Friday, January 2, 2009

Meet Ali Payne

Ali Payne (who is also co-convener of this book club) is this month's contributor. She will kick off the discussion of January's book, Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye next Monday. In the meantime, let's get to know her a little...

How did you come to faith in Christ?

I was blessed to grow up in a Christian home and remember asking “Jesus into my heart”, as it was put to me back then, many times in Sunday School, until I was old enough to realise that I didn’t need to keep repeating that. My father died when I was four and I think the following family visits to the grave yard impressed upon me early that what came after death was important to know. Then when I was in high school we changed churches to one that had excellent teaching and a fantastic youth group and I think from there on is when it became a serious commitment for myself.

What do you most love about reading?

Like for most people, it’s the vicarious living. I’ve lived hundreds of other lives in the pages of books. They expand my world and take me to places and through situations that I may never live through myself, and I have learned so many things through reading that I doubt I ever would have learned otherwise. And it’s all about the people. I do love stories about characters and how they see and respond to their world. I also enjoy the craft of writing and words and language and so when an author does it beautifully that in itself is a delight.

What is your favourite novel?

Oh, that’s difficult. For some reason I really like Shirley by Charlotte Bronte. When I read it I want to be friends with Shirley, Caroline, Louis and Robert. Jennie Baddeley also stole some of my answer here in saying that she is a serious George Eliot fan, and that because her ability to portray people in relationships and their world of thoughts and feelings is unsurpassed and that Daniel Deronda is a favourite. I do also love George MacDonald’s novels, fantasies and fairy tales. His theology, I know, is questionable in places, but he is a wonderful story-teller (and his influence on the likes of CS Lewis and Tolkien was immense).

What book(s) has helped you most in growing in your knowledge of God?

I do find this difficult to answer. Having always loved to read (and also to buy books that I don’t always read) there have been many and how a particular one impacts me varies with where it finds me at the time. A Call to Spiritual Reformation by Don Carson is one book that stands out and to which I keep returning for the way it realigns my priorities with God’s priorities and Carson’s Basics for Believers, which is essentially a commentary on Philippians, is another little favourite. Like most again, I was learning a great deal from Packer’s Knowing God, but I didn’t actually finish that one, so Rachel is in good company! It’s still on my list. I also have read Finding God, by Larry Crabb many times, as well as The Path of Loneliness by Elisabeth Elliot. Both of these books remind me that God works for good and demonstrate what it means to live a life of surrender to his will.

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