Letters from Nazareth

Letters from Nazareth

Author Richard Carter
Publisher Canterbury £18.99
Format pbk
ISBN 9781786224910

Written against the backdrop of Covid-19, the invasion of Ukraine and the death of Queen Elizabeth II, this book is part spiritual memoir and part manual for spiritual reflection and development. Across sixty letters originally written to fellow members of the Nazareth Community, the author illuminates their simple rule of life: Silence, Service, Scripture, Sacrament, Sabbath and Staying With. We accompany him from hospital bedsides to a Scottish bothy, from a Crown Court where he serves as a juror to a holiday in Greece, and on a notable pilgrimage to Nazareth and the Holy Land. We are invited to look for ‘home’ within ourselves and others as we travel and where we hope to arrive. It is a book that will gently unsettle the reader and then suggest ways to re-settle in a more God-centred way. It is a book that made me weep and one that has burnished my hope. I will promote this book to spiritual directors and accompaniers. I will offer it to anyone who longs to know God, and themselves, better. This book is a blessing.

Reviewed by RONA ORME



How to Preach

How to Preach

Author Samuel Wells
Publisher Canterbury £22.99
Format pbk
ISBN 9781786225214

The book’s strength is its focus on specific themes as well as the ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ when writing a sermon. The section on ‘Times’ of how to preach in specific secular scenarios does not include ‘anger’, which is surprising given our world’s current emotional climate. ‘Seasons’ offers the predictable list but refreshingly includes one on ‘before’ Christmas (between Advent and Christmas). ‘Texts’ includes the author’s emphasis on the use of the Bible’s neglected theology in sermons; his ‘do’ message was that this should be woven into sermons whenever possible. The final section, ‘Contexts’, addresses preaching at funerals, weddings, and baptisms, and includes some pearls of wisdom. I am not sure that the book’s title is appropriate because it represents only one person’s approach to writing sermons, albeit an acclaimed and experienced preacher. The content is generally clear and erudite. Clearly, reading a sermon will usually be quite different when delivering it with all the emphases, pauses and nuances of the English language. This book will guide and enlighten preachers of all ages.




The Once and Future Parish

The Once and
Future Parish

Author Alison Milbank
Publisher SCM £19.99
Format pbk
ISBN 9780334063131

The author provides a sequel to her For the Parish: A Critique of Fresh Expressions. She analyses the ecclesiology and secularism of ’Minster hubs’, ‘Emerging Church’, and the Strategic Development Fund. She argues that all three strategies are deficient, and that the parish remains a vital asset for mission and outreach, but only if properly resourced by the Church, within deanery and diocese, rather than a dispensable burden for subsuming into a large benefice or larger grouping. Her future vision for the parish seeks to recreate synergy with its surrounding community as a place full of participation in the new life of Christ, of known and trusted intention to serve with creative imagination. I had hoped for more than a single page on Readers/LLMs given our roles, but the focus is on ordained ministry. That said, the suggested common curriculum for teaching clergy could be equally adopted for Reader training. This is a passionate and justifiably critical work, so it will be interesting to see what responses it provokes at a challenging time for our church.

Reviewed by ANDREW CARR
Future of the Parish


Images of Pilgrimage

Images of Pilgrimage

Author R D Crouse
Publisher DLT £14.99
Format hbk
ISBN 9781915412249

Father Robert Crouse was a scholarly teacher, preacher and contemplative who lived most of his life in Nova Scotia, dying in 2011. He was in great demand as a lecturer and this book presents six addresses on the theme of pilgrimage, exploring imagery of paradise and wilderness in classical writings, the scriptures, in Augustine and Dante. He concludes that all people have a fundamental desire to attain their true home; but only in Christianity do we discover that ‘paradise is here, in the wilderness’. Crouse’s writing is fluid and easy to read, but also intellectually challenging. He often quotes the original language of his texts and draws readily on classical, early Christian and medieval writers which may be unfamiliar to some. I found his section on Dante’s Divine Comedy (not a work I know well) absorbing, stirring a desire to read and know more. Images of Pilgrimage is like marmite – some will have no time for it, others will treasure it. Perhaps it should be read in small doses, prayerfully, with plenty of time to contemplate both meaning and application.

Reviewed by APRIL McINTYRE





Author Richard Harries
Publisher SPCK £19.99
Format hbk
ISBN 9780281089475

There are three elements to this elegant book. First, it is a simple biblical chronology of the life of Jesus, from annunciation, birth, childhood; from baptism, companionship with disciples, challenges, persecution, death and resurrection. Key gospel passages remind us of the inevitable destiny of our Lord. Secondly, the narrative is wonderfully illustrated by great works of art, mostly from the Renaissance, but with some important modern works. Some are familiar (readers will probably know the works of Titian, Caravaggio, Raphael, and Rembrandt); but others are unfamiliar (I did not know Schiavone’s dark, dramatic ‘Christ before Pilate’). All this is conventional territory – the gospel story told through art history. The original third element woven into the text comprises words from our late Queen Elizabeth, mostly from her Christmas broadcasts, each excerpt brimming with her personal faith. It therefore becomes a fitting tribute to a much-loved Christian monarch. Is this simply a patriotic coffee-table book? Or an ideal gift for an elderly monarchist? Yes – but it is also a book of rare substance which will delight and illuminate all its readers.


Faith and Art


A Manifesto for Hope

A Manifesto for Hope

Author Steve Chalke
Publisher SPCK £12.99
Format pbk
ISBN 9780281087792

Steve Chalke, Baptist minister and founder of the Oasis Trust, has set out a vision for the future of young people in hard circumstances. He uses ten chapters to illustrate ten principles, although all are interconnected. The first is fundamental: ‘an ounce of practice is worth a ton of theory’. Chalke’s solutions are grounded in what works in communities and schools, not ideas dreamed up in Whitehall offices. Individuals have stories and it is their visions, hopes and beliefs that matter and drive social improvements. Ultimately, of course, the impetus comes from Christian faith and the social gospel – for this book can trace its underlying philosophy back to William Temple’s vision, which fed into the post-war Beveridge report. But for the 2020s, this now means practical partnerships, community leadership, the dedication of volunteers and – ultimately – Christian love. Simply written, this book will inspire ministry teams in hard-pressed communities; but more importantly it should be read by MPs, civil servants, council leaders and all who are concerned about our fractured society and the future of young people.


Social gospel


Essential information required for your profile. Click okay to complete.