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Review of the year 2021: Books

17 December 2021

THE 700th anniversary of the death of the poet Dante Alighieri was widely celebrated this year. Books related to it which were reviewed in the Church Times were Why Dante Matters by John Took; Dante’s “Divine Comedy” by Mark Vernon; Visions of Heaven by Martin Kemp; and The Oxford Handbook of Dante, edited by Manuele Gragnolati, Elena Lombardi, and Francesca Southerden.

Books on the Bible included The Parables by Paula Gooder; Reading the Bible with your Feet by Lucy Winkett; What are Biblical Values? by John J. Collins; Joseph by Meg Warner; The New Cambridge Companion to St Paul, edited by Bruce W. Longenecker; The Cambridge Companion to the New Testament, edited by Patrick Gray; The Oxford Handbook of The Historical Books of the Hebrew Bible, edited by Brad E. Kelle and Brent A. Strawn; What is Man? by the Pontifical Biblical Commission; and How to Eat Bread by Miranda Threlfall-Holmes.

Works of church history included A People’s Tragedy by Eamon Duffy; Protestant Empires, edited by Ulinka Rublack; The Making of Oliver Cromwell by Ronald Hutton; Going to Church in Medieval England by Nicholas Orme; And Did Those Feet by Patrick Whitworth; The Rise and Fall of Christian Ireland by Crawford Gribben; Raised from the Ruins by Jane Whitaker; and The Cambridge Companion to the Council of Nicaea, edited by Young Richard Kim.

Christian buildings were celebrated in A History of the Church Through Its Buildings by Allan Doig; Stealing from the Saracens by Diana Darke; and Europe’s 100 Best Cathedrals by Simon Jenkins. The Arts and Crafts church was celebrated in Arts and Crafts Churches by Alec Hamilton, and Arts and Crafts Churches of Great Britain by Roger Button.

Church law was explored in Ecclesiastical Law, Clergy and Laity by Neil Patterson; Religion and Marriage Law by Russell Sandberg; and Christianity and Criminal Law, edited by Mark Hill, Norman Doe, R. H. Helmholz, and John Witte.

Theological books reviewed included Aquinas and the Metaphysics of Creation by Gaven Kerr; God Unbound by Brian McLaren; The Resurrection of Jesus by Dale C. Allison; Interrupting the Church’s Flow by Al Barrett; and Fragments for Fractured Times by Nicola Slee. Philosophy titles included Kierkegaard and Spirituality by C. S. Evans; Beyond the Cave by Peter Vardy; Medieval Philosophy by Peter Adamson; and The Oxford Handbook of the Reception of Aquinas, edited by Matthew Levering and Marcus Plested.

Popular titles by Rowan Williams included Candles in the Dark; Looking East in Winter; and Justice and Love. Other books by well-known authors which were reviewed included Everything is Spiritual by Rob Bell; Hope in Times of Fear by Timothy Keller; Chosen by Giles Fraser; Faith After Doubt by Brian McLaren; Pilgrimage by Peter Stanford; Love Mercy by Samuel Wells; and Love’s Mysteries by Rachel Mann.

The topics of safeguarding, gender, and same-sex relationships were covered in Sex, Power, Control by Fiona Gardner; Going Public by Julie Macfarlane; Towards a Theology of Same-Sex Marriage by Clare Herbert; Black, Gay, British, Christian, Queer by Jarel Robinson-Brown; Queer and Indecent by Thia Cooper; Heaven Come Down by Chrissy Chevasutt; and Bleeding for Jesus by Andrew Graystone.

Green concerns were covered in Riders on the Storm by Alastair McIntosh; Climate, Catastrophe, and Faith by Philip Jenkins; and Saving Us by Katharine Hayhoe.

Ageing and end-of-life issues were discussed in Miles to Go Before I Sleep by Claire Gilbert; The Madness of Grief by Richard Coles; and A Great Place to Grow Old by Tina English.

