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Meeting God in Paul
Stitches
On Rock or Sand?
The Pastor's Wife
Beauty's Field
A Tour Of Bones
In The Shelter
Free
Mysterious God
Jesus
Faith In His Future
A Maryknoll Book Of Poetry
Votewise 2015
The Edge OF Words
An Idol Unmasked
The Great Irish Crosses
Victorian Worthies
Holy Luck
Approaching The End
A Brief Theology of Sport
Iona
The Maker's Instructions
Persons Are Our Best Gifts
Beyond Human?
Transformed by The Beloved
The Question That Never Goes Away
Robert McAfee Brown
Hear Me, See Me
Sabbatical Journey
Making Our Connections
Time And Relative Dimensions In Faith
Jews, Christians and Muslims in Encounter
Save Send Delete
Jewish Themes in The New Testament
The Lifestyle of a Prophet
Etched By Silence
When God Is Silent
God or Godless?
The Emerging Leader
World Religions
One Nation without God?
Unstoppable
Catholicism and Me
You are the Messiah and I should know
Science and Religion in the Twenty-first Century
Maiden, Mother and Queen
The Seven Deadly Sins
Am I Missing Something?
Falling Upward
Scent of Lemons
The Gospel of Rutba
Un-Conditional
Village Hours
C S Lewis vs The New Atheists
A Way in the Wilderness
Only Say The Word
Medjugorje
Like the Wideness of the Sea
Confession
Dream Culture
Life Without Limits
The Great Partnership
Retreats 2013
A Faith To Live By
Water - A Spiritual History
Who is the Real Jesus?
The Last Banana
Heroes and Monsters
Different by Design
The Lion’s World
Moving in the Right Circles
Unchristian
Apocalypse When?
A Vision for the Aging Church
Travel Through Rome
Glendalough
Pastors in the Classics
Catholic Primary Education: Facing new Challenges
The Art of Mentoring
The Spirit of the Purple Cow
Women and the Vatican
Multi-Voiced Church
Why Pro-Life?
Enjoying Later Life
Small Change Big Deal


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General Interest

For those books that need to be included but do not fit into our other categories

Meeting God in Paul



by Rowan Williams


Fresh insights into Paul's revolutionary message by one of the world's greatest living theologians.
Rowan Williams explores the essentials of Paul's thought for complete beginners - as well as for those who have read Paul's letters many times before and want to see them in a fresh light.
Written at a highly accessible level, this book would make a perfect gift for anyone thinking about confirmation, while also appealing to people who are curious as to why Paul has had such a profound influence on Christian history and belief.

Review by x  (01/02/16)
Jacket
Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: November 2015
ISBN: 978-0-281-07338-2
Paperback
Price: £8.99

Stitches

- A Handbook of Meaning, Hope And Repair

by Anne Lamott


I don't know what it is about Anne Lamott but she writes totally down to earth, real, honest prose and yet somehow manages to make it feel like you are reading poetry or a wonderful meditiation piece. In this short book (only 96 pages but that's more than enough for her to help clarify and illuminate) she addresses how fractured and frazzled we feel in modern life, how sometimes we come unravelled, irrascible and conflicted within ourselves and our settings. She does this honestly through sharing glimpes of her own experiences and times of coming unstitiched and then helps you to work though it by standing back in some ways and accepting that these times are us, but that we can be mended, we can be restitched and repurposed, that in the scattered stitches and chaotic piecing of a quilt there is a beauty and wholeness ... and in us we too can be that quilt, crazy, chaotic and piecemeal and yet whole, different and all the more for that.


A really beautiful book that works because it is so easy to read, so honest at heart and so easy for anyone to understand, a really good addition to the books that deal with our crazy, busy, hectic and painful lives.



Review by Melanie Carroll  (30/01/16)
Jacket
Publisher: Hodder
Published: February 2016
ISBN: 978-1-444-78915-7
Paperback
Price: £9.99

On Rock or Sand?

- Firm Foundations for Britain's Future

ed. John Sentamu


The aim of this book is nothing less than to assess and reset the terms of the debate about the kind of nation we want to be.

The contributors to this book examine some fundamental questions. How can we draw upon the wellsprings of social solidarity today? What would a new social contract - a new understanding about the respective rights and obligations of the individual citizen and the state - look like today? At a time when budgets and other resources are being reduced, what are the principles we should adopt to distribute them?

In short, what values can the Christian faith bring to the table to help address the problems we face today? These and other core questions about the kind of society we seek lie at the heart of this book.



Review by x  (15/06/15)
Jacket
Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: January 2015
ISBN: 978-0-281-07174-6
Paperback
Price: £9.99

The Pastor's Wife

- Strengthened By Grace For A Life Of Love

by Gloria Fuhrman


Gloria Furman writes an encouraging book for those women in ministry with their husbands. She herself has four young children and has been in Dubai planting Redeemer Church with her husband Dave.

She is honest about her experiences showing how any woman who has been or is in her situation has had to juggle church life, live with the expectations and demands from others, keep her home and give time to her husband and children. 

However, in the midst of her occasional loneliness, and even times of utter despair as to how everything can be held togather, Gloria Furman hits the nail on the head by describing that ministry should be always Christ centred. Her identity is in Christ, it is not in being a mother, a wife or a pastor. The central question of ministry is who is the ministry for; the answer is clear - it is for Christ and Him alone. Every need in life and every dream comes from Him. The ministry to people is the expression of love for Christ and keeping that central will give joy whatever life brings.



Review by Catherine Clark  (26/06/15)
Jacket
Publisher: IVP(Inter Varsity Press)
Published: April 2015
ISBN: 978-1-783-59277-7
Paperback
Price: £7.99

Beauty's Field

- Seeing The World

by Laurence Freeman


I know Laurence Freeman from his wonderful Christian Meditation books, and here I find another wonderful series of meditations and contemplations, but these are taken from his journals and his travels around the world, here we meet a host of peoples form many different places and many different situations and through them we see glimpses of the ordinary and the transformed, we see hope and loss, community and isolation, but most of all through these we hopefully will come to see ourselves and our potential and most of all we will meet the sacred and divine in each other too.

This is a beautiful book with 40 short thoughtful engagements, contemplations, meetings that are well worth taking a day each to think on. Though not intended as such it would make a wonderful alternative lenten companion, but it stands alone at any time.



Review by Melanie Carroll  (28/01/15)
Jacket
Publisher: Canterbury Press imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: 07 October 2014
ISBN: 978-1-848-25669-9
Paperback
Price: £12.99

A Tour Of Bones

- Facing Fear And Looking For Life

by Denise Inge


Do you know what a Charnel House is? It's a crypt, one with the bones still in place, now imagine living in one, or finding your house is built over one...
Denise Inge didn't have to imagine it, she was living in one and so begins this book in which she looks at her fears of life, death, living and dying. She takes a tour of other charnel houses and talks with people she meets through this tour, and she deals with her own mortality too.

This is a bittersweet book with great depth and poignancy to it, because Denise Inge had terminal cancer and died just as this book was coming into print, and you feel the depth of this journey more so for knowing this.

Here is a book that looks at how we deal with death, with the images and perceptions we have developed to deal with death, but more than that here is a book that looks at how we deal with living, or maybe don't deal with living, that assesses whether we are prepared to die or are willing to live.

It is a well written travelogue of Charnel houses with at it's heart a thoughtful consideration on the theology of death and dying and it is well worth reading.



Review by Melanie Carroll  (28/01/15)
Jacket
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Published: 06 November 2014
ISBN: 978-1-472-91307-4
Hardback
Price: £16.99

In The Shelter

- Finding A Home In The World

by Padraig O Tuama


There was from the beginning of this book a beautiful lyricism that pulled me along in the reading, so ok it's by a poet whose work I have very much previously enjoyed (Readings From The Book Of Exile, published by Canterbury Press) and I suppose that poetic lilt echoes in this book of prose, with it's small chunks of interwoven stories, contemplation, poetry and narration.


It jumps with an honesty and insight from personal story to biblical consideration, out into narrative theology and back again to personal thought and insight, and all of this takes us on the journey of consideration that maybe  shelter and home isn't quite what we think it is or where we find ourselves, that maybe we are merely characters adrift in a story yet unfinished and yet purposefully planted there and integral to the stories ending, that maybe it's the chance encounters and moments that will have the most impact and provide us with the best shelter from the days ahead or just behind...

This book is an incredibly beautiful contemplation and so honest in it's content that it demands you to stop and think and face your own scattered thoughts and encounters to see where you too could find a shelter, where you can find ... and give ... a home in this world.

It's a beautiful smorgasbord, a delightfully rich feast of words and ideas and certainly a book I'm going to be sharing with others. 



Review by Melanie Carroll  (27/01/15)
Jacket
Publisher: Hodder
Published: 12 February 2015
ISBN: 978-1-444-79170-9
Hardback
Price: £14.99

Free

- Why Science Hasn't Disproved Free Will

by Alfred R Mele


This is an interesting read for anyone who has an inquisitive mind, and likes to ask questions. Mele delves into the scientific world and their experiments on if free will exists or not. He explains the experiments in easy to understand terms and then discusses the findings and their conclusions.

Whilst I can't agree with him on every point and there are times when I feel his own conclusions are more speculation and supposition than true evidence based disproval it never the less is a well written and thought provoking book well worth the time to read it.

It isn’t an in-depth book, in fact at only 99 pages its a very quick read, but as a starting point and general introduction to the argument of free will its well worth its money.



Review by Allison Carroll  (06/02/15)
Jacket
Publisher: Oxford University Press (OUP)
Published: 01 November 2014
ISBN: 978-0-199-37162-4
Hardback
Price: £12.99

Mysterious God



by Bernard Hoose


Hoose has many interesting and pertinent things to say about the nature of religion, our concept of the Supreme Being and how it affects everything about us.

Bernard Hoose’s premise for this book is that God is so far above us in every way that it is impossible to know Him. Since the Bible seems to insist on many occasions that this is not just possible but desirable, there is a temptation to approach Mysterious God with a negative spirit, it is worth persevering with however.

This is not a light read, but it is mercifully free of theological terminology, and draws heavily on the writings of Christians through the ages as well as Scripture.

Nine-tenths of it are taken up with an explanation of the problems and only a tenth with practical advice on addressing them; readers are accorded the respect due to individuals who, once they have understood their fault, are capable of correcting their own thinking.

You may not agree with all of the author’s contentions, but overall this is a salutary account of how faith in Jesus has become corrupted by mankind. Recommended for all thinking Christians. 



Review by Diane Morrison  (02/02/15)
Jacket
Publisher: Columba Press
Published: December 2014
ISBN: 978-1-782-18182-8
Paperback
Price: £14.99

Jesus

- A Gospel

by Henri Nouwen


In this book Michael O’Laughlin, Henri Nouwen’s teaching assistant at Harvard, skillfully selects from Nouwen’s wealth of writings to explore the Gospel story. As perhaps can be expected from Nouwen, the result is engaging, intimate and insightful.

Starting with a general exploration of Jesus and ‘living spiritually’, O’Laughlin takes a short section of scripture followed by some of Nouwen’s reflections on the scripture/topic. He winds his way through the whole of the Gospel story, from the annunciation to the day of Pentecost and the second coming. Each section is on two pages, occasionally a few more, which results in a book that is delightfully easy to pick up and just read a little of. Indeed, each section tended to make me want to take some time to consider the, often new, insights that Nouwen’s reflections gave to that area of the Gospel story before continuing with the next. I thought this book was fantastic as an individual read but could also work excellently as part of a book group or ‘course’.

The insightful, deep reflections provided new ways for me to consider the familiar story of the Gospel and it is a book I will definitely revisit in the future. This book is excellent.



Review by Tim Hupfield  (27/01/15)
Jacket
Publisher: Orbis Books from Alban Books
Published: September 2013
ISBN: 978-1-626-98014-3
Paperback
Price: £16.99

Faith In His Future



by Adele Pilkington


This is a wonderful book telling the stories of men and women of faith as found in the book of Hebrews, but told in poetry.

