Seven Days to Freedom

Seven Days to Freedom

Author John Dudley Davies
Publisher DLT £14.99
Format pbk
ISBN 9780232534856

Rarely is a book of a spiritual nature funny. This one made me laugh out loud in several places. For example, after quoting from material produced at the Walsingham Shrine which makes the point that all things are connected ‘even pilgrimage’, the author goes on to say that also connected are ‘scampi, aunts, trigonometry, eisteddfodau, Wing Commanders, urine, scalpels, semiquavers, USBs, magpies etc.’ That gives a flavour of the witty writing. Essentially, this is a series of sermons using the biblical creation stories, with a strong emphasis on the seventh day as a climax that brings all things together. This skilfully thought-provoking work relates the biblical text to present-day issues: coronavirus, the attempts by migrants to cross from Calais to Britain, and Archbishop Welby’s promotion of credit unions, amongst other issues. I cannot help feeling that this might make the book become dated rather quickly, because such questions will not necessarily assume great historical importance viewed retrospectively. Perhaps that does not matter to an author who is aged nearly 94. In the here and now, I loved this book.

Reviewed by ALAN WAKELY

Sermons; Creation

 

Following Christ

Following Christ

Author Robert Beaken
Publisher Sacristy Press £12.99
Format pbk
ISBN 9781789590821

The series of sermons selected here, written from an Anglo-Catholic perspective, are easy to read, if slightly old-fashioned in style. As well as sermons on the Christian year, some deal with special occasions such as Baptism, a funeral, and a marriage. There is some good teaching here, particularly with Beaken’s interesting take on the parable of the pearl of great price, and persuasive arguments on why Mary should be venerated. In his Holy Week sermons he emphasises the importance of living Jesus’ experiences during this time of waiting before Easter, stressing the reasons why we should make the effort to be in our churches in order to feel that ‘we are there, in Jerusalem with Jesus’. There are times when Beaken seems to be endorsing the doctrine of pre-destination: for example in his wedding address he speaks to the couple of ‘a God who has always planned that you will meet and marry’; and the young priest that ‘long before he was born …God had always planned that [he] should be a priest’. Despite some reservations, I think that the reader will find something here that ‘may cheer, strengthen and encourage’.

MARIE PATERSON

 

Sermons

 

A Good Year

A Good Year

Author Ed. Mark Oakley
Publisher SPCK £9.99
Format pbk
ISBN 9780281077038

An imaginative look at the church’s seasons, ably edited and introduced by Mark Oakley. The book began as a series of talks given at St Paul’s Cathedral on what constitutes a ‘good’ season: not just the changing colour of the altar frontal, but a fruitful exploration of each part of the Christian year. Seven bishops (Sarah Mullally, Rowan Williams, Libby Lane, Justin Welby, Stephen Cottrell, Stephen Conway and Karen Gorham) provide meditations for the varying times and seasons. Inevitably, some are better written than others: the poetic force of Williams rather shows up Lane and Mullally; Welby is superbly pragmatic and down to earth; Cottrell is surprising and original. Conway relies on the reader’s knowledge of various artworks (not reproduced) which is a slight limitation. A useful book to give to an enquirer or new Christian unfamiliar with the shape of the church year. The book might also be useful for a discussion group.

KIRSTY ANDERSON

Sermons