Interfaith titles and books on race included Zen Wisdom for Christians by Christopher Collingwood; Christian and Sikh by John Barnett; Multicultural Kingdom by Harvey Kwiyani; Pillars by Rachl Pieh Jones; and God is Not a White Man by Chine McDonald.

The relationship of science and religion was further explored in Has Science Killed God?, edited by Denis Alexander; Modifying our Genes by Alexander Massmann and Keith R. Fox; and The Robot Will See you Now, edited by John Wyatt and Stephen N. Williams.

Books reflecting on the place of religion in society included Faith in Democracy by Jonathan Chaplin; Dear England by Stephen Cottrell; The Future of Brexit Britain, edited by Jonathan Chaplin and Andrew Bradstock; How Not to Be Afraid by Gareth Higgins; Whatever Happened to Tradition? by Tim Stanley; and The Oxford Handbook of Reinhold Niebuhr, edited by Robin Lovin and Joshua Mauldin.

Mission and ministry were discussed in First Expressions by Steve Taylor; Imagining Mission with John V. Taylor by Jonny Baker and Cathy Ross; Finding Abundance in Scarcity, edited by Samuel Wells; Fuzzy Church by Nigel Rooms and Eli Wort; and Reimagining Ministerial Formation by David Heywood. Among titles on liturgy and worship were Lighten our Darkness by Simon Reynolds; Crowning the Year by Tom Clammer; and Landscape Liturgies by Nick Mayhew-Smith and Sarah Brush. Titles on Anglicanism included Jesus and the Church by Paul Avis; The Humble Church by Martyn Percy; and A Still More Excellent Way by Alexander Ross.

Books on spirituality and monasticism included The Interior Silence by Sarah Sands; Sacred Earth, Sacred Soul by Philip Newell; Monk in the Market Place by Ray Simpson; Seeing Differently by Simon Cocksedge, Samuel Double, and Nicholas Alan Worssam; Monastic Vocation by Rowan Williams and the Sisters of the Love of God; and The Oxford Handbook of Christian Monasticism, edited by Bernice M. Kaczynski. Books on prayer included A Rhythm of Prayer, edited by Sarah Bessey; Learning to Pray by James Martin; The Canterbury Book of Parish Prayers by M. J. Kramer; and Remember by Richard Gamble.

Desmond Tutu, Benedict XVI, Edward King, Karl Barth, and Mother Teresa were the subjects of biographies during the year. There were also biographies, diaries, and collections of essays and letters of T. S. Eliot, Alan Don, Austin Farrer, Queen Victoria, W. G. Sebald, Leonard Cohen, Barbara Hepworth, Barbara Pym, and Josiah Wedgwood. Novels included Light Perpetual by Francis Spufford, longlisted for the Booker Prize 2021; Joy and Felicity by Sarah Meyrick; A Sin of Omission by Marguerite Poland; and The Gardener by Salley Vickers. Poetry titles reviewed included David’s Crown by Malcolm Guite, and Collected Poems by Rowan Williams.

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent Book was by Hannah Steele, Living His Story. Among the other Lent titles were Thy Will be Done by Stephen Cherry; A Cross in the Heart of God by Samuel Wells; Rooted in Love by Sarah Mullally; and Still Standing by Rachel Mann. Titles for the Advent season included An Advent Book of Days by Gregory K. Cameron; Music of Eternity by Robyn Wrigley-Carr; The Whole Christmas Story by Jo Swinney; and The Art of Christmas by Jane Williams.

Other books of interest reviewed included The Awakened Brain by Lisa Miller; The Gospel According to a Sitcom Writer by James Cary; Christianity and Depression by Tasia Scrutton; Can I Believe? by John G. Stackhouse; The Common Gaze by Eric Stoddart; 12 Rules for Christian Activists, edited by Ellen Louden; Titian’s Lost Last Supper by Patricia Kenny; Art and Faith by Makoto Fujimura; The Athenaeum by Michael Wheeler; Journey to Freedom by Sergei Ovslannikov; Pilgrims by Stephen Platten; and Borders and Belonging by Pádraig Ó Tuama and Glenn Jordan.

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