This book is delightful and tells the tales in a beautiful and flowing manner. Read it just as a book of biblically inspired poetry or also use it as a church resource. Each poem is followed by the scripture passage on which it is based.

This book would be a wonderful teaching aid for both older children and adults.

The poetry is easy to understand and gets the message across simply and clearly. Well worth a read for anyone who enjoys poetry.



Review by Allison Carroll  (25/10/14)
Jacket
Publisher: Onwards and Upwards Publishing
Published: November 2013
ISBN: 978-1-907-50989-6
Paperback
Price: £7.99

A Maryknoll Book Of Poetry

- Truth, Beauty and Goodness From Around The World

by ed. Michael Leach, Doris Goodnough & Helen Phillips


This is a lovely collection of poems written by Maryknollers from around the world.

As with most poetry collections some are better than others but I hazard to say that most people will find at least one that speaks to them.

Some are short and sweet some read as beautiful heartfelt prayers. But all speak of the beauty and truth of Gods goodness.



Review by Allison Carroll  (25/10/14)
Jacket
Publisher: Orbis Books from Alban Books
Published: April 2014
ISBN: 978-1-626-98072-3
Paperback
Price: £12.99

Votewise 2015

- Making A Difference At The Ballot Box And Beyond

by Guy Brandon


The newest edition to a series started in 2004, this book by Guy Brandon is a great look and reflection of the views and the issues that should really be considered before deciding who deserves our vote.

Covering the topical issues of welfare, benefits and the economy; NHS, criminal justice and education; the environment, Europe, nationhood and immigration; together with other vital subjects such as marriage and family, bridging the gaps etc. These are all approached with an overview of the present situation in the nation, followed by a Christian response.

Finally representatives of the three main parties offer a Christian view on why they deserve our vote.

A timely book for all voters particularly at this time of political uncertainty.



Review by Melanie Carroll  (25/10/14)
Jacket
Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: November 2014
ISBN: 978-0-281-07178-4
Paperback
Price: £8.99

The Edge OF Words

- God And The Habits Of Language

by Rowan Williams


What a cracker this book is! Based around the material and research he did for the 2013 Gifford Lectures, this is a wonderfully deep journey into the nature of language, the sound of words, the experience of narrative, literature, drama and text—and on that basis the experience and knowledge of God we gain from that, or that we don’t!

Can language really do justice to God, can we really use it and the experience of it to understand or is it instead the place were words stop and language ceases that we truly find God, is it in the silence and not the words?

Beautiful, intelligent, questioning, just what you’d expect from Rowan Williams and so worth reading, but be warned this is deep and immersive material, and though the prose flows as one would expect it is an intellectual exercise, but like all exercise of any sort it is worth it for the end results.



Review by Melanie Carroll  (01/10/14)
Jacket
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Published: September 2014
ISBN: 978-1-472-91043-1
Paperback
Price: £20.00

An Idol Unmasked

- A Faith Perspective On Money

by Peter Selby


This is a book that really digs into the thorny issue of money in rigorous biblical detail. This makes it at times uncomfortable to read but also incredibly necessary and important to read.

This content in this book doesn’t alter regardless of if you consider yourself rich or poor, good with money or bad with it. This is because some of what comes out most clearly in this book, I thought, was that the reality is that for our society there is no way to avoid the poorly hidden reality that we all serve money and are worshipers of it even if we don’t really think som and even if in some ways that might be unwittingly…

A brilliant book and keenly insightful and deeply theological and yet accessible to all readers. This is not light reading (and a bigger font may have helped make the reading experience easier!) but it is good writing on a very key subject.



Review by Melanie Carroll  (01/10/14)
Jacket
Publisher: DLT (Darton, Longman and Todd Ltd)
Published: August 2014
ISBN: 978-0-232-53111-4
Paperback
Price: £10.99

The Great Irish Crosses

- Meaning And Mystery

by Oliver Crilly


The Great Irish Crosses is a fascinating introduction to the meaning and mystery of the great crosses of Ireland.

Oliver Crilly, Parish Priest of Greenlough in Co. Derry, takes the reader on a journey to explore the Scripture Crosses of the seventh to tenth centuries and those of the twelfth, followed by a look at St Brigid's Cross and the later Penal crosses.

Crilly persuasively demonstrates how the earlier stone crosses were carved with crucifixions based on the narrative in St John's Gospel and other biblical scenes, whilst those of the twelfth century show a quite different and simpler ecclesiastical form.

St Brigid's crosses, woven from straw, are made on the eve of St Brigid's feast (1st February) and often blessed at the Mass of the Feast. Penal Crosses, carved from wood, date from the 18th century.

This is a book about the crosses and the pioneering study of them written in a very accessible form and well illustrated. Having read the book and been totally fascinated, I shall be off to see them for myself!



Review by Graham Wise  (07/10/14)
Jacket
Publisher: Columba Press
Published: December 2013
ISBN: 978-1-856-07798-9
Hardback
Price: £8.50

Victorian Worthies

- Vanity Fair's Leaders of Church And State

by Malcoln Johnson


This is a wonderful book of 50 of the greatest Victorian statesmen and women of the era. Each section starts with the iconic vanity fair caricature of the individual and then the vignettes penned at the time by Jehu Junior. 

What follows is a concise and intelligent short review of the person, their life and what they were or weren’t well known for. This is a must have for any fan of the Victorian era, vanity fair or of the political and religious individuals that shaped an era.

A perfect gift for anyone including yourself.



Review by Allison Carroll  (11/09/14)
Jacket
Publisher: DLT (Darton, Longman and Todd Ltd)
Published: August 2014
ISBN: 978-0-232-53110-7
Hardback
Price: £14.99

Holy Luck

- Poems Of The Kingdom

by Eugene H. Peterson


Eugene H. Peterson is of course the person behind The Message Bible. He is also author of a number of good books on pastoral ministry and theology, so this little book of his personal religious poetry is well worth a look at, as much for his introduction—which though short nevertheless raises some very interesting points on the Bible as poetry, on the concept of metaphor, on poetry and it's use and presence and most of all on language and imagination in a pastors life—as for anything else.

The 70 poems themselves are all short, and are divided into three categories based around The Beautitudes, The Kingdom of God in the Everyday, and finally, Grace and Mystery throughout the times and seasons of life.

The majority of them begin with the scripture that inspired them, and the poems themselves are written, as perhaps one would expect, in a very modern tone, some with modern colliquialisms that might almost jar. After all, not often one expects references to 'Green eggs and ham' in a poem entitled 'Yes and Amen and Jesus' and yet it fits.

Some are easy to understand and grasp on first reading, while others though take more time, and require numerous readings, and may involve stopping and reflecting on the Bible passage more to see the correlation and point and really understand the direction the poet is going. And that is another reason to read these poems—because poetry shouldn't always be easy, and the Bible should always make us think...

Certainly worth a look at for those that like Peterson's work.



Review by Melanie Carroll  (30/07/14)
Jacket
Publisher: Canterbury Press imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: April 2014
ISBN: 978-1-848-25624-8
Paperback
Price: £10.99

Approaching The End

- Eschatalogical Reflections On Church, Politics And Life

by Stanley Hauerwas


If you’ve never read any of Stanley Hauerwas’ work, then this volume – his ‘retirement book’ – might be an excellent place to start. As Hauerwas’ career draws to a close, he has turned his attention to eschatology – the study of the end times. How might reflection on the end times, he asks, help the contemporary church negotiate the contemporary world?

A key question is ‘what is ending?’ Depending on where you are in the world, the answer to that question might be Christendom or even the church. Yet the term ‘end’ means fulfilment as well as cessation. In which case the end of the church could signify that its work is done. In the UK the demise of the church is part of the demise of Christendom rather than an indication of the flourishing of the Kingdom of God. Hauerwas’ hope is that this dual demise will enable the gospel to flourish, freed of its cultural and political constraints. Time will tell. 

Approaching the End is in three parts. The first deals with theological issues relating to eschatology, the second to the relationship between church and politics and the third to issues relating to life and death. Any individual chapter could be read alone as each is a separate essay although for a rounded view of Hauerwas’ approach it makes sense to at least read each section as standalone works.

There is no single theme to this volume of essays but that by no means reduces its value. Hauerwas is one of the most impressive (and readable) theologians of his generation who – like Walter Brueggemann – has spent much of his academic life calling the church back to be and to live the gospel it purports to proclaim. His work is frequently prophetic and uncomfortable. At its centre – with a consistency we could all emulate - is the radical and transforming character of Christ.

Hauerwas deserves to be heard. He might question your faith in the church, but he is more than likely to bring your faith in the gospel alive.



Review by David Ford  (09/08/14)
Jacket
Publisher: SCM imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: February 2014
ISBN: 978-0-334-05216-6
Paperback
Price: £25.00

A Brief Theology of Sport



by Lincoln Harvey


In the book, A Brief Theology of Sport, Harvey has bravely taken on an ever-growing, yet largely untapped field of ministry.

Harvey litters the book with well researched insightful aspects of how ministry can work. He backs up his own viewpoint with valid theological points.

At its heart this book is an academic study bridging the gap into the more practical world of delivery of sport itself. It struggles to shrug off it's academic approach to discussions, but doesn't pretend it needs to.

If you want depth of information covering both historical development as well as modern day application of sport from a Christian aspect then this book is worth a read.

At the same time its strength is its weakness. It approaches the subject from an academic angle, which doesn't always compliment the practical aspects of Christianity and sport in today's world.



Review by Barry Mason  (03/07/14)
Jacket
Publisher: SCM imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: May 2014
ISBN: 978-0-334-04418-5
Paperback
Price: £19.99

Iona

- The Other Island

by Kenneth Steven


 

I've never actually been to Iona, but I think even many of those people that have been to Iona won't have experienced most of what this beautifully appointed and richly saturated book speaks of and shows us. This is because Kenneth Stevens words and Iain Sarjeant's photographs reveal the 'other island' of Iona, the places the pilgrims don't go to, the rest of the island ... and even though I've never been to Iona at all I now long to go to experience these other places. Places that are as rich and beautiful as the known places if the words and pictures are anything to go by.

This really is a beautiful book and it's one that though not fixing itself on the spiritual side of Iona nevertheless fills my soul with a sublime prayer like joy—the photography is entrancing and filled with awe inspiring detailed majesty of sea, water reflections, sand, scenery, and rain wet stones and iron machinery left alone in splendour.  Mix this in with the descriptive travel journal type narrative and graceful poems then there is in this book still a worthy prayer like reverence. If I sound like I'm extolling with too much inflated hyperbole here all I can say is I'm not and this beautiful book just demands such words and will likely make you feel much the same way too, it's just such a simple but lush book.

Perfect for those that love Iona, or even just those that love beautiful photographs and hidden places travel type books.

 



Review by Melanie Carroll  (07/06/14)
Jacket
Publisher: Saint Andrew Press
Published: 25 April 2014
ISBN: 978-0-861-53830-0
Paperback
Price: £14.99

The Maker's Instructions

- A New Look At The 10 Commandments

by David Pawson


 

As a child I was brought up on the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, and in some ways I miss the exhortations and the instructions to prepare ourselves before receiving Holy Communion. In many churches the walls are adorned with aids, most usually the Lord's Prayer and the Ten Commandments. We are perhaps over familiar with the former, and 'under-familiar' with the latter, which many recite only in Lent or Advent.

Even then, we can tend to gloss over them or regard them as something Moses received to instruct the Israelites, rather than having utter relevance to our lives. David Pawson redresses the balance, and in the words of J.B. Phillips urges us to 'find out how crooked we are by measuring ourselves by the straight edge of God's law'.

The plainly written introduction entices you to read on.

