Stick with Love
Author Arun Arora
Publisher SPCK £10.99
The Archbishop of York’s Advent Book 2023
Arun Arora became Bishop of Kirkstall in the Diocese of Leeds in 2022 and was previously Director of Communications for the Church of England. His previous experiences as priest and journalist are evident in this attractive, passionate and committed book which provides an interesting journey through Advent. It has a special focus on narratives that illustrate the pressing need for social and racial justice in our broken society. It is no surprise to discover that the title, ‘Stick with love’, comes from the American civil rights leader, Martin Luther King.
There is a conventional pattern to the book: a short essay for each day of Advent, followed by points for reflection, to make readers pause and ponder through the busy December days. Bishop Arun places special emphasis on the saints whose festivals and commemorations are marked in the Anglican calendar, together with other Christian heroes – many of whom deserve to be better known. Thus, we learn more about ancient saints whose lives are often shrouded in legend (Nicholas, Ambrose, Lucy, John of the Cross) and modern heroes of the faith such as Eglantyne Jebb and Florence Li Tim-Oi, the very first woman priest in the Anglican Communion. The book is, however, no conventional liturgical journal of days; it brims with modern stories of faith and autobiographical details of Bishop Arun’s own journey of faith (his mother a Hindu, his father a Sikh), including his ‘conversion’ at a Billy Graham rally at Villa Park football ground. The result is an eclectic mixture of fine stories which will encourage and hearten readers, while stirring our consciences – for many injustices need to be challenged, including institutional racism within our church. ‘Where are you from?’ asked a lady in the congregation. Arun replied (adopting the accent), ‘from Birmingham.’ But the lady persisted: ‘Where are you really from?’
I recommend this fine, original book for the season of Advent. As the Reverend Kate Bottley remarks on the cover blurb: ‘It gathers the beautifully diverse family of faith around the table…as we prepare for the great feast that is to come’.
Reviewed by LEONARD RICKARD