THE TITLE of Contemplative Prayer: A new framework (Bloomsbury, £12.99 (£11.70); 978-1-4081-8710-4) will put some off, but attract others. Either response needs examining thoroughly.
"Contemplation" can sound posh, expert, hard — and off-putting. It need be none of these. It needs space and time, but few have neither of those, if they want it. Of those who do want, even some busy people will find rest this way: standing back, making time to ponder, fed by thoughts and ideas from a book such as this. You don’t have to be a monk or nun.
That said, this is, in many ways, a technical book. It is certainly not an easy bedside book. The author, Dom David Foster, a monk of Downside, and formerly Prior and Novice Master there, but now teaching in the Benedictine University of Sant’Anselmo in Rome, writes with authority and experience.
"Contemplation is, however mysteriously, a way of growing in the knowledge and love of God . . . [and] this relationship involves more than our minds; it is a thing that engages us, heart and soul — body and spirit too."
Many of us would desire that, and seek after it. But readers who persist with this book are likely to be those who have already started on that track or desire. They will find it thorough and well worth the effort.
Canon John Armson is a former Precentor of Rochester Cathedral.