Common reasons are stated as to why people think the 10 commandments are no longer worth studying, and then reasons why the author believes they are. He then devotes a chapter to each commandment, showing how it refers to the 'you' singular, rather than the 'you plural'.

He digs deeply into his profound theological expertise to widen the way you can interpret the commandments. For instance, we can commit murder in more ways than by killing someone. We can murder someone by our thoughts and by our careless or spiteful words. 

Readers may not concur with all the author's standpoints, but this should not deter them from the insights they will gain from this extremely well presented and readable book. It would make an excellent resource book for Lent.

Expect to enjoy this book. Expect to be challenged. Expect to be changed.

I will forever look at the 10 commandments in a new and illuminating light.

 



Review by Margaret Walker  (08/04/14)
Jacket
Publisher: Anchor Recordings
Published: July 2013
ISBN: 978-0-957-52906-9
Paperback
Price: £7.99

Persons Are Our Best Gifts

- Inspirational Stories For Person-Centred Living

by Hedwig Lewis


This is a book of short inspirational stories based on the premise that every person we encounter comes to us as a gift.

Those gifts come in many shapes and sizes but each one contributes something positive to life because each is a valued member of community. People are to be treasured for the way, in each and every encounter, our lives can be enriched.

The use of 'persons' rather than 'people' in the title may be a little off-putting but one has to bear in mind it is published in the USA and that most of the stories come from a north American context.

Many of the stories could be a useful resource for preachers and speakers.



Review by Graham Wise  (10/03/14)
Jacket
Publisher: Convivium Press from Alban Books
Published: January 2014
ISBN: 978-1-934-99655-3
Paperback
Price: £19.99

Beyond Human?

- Science And The Changing Face Of Humanity

by John Bryant


John Bryant, Professor Emeritus of cell and molecular biology at the University of Exeter, is a gifted communicator who has been shortlisted twice for a national award in Science Communication. Here is cutting-edge biomedical science made transparent, concise and interesting for the non-scientist, written—as the blurb indicates—by a "biologist and ethics expert".

'Morals, ethics and complex issues' (chapter 4) shows some expertise. He gives four principles of medical ethics: doing good or bringing benefit; not doing harm; respect for an individual's autonomy, rights and wishes; justice, regarding each patient as of equal value. He believes "the ethical teachings of Jesus are based on virtue". Paul likewise, but that view needed more elaboration, especially as he leans "strongly toward Christian-based virtue ethics... as the one ethical system that can effectively be applied to some of the issues discussed in later chapters" .

These four principles are useful but their application is problematic so readers are often left wondering how to decide for themselves the rights and wrongs of medical technology, euthanasia, assisted suicide, and other issues. I was left questioning whether our normal ethical frameworks are able to cope with the questions he rightly raises. For Bryant, while "no area of knowledge is off-limits... the application of that knowledge may raise serious ethical concerns: "we can do this but should we do this?"

He starts with a good whistle stop tour of evolutionary and ethical history in order to identify what it means to be human. He applauds the good in humans but is equally aware of 'man's inhumanity to man' which no amount of biomedical technology will change.

His treatment of 'Genes, Genetics and Human Disease' (chapter 5) makes it clear that "we are far from being just the sum of our genetic make-up".

He concludes that biomedical advances do not take us "beyond human" but he worries whether these technologies will be used for good or ill and whether they will be universally available or simply for those with money, and whether our priorities are righ



Review by John Morris  (01/03/14)
Jacket
Publisher: Lion Hudson
Published: March 2013
ISBN: 978-0-745-95396-0
Paperback
Price: £9.99

Transformed by The Beloved

- A Guide To Spiritual Formation With St John Of The Cross

by Daniel Munoz


Transformed by the Beloved is a brilliant way to learn and understand more about St John of The Cross and his writings. Particularly, it covers his spiritual poetry as these are used to demonstrate his theology and thoughts within this book.

At the back of the book you do get a selection of his poems, both in their orignal spanish and english translations. The book, at only £6.99 is worth it just for these alone. But when you factor in that in point of fact you have eight incredibly good, down to earth but deeply rich, insightful and fulfilling studies dealing with issues at the heart of spiritual formation then this book is a real bargain.

This book can of course be read alone at home, and even all in one sitting. But what a wonder this would be on a 7 day retreat, with the final study on 'love—the beginning and end of the journey'±actually being saved for when you return home.

Alternatively if doing a shorter retreat it would be no hardship to read two studies in one day. It would also work as a good house/small group or book club resource and I think there would be many interesting and fruitful conversations borne from it indeed.



Review by Melanie Carroll  (29/01/14)
Jacket
Publisher: BRF (Bible Reading Fellowship)
Published: January 2014
ISBN: 978-1-841-01584-2
Paperback
Price: £6.99

The Question That Never Goes Away

- What Is God Up To In A World Of Such Tragedy And Pain?

by Philip Yancey


At only 138 pages this is not a long book, but then it doesn’t need to be. Yancey isn’t trying to beat us with the academic and theological arguments for why there is pain, suffering, disaster and tragedy. Rather he is laying out a simple, honest and reasoned look at a difficult subject that every one can understand, and in that respect it is filled with honest consideration and insight.

It’s a personal book filled with Yancey’s own stories and reflections from tragedies such as Japans Tsunami, the shooting at Newtown, Conneticuit, and many other horror stories. And in Yancey’s usual way he doesn’t ignore the complexity of the issue, but he does work through it using insight from both theologians—such as Bonhoeffer—and biblical characters—such as Job—to show how there can be things found in turmoil, terror and pain that we might not otherwise see.

Somehow, as always with Yancey, this doesn’t come over as empty platitude but something deeper and more real.

Taken from his ‘blog’ as it were, this book is eminently readable and a great book for anyone wanting something easy to read but deep to consider.



Review by Melanie Carroll  (15/01/14)
Jacket
Publisher: Hodder
Published: December 2013
ISBN: 978-1-444-78855-6
Paperback
Price: £9.99

Robert McAfee Brown

- Spiritual And Prophetic Writings

introduction by Paul Crowley


"Robert McAfee Brown (1920-2001) was an American Presbyterian, a master theologian, a spiritual guide and an engaging activist whose long career reflected many of the critical movements and concerns of the twentieth century." So reads the description on the rear cover of this book. Contained within are writings, sermons and extracts from addresses given over many years and providing a reasoned and theological take on some of the twentieth century's most significant events. These included the Holocaust, Jewish-Christian relations, the Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam War, Latin American Liberation Theology and the relationship between Christian Faith and Politics. Brown's was a lively and penetratingly honest mind, unafraid to question and criticise - a position that more than once saw him arrested and jailed. Although coming from a period spanning the 1960s to the 1990s, Brown's perceptive insights are as relevant and have as much urgency today as when they were preached and written. As a Christian, Brown's concern was to see justice prevail and to bring a prophetic Christian perspective on world events. As such, his book will be an inspiration to all who read it.

Review by Graham Wise  (17/01/14)
Jacket
Publisher: Orbis Books from Alban Books
Published: March 2013
ISBN: 978-1-626-98007-5
Paperback
Price: £14.99

Hear Me, See Me

- Incarcerated Women Write

by Ed. Maybeth Christie Redmond & Sarah W Bartlett


This is raw, brilliant and challenging reading. This is a beautifully put together book, taking the reader on a journey with women that most of us will never meet.

This collection of mostly short pieces of autobiographical prose and poetry changes that complacency pretty quickly. I couldn't take the emotional rawness all at once, but dipped into the book a little bit at a time. Its a rich resource volume with a mix of content including occasional drawings. 

We are offered all stages of growth here. Some of the women write defiantly, attempting to justify bad decisions made on top of bad breaks. Others speak of betrayals, struggles and losses of all kinds. The pain and confusion is something of real magnitude. 

This is a hard, but needful read. This can't, and doesn't deserve to be read lightly. It will invite understanding, tears and much compassion. This is challenging, painful and hopeful.

The best writing makes us yearn to understand more; it stays within our consciousness well past the point at which we put the book down. And this is what is powerfully offered here.



Review by Johnny Douglas  (07/12/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Orbis Books from Alban Books
Published: September 2013
ISBN: 978-1-626-98039-6
Paperback
Price: £16.99

Sabbatical Journey

- The Diary Of His Final Year

by Henri J. M. Nouwen


Sabbatical Journey is probably my favourite Nouwen work. The reason for that is because it is a diary, or a journal, that he kept for one year and as such it is vivid in it's recordings of his life, his doubts, his remembrances and thoughts and journeyings—it is a book that meanders and wanders as most daily journals do.

Sometimes there are a series of themes that link the days, but more often than not, as any journaller finds, it is instead a series of random thoughts that sum up ourselves in a way that a more logical progression probably does not.

Here with Nouwen we see a real man of great passion and intense activity. But we also see a man of great sadness and doubt at times, and in these reflections we probably most see ourselves and the reality of our lives. Faith is not without pain and doubt, but great faith is built upon these and other moments too.

And if anything this is most clearly what Nouwen's final work shows us so very very well.



Review by Melanie Carroll  (05/12/13)
Jacket
Publisher: DLT (Darton, Longman and Todd Ltd)
Published: November 2013
ISBN: 978-0-232-53025-4
Paperback
Price: £9.99

Making Our Connections

- A Spirituality Of Travel

by Pink Dandelion


There is an incredibly diverse nature to this book on a subject most of us don't really think about despite the fact we do it in some way or form daily - the act of travelling. Whether it be a long haul journey across the world or just our regular commute to work, whether it be a short walk up our garden path or anything in between, this book looks at the intent and spirituality that we find in the act of travel - in the act of journeying - whether we are really aware of it or not. Utilising literature and film, along with studies on modes, and the history, of transport, this book really does help us look beyond the physical to the spiritual. It makes us pause and consider the actions we take and contemplate too their deeper significance. This is a book for all travellers and for those that don't consider themselves travellers too, for those interested in sustainable transport and for those interested in the joy of the journey. A delightfully different book that could be utilised in so many different ways.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (04/11/13)
Jacket
Publisher: SCM imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: October 2013
ISBN: 978-0-334-04408-6
Paperback
Price: £16.99

Time And Relative Dimensions In Faith

- Religion and Doctor Who

Ed. Andrew Crome & James McGrath


What a fantastic book for anyone who has any Whovian tendencies! Thoroughly enjoyable and intelligent with that edge of quirk and humour, believe it or not, that makes Doctor Who so enjoyable - and all this in a book written by academics - yes geeks are cool along with Fezzs and this book dealing with faith from a wide range of perspectives really helps highlight that.

Sociologists, theologians, philosophers and more come together to give bitesize chapters that deal with the underlying issues of faith that can be found in episodes and ideas found within the Doctor Who series and meta-narratives. There are some excellent and interesting studies here, and not just for Doctor Who fans but for any who are interested in how faith finds its reflection in the modern media zeitgeist.



Review by Melanie Carroll  (04/11/13)
Jacket
Publisher: DLT (Darton, Longman and Todd Ltd)
Published: October 2013
ISBN: 978-0-232-53021-6
Paperback
Price: £14.99

Jews, Christians and Muslims in Encounter



by Edward Kessler


This book is worth the price tag if you are in any way involved with, or interested in, interfaith dialogue, most notably Jewish and Christian dialogue and encounter. Though in the third section of the book we move more into dealing with dialogue between the three Abrahamic traditions i.e. Jews, Christians and Muslims, I have to say that I felt this section was a little more like an add on, not as deeply thought out and considered as the previous sections, and not helped by its brevity.

However on Jewish - Christian dialogue this book gives a very good background history of Jewish - Christian relationships and encounters, and also addresses some of the problem texts, thus giving insight into the theology and philosophy that lie in some way at the heart of the differences.

On the whole it's a very well written book, but I do think it would have been better not to include Muslim encounter in the title and then give so little space to it in the text.



