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Review of 2015: books

01 January 2016

THE 800th anniversary of the sealing of Magna Carta, which was celebrated during 2015, was marked by Magna Carta: Religion and the rule of law, edited by Robin Griffith-Jones and Mark Hill. Another legal title was Religion, Law and Society by Russell Sandbert.

Well-known authors’ books included Augustine by Robin Lane Fox; Cry of Wonder by Gerard W. Hughes; Surprised by Scripture by Tom Wright; The Soul of the Marionette by John Gray; Judas by Peter Stanford; The Book of the People by A. N. Wilson; Beyond Secular Order by John Milbank; Not in God’s Name by Jonathan Sacks; and Hope Without Optimism by Terry Eagleton.

There were autobiographies and memoirs by Antonia Fraser, Joanna Jepson, and Cormac Murphy-O’Connor. There were biographies of the composer Olivier Messiaen, Archbishop Donald Caird, Stephen Graham, Handel, Dorothee Soelle, T. S. Eliot (Young Eliot), Unity Spencer, John Knox, Margaret Thatcher, and David Hare.

Novels reviewed in the Church Times included Widows and Orphans by Michael Arditti; The Fish Ladder by Katharine Norbury; Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf; Now is the Time by Melvyn Bragg; and The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks.

Of particular interest in the publishing boom around the First World War centenary were Edward Hicks: Pacifist bishop at war by G. R. Evans; Shellshocked Prophets by Linda Parker; Faith Under Fire by Alan Hustak; and The Church of England on the Home Front, 1914-1918 by Robert Beaken.

Other church-history titles noted included The Secular Clergy in England, 1066-1216 by Hugh M. Thomas; The Prelate in England and Europe 1300-1560, edited by Martin Heale; Evangelicalism in the Church of England in the Twentieth Century, edited by Andrew Atherstone and John Maiden; “Settling the Peace of the Church”: 1662 revisited, edited by N. H. Keeble; and Mighty England Do Good by Steven S. Maughen.

Books about Pope Francis continued to amass, among them: Paul Vallely’s revised and expanded Untying the Knots, and Francis of Rome and Francis of Assisi by Leonardo Boff.

Spirituality titles covered in the paper includedA Tour of Bones by Denise Inge; Silence: A user’s guide by Maggie Ross; Bread of Angels by Barbara Brown Taylor; Hidden in Christ by James Bryan Smith; The Drama of Living by David Ford; In the Shelter by Pádraig Ó Tuama; The Amazing Technicolour Pyjama Therapy by Emily Ackerman; and Prayer by Timothy Keller.

Mental-health issues were explored in Recovering from Depression by Katharine Smith and Mental Health: The Inclusive Church resource by Jean Vanier and John Swinton.

Books on the God debate included Imagine There’s No Heaven by Mitchell Stephens; Atheists: The origin of the species by Nick Spencer; Faith and Unbelief by Stephen Bullivant; and The Evidence for God by Keith Ward. Titles on apologetics included Lord and Saviour by Alister McGrath; Simply Good News by Tom Wright; and the bestselling Pilgrim course, by Stephen Cottrell, Steven Croft, Paula Gooder, and Robert Atwell.

The relationship of science and religion was further explored in The Nature of Creation by Mark Harris; Big Bang, Big God by Rodney Holder; Christians and Evolution, edited by R. J. Berry; God in the Lab by Ruth M. Bancewicz; and Inventing the Universe by Alister McGrath.

Gender issues were addressed in Peculiar Faith by Jay Emerson Johnson; The Oxford Handbook of Theology, Sexuality and Gender, edited by Adrian Thatcher; and Gender: The Inclusive Church resource by Rosemary Lain-Priestley.

Books on the Bible included The Good Shepherd by Kenneth E. Bailey; The Gospel of the Lord by Michael F. Bird; Introducing the New Testament by Henry Wansbrough; Jesus and the Chaos of History by James G. Crossley; Sensing the Scriptures by Karlfried Froehlich; Ethics in Ancient Israel by John Barton; and St Paul: The misunderstood apostle by Karen Armstrong.

Priesthood and ministry were discussed in The Widening Circle by Graham Tomlin; Another Christ by Andrew Mayes; and Curacies and How to Survive Them by Matthew Caminer. Among titles on liturgy and worship were The Sound of the Liturgy by Cally Hammond; The Study of Liturgy and Worship, edited by Juliette Day and Benjamin Gordon-Taylor; Eucharistic Epicleses, Ancient and Modern by Anne McGowan; and The Eucharist: Origins and contemporary understandings by Thomas O’Loughlin.

Ageing and end-of-life issueswere discussed in The Courage to Grow Old by Barbara Cawthorne Crafton; Mortal Blessings by Angela Alaimo O’Donnell; Peace at the Last by Robert Atwell; Making Sense of Death and Immortality by Paul Badham; Dying to Live by Marian Carter; Letting Go of Ian by Jo Cundy; Living with Complicated Grief by Craig A. White; Creative Ideas for Ministry with the Aged by Sue Pickering; Voices from the Hospice by Bob Whorton; and Seasons of My Soul (Methodist Church/Church of England).

In a General Election year, politics and economics were discussed in Votewise 2015 by Guy Brandon; An Idol Unmasked by Peter Selby; Resurrecting Democracy by Luke Bretherton; and PostCapitalism by Paul Mason.

The debate on social division was pursued in On Rock or Sand? by John Sentamu; Together for the Common Good, edited by Nicholas Sagovsky and Peter McGrail; and Blessed are the Poor? by Laurie Green.

Church growth was analysed in What Makes Churches Grow? by Bob Jackson, and Towards a Theology of Church Growth, edited by David Goodhew. Mission was covered in Towards the Prophetic Church by John M. Hull; Mission: The pioneer gift by Jonny Baker and Cathy Ross; and Being Church, Doing Life by Michael Moynagh.

Other books of interest included Religion and Power by David Martin; The Ethics of Everyday Life by Michael Banner; Newman on Vatican II by Ian Ker: Theology, Aesthetics, and Culture: Responses to the work of David Brown, edited by Robert McSwain and Taylor Worley; Living Reconciliation by Phil Groves and Angharad Parry Jones; The Wisdom and the Lininal by Celia Deane-Drummond; My Way by Mona Siddiqui; Religion in Britain by Grace Davie; Christ and the Cosmos by Keith Ward; Being Human by Steve Chalke; The Psychology of Christian Formation by Joanna Collicutt; English Cathedral Music and Liturgy in the Twentieth Century by Martin Thomas; The Vocation of Anglican Theology, edited by Ralph McMichael; and Divine Discontent: The prophetic voice of Thomas Merton by John Moses.

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent Book was In God’s Hands by Desmond Tutu. Other Lent titles included Meeting God in Mark by Rowan Williams; The Journey by John Pritchard; and The Lent Factor by Graham Jones. Advent titles included Journey to the Manger by Paula Gooder; Waiting for the Word by Malcolm Guite; and Barefoot Ways by Stephen Cherry.

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