Invisible Divides

Invisible Divides

Author Natalie Williams
& Paul Brown
Publisher SPCK £9.99
Format pbk
ISBN 9780281085200

Subtitled ‘Class, culture and barriers to belonging in the Church’, and written by authors who came to Christ from working-class backgrounds, this timely work challenges a longstanding issue – the largely ‘middle-class’ culture of the UK Church across all denominations. I was reminded of John 3:16: ‘…that whosoever believeth…(AV)’, and recalled a cringeworthy incident in a church I was once visiting where, over coffee, I heard ‘We don’t want people like that here…’ indicating a young couple from a traveller community who wanted their baby baptised. ‘Whosoever’ is an archaic word, yet its all-embracing meaning is so contemporary. And ‘whosoever’ should challenge us all to ask whether our churches represent the full breadth of the communities in which they are situated – and if not, why not? An honest and active response to 2 Chronicles 7:14 is in order. The last sentence of this profoundly insightful and necessary book states: ‘…let’s play our part in crossing invisible divides and seeing people from all classes and walks of life come to know him, worship him and serve him together…’ A must buy.

Reviewed by ANDREW CARR

Ministry, Social inclusion


God Made the Dinosaurs

God Made the Dinosaurs

Author Michael & Caroline Carroll
Publisher SPCK £11.75
Format hbk
ISBN 9780281082964

Children are fascinated by dinosaurs. This book for 7 to 9-year-olds is packed with information about the different species and their discovery. Older children and adults will find fascinating facts about the origin of life on Earth and evolution explained in simple terms. We meet the people who made the discoveries and the scientists who have interpreted them. The authors show how a knowledge of the wonders of God’s creation adds to our understanding of his inherent nature. Short prayers and biblical quotations are interspersed with the text which is superbly illustrated. A glossary is included as well as a timeline of dinosaur history in the end papers. This book may inspire children to want to become scientists themselves. It introduces the problem of climate change and the need for continuous research if future generations are to care for God’s creation. I asked two of my grandchildren for their opinion. Amity, 10, was interested in reading about species of dinosaurs and the different eras. Ben, 11, thought it would appeal to slightly younger children but nevertheless said it taught him ‘a lot about the world before humans’.


Children’s book


A Very Byzantine Journey

A Very Byzantine Journey

Author J Richard Smith
Publisher Sacristy Press £14.99
Format pbk
ISBN 9781789592160

This book records the author’s adventures when visiting some of the sites of the key events detailed in the Gospels, illustrated with icons portraying them. First come some brief comments on iconographic art, and on the ‘Cloth of Edessa’ and how it has influenced the depiction of the face of Jesus in icons. The travels then described include visits to Istanbul, Rome and Manopello (to see the cloth), Cairo (exile of the Holy Family), and key gospel-event sites in Palestine. For each site there is an accompanying icon illustration. The journeyings, which often involve hiking considerable distances across country, are described in great detail with explanations of ease or difficulties of travel and problems encountered along the way, which may be helpful to others wishing to undertake the same pilgrimages. There are also detailed descriptions of his companions and comments on hotels stayed in, meals eaten and incidental events. Though the author records his spiritual experiences at some of the sites, there is surprisingly little in the way of description of the sites themselves. This is very much an idiosyncratic personal journal.


Icons, Pilgrimage


Crossroad: A Pilgrimage of Unknowing

A Pilgrimage of Unknowing

Author Charles Moseley
Publisher DLT £20
Format hbk
ISBN 9781913657864

Whitby, Iona, Ely and Walsingham: these are just some of the sacred sites visited in a meandering pilgrimage by Charles Moseley, a retired academic whose lyrical account is marked by a deep learning, as he reflects on the history, both natural and spiritual, of the British Isles. There is a refreshing earthiness to the story, as the author faces the challenges of uncertain weather and terrain, enjoys his beer and sandwiches, or manages to keep on walking despite a painful hip. He is a gentle and genial guide to some of the most haunting and beautiful sites, hills, cliffs, coasts and river valleys steeped in the prayer of past generations. A lifetime’s reading and research is reflected in quotations and commentary from passages of scripture and poetry. He is a man of faith, his worship informed by an Anglo-Catholic spirituality, and a great lover of the countryside’s traditional ways. There are flashes of anger too, as he considers the past destruction of monasteries, the iconoclasm of the Reformation, and the present destruction of the environment. This is a charming book, to be enjoyed at leisure.




Sheltering Saints: living with the homeless

Sheltering Saints:
living with the homeless

Author Roger Quick
Publisher DLT £9.99
Format pbk
ISBN 9781913657680

This is an entertaining, amusing and challenging collection of brief anecdotes of Quick’s encounters with those who, through their homelessness, need the resources offered by St George’s crypt, Leeds. In his introduction, Quick recounts his own perilous descent through drink-related issues, into the underworld of the homeless. Decades later he returned as their Chaplain. This fast-paced, readable and moving account of his experiences with the folk who frequented the crypt during the pandemic is a wake-up call to for us all to consider our individual response to the ongoing problem of the homeless. The unseen presence of God’s guiding hand is evident in the way in which the author engages with those he meets on a daily basis – the ability to redirect their request for some tangible comfort to include something of eternal significance. The illustrations of the environment and clientele are a bonus to the narrative. A book to enjoy – and to make you rethink your attitude and response to rough sleepers. All royalties go to St George’s crypt.


Pastoral care


Women Remembered: Jesus’ Female Disciples

Women Remembered:
Jesus’ Female Disciples

Author Joan Taylor & Helen Bond
Publisher Hodder & Stoughton £16.99
Format hbk
ISBN 9781529372595

This is an exciting read. Bringing together a wealth of scholarship, the authors give fresh insights into the lives of biblical women, and the roles they played as disciples. There was much I didn’t know about first century Jewish society – for example that polygamy was still acceptable. The authors make the point that the masculine pronoun is always used in Greek for any group, no matter how large, in which even a single male is present. Centuries of translation without taking this linguistic quirk into account have simply erased women from the record. Many of the conclusions seem obvious when the original language and context are examined. The only one by which I was not entirely convinced was the idea that ‘the twelve’ disciples sent out by Jesus consisted of twelve men each accompanied by a female co-worker. I would have liked to have seen more evidence. These authors have the gift of communicating in a manner that engages everyone. The book was written to accompany a television series. I hope its success will lead to the series being repeated

Reviewed by NANCY MAY

Biblical analysis, Feminism


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