Author Peter Bold
Publisher Sacristy £12.99
As a former industrial chemist I was intrigued by the sub-title, ‘An Engineer’s Guide to Theology’. This is partly a memoir of the author’s progress from being an engineer and a conservative Evangelical to being a rather broader-minded ordained incumbent; and then a deliberately simple setting out of how that has shaped his understanding of theology: ‘My complete or systematic theology in 60,000 words.’ It covers many of the difficult questions that trying to live out the gospel throws up. From my experience at Reader meetings, there is a higher proportion of engineers and scientists in lay ministry than in ordained ministry, and this should appeal to them, of whatever churchmanship; and also to young but mature enquirers they meet. The author has a chapter on ‘Truth, Global Warming, Post-modernism and Politics’ which may date but is currently powerful. The closing chapter ‘My Journey and Hope for the Church’ is a great summary.
Author Henri Nouwen
Publisher SPCK £12.99
This simple, beautiful book is based on lectures by the late Henri Nouwen on following Jesus ‘in an age of anxiety’. I think the age of anxiety has increased in intensity since the original talks, and that Henri Nouwen’s message is more poignant than ever. From the very beginning, I felt, both by Nouwen’s style and content, drawn into the presence of Jesus Christ, and that he was talking to me. The simplicity and portrayal of the message is deeply attractive. Nouwen writes on Christ’s invitation and call, the challenge and cost of following Jesus, and the reward of joy, which was my favourite section. The last chapter is about the Holy Spirit and how to practise the presence of the Spirit day by day. Nouwen is very practical and never suggests that the Christian life is easy. He does, however, reveal a quiet assurance of peace and direction that is neither complex nor exhausting. The book is suitable for any time of year but would be particularly good for reading through Lent. I commend it to you with all my heart.
This Is My Body
Author Eds Christina Beardsley and Michelle O’Brien
Publisher DLT £14.99
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