THE past year was a striking one for books on church — particularly Anglican — history, in the 20th century. They included Christian Radicalism in the Church of England and the Invention of the British Sixties, 1957-1970 by Sam Brewitt-Taylor, and This is Your Hour: Christian intellectuals in Britain and the crisis of Europe, 1937-49 by John Carter Wood; and Adam Sisman’s The Professor and the Parson. The period was also covered by a large part of The Cowley Fathers by Serenhedd James.
Charles Moore’s authorised biography of Margaret Thatcher, Herself Alone, the third and final volume, was reviewed, as was a book on Christians who fought fascism, Fergus Butler-Gallie’s bestselling Priests de la Résistance! The late Valerie Eliot’s series of volumes of T. S. Eliot’s letters reached 1936-38.
Among other historical titles reviewed in our columns were The Idea of Nicaea in the Early Church Councils AD 431-451 by Mark Smith; The Further Correspondence of William Laud, edited by Kenneth Fincham; and The Oxford Illustrated History of the World by Felipe Fernández- Armesto.
Titles published to coincide with the canonisation of John Henry Newman included The Handbook of John Henry Newman, edited by Frederick D. Aquino and Benjamin J. King; John Henry Newman: A very brief history by Eamon Duffy; and Newman: The heart of holiness by Roderick Strange.
Well-known authors whose books were reviewed included Luminaries by Rowan Williams; Angels by Peter Stanford; Dominion by Tom Holland; Love Without End by Melvyn Bragg; The Voices of Nîmes by Suzannah Lipscomb; The Lost Art of Scripture by Karen Armstrong; and Are We Bodies or Souls? by Richard Swinburne.
The relationship of science and religion was explored in The Scientific Sublime by Alan G. Gross; The Territories of Human Reason by Alister E. McGrath; Science and Humanity by Andrew Steane; The Poetry and Music of Science by Tom McLeish; and the shortlisted 2019 Michael Ramsey Prize title Making All Things New by Ilia Delio.
Apologetics was covered in Five Events that Made Christianity by John Pritchard; The Table by Paul Bayes; and Apologetics Without Apology by Elaine Graham. The God debate was covered in Religion Hurts by John Bowker and Does Religion Do More Harm than Good? by Rupert Shortt.
Theological books included That All Shall Be Saved by David Bentley Hart; Religion in the Modern World by Keith Ward; Christ and the Common Life by Luke Bretherton; The Providence of God by David Fergusson; A Cultural Theology of Salvation by Clive Marsh; God Beyond Words (2019 Michael Ramsey Prize shortlist) by Jill Harshaw; Augustine’s Life of Prayer, Learning and Love by Cally Hammond; The Origins of Anglican Moral Theology by Peter H. Sedgwick; and Confronting Violence by Richard A. Burridge and Jonathan Sacks.
Books on the Bible included the bestselling A History of the Bible by John Barton; God B. C. by Anthony Phillips; The Badly Behaved Bible
by Nick Page; Rehearsing Scripture by Anna Carter Florence; Reading Romans Backwards by Scot McKnight; and The Art of Bible Translation, and The Hebrew Bible: A translation with commentary by Robert Alter.
Preaching was the theme of Speaking the Truth by Samuel Wells; By Way of the Heart by Mark Oakley; and Preach It! Understanding African Caribbean preaching by Carol Tomlin.
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent Book was Reconciliation by Muthuraj Swamy. Among the other Lent titles were The Merciful Humility of God by Jane Williams; From Now On by Rachel Mann; and Celtic Lent by David Cole. Advent inspired In the Bleak Midwinter by Rachel Mann; Freedom is Coming by Nick Baines; and Wake Up to Advent! by John Sentamu.
Other titles on spirituality included The Shattering of Loneliness by Erik Varden; Touched by God by Luigi Gioia; An Ocean of Light by Martin Laird; The Universal Christ by Richard Rohr; The Joy of God by Sister Mary David; Alive in God by Timothy Radcliffe; and Why Pray? by the late Robert Llewelyn.
