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01 April 2022

This week’s selection: ordinands at Littlemore College in the 1990s, meditations on ordinary life as part of a larger story, and praying in the Celtic tradition

The Gospel of Eve by Rachel Mann (DLT, £9.99 (£9); 978-0-232-53495-5). New in paperback

“Littlemore College is in a picturesque village just outside Oxford. Its calm surroundings have seen generations of aspirant priests pray and train. As far the outside world is concerned, human passions are restrained by devotion to a higher calling. But this is the 1990s and women are training for priesthood for the very first time and passions are running high, and at Littlemore College’s enclosed and febrile heart a small group of brilliant young ordinands, the favoured students of the charismatic and controversial Medievalist, Professor Albertus Loewe are asking themselves some very dangerous questions indeed. When Catherine Bolton arrives with her freshly minted doctorate on Chaucer and the Church, Dr Loewe and his secretive group of students represents an irresistible challenge to her and her new friend Evie Kirkland. But just as Evie is not quite the friend she seems to be, so too the medieval passions of Dr Loewe's group are more far reaching and intense than she could ever have imagined.”

How Beautiful the World Could Be: Christian reflections on the everyday by Frederick Christian Bauerschmidt (Eerdmans, £17.99 (£16.19); 978-0-8028-8021-5).

“‘We human beings are creatures of time and space,’ writes Frederick Bauerschmidt. ‘We have no choice but to find ourselves at a particular place in a particular moment.’ Fortunately, as Christians, we worship a God who became embodied and lived among us — the timeless Word who became the Word in time. Thus, it is no contradiction for us to expect to find our stories in the larger story of God’s ongoing dealings with the world. This truth is nowhere more evident than in preaching, which, of necessity, speaks to particular occasions. Throughout these 38 homilies, Bauerschmidt finds the truth of Scripture refracted through the lenses of current events from the past decade — including the coronavirus pandemic — as well as the seasons of the liturgical year and momentous individual occasions like baptisms, weddings, and funerals. His advice and examples will help preachers heed Paul’s urging to be on point and persuasive ‘in season and out of season’. All readers will be joyfully reminded of how beautiful the world is when seen in its larger context, illuminated by the light of eternity.”


Celtic Prayer: Caught Up in Love: Wisdom for living from a modern Celtic community by The Community of Aidan and Hilda, and edited by David Cole (BRF, £12.99 (£11.69); 978-1-80039-053-9).

“Even the most committed pray-ers can get stuck in a rut. Loved and familiar ways of praying can become dry and stale and it can be difficult to rekindle the spark, especially if you've only ever known a handful of ways to pray. But help is at hand in this wide-ranging and exciting new collection from the Community of Aidan and Hilda. Edited by David Cole, with contributions from 30 members of the dispersed community, Celtic Prayer: Caught Up in Love explores 20 different ways of praying from the Celtic Christian tradition. Accessible and inspiring, it will refresh your spirit and draw you deeper into knowing God.”

Selected by Frank Nugent, of the Church House Bookshop, which operates the Church Times Bookshop. 

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