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Books of the year

22 December 2016

THE book that won the Michael Ramsey Prize 2016 was John Swinton’s Dementia. All the six shortlisted titles were reviewed in the Church Times. They were: Children in the Bible by Anne Richards; Healing Agony by Stephen Cherry; Faith and Struggle on Smokey Mountain by Benigno P. Beltran; Unapologetic by Francis Spufford; and A God’s Presence by Frances Young.

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent Book was I Am With You by Kathryn Greene-McCreight. Lent titles that topped the charts included Meeting God in Paul by Rowan Williams, and The Joy of the Gospel by Paula Gooder.

Anglicanism was discussed in Good Disagreement: Grace and truth in a divided Church by Andrew Atherstone and Andrew Goddard, and The Oxford Hand­book of Angli­can Studies by Mark D. Chapman, Sathianathan Clarke, and Martyn Percy. The life of the Church was analysed in That Was the Church That Was by Andrew Brown and Linda Wood­head, and in The Invisible Church by Steve Aisthorpe. Tom Wright contributed to the debate with God in Public.

Poetry titles reviewed included Sanctuary by Martyn Halsall; The Paper Sky by El Gruer; Parable and Paradox by Malcolm Guite; and Too Brave to Dream by R. S. Thomas (edited by Tony Brown and Jason Walford). Reflections on poetry included Our Last Awaken­ing by Janet Morley, and Mark Oakley’s bestselling A Splash of Words.

Christian buildings were cele­brated in England’s Cathedrals by Simon Jenkins; Tiny Churches by Dixe Wills; Buildings for Mission by Nigel Walter and Andrew Mottram; Parsonages by Kate Tiller; English Cathedrals by Andrew Sanders; and Fifty English Steeples by Julian Flannery.

Ageing and end-of-life issues were discussed in Mors Britannica by Douglas J. Davies; Into Extra Time by the late David Bryant; and Heaven’s Morning by David Winter.

Titles on apologetics and the God debate included the bestseller God Is No Thing by Rupert Shortt; Unbel­iev­able by Graham Ward; How to Believe by John Cottingham; Mere Apologetics by Alister McGrath; What is Christianity by Rowan Wil­liams; What Do We Believe? Why Does it Matter? by Jeff Astley; and Sceptical Christianity by Robert Reiss.

The issue of gender and same-sex relationships was explored in Redeem­­ing Gender by Adrian Thatcher; This is My Body by Christina Beardsley and Michelle O’Brien; Journeys in Grace and Truth edited by Jayne Ozanne; and Amazing Love by Andrew Davison.

Titles by prominent theologians reviewed in the paper included The New Asceticism by Sarah Coakley; A Nazareth Manifesto by Sam Wells; Systematic Theology by Anthony C. Thiselton; Journey to the Empty Tomb, and Body by Paula Gooder. The contribution to theology made by the late John Hughes was celebrated in Graced Life.

Books on the Bible included The Bible in the Contemporary World by Richard Bauckham; Bible Matters by Peter and Charlotte Vardy; The Upside Down Bible by Symon Hill; The Bible for Grown-ups by Simon Loveday; and How to Read the Bible (without switching off your brain) by Simon J. Taylor. The lives and teachings of the Apostles were explored in The Gospel of John, the Gospel of Relationship by Jean Vanier; John, his Gospel and Jesus by Stanley E. Porter; Apostle by Tom Bissell; Paul and His Recent Interpreters and The Paul Debate by N. T. Wright; and Paul and the Apostle’s Life by E. P. Sanders.

Titles on spirituality included Deep Calls to Deep by Tony Hors­fall; Fragile Mystics by Magdalen Smith; Something More by John Pritchard; The Drawing of this Love by Robert Fruehwirth; Breathing Under Water by Richard Rohr; Life’s Great Questions by Jean Vanier; and The Awesome Journey by David Adam.

Spirituality in the British Isles was explored in The Book of Iona edited by Robert Crawford; Love of Country by Madeleine Bunting; and London: A spiritual history by Edourdo Albert. Mission in the north of England was analysed in Northern Gospel, Northern Church, edited by Gavin Wakefield and Nigel Rooms.

The increasing popularity in mindfulness was reflected in Soul­ful­ness by Brian Draper, and Mind­fulness and Christian Spirituality by Tim Stead.

Popular titles by Rowan Williams included Being Disciples and On Augustine. Other books by well-known authors included The Beauty and the Horror by Richard Harries; The Little History of Religion by Richard Holloway; The Givenness of Things by Marilynne Robinson; and Flourishing by Miroslav Volf.

In the year of a referendum, membership of the EU was explored in God and the EU by John Wood, and the issue of populism was dis­cussed in Saving the People by Nadia Marzouki, Duncan McDonnell, and Olivier Roy.

Liturgy and worship were covered in Celebrating Christian Initiation by Simon Jones; Come Into the Light by Daniel McCarthy and James Leachman; and Joining the Angels’ Song by Samuel Wells and Abigail Kocher.

Mission and ministry were dis­cussed in Creating Missional Wor­ship by Tim Lomax; Of Water and the Spirit by Phillip Tovey; Multi-Congregation Ministry by Malcolm Grundy; The Minister as Entrepreneur by Michael Volland; and Resourcing Rural Ministry, edited by Simon Martin and Jill Hopkinson. The ministry of Readers was analysed in Instruments of Christ’s Love by Sally Buck, Graham Dodds, and Phillip Tovey.

There were new biographies of Joan Chittister, Eric Liddell, Bernard Buffet, George Bell, Arch­bishop Benson (and his family), Thérèse Vanier, and Grace Grattan Guinness. Clerical memoirs offering engaging portraits included Bringing in the Sheaves by Richard Coles and Becoming Reverend by Matt Woodcock.

Novels reviewed included On Golden Hill by Francis Spufford; The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry; Knowing Anna by Sarah Meyrick; and Sidney Chambers and the For­giveness of Things by James Runcie.

Other books of interest reviewed in the Church Times during the year included The Dark Side of the Soul by Stephen Cherry; The Gift of Leadership by Steven Croft; The Evolution of the West by Nick Spencer; How Then Shall We Live by Samuel Wells; Speaking of Sin, and Mixed Blessings by Barbara Brown Taylor; Clergy in a Complex Age by Jamie Harrison and Robert Innes; Scars Across Humanity by Elaine Storkey; and Preaching by Timothy Keller.

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