Mind-stretching read

02 November 2006

THERE ARE clergy reading clubs that stick to works of theology; but not the Clergy Book Club that meets every six weeks or so in Waterstone’s coffee shop on Deansgate, Manchester.

They like to stretch their minds with a wide variety of books, including novels. Their most recent was Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bryson’s amazing tour de force, his travel through the history of science from the Big Bang to the genome.

“It was a very stimulating and challenging read,” says the Revd James Read of St Bartholomew’s, Whitworth. “None of us were scientists, though none of us were totally ignorant, but it bowled us over: the wonder of it, the hugeness of time and space, the ever-expanding universe, yet also the micro, nano, the infinitesimally small.”

He has read several of Bryson’s travel books, “always a very good read”, and says that it was clear that Bryson was himself struggling with the scientific concepts, but that only made him a better teacher. He was writing about “how”, but not asking the huge question “Why?” It was the clergy group who asked that. Yes, Mr Read says the book did expand his ideas of God.

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