Christina Rees, writer and broadcaster

02 November 2006


'In Echo of the Soul, J. Philip Newell explores what it means to be made in the image of God. He draws on the Bible, and on Christian and Jewish spiritual sources, past and present. He argues that pleasure and holiness have traditionally been seen as opposites, but that they should be integrated. Instead of seeing the core of humanity as distorted and evil, he sees sin as a crust covering what is essentially holy and pure, because it has been made in the likeness of God. If we feel confident, then we can live as God intended us to, because there isn't an impossible chasm between us and God. The tension within us is not between our spirit and our bodies.

I found his reflections inspiring. He argues that everything has been created as an expression of God; and, looking around me when I was at Synod recently, I was reminded that the mystery of God's image is in every human face. Even in disagreement, we must respect and accept others' uniqueness as a part of God.

Down and Out in Providence by Geralyn Wolf tells the story of an American bishop who lived as a homeless person for a month.  She learned the soul-destroying routine of days on the streets: the search for food, shelter, and a bed for the night. She got to know individuals and how they became homeless. She made a new family, where people shared what they had, however little.

Reflecting on faith, she explores ways in which Jesus related to others. She found that going into some churches was not a positive experience, but that in others people smiled and wished her good morning. Most people ignore the homeless. Wolf tells of the joy she felt when someone looked her in the eye. I found it a transformative book.'

J. Philip Newell, Echo of the Soul, Canterbury Press, £7.99 ( £7.10), 1-85311-368-9; Geralyn Wolf, Down and Out in Providence, Crossroad Pub Co., £9.99,


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