At Aletheia Books

At Aletheia Books
THE ADVENTURE STARTS HERE...

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

SMALL STICKS

EXPLORING THE STORY OF 'THE RESCUE OF TIMMY TRIAL'

‘Jack looked at Mr Duffle curiously. In one hand he was clutching a handful of small sticks and twigs on which he had made carvings. He solemnly handed one to Jack without seeming to know what he was doing…’

Very often, the most valuable things in life are the most overlooked and undervalued. In fact, they generally have no monetary value at all. And yet they are frequently things that most affect our spiritual wellbeing and peace of mind. Love is like that, and friendship, loyalty, kindness, wisdom, advice, health, family, home, freedom…

From a Christian’s perspective, there are invisible things that make up the spiritual wellbeing of a person. These are not merely things of psychological comfort; they are real, powerful, life-changing matters – because they are based on faith in the true character of a living God. Prayer is a good example of this. It is not that the act of praying simply brings mental comfort, it is the fact that God hears, and is able to answer, prayer.

When it comes to depicting things of spiritual value in Aletheia, sometimes the things that are worth the most are hidden beneath ordinary, even despised, objects. 
As our two schoolboy characters, Jack Merryweather and Timmy Trial, start to explore the mysteries of Aletheia, they meet a peculiar old man called Reuben Duffle who seems like nothing at all. Just an odd, ancient, feeble man. He offers both boys a small carved stick…

‘Jack put his carved stick in his pocket.
“Silly old duffer!” muttered Timmy. He threw the small stick he had received from Mr Duffle onto the grass at the side of the road. “Barmy!” he said. 
Jack stooped and picked up the twig that Timmy had thrown away. He put it in his other pocket. He wasn’t sure why he picked it up, except that Mr Duffle seemed to think that it was of value and somehow it didn’t seem right to throw it away.
“Mr Duffle was the Chief Rescuer in Err many years ago,” said Mr Wallop. “He faced dangers and fought terrible things... And now Mr Duffle is a man of prayer. He’s still a warrior in his own way…’

The invisible, powerful weapon of prayer will be key in the battle the two boys will face in the rest of the story. Old Mr Duffle had proved the effectiveness of it, and offers his prayer support, pictured by the sticks, to Jack and Timmy. Do they understand the power of prayer? Will they remember to use this powerful offering when the time comes…? A peep further into the story shows us the consequence of using these seemingly innocuous sticks. Poor Timmy, having dismissed the truth of the Bible, has no defence against the terrible, frightening Snares. He has fallen into their trap, succumbed to their authority, and they have every right to take him captive…

They dragged Timmy away from the tree…towards the darkness of the forest. He put up a good fight with his punches and his kicks and his loud shrieks of protest but the shadow creatures held him unrelenting in their grasps and his protests only amused them…
“Your pocket, Jack! What’s in your pocket?” screamed Timmy. “Give them money to let me go!”
Jack felt in his pocket for something, anything to help Timmy who was slowly being taken further and further away into the darkness of the forest. He knew he had no money but curiously his fingers closed around the small, carved stick that old Reuben Duffle had given him in Aletheia. With sudden inspiration Jack threw the stick with all his might toward the Snares. To his astonishment it did not land short or float aimlessly through the air, but it flew like a rocket from his hand and…
BOOM!
There was a sudden explosion of white light and sparks and what even looked like fireworks. Snares fell away from Timmy in astonishment and terror and Hezekiah gave a sudden cry of excitement. Timmy yelled in triumph as he leapt free of their hold and made a dash for freedom. It seemed he would gain it too. For a moment the Snares were utterly dismayed.
“A prayer!” one hissed.
“Who’s praying?” another asked fearfully.
“Are there more prayers coming?”
“We can’t take him against that type of prayer!”
The Snare leader was re-gathering his troops and watching carefully as Timmy almost reached Jack and safety. 
“Run!” shouted Timmy. “Run for your life!”
Shadows don’t worry about boys that run. They merely glide after them. The glinting eyes of the Snare leader looked victorious.
“There are no more prayers,” he hissed. “They wouldn’t need to run if there were! Take him now!”
“No!” screamed Timmy. “Throw something else! Jack!”
“It was the stick!” gasped Jack. “The stick Mr Duffle gave me! They must be to do with him praying for us!”
Timmy looked aghast. “I threw my stick away!” he said in a piteous voice. “I didn’t know they were special! How could I know? He was just a mad old man…!”…’

“The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man [person] avails much…” 
James 5:16, The Bible

TO BE CONTINUED - NEXT BLOG: MORE SMALL STICKS 

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

LITERAL TRUTH

EXPLORING THE STORY OF 'THE RESCUE OF TIMMY TRIAL'

'When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’
[Lewis Carroll, ‘Through the Looking Glass’]
Is ‘literally’ the most misused word in the English language? “I was literally climbing the walls!”; “They’re literally from another planet!”; “I was literally dying of laughter!” How many of us haven’t used ‘literally’ in such ways, when actually, to be strictly accurate, you didn’t climb a wall, meet people from a different planet, or die from laughing too much.

