Tag Archives: Terry Pratchett

Who cares for the people who care for the people?

celtic cross vineyardSoul care.

It is very important and also very much overlooked in today’s I-must-all-way-be-busy world. A while everyone is in danger of ignoring their own soul care, those on the front lines of fighting social injustices (i.e. pastors, nurses, doctors, social workers, etc.) are extremely vulnerable. These are the people with huge hearts who strive daily to fight against injustice and to care for those on the margins of life, however, they don’t get the support or praise they deserve, which is why organizations such as CareShyft.com aim to provide support for those that support the elderly. Because the needs of others are always there, they tend to forget to care for themselves and look for things that might aid them such as Aged Care Help which can really make a difference. Although care homes are an essential part of the lives of many elderly people, their families should also be able to take care of them too. With new technology available for elderly people, like mobile phones from Fanmi Senior and others, families could be contacted if the patient’s carer is unavailable. Not only would this allow carers to have a bit more time to themselves, it might also be nice for elderly patients to speak to their families every now and again.

Sir Terry Pratchett beautifully illustrate this problem in his book I Shall Wear Midnight. In this story, Tiffany Aching is a 16-year old witch who recently completed her apprenticeship with some older witches. Wanting to impress both her teachers and the people in her steading (think parish), she spends every waking moment helping people. She clips the toenails of the elderly who cannot bend over; helps the expectant mothers prepare for their new ones; checks in on the sick; keeps the local Baron in check when he oversteps his boundaries; provides advice for those in trouble; settles disputes; not to mention keep the monsters at bay.

Tiffany allows herself to get so busy that she cannot remember when she last slept a night in a proper bed. Rather she operates on a few hours of sleep catch here and there as time allows. Her parents notice this trend and try to talk her into taking care of herself…but she refuses. Too much to do, she says.

i-shall-wear-midnightFinally near the near the end of the book when she is nearly to the point of exhaustion, the following happens:

“Miss Tiffany, you need a rest, a proper rest in a proper bed. What kind of witch can look after everybody if she’s not sensible enough to look after herself? Quis custodiet ipsos custodes. That means, Who guards the guards, that does,” Preston went on. “So who watches the witches? Who cares for the people who care for the people? Right now, it looks like it needs to be me.”

She gave in.

We all need a Preston in our lives. Someone to tell us to stop and rest; someone who will not take “no” for an answer.

Better yet, we need to create rhythms of soul care in our lives that allows for us to ministry from the overflow of our lives rather than draining ourselves dry. Otherwise we will do what Tiffany does and go right back to our destructive pattern of not caring for ourselves (see The Shepherd’s Crown, the sequel to I Shall Wear Midnight).

Witching (Pratchett-style), pastoring and fighting injustice are life-long callings. Let us take the long view of life and take care of ourselves so that we can help those around us. Life, it has been said, is a marathon, not a sprint.

Jesus said, “Come off by yourselves; let’s take a break and get a little rest.” For there was constant coming and going. They didn’t even have time to eat. –Mark 6:31, The Message

Need is not the same as like

“Need is not the same as like.”

wintersmithI was listening to Wintersmith today (the 3rd Tiffany Aching book by Terry Pratchett) when I came across the above quote. The context being Tiffany thinking about Granny Weatherwax in comparison to Mrs. Earwig and other witches.  Those witches tended to be popular and well-liked whereas Granny Weatherwax was not liked as much as she was needed. Needed in the sense that when the proverbial *#$% hits the fan, you called for Granny Weatherwax and not the others. But if you held a party or just had someone over for dinner, Granny Weatherwax would not be the person you invited.

In thinking about this, I couldn’t help but think about the person I would want to be known as. On an incentive level, I think all of us want to be liked and known as someone who people want to be friends with (knowing that there are a few hermits out there…but in general people want to be liked). And while the need to be liked is there, there is also a part of me who wants to be known as the person who get things done. The person who you call when the cards are down and no one else can help. The person who you know will come even when all hope is lost.

You know, the Granny Weatherwax type of person… the superhero….the Rambo character…the James Bond person who gets the job done no matter what but with whom it is dangerous to be too close or to know too much about.

There are times when it seems that I can balance both parts of myself. That I can be both “liked” and “needed.”

Yet at other times, it seems that I have to make a choice.

By definition, being needed means making the hard decisions. It means making people upset when the status quo is upset. It means calling out injustice when injustice is seen. It is, if I might shift fictional worlds, being the Steve Rogers of the world when it is easier to sign the Sokovia Accords along with Tony Stark and the rest of the gang. As Steve told Tony in Captain America: Civil War, “If I see a situation pointed south, I can’t ignore it. Sometimes I wish I could.”

To be liked.

Or to be needed.

Perhaps that is really the question of the ages.

Learning to Pastor from Tiffany Aching

A_Hat_Full_of_Sky_CoverIt may sound odd to some people, but I think the best pastoring book out there wasn’t written by a follower of Jesus nor was it written as a pastoring book. Rather it was written by an atheist known to write satires against religion of all types.

The book I’m talking about is A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett.

Yes, I just named a fantasy novel about a young witch the best pastoring book out there. Yeah, I know it is strange; but bear with me as Pratchett really does have a lot to say about pastoring people.

