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In defence of the Michael Ramsey Prize judges

22 June 2011


From Mr Simon Kingston

Sir, — It is always good fun to play the game of selecting one’s own choice for a book prize, and I enjoyed reading Dr Christopher Knight’s delightful squib containing his own lively proposal for a short­list for the Michael Ramsey Prize (Letters, 10 June).

At the risk of seeming to be a killjoy, I must point out that the squib, though delightful, was a little damp: none of his list would in fact have qualified for the 2011 prize.

Dr Knight is mistaken in believing it to be annual: it is, in fact, a biennial prize, and a retro­spective one, giving the books time to show their lasting worth. (He is also mistaken in thinking that books are submitted by publishers.)

He suggests that the actual short­list contained books that were enough to keep insomniacs coma­tose. In the light of his comments about their contents, however, I cannot but wonder whether he was already in a semi-coma when he started to read the books. They do, indeed, deal with just those issues mentioned by Jane Williams, among many other important matters for our time. Moreover, they impressed not just the highly eminent judges of the Prize, but also the notably learned reviewers of the Church Times (Features, 20 May).

I confidently recommend the books to your readers, and echo the phrases of the reviewers: Cocks­worth’s book is “a timely and hope­ful contribution to an increasingly polarised Church”; Harries provides “an eloquent defence of liberal Anglicanism”; Hart offers “a blister­ing assault on the crass ignorance of the New Atheists . . . serious stuff”; Hughes has written a “substantial and truly remarkable work”; Mon­toya is “spicy and nourishing”; and Reynolds has written a “remarkable . . . vision of human flourishing”.

Information about the Prize and all these books is available at www.michaelramseyprize.org.uk.

We may see things differently, but I have happy news for the good doctor. All his favoured candidates lie within the qualifying period for the next award in 2013, and it may well be that his favourites will ap­pear on the shortlist.

SPCK administers the Michael Ramsey Prize.

General Secretary
The Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge
36 Causton Street
London SW1P 4ST

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