Review by Melanie Carroll  (09/10/13)
Jacket
Publisher: SCM imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: September 2013
ISBN: 978-0-334-04715-5
Paperback
Price: £35.00

Save Send Delete



by Danusha V Goska


There is some cracking material in this book that is basically a sort of semi-fictionalised account of an internet email relationship between an Atheist and a Christian. A beautiful amount of logic, illogic, discussion and emotion poor out at times in either short disjointed bursts or longer letters of prose and consideration and in the main it's these longer sections that make this book a joy to read, because they dig and ask questions and reveal hidden bias and torturing dilemmas - on both sides. However I have to be honest and say the shorter bits, the 'Save Send Delete' bits make this book a nightmare at times too. When a screen is in front of you and you have messages or email or a forum then it's easy to follow the multiple discussions, however when transposed like this, without the header or footer or name that you get on screen, it makes it confusing and some of the good stuff gets lost in the noise instead.

I would still recommend this book for those looking for an interesting consideration of opposing arguments, but you'll probably want to read it in a more glossed over fashion that straight out unless you are a lot better at following the disjointed bits than I was.



Review by Melanie Carroll  (09/10/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Roundfire Books imprint of John Hunt Publishing Ltd
Published: August 2013
ISBN: 978-1-846-94986-9
Paperback
Price: £9.99

Jewish Themes in The New Testament



by Paul Morris


To me this book though interesting fails to really live up to its title. I was expecting something that would elaborate on the Jewish themes that are there in the New Testament and draw them out so that we as Christians could come to a better understanding of what it actually was that these themes represented to Christ and His followers, and how this can open up the Bible and our faith.

That said the blurb on the back of the book does talk instead of this book being about what the New Testament taught about "Jewish People in the era of the New Covenant" - and perhaps this then should have been the title, because there is a lot of this in it, including an involved look at understanding how differences may have evolved and developed between Pauline Christian churches and the Jewish churches.

For me though this book helps demonstrate how differential Pauline theology often is from the Jewish theology that could have developed and is there - so on the whole I would say this book is not really about Jewish themes in the New Testament but rather about looking at how the division arose and became so entrenched as to become anti-semitic between the Christian and Jewish faiths.

I'm not sure I agree with all Morris has to say in this book, in fact I have real problems with some of it because despite calling it Jewish Themes in the New Testament what we actually have to my mind is a very Christo-centric analysis of Pauline themes on Jewish themes. Also it is very much a book that seems aimed at conversion, even though we get a very long and involved section on Pre-Election to explain why Jews are so resistant to conversion, but yet we should still try ... for the remnant if nothing else it seems.

However if you are interested in understanding more how the divisions evolved and are still evolving then this is an interesting book to read.



Review by Melanie Carroll  (03/09/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Authentic Media
Published: June 2013
ISBN: 978-1-842-27821-5
Paperback
Price: £10.99

The Lifestyle of a Prophet

- A 21 Day Journey to Embracing Your Calling

by James W Goll


What an intelligent and insightful book on prophetic calling - on understanding what that is and what it really means if you believe you are called to witness and serve in a prophetic way. This 3 week journey really helps you consider what the prophetic is and in some ways helps you realise it may not be what you thought it was. It works through various biblical characters and situations and references the differences - and similarities of those with prophetic callings - that can be found in the Bible. What's so good about it though is that it starts with intimacy, it highlights prayer and relationship before it moves onto wisdom and finally revelation.

It also works hard to ground the ideas into the reality of today and the situations we find ourselves in, so that we can make an informed response to living with and having the lifestyle of a prophet. For anyone interested in the prophetic and in leadership this would make a good study to undertake. It is very well written and has good questions for reflection at the end of each chapter. Though designed for the individual I could see this as a useful tool for those involved with, or setting up, a team based around prophetic prayer or healing as much of the material does have a crossover element to the healing ministries too.



Review by Melanie Carroll  (03/09/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Chosen imprint of Baker Pub from Lion
Published: June 2013
ISBN: 978-0-800-79536-8
Paperback
Price: £9.99

Etched By Silence

- A Pilgrimage Through the Poetry of R S Thomas

compliled by Jim Cotter


If you love poetry and can see within its words a way to consider a deeper spirituality then this book is without doubt for you. A beautiful collection of R S Thomas's poetry, with a poem for each week of the year, and beside it gentle words of contemplation and questioning from Jim Cotter that dig at the heart and insight of Thomas's work to help show it to it's best spiritual advantage. The reader is guided and helped to gain their own insight into not only the richness of the poetic words but also their own spirit. Originally written for the local parish this book is now being introduced to an international market to tie in with the centenary of Thomas's birth, and as such is likely to be welcomed by those who love R S Thomas's work, or those who are likely to visit the Llyn Peninsula and Aberdaron especially.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (03/09/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Canterbury Press imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: September 2013
ISBN: 978-1-848-25339-1
Paperback
Price: £10.99

When God Is Silent

- Divine Language Beyond Words

by Barbara Brown Taylor


This short little book is a second edition of a book first published in 1998 that was based on a series of lectures given by the author in 1997. As the author points out in the preface much has changed in the intervening years and so some of the subject matter might seem a touch out of place, but if we read deeper into these things and past the small incongruities, what we find is something still incredibly relevant and as real today as it was then. Yes, things have changed but in some ways silence is now even more important than ever, confusion more rife, and the "noise" of miscommunication even more prevalent than it possibly ever was. This book is a small but insightful meditation on choosing words carefully, on why when speaking for God, or of God, we must be ever vigilant that the words we use and the tone we take, are in fact in keeping with those that God would have us use, and that we adhere to God's words, silences and actions carefully as preachers of his word. A lovely little book that was a joy to read and contemplate.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (06/08/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Canterbury Press imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: June 2013
ISBN: 978-1-848-25454-1
Paperback
Price: £9.99

God or Godless?

- One Atheist. One Christian. Twenty Controversial Questions

by John W Loftus and Randal Rauser


Wow, what an excellent book, a real conversation / argument between an atheist (who once was a believer) and a believer who love to have philosophical debates. In fact some of us may even have had similar conversations in our lives, but what is so good about this book is that is deals with the philosophical differences between the two and shows the reasoning differences in a manner that is much cooler than most arguments and differences between the two opposing sides. I think what I also found noteable about it is that in many ways it doesn't come down in favour of one side of the argument or the other, thus it is a book for both sides to read and in doing so there may be some concrete dialogue and opening of hearts and minds beyond what you would expect. I think this is a book for anyone to read and would make a foundational discussion starter. I could see it working well in a college / university chaplaincy setting or with any group of questioning individuals. A top book for the atheist / Christian debate but not the usual one and that's why it's so important.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (04/07/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Baker Books imprint of Baker Pub. from Lion
Published: May 2013
ISBN: 978-0-801-01528-1
Paperback
Price: £7.99

The Emerging Leader

- Stepping Up In Leadership

by Peter Shaw and Colin Shaw


I'm not new to leadership as such, I've been a manager for the past 15 years after all, but suddenly to be confronted with something slightly different from what you are used to doing, such as a new job or role, can cause a quiver or two, something this book recognises and addresses in clear, simple and engaging language and best of all nice short easy to read chapters, key reflection questions and good little "real life" scenarios. This book works really well whether you are new to leadership, thinking about moving into leadership, or already in leadership but need regrounding. It also works for both church settings or general life leadership because the principles of good leadership (relationships and responsibilities) are the same regardless of setting really and this book helps to get that over. As someone that somehow just became part of a Fresh Expressions leadership team when that really wasn't the plan, I can say this book has been a godsend and arrived at just the
right time! I would heartily recommend it to anyone else taking on a new leadership role, or even to those who just want a refresher on what leadership is.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (03/07/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Canterbury Press imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: April 2013
ISBN: 978-1-848-25329-2
Paperback
Price: £12.99

World Religions

- (Instant Expert Series)

by Joanne O'Brien & Sandra Palmer


OK this little book will in no way make you an "instant expert" - it's much too short for that and the world religions are much too complex to be covered expertly in 111 pages of clear bold print. However this book will give you a good overview and briefing on the basic tenets, structures and ideas of the 11 world religions covered within it. It's simple in its language and wide in its outlook of being a helpful reference guide for this multi-cultural and multi- faithed world we live in - and on that level this book works quite well. As a starter for looking at world religions, either to gain a slight understanding of your neighbours' faith, or for a basic student's look on world religions this is a great and well priced book that would be handy to have.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (31/05/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Lion Hudson
Published: April 2013
ISBN: 978-0-745-95576-6
Paperback
Price: £5.99

One Nation without God?

- The Battle for Christianity in an Age of Unbelief

by David Aikman


In One nation without God? David Aikman deftly assesses the religious heritage of America to pose questions about the future of Christianity in the USA. He debates whether or not America was ever a Christian country and whether or not it should ever be one. In a close examination of its Christian heritage he effectively ascertains the way in which Christian faith has been the bedrock of American society for almost four hundred years. Examining present trends in American life, education and belief he gives a lucid account of where, spiritually, the nation is at present. He is clear about the consequences should the nation turn away from its Christian spiritual heritage. This is a book about America but its relevance to the situation on this side of the Atlantic could not be more appropriate. For anyone concerned about the state of our nation as well as America this is a timely book and should be widely read.

Review by Graham Wise  (03/05/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Baker Books imprint of Baker Pub. from Lion
Published: October 2012
ISBN: 978-0-801-01409-3
Hardback
Price: £11.99

Unstoppable

- The Incredible Power of Faith in Action

by Nick Vujicic


Being unstoppable is about believing and achieving. It's about having faith in yourself, your talents and your purpose and, most of all, in God's great love and his divine plan for your life.

Millions around the world recognise the smiling face and inspirational message of Nick Vujicic. Despite being born without arms or legs, Nick's challenges have not kept him from enjoying great adventures, a fulfilling and meaningful career, and loving relationships. Nick has overcome trials and hardships by focusing on the promises that he was created for a unique and specific purpose, that his life has value and is a gift to others, and that no matter the despair and hard times in life, God is always present. Nick credits his success in life to the power that is unleashed when faith takes action.

But how does that happen? In Unstoppable Nick addresses adversity and difficult circumstances that many people face today. Through stories from his own life and the experiences of many others, Nick explains how anyone wanting a "ridiculously good life" can respond to these issues and more to become unstoppable.

Review by x  
Jacket
Publisher: WaterBrook Multnomah from TMD
Published: October 2012
ISBN: 978-0-307-73153-1
Paperback
Price: £9.99

Catholicism and Me



Ed. John Littleton & Eamon Maher


Catholicism and Me is a collection of 20 personal considerations of why people are Catholic and how being Catholic has affected them. Covering a range of ages and social classes, and both sexes, it is very interesting to see the way in which different people reflect on their faith and are reflected by their faith.

All the contributors are Irish and it is within this sphere that the book attempts to open up discussion to help address the "crisis" of Catholicism within Ireland and outside it. However though specifically Irish in tone this is still a book that many both from within and without the Catholic Church would still find of interest regardless of whether they are Irish or not. At the root of all the contributions is not a national patriotism or faith but rather honest reflections on what being a Catholic means on a personal level. A book for Catholics and for those wanting to know more about Catholics.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (15/04/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Columba Press
Published: November 2012
ISBN: 978-1-856-07864-1
Paperback
Price: £10.99

You are the Messiah and I should know

- Why Leadership is a Myth (and probably a Heresy)

by Justin Lewis-Anthony


Based on the author's PhD thesis this is an interesting and intriguing book that certainly would be of interest to film buffs, lovers of western movies and to those into leadership and management books and issues - oh and of course to those interested in the church and its management structure and style.

Lewis-Anthony does propose a couple of ways to read the book at the beginning. One for if you are more interested in the movies and myth element of the book's hypothesis (namely that American movies have brainwashed us into a mythic ideal of leader that just isn't real), and another for if you are more motivated by the mission and management discussion - a sort of choose your own chapter reading. I have to be honest - having read it straight through I would say that it's probably a little more enjoyable to do it the chapter choice way, even if you do read both sets! Truthfully the book would have been better written in two sections.

