Book of the Month, October 2023 – Can These Dry Bones Live?

For October’s Book of the Month I have chosen Can These Dry Bones Live – The excitement of theological study by Dr Frances Young (1982, 1992 SCM Press Ltd). Rev Professor Frances Young was an ordained Methodist Minister who taught at the University of Birmingham from 1971, and was Edward Cadbury Professor of Theology there from 1986 to 2004. She has always tried to bridge the gap between academia and the churches, and has supported many ecumenical activities and conferences. Though retired now, she remains active in research and regularly publishes the results of her continuing studies.

Can These Dry Bones Live? was written to encourage creative reappropriation of Christian Biblical truths in their many levels. Individual Christians are encouraged to return to personal study of Biblical scriptures, and reappraise these in the light of present societal contexts. Just as in science and the arts, study and reflection can bring disparate ideas together and create exciting new discoveries and perspectives. Christians should therefore read, analyse and form new understandings of the Scriptures and received theology, discarding historical viewpoints where these hamper the joy of faith based on a modern, scripturally honest understanding.

I chose to read Can These Dry Bones Live because the opening scene of the VisFic novel I am rewriting at present, is set in an inn in a valley that is filled with the dry bones of people who chose to die. This book helped me to reflect on the nature of creativity, where disparate ideas come together and are worked to create dramatic and sometimes profound new themes and ideas. In the novel, three women from different cultures each face the same final decision. Though they don’t realise it, the fate of the world they know depends on the decisions they make. Those decisions depend on the re-imagining of scripture by one of the three. So this book helped me to see how my own imagination has taken disparate ideas about faith, culture and politics, and woven them into something I hope will prove both interesting and profound.

Yes, these dry bones can live, but for them to do so requires much time to be spent in work, study and reflection.

So there we have it, October’s Book of the Month! Be sure to check back in November as I’ll be revealing another must read.

Maggie x

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