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Viewpoint from Keith Morris 30/01/2015 

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Lent to me normally means giving up chocolate or alcohol but this Lent (starting in mid-February) will be different thanks to the Bishop of Norwich
The Rt Rev Graham James has just had a new book, The Lent Factor – 40 companions for the 40 days of Lent - published
I am not normally a book reader but this one is something I can really get my teeth into. I love short articles, especially about people, which is exactly why Bishop Graham’s new book is right down my street
dove leftIt consists of 40 short life stories about 40 remarkable people, all of whom have had an influence on the life of Bishop Graham and helped shape his Christian faith and discipleship in one way or another
Some you will recognize instantly, Norfolk war-time nurse and heroine Edith Cavell, Argentinian champion of the poor Eva Peron (of Evita fame) and hymn writer and founder of Methodism, Charles Wesley
A dozen have a strong Norfolk connection, such as father of pathology James Paget who has a Gorleston hospital named after him, former Norfolk priest and bishop’s chaplain Michael Stagg and Robert Washington Shirley, the 13th Earl of Ferrers, parliamentary legend and a former High Steward of Norwich Cathedral
And then there are those most personal to Bishop Graham, his maternal grandmother Edith James, his father - tin miner and Anglican minister Lionel James - and his second daughter Victoria James, who died at the age of just six months
Dove rightSome have a Christian faith, others do not, they are not flawless characters but each has a human identity which is compelling. Bishop Graham, one of the most natural communicators I have ever met, tells each of their stories in a very personal way and identifies a special X factor which all of them possess
He writes: “Some of the people included in this book led astonishingly active lives and achieved great fame. Others are much less well known. Some are hardly known to anyone except in my family. With some I have a deep personal connection. Others were dead long before I was born”
Intended as a Lent study book, as well as just a plain great read, a theme from each brief life story is illuminated by reflection on a scene, passage or word from the Bible. The appropriateness of the use of a cross to mark out the 'X' factor within human beings becomes the more pertinent as the journey through Lent approaches Holy Week and Easter
A highly recommended, more enjoyable and much more profitable way to journey through Lent that merely discarding wine and chocolates for a few weeks
The Lent Factor – 40 companions for the 40 days of Lent by Graham James
Published by Bloomsbury
Paperback/ eBook £9.99
On sale at the Revelation bookshop, Cathedral bookshop, and Jarrolds, all in Norwich

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