All said it was an interesting book to read and does have many insights to offer forward.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (13/04/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Published: 11 April 2013
ISBN: 978-1-441-18618-8
Paperback
Price: £12.99

Science and Religion in the Twenty-first Century



edited Russell Re Manning, Michael Byrne


The famous chemist Robert Boyle left money in his will for a series of lectures to defend the Christian religion. The first forty Boyle lectures were delivered between 1692 and 1731; this book contains the first ten of a new series of Boyle lectures, delivered from 2004-2013. A major theme of this book is not how to defend religion in a battle with science but how the only true practical, sensible and productive way forward is for science and religion to be in dialogue with each other: "science and religion interact and complement each other… [they] are friends and not foes in the great quest for truthful understanding."

Covering topics such as evolution, cosmology and the psychology of religious beliefs, the discussions by "leading scientists, theologians and philosophers" are of a high level - this book is definitely not an introductory book to this topic. I found that the high level set by the writers often, however well they explained their arguments, necessarily demanded at least a little knowledge from both the science and theology sides of the debates.

In my opinion this book is enlightening, exciting and, admittedly, dense (with the exception of John Polkinghorne's refreshingly easy to read lecture at the end of the book). Cover to cover, it was a slow read, though my sense of this was perhaps enhanced by there being a 40 page trilogy of preface, forward and introduction before the lectures began!

If you are very new to the debates between science and religion I would advise looking elsewhere for now. Otherwise, this is an excellent, highly informative book that comes at the science and religion debates from a very positive direction.

Review by Tim Hupfield  (23/03/13)
Jacket
Publisher: SCM imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: 31 January 2013
ISBN: 978-0-334-04594-6
Paperback
Price: £35.00

Maiden, Mother and Queen

- Mary in the Anglican Tradition

by Roger Greenacre (Ed. Colin Podmore)


This is an absolutely beautiful consideration of the Anglo-Catholic veneration of Mary found within quarters of the Church of England. This book also serves in some way as a fitting memorial and remembrance of a well respected proponent of Anglican Marian devotion, Roger Greenacre.

However for me the collection of homilies to be found in section two of the book were a highlight and joy to read, with real depth of feeling and insight to them, and a strangely British refined passion running as an undercurrent to them. The love, attraction and desire to share the reverence that Roger Greenacre so obviously had for the Blessed Virgin Mary cannot be overlooked in the short homilies collected here.

The third section which incorporates an historical investigation and understanding into Marian devotion and suppression within the Anglican Communion is also very well done and surprisingly easy to read. This is due in part to the use of short sections which means there is not much heavy labouring to be done in reading the book. This really is a wonderful book for anyone within the Anglo-Catholic tradition looking to further their devotional practice and understanding of the role of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or indeed for anyone in the Anglican church who wants to gain an understanding of the part Mary can and does play within the Church and its faith framework.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (23/03/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Canterbury Press imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: 25 January 2013
ISBN: 978-1-848-25278-3
Paperback
Price: £24.99

The Seven Deadly Sins

- A Visitor's Guide

by Lawrence S Cunningham


Monastic writers described eight passions that cloud the heart; the meditative origin of the seven deadly sins is embedded in the underlying fabric of this book. Cunningham himself states that his "intention is not to add new insights… on the seven deadly sins, but to think of them in a pastorally sensitive fashion."

Stemming from a series of magazine articles that have been enlarged and gathered to form a book, Lawrence Cunningham's "Visitor's Guide" describes each deadly sin from a Catholic viewpoint. Each sin is discussed in turn, along with their corresponding "mirror opposites: the virtues that correspond positively to them." The epilogue on purity of heart and how this might be attained nicely rounds the book off, bringing the focus back to the verse "Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God." (Matt 5:8).

As perhaps could be expected given each chapter's origin as a magazine article, I found this short book very easy to read. The pastoral focus with which Cunningham approached the writing of the book is effective; I found myself reflecting on the subtle ways all of the deadly sins can almost imperceptibly encroach into daily life. Whilst the content is necessarily fairly light, the author's wealth of knowledge and thorough research means that it is an ideal introductory book to this topic. It includes plenty of guidance for further reading both throughout the text and in the further reading section at the end.

Review by Tim Hupfield  (23/03/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Ave Maria Press from Alban Bks
Published: November 2012
ISBN: 978-1-594-71340-8
Paperback
Price: £8.99

Am I Missing Something?



by Ruth Roberts


This is the sort of book I enjoy reading, finding myself nodding in agreement throughout. But I also felt very guilty reading it because some of the people Ruth refers to in the "world of church" could easily be me. Through letters and diary entries she takes a humorous yet taxing look at how we in the church behave towards – and are often seen by – people "outside". She makes you stop and think and reading this might just make some church "insiders" stop and think. She writes from the viewpoint of a new believer trying to come to terms with her new-found faith whilst having to assimilate all the "quirky" ways of church and churchgoers. So this is a book for seekers and new believers too. Many "church people" will not agree with her views on certain issues (homosexuality and attitudes towards women for example) but she clearly articulates her confusion and that of others looking in on the church.

Visit the author's website:koorong.supadu.com/ruth-roberts

Review by Clem Jackson  (07/03/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Authentic Media
Published: March 2013
ISBN: 978-1-780-78026-9
Paperback
Price: £7.99

Falling Upward

- A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life

by Richard Rohr


Rohr's thesis in writing the book is that, "most of us tend to think of the second half of life as largely about getting old, dealing with health issues, and letting go of our physical life, but the whole thesis of this book is exactly the opposite. What looks like falling can largely be experienced as falling upward and onward, into a broader and deeper world, where the soul has found its fullness, is finally connected to the whole and lives inside the big picture." (p153)

Rohr divides life into two stages, in the first stage we try to gain security and meaning for our lives. Rohr pictures this as building a "strong container" or "identity" (pxiii), in the second stage of life we begin to fill the "container" with meaning.

Falling upwards is about how we deal with those experiences or failures in our lives, we stumble and fall, our own resources are not sufficient. The experience can be used to push us into a deeper relationship with God, instead of falling down we fall up into God's hands. This leads on to our spiritual life developing and filling the "container" we made in the first stage of life with meaning.

Review by John Macaulay  (07/03/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Crossway Books from IVP
Published: August 2012
ISBN: 978-0-281-06891-3
Paperback
Price: £10.99

Scent of Lemons

- Technology and Relationships in the Age of Facebook

by Jonah Lynch


Our modern technologies offer the mirage that real life can be had in 'point and click' isolation, despite our gut instinct telling us something different. We long to connect, to belong, to give and take, even to shout, muddle and disagree… things that only happen in the messy world of relationships and communities.

Whether there is freedom or bondage experienced through the addictive nature of Facebook and its endless stream of media offerings, here it is central to the engagement about social compulsions in Jonah Lynch's continuation of the prophetic work of Henri Nouwen. With so much on offer, Lynch navigates the inherent folly of letting technology prescribe the terms and conditions of our lives. At the heart of Lynch's writing is the penetrating truth that three of five senses; touch, scent and taste cannot ever be engaged with by technological means.

Mythology, research and reflection are well woven here in a great write about the gains and challenges of the technological gifts of our age, in this insightful new book. Masks are removed through the unveiling of detail, aching truth, raw implications and inevitable addictions. These are all laid bare. My only gripe is that by the time we strike chapter nineteen Jonah Lynch might have offered us more than just a technological fast, as a remedy in the face of our pacey, all-access culture. There is much of beauty and another kingdom in the closing words; "power is love".

This pacey, incisive, compact book offers much. As Lynch invites, "Being is gift, not robbery. Being is love."

Review by Johnny Douglas  (07/03/13)
Jacket
Publisher: DLT (Darton, Longman and Todd Ltd)
Published: November 2012
ISBN: 978-0-232-52958-6
Paperback
Price: £9.99

The Gospel of Rutba

- War, Peace, and the Good Samaritan Story in Iraq

by Greg Barrett


This book describes an event which took place shortly after America initiated a war in 2003 against Saddam Hussein's regime. It has three distinct, although related, strands which the author skilfully weaves together. The first one explains the title, wich literally means "Good news from Rutba". This is a heart-warming account of kindness received from an unexpected source - the presumed enemy. The second tells us something of the people in the story: three American peace-activists involved in a life-threatening accident outside the small Iraqi town of Rutba, and the passers-by, ambulance drivers, doctors and nurses who rescued them and cared for them within the limited resources at their disposal after their hospital had been destroyed by American bombs. The third strand is a powerful indictment of the Bush administration's "shock and awe" attack on a sovereign nation with its attendant suffering, death and destruction. The author concludes on a happier note with a description of the return visit to Rutba by the peace-activists in 2010 to give thanks once again to their rescuers.

The book has its own website:www.thegospelofrutba.com/

Review by Alexandra Irvine  (26/02/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Orbis Books from Alban Books
Published: 31 March 2013
ISBN: 978-1-626-98003-7
Paperback
Price: £14.99

Un-Conditional

- Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays Vs Christians Debate

by Justin Lee


Un-Conditional is a beautiful and honourable book with an honesty and gentle insight at its heart and a passion for compassion and understanding shining through. This is not a book of argument or rhetoric but a book of apologia that works more for the lack of such heated argument. It moves one and tries to open the discussion up to the human realities and suffering. It invites us to understand and consider the reality away from the academic, the reality of the persons dealing with the issues, the gay person yes, but their family, their friends, their church – it asks us to look at this issue with the eyes of the gospel, with the eyes of Jesus - you know that man that did not judge the adulteress but instead had compassion for her…

Perhaps one of the most important bits of the book is the discussion to do with and around the realisation that the word "gay" has connotations that are at odds sometimes between those using it. For some gay immediately means sex, for some not, but for all the discussion becomes bogged down at this point until we work past the word and instead see and deal with the person, each one an individual and not a "type". Of all the books I have read on this subject I think I would say that this is truly the most pastoral of them all and there is a real need and place for this book within our churches and within the hands of our congregations, and for those who are Gay and Christian.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (23/02/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Published: January 2013
ISBN: 978-1-444-74541-2
Paperback
Price: £12.99

Village Hours



by Ronald Blythe


I had not read any of Ronald Blythe's books before, so I began this book without knowing what to expect. I was almost immediately captivated by his style and creativity. The chapter headings are the months of the year, and in each chapter there is a series of essays with intriguing titles. I love the way he links his observations of nature through the seasons with an easy flow of anecdotes about his friends, and quotations from authors such as Samuel Johnson, Robert Louis Stevenson and the anonymous author of The Cloud of Unknowing. On every page there is something that made me smile or think more deeply or both. I think a quotation, taken almost at random, is the best way I can illustrate his style. This paragraph is taken from the chapter 'August' from the essay 'The Dean Dies'. He writes; "This is the day when Dean Neil Collings would have bumped down the farm track, unfrocked in his Monday shorts, all prepared for our church crawl. Instead, he is looking back at me from the Obituary page. No more creaking entrances to wonders within, no more ploughmans' lunches, no more exclamations at the marvels of Suffolk handiwork as we Pevsnered our way through sacred interiors." Reading this book is like having a quiet conversation with a good friend - you don't want it to end.

Review by Jackie Rowe  (20/02/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Canterbury Press imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: November 2012
ISBN: 978-1-848-25237-0
Hardback
Price: £14.99

C S Lewis vs The New Atheists



by Peter S Williams


An absolute must of a book for any fan of Lewis or for people who want to grapple with 'New Atheists' and their arguments against our mere Christianity! Honestly if you had ever wondered how Lewis would these days approach and deal with the new atheist arguments then here you will find your answer.