You don’t have to search far online to find general frustration with the misuse of this word. To quote a well known UK politician speaking on BBC Radio 4,

‘”It makes people so incredibly angry when you are getting up early in the morning, working really hard to try and do the right thing for your family and for your community, you are paying your taxes and then you see people literally in a different galaxy who are paying extraordinarily low rates of tax.”
One guest on Radio 4 pointed out that that is quite a long way for someone to go just for a tax avoidance scheme…’

But what if some of the things we routinely say, the quaint sayings we use, the illustrations, the idioms we speak without thinking, come literally to life around us? Look up into the sky on a clear summer’s day and see a pig flying across the blue expanse of sky – because something unlikely has just happened. Pigs might fly. There are endless other peculiar things you could equally observe: brass necks would be the fashion in some families, and plenty would suffer from pain in the neck; Bob would be a common name for uncles; dogs would sometimes be found in mangers; unfortunately plenty of dirty laundry would be washed in public places; and ditchwater might be bottled and made available in mundane places and to very dull people; country folk would live in the middle of piles of sticks; some people would live on the end of a rope tether; others might be bound about by belts and braces. And so we could go on.

Now, imagine that the symbols, illustrations, and imagery in the Bible become literal and real. 
Think of the hazards in the book of Proverbs – the things that snare us, tempt us, trip us up, make us lazy, and greedy, and violent, and envious, and proud – what if they become embodied as living creatures that are cruel and vicious and cunning and evil? What about other Bible truths and sayings that are so colourfully descriptive in order to help us understand? What if they literally moved and spoke and demonstrated what they are and mean?

This might give you a little idea of the type of allegory the Aletheia Adventure Series is intended to be. 
It’s not so much that the storyline demonstrates a Bible story, but it’s intended that the truths of the Bible are brought to life to illustrate their deeper meaning. We join our two ordinary schoolboys, Jack Merryweather and Timmy Trial, whisked away during a normal lunchtime at school, into a world they never knew existed. The land of Err is not on any map that their diligent teacher Mrs Bubble has shown them. It is a deadly place, utterly opposed to the city of Bible Truth, Aletheia, which is situated in its centre.

The land of Err’s goal is to change, assault, and ultimately destroy Bible Truth – whether subtly or openly. It is literal rather than spiritual or invisible or ‘civilised’ as it is in our world, but I don’t believe the dangers are exaggerated.



As Jack and Timmy begin their journey into the city of Aletheia, accompanied by Aletheian local Herbert Wallop, they catch their first glimpse of literal truth

‘Timmy was watching the vacant sky with avid attention and all at once he flung out his hand and snatched something from the air. He slowly opened his fingers and looked in astonishment at the small gold coin that lay there. It had the image of an eagle on it and clearly said ‘The Land of Err’ and ‘One Erona’. But most surprisingly of all were the fragile, transparent, gold tinted wings that were even now fluttering feebly as if it was anxious to fly again…
“It was flying!” said Timmy. “Money was flying!”
“Yes, of course” said Herbert. “That’s what it does when we love it too much… It’s in the Bible… Riches make themselves wings and fly away.”…
As Timmy watched, the small coin unfurled its delicate, transparent, gold tinted wings, and suddenly it was gone…
“You won’t find any more,” said Herbert. “Usually they fly too high to catch. Many people have wasted their lives trying to find ways of catching and keeping the riches now flying around in the sky… The people in Love-of-Riches have spent a fortune trying to find a way of keeping it. But of course that just makes it fly faster!”
“How does anyone have any money at all then?” asked Jack, trying to understand the laws of this strange land where money could grow wings and fly away.
“If you don’t love it too much then it doesn’t fly away!”...’

Timmy and Jack have a choice to make: they can choose to learn about the message of the Bible from the safety of Aletheia, the city of Bible Truth, or they can enter the exciting, hazardous land of Err. Their attitude to Bible Truth will be crucial in the adventure ahead: great dangers, and terrifying enemies, lie in wait for those who dare to turn their back on Aletheia…

TO BE CONTINUED - NEXT BLOG: SMALL STICKS