The novel A Hat Full of Sky is about a young gal, Tiffany Aching, who is learning to become a witch. At first, Tiffany is excited about her new apprenticeship with an elderly witch, Miss Level. However rather than learning “real magic” like she thought she would, Tiffany assists Miss Level in helping out the elderly, tired, poor and outcasts of the community. These seemingly insignificant and un-magical tasks eventually gets the best of Tiffany who asks Granny Weatherwax (the most highly-regarded witch in the land) why she has do that stuff. Listen to Granny Weatherwax answer:

“Now that’s what I call magic—seein’ all that, dealin’ with all that, and still goin’ on. It’s sittin’ up all night with some poor old man who’s leavin’ the world, taking away such pain as you can, comfortin’ their terror, seein’ ‘em safely on their way…and then cleanin’ ‘em up, layin’ ‘em out, making ‘em neat for the funeral, and helpin’ the weeping widow strip the bed and wash the sheets—which is, let me tell you, no errand for the fainthearted—and stayin’ up the next night to watch over the coffin before the funeral, and then going home and sitting down for five minutes before some shouting angry man comes bangin’ on your door ‘cuz his wife’s havin’ difficulty givin’ birth to their first child and the midwife’s at her wits’ end and then getting up and fetching your bag and going out again…We all do that, in our own way, and she does it better’n me, if I was to put my hand on my heart. That is the root and heart and soul and center of witchcraft, that is. The soul and center!”

In really reading Granny Weatherwax’s response to Tiffany, you realize that witches in Pratchett’s Discworld books act a lot like pastors. Or, perhaps I  should say, they act like what pastors should act like. Witches are the ones who help teach the people, the ones fighting for justice while not seeking credit, the ones helping the poor, helpless, elderly, and the like. Witches, in the words of Pratchett,  help “people when life is on the edge. Even people you don’t like.”

The problem is that not all witches agree with Granny Weatherwax’s definition of witchcraft. Some of them would rather have the gold and glory that comes with positions of power rather than serving in the shadows. Tiffany has to make the choice as to what type of which she is going to be – just like new pastors must make a choice of what type of pastor they are going to be. Are they going to use their position to seek personal glory? To use the trappings of showmanship to wow the crowd and emotional direct the people to follow them just like the antagonists of our book?

It may sound like a simple decision. Say “no” to showmanship and “yes” to loving people. Reality isn’t that simple. Reality is messy with broken relationships, sick people throwing up on you, others taking advantage of your good graces, etc., etc. This is why I like this book and would recommend all new pastors to read it. Pratchett, as a student of human nature, paints a messing picture of a young gal faced with the same decisions a new pastors is faced with. Learning to navigate the emotions that flood our lives…well, I guess that is something we all – pastors, non-pastors, young, old, female and male – must learn to do.

So in conclusion, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett. Read it for fun and, while you do, think about the pastoral implications of being a witch.

Nation by Terry Pratchett

Nation by Terry Pratchett
Nation by Terry Pratchett

Ah. Pratchett – the crazy Discworld genius from the UK who writes some of the best social commentaries in print.

This time he wrote a novel set in a world similar to our own – abet in a parallel universe. Nation is a look into different cultures, human nature, religion, and science.

The book starts off with a huge tidal wave destroying the human population of a small South Pacific island – save one young boy named Mau. Yet, as the book cover states, when something is taken away, something else is always given.

I don’t want to give away too much of the story line as it is a good book – especially the first half in which we find ourselves watching the meeting of two vastly different cultures. Continue reading Nation by Terry Pratchett

I Need A Ticket To Bristol

If anyone wants to pony up a few hundred dollars for a plane ticket to Bristol, UK, please let me know. You can just leave a note on this blog and I will contact you. Money mouth

It’s that easy.

Now if you are wondering why I want to go to Bristol all of a sudden, I have one word for you: Banksy.

Yelp. Him.

The world’s most famous graffiti artist is hosting an art show at the Bristol’s City Museum and Art Gallery. This fact is kind of strange ironic as Bristol was where Banksy first started painting – abet on the side of buildings, bridges or another public structures.

To have the city that chased him for many years host an art show is really, really ironic. And, in a strange way, it is also classic Banksy. Wink[@more@]


You may wonder why I like Banksy so much?

Well, in a nutshell, he has one of the best ironic views on society and western culture. In a lot of ways he is like Terry Pratchett – only instead of words, Banksy uses images.

If you can’t laugh, cry or grimaces at the crazy, screwed up society we are living in…well… I’m sorry. Undecided

A Hat Full of Sky – Terry Pratchett

Ah – the fun filled, wacky world of Terry Pratchett. It makes the day go smoother and faster. (not that the day actually walks or otherwise moves).

Yesterday I had to pleasure of spending half an hour browsing the local Library – which can be a bad thing if your name is Ardell and you have a love of books, CDs, DVDs and audio-books. It can also be a good thing if your name is Ardell and you… oh, you get the jest.

One of the treasure I walked away with was an audio-book by Terry Pratchett – as you might of guessed from the post title and the picture to the right.

Listening to the book brings out new pictures and characters as they jump across the sound waves into one’s mind. And being Discworld – the characters actually do jump from sound waves to brain waves.

Off to the sky with ye.