Book review: Open House - Conversations with Leigh Hatcher
Just such an opportunity, multiplied 30 times, is presented to readers of Open House - Conversations with Leigh Hatcher launched this week.
Open House is the popular Sunday night radio interview program hosted by well-known media personality and journalist Leigh Hatcher and the book is a collection of some of his best and most recent interviews.
Although I am somewhat wary of anthologies of this kind, sometimes feeling they are an easy excuse for a book, this one has been thoughtfully and carefully prepared so that it is a fast-moving and fascinating read and you never feel you are getting a re-run of past glory.
Instead the interviews are a good length for reading, not too long but enough detail to capture the pathos of people's story-telling - which is where personally I could at times see something of my own life - or a friend or family member's - reflected in their challenges, struggles, joys and dreams.
The fact that many of the stories being told are of people who are household names, adds to the drama of the book.
Many of us will know something of the lives of Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton, Michael Chamberlain, Rick Warren, Judith Durham, Tommy Emmanuel, Ken Duncan - grasped from headlines or tweets or passing conversation.
What Leigh Hatcher achieves in these interviews is a delving into the deep places of their personal journey - family, beliefs, tragedy, hopes - the things that rarely make headlines but are what make lives.
While perhaps drawn to the book by its list of well-known names, it is actually the very ordinary and human accounts of the interviewees as they speak of tears and laughter and pain and healing that may very well speak into these areas of your own life.
But of course, fascinated as we are with the famous, it is interesting to learn what motivates the pastor of America's biggest church, and how did he come to write one of the past decades best-selling books internationally, The Purpose Driven Life?
Or how did Australian guitar virtuoso Tommy Emmanuel learn to play guitar so amazingly well considering how poor his family was?
How does the ABC Managing Director Mark Scott balance authentic faith and one of the most challenging roles in Australian media or how did June Dally Watkins come to faith later in life?
You will find the stories of soapies stars and singers, authors and activists, conductors and survivors, all who have caught the public imagination in some way and all who speak openly with Leigh Hatcher across life, faith and culture.
There are at least three former gang members or gangsters (including one I know personally, hello Justin) whose lives have gone from violence and destructiveness in each case to personal transformation that in turn is being passed on to other people in need.
I didn't know that the producer of X-Men and Star Trek, Ralph Winter, is not only a good friend of Hugh Jackman's but a friend of Christ's. And I'm glad Leigh asked Ralph what a producer actually does - the credits of movies will now make more sense.
You will even learn the back story of how Open House came about and how Leigh came to be its second presenter when he interviews Sheridan Voysey about his book Resurrection Year.
With 30 interviews included in Open House - Conversations with Leigh Hatcher, there are two many to mention here, but their variety reflects the complexity and diversity of contemporary life and as each person reflects on their faith they offer many important insights on how to make our way in the world.
Open House - Conversations with Leigh Hatcher, published by Strand Publishing, 2013, 271 pages, paperback, $14.99. Purchase from Koorong, Word or the Hope 103.2 store.
Open House the radio program can be heard on Hope 1032 Sydney, Light FM in Melbourne, 1 WAY FM in Canberra, Pulse 94.1 in Wollongong, Life FM in Adelaide, Ultra 106five in Hobart, 100.7 Riverland Life FM, 97.7 Darwin, Juice 107.3 Gold Coast, Lime FM Mount Gambier, Live FM Townsville, Sonshine FM in Perth and the Vision Radio Network.
Open House is on-air Sundays from 8pm to 11pm Eastern Time, and talkback lines are open from 8pm on 1300 40 20 20.