Brendan Boughen; (self-published), 2019, (p132)
Touching a Nerve has the explanatory subtitle of ‘A curly collection of churchy cartoons by Jim’.
‘Jim’ is the cartooning alter ego of Brendan Boughen. He grew up in the Lutheran church but left traditional faith in his 30s. He tells something of that move away in an earlier collection of cartoons called Gone Astray.
Despite, or perhaps because of, that personal shift, Boughen often draws about the connection between traditional religion, faith, politics, society and social justice.
The cartoons in Touching a Nerve sometimes poke a finger at core Christian beliefs. An example is an Olympic ‘mental gymnastics’ athlete who is in a sweat, struggling with the concept of virgin birth.
Others are simply touching. One quotes Isaiah 52:7 about “how beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news of happiness…”. The quote hangs in a clear blue sky, above a snow-capped mountain. At the base of the mountain are a school and hospital. Both bear the name of Edmund Hillary. The cartoon was drawn to honour Sir Ed on his passing in 2008. A helpful URL at the bottom of the page leads readers to the explorer and humanitarian’s obituary.
Many of the news-related cartoons have such URLs. Considering that several of them are about events that occurred six or more years ago, this ensures the point being made is not lost on readers.
Other cartoons in the book do not have an underlying message. These fall into the realm of ‘dad jokes’—humour that will either elicit a chuckle, smile or a groan, depending on your sense of humour.
The balance between all the cartoons in this collection means that it is a book that will have something for most people. This shows that some thought has been put into what was selected.
The famous cartoonist Charles M Schulz, whose Peanuts strips were fodder for Boughen’s imagination as a child, is said to have claimed that “those who find no humor in faith are probably those who find the church a refuge for their own black way of looking at life…”1
And, for this reviewer at least, it was ‘Jim’s’ more pointed cartoons about matters of faith that were most appreciated. I think it is helpful for Christians to examine how their beliefs align with their lived-out lives. Sometimes it requires someone else to prod us, to get this thinking in motion. And in Touching a Nerve, Boughen has provided a gentle stick.
Reviewer: Linda Grigg
You can see the review on the NZ Baptist website here:
Delighted with this review by Rev’d Bosco Peters of Alister Hendery’s book The Grief Walk. https://liturgy.co.nz/the-grief-walk
“In 2014, I reviewed the Rev. Alister Hendery’s book, Earthed in Hope. That book was a New Zealand-based reflection on funerals – our context being much enriched by Māori (the indigenous people of Aotearoa New Zealand) very down-to-earth approach to death. I heartily recommended that book.
This book, The Grief Walk, is the sequel and complement of the previous one. While the funeral is a very important part of grief, it is a gateway into the longer walk with grief.
This is a practical, down-to-earth book. It is is for people who are grieving, and for people who want to support them. That includes clergy, church leaders, and others.
Alister’s book is based on his years of experience as a priest, on his particular and open interest in death, funerals, and grieving, and on his studying of quality research in these areas – there is a good bibliography at the back of the book. His is a 40-year journey. Far too often, people present grieving as a one-way process with well-defined stages, concluding with something they call “closure”. I strongly reject such an extremely unhelpful model. Alister does also; he is clear that your grieving is unique to you.
Often, people of faith (and others) can present saccharine ‘solutions’ to grief that deny the searing pain of grieving. Alister’s book also eschews such an approach.
You can see the chapter topics here. Chapter 4, I think is central to Alister’s approach:
4 – Understandings and Misunderstandings about Grief
- Our Loss and Grief is Unique – so Forget the Rules
- There’s No ‘One Size Fits All’ – so Forget Stages in Grief
- We Wax and Wane – so it’s Okay to Retreat from Time to Time
- A Continual Presence Which can Ambush us – so Forget the Timeline
- Continuing Bonds – So Forget about Having to Let Go
- Grief Doesn’t get Closed Off – so Forget about Closure
- Our Life has Changed – so Forget the idea of Returning to Normal
- We Grieve in Our Own Way – so Forget the Stereotypes
This is followed by chapters including how we experience grief, how we can accompany a grieving person, God and grief, and the hope for the grieving person’s future.
If you are looking for one book on grief where you can be assured of being in safe hands, I cannot recommend The Grief Walk too highly.”
I invite you to ponder, respond and share…
Photo Alexander Garside-Garside Imaging
I invite you to ponder, respond and share…
Photo by Alexander Garside—Garside Imaging
“It’s intriguing to think that we probably have only a small fraction of Paul’s letters collected in the New Testament. There must have been many others written during Paul’s long ministry. I wonder what they said and whether we would have found them useful as a church today?”
From the sermon: We Are Weaving…
(Photo by Alexander Garside–Garside Imaging)