Introducing: Hilary Brand

Posted by Sam Hailes  ·  Be the first to comment

The King’s Speech was 2010’s surprise success story. Many people didn’t understand how a film about a man stuttering would be entertaining.

But after millions flocked to the cinema and bought the DVD then watched the film win Best Picture at the Oscars, there was no doubt. The King's Speech was, as the Guardian put it, “a massively confident crowd-pleaser”.

Hilary Brand has spent much of the last few years writing Lent courses. As a self-described lover of film, the author has taken films such as The Shawshank Redemption and used them to explain aspects of the Christian message.

Her last book, Not a Tame Lion, looked at the writings of CS Lewis and assists small groups in exploring the first two Narnia film’s stories and characters.

All of Hilary’s books encourage small groups to discuss the relevant film before looking at the Bible.

“If you start with the Bible people say what they think they ought to say whereas if you start with something that will get them talking, then they begin to treat the Bible as more real to their experiences.”

The themes contained in The King's Speech jumped out at Hilary as soon as she watched the film. The result is Finding a Voice, Hilary’s new lent course.

“I immediately thought there’s such a lot in this, different issues you could pick up on, starting with the fear of the opening sequence. We all experience moments of fear, so it’s a good starting point. It’s got a lot of things in it that relate to the gospel.”

Hilary says encouragement and friendship are two of the major themes of the film.

“There’s an analogy between the character of Logue, the speech therapist who comes alongside Bertie, the Duke of York. You can use that as a picture of Christians; how we encourage each other or that we have the Holy Spirit as an encourager.”

Other issues that Finding a Voice raise are identity and calling.

“Calling is a major issue in the film in that he has a calling to become a King. Lionel Logue is very interesting in that he wants to be an actor but his calling is something different, to be a speech therapist. Elizabeth doesn’t want to be Queen but if she has to be she’ll do it as well as she can.”

Hilary is keen to point out the book is an “ideal resource” for house groups at any time of the year. All of her books have been tried and tested on a variety of small groups before they make it to print.

“In our group we’ve got people who come from a Catholic background and a non-conformist evangelical background. Sometimes you can say something inadvertently that people take in a different way so I always find testing it out is really useful to see what people understand of the questions and how they work ideally with more than one group.”

Now that the book has been released, the author is pleased with the positive reaction from Christians across the denominational spectrum.

But lent books aren’t the only genre Hilary has written. What Am I Doing Here? is subtitled ‘a beginner’s guide to the church’. With illustrations from popular cartoonist Dave Walker, the book is a wonderful combination of subtle humour and a down to earth style. Why did Hilary write it?

“I was aware that particularly in our church, we get a lot of young families coming in, partly the classic Anglican thing of wanting to get their kids into the school! You get people coming in for all kinds of different reasons and I didn’t really know where people were coming from or what their expectations were. I just thought there must be an awful lot of people who don’t really know what’s going on.”

“All churches of all types are really bad about making assumptions of what they’re doing and not explaining it very well. I just hoped [the book] would give a simple explanation of why we do some of the things we do. But also to say these are things that are touching the very heart of being human, they’re not just funny bits of ritual. The need to give thanks, confess and receive communion are very deep seated needs within us.”

Hilary views Lent as a time for both individual reflection and group discussion. Finding a Voice is the fourth Lent course the author has developed. The ongoing popularity of her series suggests we can expect to see more Lent courses from Hilary in the coming years. But for now, it's time to gather some friends together, re-watch one of 2010's greatest films and discover what the Bible says about identity, calling and friendship. 

6th March

March 6th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Sam Hailes

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