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Review of 2013: Books

20 December 2013

THE accession of Pope Francis in 2013 prompted the publication of many biographies. Paul Vallely's Pope Francis: Untying the knots topped the Church Times monthly Top Ten bestseller list. Others included: Francis, Bishop of Rome by Michael Collins; Pray for Me by Robert Moynihan; and On Heaven and Earth by Abraham Skorka.

Archbishop Justin Welby: The road to Canterbury by Andrew Atherstone was the first biography of the new Archbishop of Canterbury.

Books celebrating the life and works of C. S. Lewis, 50 years after his death, included: C. S. Lewis: A life and The Intellectual World of C. S. Lewis by Alister McGrath; and C. S. Lewis: A biography by Colin Duriez.

Anglican identity was explored in The Anglican Understanding of the Church by Paul Avis; Anglicanism by Martyn Percy; Anglican Women on Church and Mission, edited by Kwok Pui-Lan, Judith A. Berling, and Jenny Plane Te Paa; and A Point of Balance: The weight and measure of Anglicanism, edited by Martyn Percy and Robert Boak Slocum.

Lent titles reviewed in the Church Times included the Archbishop of Canterbury's 2013 Lent Book, Abiding by Ben Quash; Christ in the Wilderness: Reflecting on the paintings of Stanley Spencer by Stephen Cottrell; Journeying with Jesus by Lucy Russell; The Resurrection of Peace by Mary C. Grey; and the York Courses booklet Glimpses of God by David Winter.

Among titles exploring multi-culturalism were Christians, Muslims and Jesus by Mona Siddiqui; Do We Worship the Same God? by Miroslav Volf; Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha and Mohammed Cross the Road? by Brian McLaren; Multi-Culturalism: Triple jeopardy for the West by Michael Nazir-Ali; and Islam and English Law, edited by Robin Griffith-Jones. The oppression that many Christians face in the world was highlighted by Rupert Shortt's Christianophobia.

Titles published to mark the coming centenary of the outbreak of the First World War included God and War, edited by Stephen G. Parker and Tom Lawson; Woodbine Willie by Bob Holman; Muddling Through by Peter Howson; Stretcher Bearer! by Charles H. Horton; Dorothea's War, edited by Richard Crewdson; and The Clergy in Khaki, edited by Michael Snape and Edward Madigan.

Spirituality titles covered included Water: A spiritual history by Ian Bradley; The Recovery of Love by Naomi Starkey; Less is More by Brian Draper; The Power of Silence by Graham Turner; Spiritual Letters by Sister Wendy Beckett; Immortal Diamond and Falling Upward by Richard Rohr; Compassion Quest by Trystan Owain-Hughes; A Silent Action: Engagements with Thomas Merton by Rowan Williams; How to be Wise by Rod Garner; God's Consoling Love by Michael Mayne; and Running Over Rocks by Ian Adams.

Children's spirituality was explored in Children of God by Edmund Newey; Children Growing Up With Religion, edited by Lucy Birtwistle and Lindsay Smith; and Children in the Bible by Anne Richards.

Novels reviewed included the second of James Runcie's Grantchester mysteries, Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death; A Vicar Crucified by Simon Parke; The Breath of Night by Michael Arditti; Benediction by Kent Haruf; Harvest by Jim Crace; The Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín; and Longbourn by Jo Baker.

There were autobiographies and memoirs by Roy Strong, Edwin Apps, Bernard Palmer, Ronald Blythe, Brian Mahwhinney, David Martin, Francis Jackson, Nadia Bolz-Webber, and Ann Widdecombe. There were also new biographies of Margaret Thatcher, Elsie Chamberlain, George Herbert, Émile Durkheim, Disraeli, Rowan Williams, David Livingstone, and St Augustine of Hippo.

The issue of gender was explored in Why are Women More Religious than Men? by Marta Trzebiatowska and Steve Bruce; Women and Men in Scripture and the Church, edited by Steven Croft and Paula Gooder; and Like the Wideness of the Sea: Women bishops and the Church of England by Maggi Dawn.

Titles by popular theologians included What We Talk About When We Talk About God by Rob Bell; The Last Testament by Don Cupitt; and Faith for the Creeds by Alister McGrath. The Michael Ramsey Prize winner Christianity and Contemporary Politics by Luke Bretherton also came under the spotlight.

History titles by well-known authors included Silence by Diarmaid MacCulloch; The History of the Jews by Simon Schama; and Our Church by Roger Scruton.

The issue of clergy stress was explored in A Clergy Husband's Survival Guide by Matthew Caminer; and Resilient Pastors by Justine Allain-Chapman.

A new hymn book, Ancient and Modern: Hymns and songs for refreshing worship, appeared; and a mammoth enterprise, The Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology, was published online. Titles on liturgy and worship included: Worship That Cares by Mark Earey; Using the Book of Common Prayer by Paul Thomas; Comfortable Words: Piety and the Book of Common Prayer, edited by Stephen Platten and Christopher Woods; and Fresh Expressions of Church and the Kingdom of God by Graham Cray and Ian Mobsby.

Books on the Bible which were reviewed during the year included Behind the Gospels by Eric Eve; Textual Scholarship and the Making of the New Testament by David C. Parker; Biblical Interpretations and Philosophical Hermeneutics by B. H. McLean; A Generation of New Testament Scholarship by John M. Court; One Bible, Many Versions by Dave Brunn; Jacob: Unexpected Patriarch by Yair Zakovitch; and Jewish and Christian Approaches to the Psalms by Susan Gillingham.

Other books reviewed included: The Wry Romance of the Literary Rectory by Deborah Alun-Jones;The Bible and Literature by Alison Jack; Saints, Sacrilege and Sedition by Eamon Duffy; Science and Religion in the Twenty-first Century, edited by Russell Re Manning and Michael Byrne; Religion and Science Fiction by James F. McGrath; Cross Roads by Wm Paul Young; Living Faithfully by John Pritchard; The Testing of Vocation by RobertReiss; Developing in Ministry byNeil Evans; Why Rousseau Was Wrong by Frances Ward; Building Up the Body: Encouraging, equipping and enabling volunteers in the Church by Richard Steel; Death by Civilisation by James Cary; Priests and Politics by Trevor Beeson; Diary of a Gay Priest by Malcolm Johnson; Crafting Prayers for Public Worship by Samuel Wells; Transforming Preaching by David Heywood; and Drysalter by Michael Symmons Roberts.

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