Give: Charity and the art of loving generously by Magnus Macfarlane-Barrow (William Collins, £16.99 (Church Times SPECIAL OFFER PRICE £13.60); 978-0-00-836001-6).
“From the founder of Mary’s Meals and the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Shed That Fed a Million Children, Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow travels the world encountering startling acts of charity and the power of generosity. Few people in the world are better placed to understand the role of charity and generosity than Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow. As the founder and CEO of Mary’s Meals, Magnus helps feed and educate millions of children in 18 different countries across the world every year. In a time when some charitable organisations have been rocked by scandal and many are questioning their effectiveness in the modern age, Give takes us on an epic journey to rediscover the beauty and transformative power of authentic charity. Powerful and inspiring, Give celebrates the impact of charity in all our lives, illustrating how the act of sharing — and even sacrifice — is the key to a life of joy.”
Head, Hand and Heart: The struggle for dignity and status in the 21st century by David Goodhart (Allen Lane, £20 (£18); 978-0-241-39157-0).
“The coronavirus pandemic taught us something we ought already to have known: that care workers, supermarket shelf-stackers, delivery drivers and cleaners are doing essential work that keeps us all alive, fed and cared for. Until recently much of this work was regarded as menial by the same society that now lauds them as “key workers”. Why are they so undervalued? In this timely and original analysis, David Goodhart divides human aptitudes into three: Head (cognitive), Hand (manual and craft) and Heart (caring, emotional). It's common sense that a good society needs to recognise the value of all three, but in recent decades they have got badly out of kilter. Cognitive ability has become the gold standard of human esteem. The cognitive class now shapes society largely in its own interests, by prioritising the knowledge economy, ever-expanding higher education and shaping the very idea of a successful life. To put it bluntly: smart people have become too powerful. Head, Hand, Heart tells the story of the cognitive takeover that has gathered pace over the past forty years. As recently as the 1970s most people left school without qualifications, but now 40 per cent of all jobs are graduate-only. A good society must re-imagine the meaning of skilled work, so that people who work with their hands and hearts are valued alongside workers who manipulate data. Our societies need to spread status more widely, and provide meaning and value for people who cannot, or do not want to, achieve in the classroom and the professions. This is the story of the central struggle for status and dignity in the 21st century.”
Can We Trust the Bible on the Historical Jesus? by Bart D. Ehrman, Craig A. Evans and Robert B. Stewart (WJK, £14.99 (£13.49); 978-0-664-26585-4).
“This book features a learned and fascinating debate between two great Bible scholars about the New Testament as a reliable source on the historical Jesus. Bart Ehrman, an agnostic New Testament scholar, debates Craig Evans, an evangelical New Testament scholar, about the historical Jesus and what constitutes ‘history’. Their interaction includes such compelling questions as: What are sound methods of historical investigation? What are reliable criteria for determining the authenticity of an ancient text? What roles do reason and inference play? And, of course, interpretation? Readers of this debate — regardless of their interpretive inclinations and biases —are sure to find some confirmation of their existing beliefs, but they will surely also find an honest and well-informed challenge to the way they think about the historical Jesus. The result? A more open, better informed, and questioning mind, which is better prepared for discovering both truth and contrivance. The debate between Ehrman and Evans along with Stewart's introductory framework make this book an excellent primer to the study of the historical Jesus, and readers will come away with a deeper appreciation for the ongoing quest for the historical Jesus.”
Selected by Aude Pasquier, of the Church House Bookshop, which operates the Church Times Bookshop.