1. My first book startled me! I remember watching a friend’s Labrador producing her very first puppies. Eventually, she became a contented mother of nine, but it didn’t start out that way. When her first puppy emerged, she was so startled that she turned tail and ran to hide. I had that urge when I first saw my book in print, because I was no longer within anonymous territory but suddenly “out there”. But just as all eyes had immediately focused on the puppies—not the mother—so I trust that the focus will be on my book and not on me. I am just the amanuensis through which it came.
2. I was never a scientist, and yet I’m fascinated by our universe and by the way that we’re made. Scientific discoveries have shown that the universe is one single, infinitely vast realm of swirling energy. Everything in existence is made up of that energy, including you and me. We appear to be separate, but our essential makeup is the same essence. I mention in my book that I believe that this scientific—and spiritual—truth will increasingly impact our individual and global relationships.
3. I am passionate about the Cornish coast: the soaring cliffs, majestic surf and the wonderful feel of tide-washed sands beneath my toes. Show me the sea and I’ll jump into it at almost any time of year. I am utterly transported by the beauty of a quiet cove, big skies with sea birds whirling back and forth among the cliffs, and the exhilaration of surfing the Atlantic Ocean. A little piece of heaven.
4. I love humour but occasionally it backfires. My big mistake was to assume that April Fool’s Day was a worldwide thing. I was editing a daily paper in Caracas, Venezuela, in the days when the country was prosperous and oil-rich – and holes in the ground were a common sight. So, I wrote an article describing the hilarious and highly implausible discovery of the ruins of an ancient city, observed through one of the holes. Problem was that the publisher found it anything but hilarious. April 1st evidently rang no bells for him at all, nor did it for the hyper-excited officials and archaeologists who were clogging his ‘phone line. I held on to my job – just!
5. I share a love of walking with my husband and we both enjoy challenges. We find them! Like the time when dense fog enveloped Mount Ben Cruachan in Scotland as we were picking our way homewards between very steep escarpments. There was no alternative but to stop. Absolutely stock-still. Then… a dog appeared from nowhere (yes, another Labrador!) and without further ado ‘rounded us up’ and skilfully guided us down to safety. We would love to thank that dog again, and its owners, but it vanished as rapidly as it had appeared.
6. I write all over the place, and at all hours. The wonder of writing has transformed more than one impoverished flat-share into a place of radiant creativity. Sitting somewhere, waiting? Out comes my notebook. Bolt upright at 1am, with inspiration? Yes, the laptop can certainly be re-fired. Perched on the cliffs at Whitby overlooking the North Sea – definitely! Another one of my favourite writing places is a spot in my house without an internet connection and a view of our neighbours’ two gorgeous horses.
7. I lived in India for three months in a Christian community on the banks of a river in Tamil Nadu. It was one of the happiest times of my life. The day started with prayer and meditation in a little chapel set among coconut trees. Everyone, from anywhere, was warmly welcomed. I felt so at home with the local people and we laughed like drains at my appalling attempts at the Tamil language. In that setting—for a change—words were not important. Hearts, eyes and expressive hands were by far the most powerful forms of communication.
8. I am deeply inspired by the night skies. The light we see from the nearest star takes four years to reach our eyes – and yet we see it. I am in awe of the consistency, the complexity and the unutterable beauty of the constellations and galaxies – the majesty of it all. This passion is reflected in my book – it had to be! There is so much that we can see, and yet so much that we still cannot see. Scientists estimate that barely four per cent of the visible universe has been detected. That leaves a staggering 96 per cent still to be explored!
9. I live in an area of Lincolnshire with big skies and sweeping pastures. It is familiar territory, but I still gasp with utter delight as I gaze over the swaying grasses and identify the tall, black-tipped ears of a hare. The ears grow even taller as their owner lifts its head and emerges gracefully into full visibility. How elegant, peaceful and unhurried. And yet when necessary, the hare can run at speeds of 45mph.
10. I have travelled speedily, widely and colourfully, met truly remarkable people, and have had experiences to make your hair curl. But nothing can compare with the greatest and most transforming joy of my entire life: the time when I knew—beyond a shadow of a doubt—that God exists and that He is Love. The change came when I asked Jesus Christ to come into my life, and in faith believed that He had forgiven me all my sins, and that His Spirit now lives in me. I marvel at the ongoing difference this has made to my life. My book, God’s Gift of Tremendous Power, is a description of the life-giving, vibrant relationship that any one of us can have if we humble ourselves and choose to follow Christ and His teachings.
Exclusive interview with Ann Shakespeare
New book God’s Gift of Tremendous Power is the first non-academic title to connect the latest understanding of quantum physics with biblical teachings. We asked Ann to explain more about this connection, and what it means for Christians seeking to enrich their faith and relationship with God...
How does Christian scripture accord with the latest scientific understanding of the quantum world?
Until the start of the 20th century, scientists adhered to classical, Newtonian model of physics, which considered the universe and everything within as being made up of distinct bits of matter. Albert Einstein, however, transformed our understanding with his discovery that matter does not comprise separated elements, and that matter and energy are two sides of the same coin. Later scientists built upon his ground-breaking work to reveal that the universe is made up of immense fields of vibrating energy which are all interconnected. In other words, everything that exists constitutes one vast and universal swirl of energy. I chose the term “quantum field” as shorthand to describe this universal energy field in my book. By this term, I mean the basic, seamless fabric of creation from which everything in the universe, including human beings, has been moulded.