Given C S Lewis came initially from an atheistic position to one of faith and then spent so many years as a keen apologist of the faith, it is obvious that his works are well suited as a base to help in dismantling atheist arguments and building up a framework of arguments for the faith. Peter Williams does an excellent job of setting forth the new atheist arguments and positions with good outlines of Grayling, Dawkins, Hitchens et al positions and then in turn digging down into Lewis' own work and arguments to proffer forward strong rebuttals and strategies of discourse. The book is itself a beautifully strong apologist work with no little reference to academic knowledge and measures (indeed each section has an end reference that is almost encyclopaedic in its scope and coverage) but over all the book retains a style that is easy to read and for this reader thoroughly enjoyable.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (20/02/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Paternoster Press imprint of Authentic Media
Published: February 2013
ISBN: 978-1-842-27770-6
Paperback
Price: £12.99

A Way in the Wilderness

- The Compelling New Commentary on the Rule of St. Benedict

by James Bishop


The title of this work should not get in the way of giving this commentary a fair consideration. The text of the Rule is carefully if not exhaustively examined. The author has some helpful things to say even about those passages that he finds uncongenial. However many of the illustrations and exemplars used to elucidate the text come from the author’s experiences as a prisoner, and of prisons as institutions. He can stray into dangerous areas here, especially with his comments about community and prison. His other guiding principle is his advocacy of meditation and his relations with the World Community for Christian Meditation. Benedict's Rule has been used in many ways - these may be a step too far.

Visit the author's website:authorjamesbishop.com/

Review by Ian Gibbs  (25/02/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Continuum - A Bloomsbury Company
Published: March 2012
ISBN: 978-1-441-15115-5
Paperback
Price: £12.99

Only Say The Word

- Affirming Gay and Lesbian Love

by Alan McManus


This is a very different book, its intent is to offer forward a more merciful reading of scripture and theology that affirms homosexuality rather than suffering or rejecting homosexuality. In the book we are introduced to a rainbow of churches, each church preceding a chapter that offers forward a different perspective of reception that gay or lesbian people may come across. These are all quite readily recognised positions – these short introductions to the rainbow churches are quite interesting in themselves given they are written in the first person with gentle commentary on issues that may be at heart here. From these we then move onto more considered arguments, discussions or contemplations that help to develop the feelings and understandings of those from the gay community as they endeavour to make understood the position they are often in…

I'm not sure the book entirely achieved its aim of "Affirming Gay & Lesbian Love" but for me the most moving piece is the ABC of the Cloud of Witnesses we encounter in the Violet Church on page 54. This is something that for me should be read and reflected on by everyone, regardless of gender or opinion, and makes this book important because if we can't be moved by this then there is something fundamentally wrong with how we understand the command to love others as ourselves.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (19/02/13)
Jacket
Publisher: John Hunt Publishing Ltd
Published: January 2013
ISBN: 978-1-780-99309-6
Paperback
Price: £9.99

Medjugorje

- What it means to me

editor Louise Hall


In 1981 in Bosnia and Herzegovina six children claimed to have had a vision of Our Lady. They kept going back and each time she appeared and spoke to them. Her message was "I have come to let you know that God does exist". Since then millions of people of all religions and all walks of life, both religious and lay, have visited Apparition Hill. Here they have found peace and love, forgiveness and reconciliation. This book, subtitled What It Means To Me, is a collection of testimonies of people from Ireland detailing the impact the visit has had on their lives. There are twenty five testimonials in all, ranging from famous TV personalities, musicians and business men to drug addicts, the handicapped and those without faith. All of them found the holy spot a place of pure peace, whether they had any supernatural experience or not, and they came away determined to put God at the centre of their lives. This is a book which will have a lasting effect on all who read it.

Review by John Irvine  (14/02/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Columba Press
Published: October 2012
ISBN: 978-1-856-07805-4
Paperback
Price: £9.99

Like the Wideness of the Sea

- Women Bishops and the Church of England

by Maggi Dawn


A very short book at only 76 pages long, but it is nonetheless considered and insightful, and certainly an important book given the discussions over women bishops and the turmoil and unrest that this has caused within the Church of England. Maggi Dawn has here penned a book that is in part a testimony whilst also setting out clearly the arguments around the issue and the latest vote at Synod. As an ordained priest within the Church of England and a theologian currently based at Yale Divinity School in the US she is well able to put forward clearly and articulately the issues and pain that is felt by the many women within the church. She pulls no punches in this small book, but neither does she labour the painful issues of sexism and disenfranchisement, rather she comments calmly and lucidly from a position of personal experience. This book is not a harsh condemenation as much as an honest imploration for integrity within the Church of England and an understanding of where the Church is leaving women within its environs - or perhaps more accurately how the Church is at risk of leaving them outside those environs.

Regardless of where you stand on this issue this is perhaps a good book to read on a tricky and emotional subject.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (14/02/13)
Jacket
Publisher: DLT (Darton, Longman and Todd Ltd)
Published: 08 February 2013
ISBN: 978-0-232-53001-8
Paperback
Price: £6.99

Confession

- Looking into the eyes of God

by Paul Farren


A short (only 79 pages) but considered book on an important subject, confession, or more accurately in this case the Act of Reconciliation as practiced in the Catholic Church and which in recent years has lost favour. The author works to show us that this is largely because it has lost meaning and understanding in the eyes of people as to what it is really all about. What at heart it is, Farren says, is an act of love and not an act about Hell or damnation as so many seem to think and as he does admit, for a time, as how it largely seemed to be taught. The book is a lovingly crafted work on a subject the author does obviously love and feel a passion for – and this comes over well and with insight. The book flows and reads in a way that feels more like a devotional work or a contemplation, and it really does help open up the view of confession as an act of love, so much so that even this non-participant felt it was something they perhaps should give another go.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (14/02/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Columba Press
Published: January 2013
ISBN: 978-1-856-07878-8
Hardback
Price: £8.50

Dream Culture

- Bringing Dreams to Life

by Andy and Janine Mason


One of the biggest secular phenomena from the last few decades is the growth of life coaching and business coaching. Despite its successes, including with athletes and sportsmen and women, the church has been reluctant to take life coaching up due to fears concerning psychology and coaching's link through NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) to hypnotherapy. The principles of coaching can be found in the Bible and Andy and Janine Mason have attempted to bring them together in a suitable format. Taking some of the tools of coaching the Masons take the Biblical concepts of dreams and goals and build a workable programme that fills a needed gap in discipling resources. Some people may be put off by the Americanisms in the text but most will find something to benefit them in the book.

Review by Phelim McIntyre  (11/02/13)
Jacket
Publisher: River Publishing from Joining the Dots Distribution
Published: December 2011
ISBN: 978-1-908-39315-9
Paperback
Price: £7.99

Life Without Limits

- Inspiration for a Ridiculously Good Life

by Nick Vujicic


Life Without Limits by Nick Vujicic (pronounced Voy-a-chich) is part biography, part testimony and totally motivational. It is written in a chatty, unabashed and totally down to earth way. At times it had me sniffing back tears, giggling a little madly and sitting quietly and nodding along and 'listening' as important lessons on faith, acceptance, doubt, achievement and being perfectly who we are meant to be, were taught in such clear and understandable ways. Nick uses his own life as an exemplar in this book - though not conceitedly - indeed he stressses throughout that others may well have it worse in ways he never has and can't truly comprehend, though he has suffered through depression and of course having been born with no arms or legs does give him some real insight and empathy into hardships and overcoming. And he also uses the witness and experience of others he has met with and heard of, to demonstrate how we can all live a life without limits if we want to. After all it's the life God wants us to lead - of this he is positive and a positive advocate of.

There is at the end of the book a section entitled 'Personal action plan' but it would also make a great basis for a group study session too.

There are so many good quotes and sections in this book that if I'd had a highlighter handy probably a good third of the book would now be fluorescent - I reallly can't recommend it enough. To be honest when I started it I thought it was probably slightly over hyped – but I was gladly disappointed to find it wasn't!

Review by Melanie Carroll  (29/01/13)
Jacket
Publisher: WaterBrook Multnomah from TMD
Published: June 2012
ISBN: 978-0-307-58974-3
Paperback
Price: £9.99

The Great Partnership



by Jonathan Sacks


The Chief Rabbi is an erudite philosopher who writes lucidly in his passionate and persuasive defence of religious faith. He believes "in a personal God because religion in the Abrahamic tradition [Judaism, Christianity and Islam] is the consecration of the personal". Faith is not a form of knowledge but a mode of listening to God's still small voice calling us to act with creative compassion, and in that encounter "religion is the redemption of solitude".

He spells out what we stand to lose if we lose faith: the dignity and sanctity of life; the politics of covenant, a collective responsibility for the common good; selfless behaviour that overcomes selfish genes and ruthless natural selection that made Darwin fear that virtue would disappear; the firmness of the bond of marriage, and the meaningfulness of life. That meaning cannot be seen on the surface of the material pitiless world tested by scientists, where left-brain thinking takes things apart to see how they work. Only by right brain thinking, that puts things together to make sense of the whole, do we see below the surface into the life of things; "God lives in the right hemisphere of the brain in empathy and interpersonal understanding". The hunt for meaning is a religious instinct, to find coherence beyond the world's incoherence, for "The sense of the world must lie outside the world" (Wittgenstein). That sense gives religion a sustainable hope, not a shallow optimism.

Even though Sacks laments past evils in bad religion, atheists may well feel that Sacks exaggerates the good in religion, especially in cherry picking the Old Testament and excluding today's suffering Palestinians. With Burke he thinks religion is best at putting chains on appetite, and against Dawkins he fears that genetic determinism leads to an escape from moral responsibility. He follows Nietzsche in thinking that when religion dies, so does morality. My own Contemporary Creed argues against such alarmism and has more faith in humanity.

If his title of The Great Partnership between science and religion protests too much, he does succeed in showing they are complementary and that scientists also have faith, believing the world to be rational and comprehensible. His chapter on "Why God?" is a masterly conclusion to a highly recommended book that challenges believers and unbelievers alike.

Review by John Morris  (16/01/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Published: June 2012
ISBN: 978-0-340-99525-9
Paperback
Price: £8.99

Retreats 2013

- Places and Spaces for the Healing Journey


The annual retreats guide from the Retreat Association for 2013 lists all the retreat houses and centres across the UK, as well as listing the programmes and events for more than 200 of them within its pages. This year there is a focus on healing, with articles from Lucy Winkett, Elizabeth Baxter and Russ Parker that reflect on healing and the part it plays in God's world. There are also articles on creativity and the labyrinth amongst a good few others, making this so much more than just a guide to retreats.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (21/01/13)
Jacket
Publisher: The Retreat Association
Published: January 2013
ISBN: 978-0-954-86019-6
Paperback
Price: £6.50

A Faith To Live By

- What An Intelligent, Compassionate and Authentic Christian Faith Looks Like

by Roland Ashby


This is actually a book collecting together a number of interviews that were done by the author for the Australian newspaper The Melbourne Anglican over a number of years with 25 well known, and lesser known but well considered Christians. So we have folks like Rowan Williams, Keith Ward, Shane Claibourne, Brian McLaren and Michael Luenig amongst others offering short insights on a number and range of subjects. None of the interviews are particularly long and so in this respect I can see that they might make good starting points for group discussions. However to be fair it is also this brevity that left me feeling a slight lack with the book because I felt that as a general read the articles were just too short for me to really feel satisfied - though a short interview is fine in a magazine or newspaper because usually it's covering a topical subject in the forefront of the mind or a lead in for the speakers newest book etc.. As a collection on it's own they just left me with a feeling of a slight lack of substance.
On the design front, it's nicely set out and I like the fact that there was a photograph of every contributor and short summary biography too.

