Ignatian Spirituality and Interreligious Dialogue: Reading love’s mystery by Michael Barnes (Messenger Publications, £22.95 (£20.65); 978-1-78812-344-0).
“The author writes: ‘This is a book about dialogue, specifically about the dialogue between religions. But it is also a book formed in dialogue. I seek to bring together the two sides of my experience as an academic teacher and pastoral worker: on the one hand, the extraordinary world of the religions that is such an important feature of contemporary Western culture; on the other, my spiritual formation and religious practice which has acted as the primary motivation for everything that I do as a Jesuit priest. The book can be read both as a practical correlate to what I have written elsewhere on the theology of religions, and, at a more personal level, as a reflection on my experience “on the streets”, as it were.’ The twelve linked chapters form a personal introduction, with a degree of autobiography and illustrative anecdote, to an interior dialogue between Christian faith and the challenging context of contemporary religious pluralism.”
Refugees: A very short introduction by Gil Loescher (OUP, £8.99 (£8.09); 978-0-19-881178-7).
“Refugees and other forced migrants are one of the great contemporary challenges the world is confronting. Throughout the world people leave their home countries to escape war, natural disasters, and cultural and political oppression. Unfortunately, even today, the international community struggles to provide an adequate response to this vast population in need. This Very Short Introduction covers a broad range of issues around the causes and impact of the contemporary refugee crisis for both receiving states and societies, for global order, and for refugees and other forced migrants themselves. Gil Loescher discusses the identity of refugees, asylum seekers, and internally displaced persons and how they differ from other forced migrants. He also investigates the long history of the refugee phenomenon and how refugees became a central concern of the international community during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, as well as considering the responses provided by governments and international aid organisations to refugee needs. Loescher concludes by focussing on the necessity of these bodies to understand the realities of the contemporary refugee situation in order to best respond to its current and future challenges.”
The Delusions of Crowds: Why people go mad in groups by W. J. Bernstein (Grove Press, £20 (£18); 978-1-61185-647-7).
“Inspired by Charles Mackay’s 19th-century classic Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, William Bernstein engages with mass delusion with the same curiosity and passion, but armed with the latest scientific research that explains the biological, evolutionary, and psychosocial roots of human irrationality. Bernstein tells the stories of dramatic religious and financial mania in western society over the last 500 years — from the Anabaptist Madness that afflicted the Low Countries in the 1530s to the dangerous end-times beliefs that animate ISIS and pervade today's polarised nations; and from the South Sea Bubble to the Enron scandal and dot com bubbles of recent years. Through Bernstein’s supple prose, the participants are as colourful as their motivation, invariably ‘the desire to improve one’s well-being in this life or the next’. As revealing about human nature as they are historically significant, Bernstein’s chronicles reveal the huge cost and alarming implications of mass mania as he observes that if we can absorb the history and biology of mass delusion, we can recognise it more readily in our own time and avoid its frequently dire impact.”
Selected by Aude Pasquier, of the Church House Bookshop, which operates the Church Times Bookshop.