Based on this insight, we can recognise an invisible but very real essence that connects us all and this understanding of universal connectedness helps shed new light on God’s Word, as revealed through scripture. For example, take this passage from the Bible: “There is one body and one Spirit, … one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in all” (Eph. 4:4 and 6).
Of course, to Christians the Word of God is Truth and so does not need human discoveries to prove it. Indeed, science has simply caught up with the spiritual truth of universal connectedness that has always been very clearly expressed in the New Testament. However, such discoveries can greatly enrich our understanding of scripture. They have the potential to bring new depth to our worship and to help us to experience greater power and positive effect through prayer.
How can an understanding of the quantum field benefit the spiritual lives of everyone, regardless of their specific faith?
Discoveries about this universal “quantum field”—or energy field—impact the lives of each one of us, whether we are aware of it or not. They show just how powerful our thoughts, words and actions are – both for good and for bad. Our thoughts and intentions not only shape the future of our lives but they also impact other people and circumstances.
It helps to think of the metaphor of a tiny pebble dropping into a large lake. It is surprising how far the ripples caused by the pebble radiate outwards, affecting the makeup of a large surface of water. A larger stone, or a bolder, will cause ripples to become much more intrusive waves.
It is all about energy. Our thoughts, words and actions are all forms of energy and their impact radiates outwards far beyond our ability to see or comprehend. Let us choose to exercise the remarkable power we have in a positive, life-giving way.
In your book you say that certain teachings within Eastern religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism can provide a better understanding of Christianity. Can you give an example of this?
Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, undertook a vast study on the subject of karma (the law of cause and effect). We see the same teachings within the Bible. For instance, the account in Genesis of the Fall—the breaking away from union with God—is the beginning of the story of the human race, which is characterized by the effects of separation including the triggering of the law of cause and effect. This is also known as the law of “as you sow, so shall you reap” or the law of Moses in the Old Testament. The experiences of the human race, both positive and negative, are all the outworkings of this inescapable law.
Human beings were incapable of paying off the karmic debts that accumulated relentlessly under the law. Only one who had no debt of sin to pay—Jesus Christ—could pay the debt on our behalf through His ultimate sacrifice, and thereby set us free.
Buddha’s insights into how the law of cause and effect works has deepened my understanding of the incalculable mountain of pain, and all the other accumulated effects of sin, that Jesus Christ took upon Himself on the cross because of His great love for us. He set us free to live in Him under Grace and no longer under law.
You believe that an appreciation of the quantum field could allow Christians to have a deeper, more rewarding relationship with their faith, and with God. Why, then, do you think the Church has not as yet incorporated the quantum world into their teachings?
I think it is because the discoveries of modern physics, especially with regards to “oneness”, have not been expressed in an accessible, non-academic way.
Also, I believe that Christians tend to shy away from the concept of “oneness” because of its New Age connotations. In my book, I point out that Jesus Christ Himself spoke of oneness long before ‘New Age’ came along! And there are many scriptures in the New Testament that underpin the truth of the Omnipresence and oneness of God and His universe.
In your book you offer practical guidance on meditation and prayer. Why do you think many people aren’t realising the true potential of these forms of worship, and how can they improve their ‘prayer power’?
The Bible teaches us that those who trust in Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for all our sins upon the cross, died to their old selves with Him (Galatians 2:20) and that now their lives are hid with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3). They are now made “new creations” in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Scripture also tells us that we can do nothing by ourselves – that it is the Spirit of Christ living and working in us that does the works. Prayer is one of those “works”, so to speak. It is by identifying ourselves with the truth of our new life, rather like lining up the two halves of a hosepipe—to use a rather crude expression—that the power of the Spirit is free to pour through, bringing healing and transformation into our own lives and the lives of others.
What, would you say, has Christianity brought to your own life?
It has completely and utterly changed my life, my values, my desires, my joys and my intentions. I used to live in depression; frequently ill, lacking focus, seeking my own interests but never feeling satisfied. Since I asked Jesus Christ to come into my life and to take over, my life has never been the same.
Problems and tragedies have come, as they do to most people, but the strength of the Spirit of Christ always carries me through. I have come to discover that the Bible is a power-packed book if I read it with faith and apply it. I am full of hope and joy, and am healthier and more vigorous mentally and physically now than ever before. I owe all this to the ongoing forgiveness, the unconditional love, the grace, and the indwelling power of God.
Your book is a guide to Christian living, but do you think people outside the faith could benefit from its contents?
It depends upon individual interests and the openness of each reader to the subjects contained in the book.
Irrespective of religious persuasion, the Bible contains many profound truths. What is your favourite passage of scripture that you think could benefit anyone to learn?
The passage of scripture that I have been meditating upon the most—for many years –is Galatians 2:20: “ I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me”.
What are your plans as an author going forward?
I will continue writing on Christian themes with the aim of helping people to enter more deeply into the vibrant life of Christ and to discover a quality of life that they may never have known, or imagined, before.
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