Deep Calls to Deep

Deep Calls to Deep

Author Tony Horsfall
Publisher BRF £8.99
Format pbk (second edition)
ISBN 9781800390669

This exploration of the Psalms feels fresh and current for today’s world. There is a mix of thoughtful information about background, authorship and history, helpful analysis of the different types of psalms in the Bible collection, and stories. As a Christian who has read the Psalms (and books on the Psalms) many times, I was pleased with the fresh insight this book offers. The author considers seven Psalms in some depth, in order to show the different types and spiritual significance. I found the study of Psalms 69 and 88, ‘from the depths’, particularly helpful to understanding how God still loves us when it feels he is absent.

The chapters are interspersed with life-stories from real people which illustrate the message and ground the book in reality. Horsfall’s style is concise and intelligent without being academic. I read it as an inspirational book, but it would be a great resource for small-group study for Lent over several weeks. Each chapter has well-thought ideas for discussion. I recommend it for individuals and groups.

Reviewed by HOWARD ROWE

Psalms

 

In Awesome Wonder

In Awesome Wonder

Author Daniel Ruy Pereira & Luiz Cardoso
Publisher Sacristy £9.99
Format pbk
ISBN 9781789591484

Lucky youngsters and their teachers to have this book to ponder, devised for a Stockport schools project to bridge science and faith! Written by a science teacher and a pastor-theologian, it provides a fine answer to a great need. Initially I doubted whether it would convince me, or a young person, that science and faith are compatible, and need each other. Soon I was caught up, living in the unfolding interest of the story/content, grateful and astonished. It is a book to re-read. I enjoyed especially the chapter about evolution and suffering; the one on our place in the Universe, and another on Genesis and creationism. All dispel many misconceptions. The chapter on climate change shows conclusively how we have to be good gardeners of God’s creation. The black and white illustrations, though helpful, are not always clear enough. The introduction is important: science and faith are connected by mystery, and both face the unknown and search for truth. A book of our times for adults and young. Its title comes from the hymn ‘O Lord my God’.

Reviewed by JEREMY HARVEY

Science and Religion

 

The Art of Peace

The Art of Peace

Author David Cole
Publisher BRF £8.99
Format pbk
ISBN 9780857469922

David Cole, known as Brother Cassian in his order, uses a mix of extracts from Christian mystics and his own experiences to accomplish his aim: ‘to transition the reader from being somebody interested in, or simply practising, contemplation to being a contemplative.’ He does this by considering four different areas: stillness, silence, solitude, sanctuary. He often challenges the reader by giving the instruction to stop reading, leave the book and practise, for example being still for a time. While the book is written in a relaxed, easily comprehensible style, the reader needs to accept the author’s terminology, most notably when he uses the term ‘the Divine’ as he feels the word ‘God’ is too limiting. His biblical quotations come from the Passion Translation, which often gives a fresh understanding of scripture. With his considerable awareness of Christian mystics of all ages and their works and his personal knowledge of the dispersed Community of Aidan and Hilda, David Cole provides material here for a retreat in book form.

Reviewed by MARGARET TINSLEY

Christian Mysticism

 

A Pastoral Theology of Childlessness

A Pastoral Theology
of Childlessness

Author Emma Nash
Publisher SCM £19.99
Format pbk
ISBN 9780334060512

The Bible, except for Ecclesiastes, portrays childlessness as a curse. How, then, can we support people who are unable to have children? In this searingly honest account of her own experience, Emma Nash reveals the painful history of her attempts to conceive and carry a child through pregnancy. Is childlessness a disability? She reports the often wounding comments others have made in unfortunate attempts to provide pastoral support. She confronts the many difficult biblical passages and endeavours to make sense of them in the light of her own experience. Holy Saturday is a day where she finds space to contain her grief but where does the Resurrection fit? In the conclusion, we read, ‘I no longer believe God is in control. I am wounded.’ This is not a memoir but the account of deep theological research and reflection emerging from personal trauma. We are taken from such telling insights as ‘People do not talk in fertility clinics’ to ideas for helping involuntarily childless people feel included in services. Reading this book was rightly uncomfortable, yet it provides such helpful advice for all who lead worship or provide pastoral care.

Reviewed by RONA ORME

Theology, pastoral care

 

Reimagining Ministerial Formation

Reimagining Ministerial Formation

Author David Heywood
Publisher SCM £25
Format pbk
ISBN 9780334060420

The author, who recently retired as Deputy Director of Mission for the Diocese of Oxford, brings his considerable experience in the field of ministerial formation to bear in this timely book which sets out what he refers to as a ‘new paradigm’: a life-long learning approach for both lay and ordained ministry. Refreshingly, the book does not draw a distinction between the sorts of training that are required for lay and ordained ministry. The author sees the process of lifelong learning and development of ministry as a continuum that should start with one’s baptism/confirmation. The new paradigm envisages all church members as being part of this process, encouraged by those around them to embrace the idea of discipleship in its true sense of being a learner, and being supported in whatever ministry their circumstances and talents lead them to. Education and training are therefore based on practical and emotional skills for ministry, which is to be seen as ‘pastoral imagination’. It is an inspiring manifesto for a new collaborative approach for clergy and laity though it will take time and a considerable devotion of resources to achieve.

Reviewed by IMOGEN CLOUT

Ministerial Formation

 

Looking East in Winter

Looking East in Winter

Author Rowan Williams
Publisher Bloomsbury Continuum £20.00
Format hbk
ISBN 9781472989239

Our former Archbishop has produced a profound academic study about the theological perspectives of the eastern Orthodox tradition, and how these illuminate and perhaps refresh the Christian practices of the modern west. Williams has an encyclopaedic knowledge of Eastern Christianity, and I suspect no reader will fail to gather new information and insight from the wealth of references in this book. But the theological value comes from the way the author reflects on how these insights impact on our spiritual lives, our prayer and our liturgy. For, as the title suggests, we are experiencing in our present age a spiritual winter, which may be alleviated by looking to the east. Nonetheless, this is not an easy read. The prose is quite dense, and the complexity of argument often slows the pace of reading, though clarity comes with perseverance. I especially appreciated the chapters on participation in the divine (see 2 Peter1:4) and the author’s treatment of liturgy in what he calls ‘the anthropology of worship and sacrament’. This book may not have many obvious applications to teaching or pastoral ministry, but it will strengthen individuals’ spirituality.

Reviewed by MALCOLM DAWSON

Orthodox Theology