The Bible in the Contemporary World – exploring texts and contexts – then and now

The Bible in the Contemporary World – exploring texts and contexts – then and now

Author Richard Bauckham
Publisher SPCK £15.99
Format pbk
ISBN 9780281074846

Bauckham is a well-respected biblical scholar who has also written extensively about ethics and modern life. He is an outspoken critic of the failings of contemporary society and this book brings together a collection of his papers on the theme of the relevance of the Bible today in that context. Only three of the chapters are newly written for this book, and a number of the chapters appear in other books which many people will probably already have; nevertheless it is very helpful to have a handy collection of papers all on the same subject within one binding. As is sometimes the case with a collection of essays and papers written over a number of years, there is some repetition, and a recurring theme is the idolatry which Bauckham sees as the chief evil of contemporary life. The earliest chapters were first published in 2003, but none seems dated, and all are worth reading and plundering for sermon quotes. There is much in this book to challenge lazy thinking and to stimulate discussion. It is thoroughly recommended.

HELEN FONTAINE

Biblical Analysis

 

Befriending Silence

Befriending Silence

Author Carl McColman
Publisher Ave Maria Press £10.99
Format pbk
ISBN 9781594716157 (2015)

There is, among Christians and seekers of no particular faith, a hunger to live lives that are more spiritually rooted. What is hard is finding the how in answer to this hunger. Befriending Silence is an inspiring series of reflections on how the Cistercian monastic tradition can help women and men who are not necessarily part of a religious order draw closer to God in ways which are simple and radical.
One of the benefits of McColman’s book is its down to earth practicality in matters spiritual. Each chapter, covering a range of subjects from hospitality to contemplation, ends with some good suggestions about how to deepen the practice of hospitality, or Bible reading, or humility. The spiritual life is about how God is embodied in our lives. The centre, for McColman, of spiritual living is contemplation: the cultivating of a silent and loving awareness of God. The chapters on prayer and contemplation are particularly fresh. But the book as a whole is a thoughtful, conversational and often moving guide in how to grow in awareness of God’s presence with us and within us.

BEN BROWN

Spirituality, Prayer

 

This Is My Body

This Is My Body

Author Eds Christina Beardsley and Michelle O’Brien
Publisher DLT £14.99
Format pbk
ISBN 9780232532067

Many Readers may know someone who is transgender, or at least be aware of the concept from recent news reports. This collection of essays, mainly written by transgender Christians, provides background knowledge and insight into the trans world. The initial chapters cover (trans)gender issues from scientific, social, medical, theological and Anglican church perspectives. The later chapters recount personal stories by transgender Christians, most of whom have transitioned to living in an alternative gender role but some who stay fully or partly in their birth gender role. Inevitably it focuses on trans experience and theology, with only a passing reference to families and children. One or two academic chapters assume a more knowledgeable reader than me, but these can be skimmed if necessary in favour of the readable chapters about the Bishops’ discussions on the topic or personal stories. The book lacks specific pastoral advice but gives trans Christians a voice that they have often lacked within the Anglican church.

S J HAYTON

Autobiography, Vocation

 

Our last awakening

Our last awakening

Author Janet Morley
Publisher SPCK £9.99
Format pbk
ISBN 9780281073542

Yet again Morley has edited a superb anthology to inform and sustain, this time ‘for living in the face of death’. These fifty poems can be read in any order, at any time, by dipping in, or focusing on one poem. Her commentary enlarges our perception of each. They enhance my awareness of dying and its stages and are feeding into my funeral ministry, preaching, and pastoral care. Each poem is an adventure, an experience lived through or imagined. One that inspired me is U.A.Fanthorpe’s ‘The Unprofessionals’, an absorbing unassuming paean to those who ‘come, unorganised, inarticulate’ to ‘sit with you’, ‘answering the phone’ and ‘talking sometimes’ and doing other things ‘until the blunting of time’ – when the bereaved are beginning to cope. Pastoral care and wisdom at their unobtrusive best.

JEREMY HARVEY

  Poetry, Pastoral

 

Liberating the Gospel

Liberating the Gospel

Author David Smith
Publisher DLT £12.99
Format pbk
ISBN 9780232532333

Today’s globalised world shares many of the characteristics of the Roman Empire: migrants, beggars, favelas, the poor thrown off their land by large businesses. Jesus’s message has been sanitised so the author helps us to see afresh its challenge. Smith draws on the work of Tom Wright, Ched Myers and others to look at Jesus, Paul and Revelation, paying particular attention to the socio-economic context that both the writers and readers of the Scriptures experience and draws out new insights from the text, critiquing the inequalities of our globalised world. The churches should not merely cater for spiritual needs but be counter-cultural. The author is a little naïve when it comes to New Testament scholarship but he engages in what he calls ‘deep listening’ to the message of Jesus and the New Testament writers. Preachers will find vivid detail about life during New Testament times among those to whom Paul wrote.

DEREK JAY

 

History, New Testament Analysis

 

Stewards of God’s Delight

Stewards of God’s Delight

Author Mark Clavier
Publisher Cascade Books £12.00
Format pbk
9781498225434

I had some real difficulties with this book because although there were excellent analogies of the spiritual life and our relationship with God, it always came back to a very fundamental view of Eden and our downfall affecting the whole planet. We live in a volatile world with moving tectonic plates resulting in disasters which cannot solely be linked to our distancing from God. Likewise our knowledge that some carnivore dinosaurs walked this planet before us does not easily fit with a harmonious creation until we came along. No explanation or alternative view was offered. As one who loves the natural world I could empathise with the author’s delight in the beauty of creation but it did leave unanswered questions. Based on talks given to ordinands, the author’s bias is to those primarily in a priestly role, so although it might provide useful study group material it has limited appeal for Readers.

ROSEMARY BALL

Creation