able to write about stuff I care about, following the example of my literary hero, Dr. Samuel Johnson, has long been a dream.

As a retired person, not beholden to a routine requiring me to work regular hours in order to earn a living, not liable to be penalized for expressing unpopular views,  realizing these days my own physical and mental limitations and those days are numbered, it seemed to me that maintaining my blog was a worthwhile activity to complement what has now become my more selective community activism. Some of what I wrote has upset some and sometimes the content has been weaker than I would like, but it is in line with my calling as a watchman of what is going on around me, for I fear too many are oblivious to what is happening in the world and we are poorer as a result. I hope my musings may help some but also recognize that many will disagree with the views I share.

The intention of this e-book is to provide an umbrella for other e-books covering the various significant themes that I have written on since I began my blogging career. This is something I have long had in mind; while some of what I wrote has been overtaken, much still applies. It is not a complete coverage and some titles are missed because they don’t fit the themes covered or are less appropriate to include. But all I have written was after giving the subject a good deal of thought and on stuff I deem as important. I have tried to present relevant facts in a balanced way and have offered my take on those facts mindful mine may be one of many perspectives.

What these e-books do is to provide links to blog articles broadly to do with the theme the book title describes, and requires an Internet connection. This is a convenient and painless method to write books on subjects I care about since most of the work has already been done. It also means the hyperlinks in the articles pointing to references available on the Internet are preserved, to which readers are referred to, although such is the nature of the Internet that some are no longer available, although most are, and some images too. I hope to regularly update the books to point to new blog articles.

There are disadvantages of this method of doing things, not least for oldies like me that still prefer to read books in hard copy form. There is some repetition of material which readers need to bear with and there is detectable development of thought. I recognize I am far from infallible and often I offer my considered opinion which I know people more qualified that I will disagree with. I have listed the title of the articles referred to in date order (newest first), including date. The titles are also hyperlinks. To get to the particular article that is contained in my blog, one must simply left mouse click on the title.

As a librarian in my youth, I am aware of the nigh impossibility of coming up with a small number of titles that cover all the main themes covered in the articles and that some articles could be included under more than one title. I haven’t chosen to include here a brief summary of what each book is about, as the title is the big clue, to save repetition and because of economy of effort. But I have come up with 12 titles (more could be eventually added) as these broadly cover the main themes covered in my blogs and what are my major interests. Besides listing the related blog posts, each book provides an overview of the subject matter that is pointed to:

Book 1: Homeless reflections

Book 2: Donald J Trump – bad, mad or good?

Book 3: Immigration and Islam

Book 4: Education, education, education

Book 5: Sexual identity and sexual orientation

Book 6: Christianity and community action

Book 7: Political perspectives

Book 8: Israel and the Middle East

Book 9: Biographies, obituaries and tributes

Book 10: Culture Wars

Book 11: Community matters

Book 12: Personal interests

 

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