I would recommend this book to someone that just wanted to get a quick feel for the sort of people known in the Christian world and for the sort of ideas you can encounter there, and indeed as I've said before I can see this might be a really good book for using in schools or groups.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (14/11/12)
Jacket
Publisher: DLT (Darton, Longman and Todd Ltd)
Published: October 2012
ISBN: 978-0-232-52953-1
Paperback
Price: £12.99

Water - A Spiritual History



by Ian Bradley


When you see Ian Bradley's name on a book you know you are in for a well researched, intelligent and well written book and this one on Water really is no different. It is a lovely troll through the imagery and use of water within both Christian and pagan spirituality, both abroad and more especially here in the UK. So we have a lovely look at the images and significance of both baths and baptism, we come to see Rome's attraction to water, the early churches rejection of it, especially if warm! Then move onto the Celts love of springs, and from there onto the Christian development of holy wells and finally into our more modern attraction to spas and how all of these feed into the spiritual core.

Beautifully written with black and white photographs included, this book uses history, prose and poetry to really explore the spiritual history that water has. A definite must for anyone with any water baby tendencies, or who would just like to know a little more about how this most important element features in our spiritual development and faith.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (22/11/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Published: October 2012
ISBN: 978-1-441-11173-9
Hardback
Price: £16.99

Who is the Real Jesus?

- Uncovering the Truth

by H. Dermot McDonald


The world more than often questions who Jesus really is. This title seeks to offer clear understanding. The New Testament gives clear evidence that Jesus Christ is both human and divine. His identity as the Word of God who became flesh is at the very heart of the Christian faith. Yet it is often called into question, by people of other religions and none, who claim that Jesus was just a good man. Even Muslims, who acknowledge Him as a prophet, deny that He is God. This new and adapted edition of McDonald’s compelling book clearly presents the Biblical teaching on the humanity and deity of Christ. A robust and rigorous introduction, it uncovers the truth about the real Jesus, and will help Christian readers to grow in their knowledge of the Son of God.
McDonald is an outstanding scholar and teacher, with an ‘uncompromising fidelity to Biblical truth’. The ‘Real Jesus’ of the title is rather a ‘more realistic’ Jesus, based on a methodologically superior historical study. Dry, if wise christological content.

Review by Johnny Douglas  (22/10/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Banner of Truth Trust
Published: June 2012
ISBN: 978-0-982-52188-5
Paperback
Price: £7.99

The Last Banana

- Dancing With the Watu

by Shelby Tucker


I finished reading this book three weeks ago and haven’t been able to get it out of my mind. Not a Christian book as such, but it does have interesting references to David Livingstone, and I learnt more about him than I had known heretofore.
The Daily Telegraph describes The Last Banana as ‘a story of real, old fashioned travel, not pre paid by a publisher or faked by a television company.....’ Absolutely! Shelby Tucker is obviously quite a character, and his style of writing keeps you reading even when it is a list of dates and other facts that lose you on the way! Brought up to know much of Africa as part of the British Empire, I was fascinated to learn how big a part the Greeks have taken in the development of the culture and commerce throughout the continent, Tanzania in particular.
The author’s life long Greek friend Marios and his family feature prominently in the book, but there is so much more.
I followed this book by reading In Strength Not Our Own about a missionary working with the Maasai people (spelt Masai in this book) and felt already the pull Africa has on so many.

Hardback edition pub date Oct 2010, £17.99, ISBN 978-1-906-76821-8

Review by Mary Bartholomew  (31/07/10)
Jacket
Publisher: Stacey Publishing from Gardners Books
Published: 2012
ISBN: 978-1-906-76896-6
Paperback
Price: £10.99

Heroes and Monsters

- An Honest Look At The Struggle Within Each Of Us

by Josh James Riebock


Josh first met Jesus in the form of a scarecrow called Jack as he sat, aged seven, in the car his drunken father had just ploughed into a cornfield. Maybe. Because he admits at the outset that not everything in the book actually happened and some of it happened in a different order. Part autobiography, part redemption song, part stream-of-consciousness, this tale is as messy and as arbitrary as real life. It should be mind-numbingly tedious because essentially it’s a 289-page essay in self-absorption, but somehow it manages to be compelling. Jesus is referred to as ‘Jack’ throughout, but always present – welcomed, resented, engaged with, wrestled with, surrendered to... over and over again. ‘I want love without drama, romance without pain... intimacy without vulnerability... a guarantee. I want something that doesn't exist. Maybe we all do.’ Josh says near to the beginning. By the end he has accepted that, even if he could achieve his aim it would not be a good thing, and (almost) ceased wanting it. I love the Derek Greer cover art, dislike the ending and am still not sure about what’s in between. My best recommendation is that you read it and decide for yourself.

Review by Diane Morrison  (24/09/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Baker Books imprint of Baker Pub. from Lion
Published: 20 April 2012
ISBN: 978-0-801-01398-0
Paperback
Price: £9.99

Different by Design

- God’s Blueprint for Men and Women

by Carrie Sandom


If the topic of the role of women is one you have an interest in, then this book will certainly add to your exploration. Carrie Sandom has presented a strong theologically based argument as to what God had in mind when designing both men and women and how they can best complement each other, both within marriage and within leadership of the church. If your view is one that aligns with Sandom’s then you will find this book well researched and a good backing of your viewpoint. If on the other hand you are of a different opinion, you will still find this book to present a strong viewpoint into the discussion which needs to be considered within any discussions on the topic. I did enjoy Sandom’s suggestion that ‘leader’ and ‘helper’ are not hierarchical roles, but instead complimentary equal roles, both essential in the cohesion of man and woman.

Review by Barry Vendy  (24/09/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Christian Focus Publications
Published: March 2012
ISBN: 978-1-845-50782-4
Paperback
Price: £8.99

The Lion’s World

- A Journey Into The Heart of Narnia

by Rowan Williams


Following the appearance of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in 1950, C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia have enchanted children and adults alike for over half a century.
In The Lion’s World Rowan Williams explores the moral landscape of all seven novels in the series, and offers an astute guide to their spiritual subtext. He draws on significant aspects of their author’s life and thought, and on key themes in his other novels, painting a richly textured picture of his aims and achievements. At the same time, Williams gently but firmly rebuts those critics who have charged Lewis with sexism, racial stereotyping and the glorification of violence.
Whether you have read the whole Narnia series or simply enjoyed one of the films, The Lion’s World is a rewarding and ultimately joyful read – one that will send you back to the novels with a deeper sense of their subtle literary artistry, and the powerful spiritual insights they contain. Publisher

Clarity and creativity are fused with imagination and interpretation in this sweep of Narnia. Rowan William’s insight & writing are majestic. There is freshness and warm humanity to the underbelly of this beautiful new work. The lightness of touch must not disguise the depth of incision, with a poetic and gracious twist:-‘Being told your story doesn't compel your assent!’ Themes are movingly gathered and wisely explored here.
In The Lion’s World, Aslan is taken as an orthodox read-across from Jesus. The depiction of Aslan the Lion lets us sense afresh ‘what the experience of God is like’, shedding delusion & falsehood. Transcendence is the wildness of joy; and the truth of God becomes a revolution against what we have made of ourselves.’
This will certainly become a classic for lives enriched by the power of Narnia. This is brought together attractively in a new format SPCK volume with enhancing artwork by Monica Capoferri. Probing, provocative & a sheer pleasure!

Review by Johnny Douglas  (30/08/12)
Jacket
Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: August 2012
ISBN: 978-0-281-06895-1
Paperback
Price: £8.99

Moving in the Right Circles

- Embrace the Discipleship Adventure

by Chick Yuill


As Jesus prepared to ascend into heaven, and return to His father, he gave what is known as the ‘Great Commission’. He told the disciples to ‘go and make disciples of all nations’, despite this discipleship is one of the weaknesses of all denominations with it easier to make converts than disciples. In Moving In The Right Circles Chick Yuill attempts to help the church correct this, using the image of four concentric circles that need to be in place for us to be able to grow and act effectively as Christians. These four circles cover the areas of our personal life as a Christian, our membership of a congregation, our engagement with the culture around us, and how we prepare for Christ's return. This though is the weakness of the book – it is too individual focussed. The subtitle of the book is Embrace the Discipleship Adventure and sums up the idea that the book is for individual Christians who want to grow more, to be (to use an illustration from the book) disciples not members. But what if you are in a congregation that has not got it yet or realises there is a problem and wants to move from people being members to disciples? As the former Education and Training team leader for the church I attend I found little to help the church change how it did things, to help people ‘embrace the discipleship adventure’ as part of the body, to put the four circles of authentic Christian life in place. There is also the problem of Yuill's theology that comes from his time as a leader in the Salvation Army with its Armianistic foundation which, especially in his teaching on the Second Coming as well as other theological points, may put people off. Even with these problems I agree with the comment by Rob Parsons that this is an ‘important book’ and would encourage people to push past the points of disagreement and think through the challenges raised.

Review by Phelim McIntyre  (30/08/12)
Jacket
Publisher: IVP(Inter Varsity Press)
Published: February 2011
ISBN: 978-1-844-74503-6
Paperback
Price: £7.99

Unchristian

- What A New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity…And Why It Matters

by David Kinnaman


In many ways this book hurts because it highlights that at some point we have gone dreadfully wrong if most of the younger generation think so little of us as to not only reject our beliefs but to believe that those of us that hold them are arrogant hypocrites with no sensitivity and so prone to judgement that we almost rival in their minds the Romans that would have fed us Christians to the Lions at the Coliseum. In fact it’s worse, because as this book demonstrates, this generation actually considers us to be the same as those ‘Scribes and Pharisees’ that Jesus railed against. This book has an almighty ouch factor, that’s why we must read it and not ignore it.
The research it works with is American; sadly, I don’t think that we would find such greatly different results and perceptions here in the UK. The good thing about this book is that it not only tells us the problems but it endeavours to help us deal with them, to start mending the broken bridges with suggestions of change and real life insights from a range of people and well known Christian leaders such as Brian McLaren, Louie Giglio, Rick Warren, John Scott and a host more. These help to highlight things that are working, things that can work and the hope that we can change and be the people of Grace, forgiveness, understanding and hospitality, we were and are called to be. There are no short term fixes to this problem, but there are long term changes we can make that should see a difference happening, now though is when we need to start doing it. Reading this book and really listening to the voices within it is a good place to start.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (25/08/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Baker Books imprint of Baker Pub. from Lion
Published: 06 June 2012
ISBN: 978-0-801-07066-2
Paperback
Price: £8.99

Apocalypse When?

- Why We Want To Believe There Will Be No Tomorrow

by Ted Harrison


An excellent consideration of the end times phenomena that looks at the paranoia, the mistaken dates, the media hype and film sensationalism, the history and most of all the biblical and theological contexts of Apocalypse and End Times thinking. It’s well presented, easy to read and though quite detailed it isn’t at all dry for all the facts, dates and figures you find in it – but then perhaps that’s because we are so interested in the End Times prophecies, be they Mayan or Christian, that we just enjoy reading about them anyway – in the same way as some enjoy reading a scary story before bedtime.
Apocalypse When? considers the psychology that may be behind the escalating rise in such prophecies from various Christian orientated groups, and indeed considers whether our concern for such things is wider than in the past or is it just that our methods of communication are better. Ted Harrison works hard to point out that in the end the one thing all the biblical stories make clear is that we cannot know the day or hour of the end times, and that to dwell on such things is not where we are called to focus our attention, rather we must live the right life here and now.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (18/08/12)
Jacket
Publisher: DLT (Darton, Longman and Todd Ltd)
Published: June 2012
ISBN: 978-0-232-52909-8
Paperback
Price: £9.99

A Vision for the Aging Church

- Reviewing Ministry For and By Seniors

by James M. Houston & Michael Parker


Seniors aren’t the problem. They are the solution! Ageism is a form of contemporary ‘social apartheid’. The authors summon those they call Seniors (though they actually seem to prefer the term elder, with ‘more subtleties of moral evaluation’) into the ‘late-life version of the crucified life’. They expose six ‘myths of aging’ and describe how we may ‘age successfully’. The goal is ‘an army of spiritually inspired, successfully aging seniors’. How may the Church ‘meet the demands and embrace the opportunities of senior living’, given that many churches are ‘aging to death’, through their failure to adopt an ‘intergenerational’ perspective. ‘Today’s church fails to recognise sufficiently the unique resource available in its senior members.’
In addition to providing better care for their seniors, churches should not only be offering ministry to and for them, but also be enabling ministry by them, so that older members of the church should not just be passive recipients of ministry but active participants. I found this book generally informative and thought provoking, for example in its material on Alzheimer’s disease, and Biblical perspectives on aging and Elders, but have to say that, particularly when I got to its later Appendices, I felt that its usefulness is limited by its being so firmly anchored in the North American context.