Priesthood, ministry, mission, and ecumenism were discussed in The Great Vocations by Andrew Watson and Magdalen Smith; Face to Face by Samuel Wells; The Study of Ministry, edited by Martyn Percy; Out of Nothing by Andrew Dunlop; Missional Conversations by Cathy Ross and Colin Smith; and Vicar by Alan Bartlett. Among titles on liturgy and worship were Spirit and Sacrament by Andrew Wilson and Did the Anglicans and Roman Catholics Agree on the Eucharist? by Colin Buchanan.
Environmental concerns were reflected in the World Made Otherwise by Tim Gorringe; God’s Good Earth by Anne and Jeffery Rowthorn; The Great Flood by Edward Platt; and On Fire by Naomi Klein.
The issues of gender and same-sex relationships were covered in Transfaith by Chris Dowd, Christina Beardsley, and Justin Tanis; Shameless by Nadia Bolz-Weber; God, Gender, Sex and Marriage by Mandy Ford.
Homosexuality in the Roman Catholic Church came under scrutiny in In the Closet of the Vatican by Frédéric Martel.
On the abuse scandal in the C of E were To Heal and Not to Hurt by Rosie Harper and Alan Wilson; Letters to a Broken Church, edited by Janet Fife and Gilo; and Escaping the Maze of Spiritual Abuse by Lisa Oakley and Justin Humphreys.
Among titles exploring interfaith issues, racial justice, and community relations were Vibrant Christianity in Multifaith Britain by Andrew Smith; Loving Your Neighbour in an Age of Religious Conflict by James Walters; We Need to Talk About Race by Ben Lindsay; Holy Envy by Barbara Brown Taylor; Truth Over Fear by Charles Kimball; and Being Jewish Today by Tony Bayfield.
Books on pilgrimage included Medieval Pilgrimage by Nicholas Orme; Walking to Jerusalem by Justin Butcher; Striking Out by Stephen Cottrell; A Cornish Celtic Way by Nigel Marns; Following the Celtic Way and The Fife Pilgrim by Ian Bradley; Travels With a Stick by Richard Frazer; and The Naked Hermit by Nick Mayhew-Smith
Literature titles included Anglican Women Novelists, edited by Judith Maltby and Alison Shell; Born in Gilead: A theological dialogue with Marilynne Robinson, edited by Timothy Larsen and Keith L. Johnson; and God and the Gothic by Alison Milbank. Popular poetry titles included The Five Quintets by Michael O’Siadhail; Francis: A life in songs by Ann Wroe; and The Book of Baruch by the Gnostic Justin by the late Geoffrey Hill.
Of the novels reviewed, James Runcie offered his fans The Road to Grantchester, a prequel to the six novels in his crime series. Others included The Good Priest by Tina Beattie; The Shepherd’s Hut by Tim Winton; A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier; The Second Sleep by Robert Harris; and the 2019 Booker Prizewinner, The Testaments by Margaret Atwood. Also reviewed was Kiss and Part, a collection of 10 short stories by women writers, including Catherine Fox, Salley Vickers, and Marina Warner.
Autobiographies and memoirs included River of Fire by Sister Helen Prejean; Rough Ideas by Stephen Hough; A Better Ambition by Tim Farron; Going Home by Raja Shehadeh; and Me by Elton John. There were also biographies of Canon Michael Green, Jane Haining, Anne Frank, and C. E. Kempe.
Other books of interest reviewed during the year were The Vocation of Anglicanism by Paul Avis; Theosomnia by Andrew Bishop; The Sacred Art of Joking by James Cary; The Lost Message of Paul by Steve Chalke; The Orthodox Church of Ethiopia by John Binns; Retired and Inspired by Wendy Billington; Ships of Heaven by Christopher Somerville; Peterloo by Jacqueline Riding; and The Power of Pictures in Christian Thought by Anthony C. Thiselton.