Friday, October 30, 2009

An interview with Jean Williams

Next month we'll be reading through John Piper's When I don't Desire God: How to Fight for Joy with Jean Williams. We've asked her a few questions so you can get to know her better.

Favourite book you've read in 2009?

My favourite Christian book for the year was Tim Chester's You Can Change. This book had a profound impact on me during the first quarter of this year. I won't say more, as I'm writing through this book on my blog at the moment, where you can read my reflections and reactions if you're interested!

My favourite new novel for the year was Shannon Hale's The Goose Girl. She takes a fairy tale and, without the earnest, obvious feminism of most fairy tale re-writes, spins it into an enchanting, richly detailed story. I've just put all her other books on hold at the library!

Favourite new author you've discovered over the last 12 months?

I'm cheating a little, I think it's more like 18 months, but my favourite new author is Ed Welch. He's a biblical counsellor who teaches and writes about issues like depression, anxiety, people-pleasing, addictions and psychosis. He writes with good sense, sympathy and an understanding of the medical issues, but also with the conviction that the Bible, the gospel and the community of God's people are sufficient for every human need. Very few writers handle this tension well - normally it's psychology at the expense of God's truth or bludgeoning people over the head with the Bible - so I really appreciate the way he calls me back to God's truth and helps me to apply it to my struggles. If you haven't read any of his books, do!

Who have been your role models of Christian womanhood?

- my Mum, who loves Jesus and who has a very different personality to me, bless her, and thus, by God's grace, taught me to balance my weaknesses (perfectionism, pessimism) with her strengths (a willingness to make mistakes and a great ability to laugh at herself)
- my dear friends Jenny and Emma, who never stop encouraging me to live for Jesus
- godly older women whose example has encouraged me to be a Titus 2 woman to younger women - Deb, Rosie and Heather are some names which spring to mind (you know who you are!)
- women I know who struggle with depression, severe anxiety or ongoing grief and keep loving God and serving others through their pain
- women who write and teach about biblical womanhood like Sharon James, Elyse Fitzpatrick and Carolyn Mahaney (although, oddly enough, the writer who's taught me most about Christian womanhood is not a woman, but a man - you guessed it, it's John Piper, who we're reading next month! I love the way he gives us a cosmic picture of why God make us male and female: to reflect the relationship between Christ and the church.)

Why do you like reading books by John Piper?

In addition to what I just said? I'll repeat something I wrote elsewhere:
I go to Piper for his breathtakingly enormous view of God and the gospel, his encouragement to a passionate and joy-filled Christian life, and because I think his strengths are often our weaknesses in Australian reformed evangelicalism.
I think that just about sums it up!

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