Review by Barry Vendy  (09/08/12)
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Publisher: IVP(Inter Varsity Press)
Published: 2011
ISBN: 978-0-830-83948-3
Paperback
Price: £16.99

Travel Through Rome

- City of Empire, Christendom and Culture

by Nigel Scotland


This is another in the excellent Day One series of travel guides.
The book begins with a well written section detailing the history of Rome and Christianity in Rome.
The main part of the book consists of six chapters of travel guide each outlining a suggested day’s itinerary. As a special bonus, there is a chapter outlining an additional day trip to Pompeii. The book explains how to reach places by public transport, details of opening hours, points of special interest to Christians, places to eat, the location of toilets, and even on one occasion, the best ice cream!
Throughout the book there are also biographies of significant people and events and dozens of photos.
This book would be the only travel guide that you will need to visit Rome although you would need to purchase a map. The small maps in the book have insufficient details (for instance public transport is not shown).
Even if you are not planning to visit Rome you will find this book a fascinating read.

Review by Alan Hill  (03/08/12)
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Publisher: Day One Publications
Published: 2011
ISBN: 978-1-846-25283-9
Flexiback
Price: £10.00

Glendalough

- History, Monuments & Legends

by George McClafferty


Glendalough is a beautiful valley in the Wicklow Mountains. It is also the site of an early ecclesiastical settlement with many ruined churches and stone crosses and the remains of a sixth century monastery which was founded by Saint Kevin. The author, who is the manager of the Visitor Centre, retells the many legends and miraculous events attributed to Saint Kevin and examines the folk traditions associated with the area. This book would be a useful guide, on the spot with book in hand, but it could also be read with much interest at leisure as there is a lot more to it than just a description of sacred sites. It is beautifully illustrated throughout in vibrant colours.

Review by John Irvine  (24/07/12)
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Publisher: Columba Press
Published: 11 May 2012
ISBN: 978-1-856-07774-3
Flexiback
Price: £8.50

Pastors in the Classics

- Timeless Lessons on Life and Ministry from World Literature

by Leland Ryken, Philip Ryken & Todd Wilson


Pastors in the Classics really is a book unlike any other. Spanning the breadth of mainly Western literature, primarily from the last few centuries, it aims, in part one, to provide in depth analysis of twelve classic works of literature that include as key characters those in pastoral ministry. In part two, the focus is less in depth, but wider in scope, taking in 58 classic works of literature and giving concise summaries whilst emphasizing the role played by pastors in these novels. The authors are keen to deal with the issues each novel brings up – from temptation and sin to humility and Christlikeness, and the great spectrum of virtues and vices of ministers in between. It provides a fascinating read, and part one includes questions and discussion starters designed for book clubs and reading the novels it discusses with friends. There is a lot to be gained by having this book handy when reading through the novels it deals with. However, there is a general expectation that the reader will have read said novels already, and I found more enjoyment in this book when it dealt with novels I had read rather than ones I hadn’t.

Review by Tim Goodall  (21/07/12)
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Publisher: Baker Books imprint of Baker Pub. from Lion
Published: 01 January 2012
ISBN: 978-0-801-07197-3
Paperback
Price: £10.99

Catholic Primary Education: Facing new Challenges



Edited by Eugene Duffy


This book is a collection of essays examining primarily the role of the Catholic Church in primary schools in Ireland. In actual fact it looks at the very nature of education in our contemporary society preoccupied as it is with utilitarian rather than spiritual values. The contributors are educationists, parents, lecturers, priests and a bishop from Ireland and beyond. They even question whether denominational education is any longer viable in the new demographic profile of schools throughout Ireland. There has been a flood of new immigrants from Europe and beyond, many from non-Christian countries. These essays are important, not only for Ireland, but for the wider society, not only for the Catholic contribution to the education of the young but for the contribution any religious organisation can make in the school.

Review by John Irvine  (16/07/12)
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Publisher: Columba Press
Published: 30 March 2012
ISBN: 978-1-856-07770-5
Paperback
Price: £12.99

The Art of Mentoring

- Embracing the Great Generational Transition

by Darleen Zschech


This globally-known singer-songwriter, who has an amazing track record in leading a large and celebrated worship team, is well-placed to write a book on the art of mentoring. She has put together a resource from which anyone can learn. It comprises chapters which focus on fourteen ‘values’, including encouragement, humility, excellence and people. Because of its structure, it is a good book for reading in bite-size portions; each chapter stands alone as a reflection on its own subject. The writing is laced with Scriptural references and stories from Zschech’s own experience, which is plentiful when it comes to raising up the next generation of leaders. If you are interested in mentoring, this is worth a look because, although it does not give great attention to the mechanics of mentoring, it does convey something of the heart which is foundational to being a good mentor.

Review by Chloe Lynch  (16/07/12)
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Publisher: Bethany House imprint of Baker Pub from Lion
Published: 23 August 2012
ISBN: 978-0-764-20934-5
Hardback
Price: £14.99

The Spirit of the Purple Cow



by James Galloway


This is James Galloway's second book and in many ways it's a follow on from From Beach Hut to Palace, in as much as the first book described how his church in Stoke had been built up and purposed and why it's growing like it is and this book addresses the issues of 'followship' that is being a good follower which is in so many ways, according to the author, more important that being a good leader.
Good followers help make good leaders, because good followers are active and integral and purposed and they serve a purpose and are willing to do the job. Like his last book it's a fantastic blend of biblical principle and teaching - this time mainly based around 1 Samuel ch 14 and down to earth considerations of the modern world as we really live in it.
Using concepts such as business (the Purple Cow of the title being a nod to Seth Grodin and his Big Moo books), marketing, mobile phones and social media to drive his idea's home of how we can grow ourselves and our churches.
It's a good book for anyone interested in Church growth or for congregation members interested in getting their shine back.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (14/07/12)
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Publisher: River Publishing from Joining the Dots Distribution
Published: May 2012
ISBN: 978-1-908-39320-3
Paperback
Price: £7.99

Women and the Vatican

- An Exploration of Official Documents

by Ivy A. Helman


This book is an exploration of official documents detailing the Catholic Church’s teaching on the role of women in society. It covers the last fifty years in the light of evolving feminism and the changing attitudes towards sex, marriage and family ethics. It looks particularly at a woman’s role in the family, in the workplace and in the life and work of the church and how a woman finds fulfilment within these spheres. Helman remains as far as possible non-judgmental, restricting herself to giving a summary of official pronouncements, and her comments are on the whole fair and challenging. She does, however, call for women’s opinions to be recognised in a more official capacity. This book is valuable reading not only for Catholic feminists but for all those who work in the fields of higher education and pastoral ministry.

Review by John Irvine  (14/07/12)
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Publisher: Orbis Books from Alban Books
Published: March 2012
ISBN: 978-1-570-75967-3
Paperback
Price: £28.99

Multi-Voiced Church



by Stuart & Sian Murray Williams


Multi-Voiced Church, a church in which many are active participants and responsibility is not just the domain of the vicar, minister or pastor but something that is shared amongst the church community. Yes it sounds very fresh expressions, but it's older than that, it's biblically based, 1 Corinthians ch14, in the first place but as the book wonderfully demonstrates it's also been active throughout history in a number of ways, and our modern meeting of it through Messy Church and other such demonstrations of it are but the newest examples.
The authors are from a Baptist background but this book can easily bridge denominational boundaries and certainly offer some insight to any one, be they clergy or lay, into how a community can work together - and given the way in which some denominations and geographic areas are having to spread the leadership out across a wider patch this book can help offer a positive way in which all bases are covered and the churches maintained and even grown.
A wonderful blending of preparation and discussion paper alongside teaching guide to some extent and is certainly worth consideration to anyone interested in looking at ways of enlivening a church and including people in the activity and government of their church, of rebuilding an active and participatory church community.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (14/07/12)
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Publisher: Authentic Media
Published: June 2012
ISBN: 978-1-842-27766-9
Paperback
Price: £12.99

Why Pro-Life?

- Caring for the Unborn and Their Mothers

by Randy Alcorn


‘No issue is more divisive or troubling than abortion. Many believe that we have to choose between helping women and helping children. This book shows how critical it is that we help both. In a concise, non-abrasive manner, Randy Alcorn offers compassionate, factual answers to the central issues of the abortion debate.’
This quote from the back cover sums up the contents of this excellent book. In 120 pages Randy Acorn offers challenges to the misconceptions and arguments of the ‘pro-choice’ lobby and suggests alternative ways of thinking about the issues involved.
He tells the reader in the first chapter that he is not going to quote from the Bible in support of his arguments, making the book more accessible to non- Christians. However the chapter entitled ‘Can God forgive abortions?’, which is found near the end of the book, presents the gospel in a very compassionate way.
Why Pro-Life? presents the arguments against abortion very clearly while demonstrating real love and concern for the mother and her unborn child. I would be happy to give it to someone who was considering abortion, had had an abortion or to anyone who wanted to know more about the issues involved.

Review by Paula Hill  (10/07/12)
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Publisher: Hendrickson from Alban Books
Published: April 2012
ISBN: 978-1-598-56900-1
Paperback
Price: £4.99

Enjoying Later Life



by Elspeth Jackman


‘A beguiling mixture of practical advice and spiritual celebration’ is how Pam Rhodes commends this book by Christian writer, musician and broadcaster Elspeth Jackman.
With much good humour and common sense Elspeth clearly shows her book is mainly for Christians and those who want to know what the Bible says about enjoying later life. Anecdotes and examples abound her work as she explores the various facets of life for those in their later years. There may be the need to forgive past hurts and mistakes; we are reminded to be thankful, even for the smallest things and not to be afraid to speak out.
The things around us are important and we should be willing to make changes to brighten up our lives. Whilst mental challenges are an important aspect of later life we can use our imaginations to deal with bad thoughts and memories.
An easy read in a good size print.

Review by Guy Marshall  (07/07/12)
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Publisher: Onwards and Upwards Publishing
Published: 03 March 2012
ISBN: 978-1-907-50944-5
Paperback
Price: £7.99

Small Change Big Deal

- Money As If People Mattered

by Jennifer Kavanagh


Written by someone who has worked with the poorest of the poor and by using the Grameen model of peer group lending has seen very positive results of lifting women out of that degree of poverty. This is Microcredit at its very best.
In 1974 a Bangladeshi economist called Mohammad Yunus ‘looked at the women begging on his doorstep and wondered why he was bothering with high economics. He lent a total of $27 to 42 women to enable them to start businesses. And so microcredit was born.
Jennifer Kavanagh tells how it works on the ground. How groups of women (usually women) are brought together and taught what a small loan could do for them. Not to repay previous loans or to be spent on commodities for themselves or their families, but to start small sustainable businesses with low interest and strict repayment regulation. How this works in practice is told in detail and differs from country to country to suit the different needs. I found the majority of the chapters inspiring and intensely interesting but then came the downside. The entering into the market by the big money lenders who do it for a profit: NOT what the Grameen bank is all about. I could have wept at the distortions that have been called microcredit and given the term such a bad name in some parts of the world. The author’s final sentence sums it up for me – ‘when it (microcredit) is done sensitively and appropriately to the local conditions it can transform lives.’

Review by Mary Bartholomew  (05/07/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Business Books imprint of John Hunt
Published: 2012
ISBN: 978-1-780-99313-3
Paperback
Price: £11.99