Pilgrim Pathways: 1-2 day walks on Britain’s ancient sacred ways by Andy Bull (Trailblazer Guides, £14.99 (£13.49); 978-1-912716-19-7).
“Many people are inspired by the idea of going on a pilgrimage. TV series such as The Road to Rome and The Road to Santiago have shown that even the averagely unfit celeb can hobble through one. However, few of us have time for such long routes. So what to do? Pilgrim Pathways has the answer: 20 answers in fact. The pilgrimages in this guidebook are achievable for people with limited time and busy lives. The book was inspired by the belief that pilgrimage — variously defined as a journey on foot to a place that is holy, important or special — should be open to all. There are many ancient pilgrim paths in Britain, some long-forgotten but recently rediscovered, others well-established — but all of them are dauntingly long. Pilgrim Pathways offers routes inspired by the very best of them, distilled into walks that can be accomplished comfortably in two days. There are many one-day options. In pilgrimage, the journey itself is as important as the destination. Hence, these routes take in Britain's most inspiring landscapes and most powerfully spiritual places. They feature cathedrals, ancient monasteries and churches, holy wells, wayside crosses, and other places of veneration: places that have paid mute witness to millennia of prayer — including Avebury, Glastonbury, Lindisfarne, Canterbury, St David's. The book includes pilgrimages in London, Sussex, Kent, Wiltshire, Cornwall, on the Jurassic Coast in Dorset, in Essex, East Anglia, Shropshire, in Pembrokeshire, and Snowdonia in Wales and in the Scottish Borders, Iona and Fife. 20 selected walks through the spiritual landscape of Britain — how to be a weekend pilgrim Larger format (210mm x 150mm), full colour guide — each walk described and fully illustrated with over 120 photos Downloadable practical information — step-by-step route instructions, public transport information, places to eat and places to stay (for two-day walks) is included on the dedicated webpages linked via a code in the book. Also included is a downloadable gpx file for use on smartphone-based mapping and GPS units.”
Ploughshares and First Fruits: A year of festivals for the rural church by Chris Thorpe (Canterbury Press, £16.99 (£16.99); 978-1-78622-290-9).
“The annual celebrations of Plough Sunday, Rogation and Harvest are hugely important for churches serving rural communities and are a key way for those churches to engage in mission, usually seeing congregations swell at such times. Ploughshares and First Fruits draws on the inspired work being done by one rural church to celebrate rural living throughout the year and thereby grow its congregation. As well as providing many fresh ideas for keeping the established festivals, it provides ready-to-use, participative liturgies that engage all the senses, appeal to all ages and give small churches a round-the-year resource. Included are creative liturgies for: * A pet service for the Feast of St Francis * Walking and pilgrimage * Lambing season * Riders' Sunday * Lammas * A Summer Festival (an instant jam-jar flower festival)”
Can I Believe? Christianity for the hesitant by John G. Stackhouse (OUP, £18.99 (£17.09); 978-0-19-092285-6).
“Maybe Christianity is actually true. Maybe it is what believers say it is. But at least two problems make the thoughtful person hesitate. First, there are so many other options. How could one possibly make one's way through them to anything like a rational and confident conclusion? Second, why do so many people choose to be Christian in the face of so many reasons not to be Christian? Yes, many people grow up in Christian homes and in societies, but many more do not. Yet Christianity has become the most popular religion in the world. Why? This book begins by taking on the initial challenge as it outlines a process: how to think about religion in a responsible way, rather than settling for such soft vagaries as “faith” and “feeling”. It then clears away a number of misunderstandings from the basic story of the Christian religion, misunderstandings that combine to domesticate this startling narrative and thus to repel reasonable people who might otherwise be intrigued. The second half of the book then looks at Christian commitment positively and negatively. Why do two billion find this religion to be persuasive, thus making it the most popular "explanation of everything" in human history? At the same time, how does Christianity respond to the fact that so many people find it utterly implausible, especially because so many Christians insist that theirs is the only way to God and because of the problem of evil that seems to undercut everything Christianity asserts? Grounded in scholarship but never ponderous, Can I Believe? refuses to dodge the hard questions as it welcomes the intelligent inquirer to give Christianity at least one good look.”
Selected by Aude Pasquier, of the Church House Bookshop, which operates the Church Times Bookshop.