'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,
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 (
1-85311-368-9; Geralyn Wolf, Down and Out in Providence, Crossroad Pub