Posts by Ruth Alkema

My relationship with God

Written in response to an invitation in the #LiveLent 2018 app, where it said: “Make some time to write down the story of your relationship with God, how it began, how it has grown, what it means today”.

Can we have a relationship with God? What would, or could, be the nature of that relationship? Is anything like an equal balance and mutual respect possible? When I read the invitation in the Live Lent app, I was immediately enthusiastic to reflect on my own relationship with God, which has not always been easy, but still fills me with gratitude, awe and love.

Longing for God

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. — Ps 63:1

This is a translation of a text that I wrote earlier (February 2016) in Dutch, for the congregation of the Jeruzalemkerk.

A long time ago I heard in the time before Easter a sermon in which Psalm 63 was quoted. Particularly verse 3: Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. I considered this, and thought it was quite nonsensical. I thought: “What point is there in having a God when you are not alive?” And honestly, I still think that it is humanly impossible to believe in God’s love, when in this life we do not receive that which we need.

Inspiration speaks to the heart

Words which emanate from the heart, enter the heart (Jewish saying) My fascination with words has led me to write ‘Words of Life’ and ‘Meaningful Words’. While I was writing those, I knew in my heart that a third needed to be written. For there are words that go beyond the surface of our understanding, and actually do something within our hearts. How does this work? How can words move us, touch our hearts, and…

Touching the soul

Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?
— Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

If there is one word that describes me well, it is ‘curiosity’. I always want to know how things work, in all details, especially what goes on behind the surface, how things are connected, what they really mean. And now my attention is captured by the concept of a soul. My own soul in particular, but also the whole idea of a soul, what is it, how does it work, what is the relation of my soul with my body? Can souls be connected (as in family, friendship, marriage, relation with God), does a soul have various parts, or is it just itself, an indivisible unity? Is the soul a space in which ideas live, or is it the source of the ideas? What is a wounded soul? One question bothers me especially: how can a soul influence a body and vice versa, when they are of such different nature?

You, child

And you, child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way, to give his people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of all their sins. Luke 1:76-79 No human being can pay full attention to the words that he or she is praying every single day, and apparently this is how God would have it. Sometimes, particularly at crisis points in our lives,…

Meaningful words

To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is! Proverbs 15:23 Jesus is called the Word of God[1]. Surely this points to the enormous value of words. What is it with words? What do words do? There are so many types of words! From the technical explanation in a manual, to the beauty of poetry. From a heated argument to a formal speech. Last…

Conforming my soul to reality

In the last Christian Classics meeting, we discussed the book ‘The Abolition of Man’ by C.S.Lewis. There was one paragraph that struck me especially, he was writing about the dangers of modern genetics, and wrote: There is something which unites magic and applied science while separating both from the wisdom of earlier ages. For the wise men of old the cardinal problem had been how to conform the soul to reality, and the solution had…

Book Review

Ruth Alkema has contributed this book review – highly recommended reading! Simply good news By N.T. Wright I read this book with a bible study group in the Jeruzalemkerk. Even though most of  us found the writing style really tedious, lots of repetitions, we still had a very lively discussion afterwards. He writes by giving loads of examples, all explaining another aspect of his point, but it is difficult to detect what the point is.…

Book review

Ruth Alkema has contributed this book review – highly recommended reading! The Power and the Glory By Graham Greene In a poor, steamy and barren Mexican state, the Red Shirts have gained control, outlawed God, and murdered priests. But one still lives, the whisky priest, who has an illegitimate daughter and believes he has lost his soul. Now he is on the move, trying to escape his executioners. As he tramps anonymously through the glowing white…