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by
29 April 2022

This week’s selection: the many sides of John Donne, the supernatural, and a year of bereavement

Super-Infinite: The transformations of John Donne by Katherine Rundell (Faber & Faber, £16.99 (Church Times SPECIAL OFFER PRICE £14.99); 978-0-571-34591-5).

“Sometime religious outsider and social disaster, sometime celebrity preacher and establishment darling, John Donne was incapable of being just one thing. He was a scholar of law, a sea adventurer, an MP, a priest, the Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral — and perhaps the greatest love poet in the history of the English language. He converted from Catholicism to Protestantism, was imprisoned for marrying a high-born girl without her father’s consent, struggled to feed a family of ten children and was often ill and in pain. He was a man who suffered from black surges of sadness, yet expressed in his verse electric joy and love. From a standout scholar, a biography of John Donne: the poet of love, sex, and death. In Super-Infinite, Katherine Rundell embarks on a fleet-footed ‘act of evangelism’, showing us the many sides of Donne’s extraordinary life, his obsessions, his blazing words, and his tempestuous Elizabethan times unveiling Donne as the most remarkable mind and as a lesson in living.”


You are Gods: On nature and supernature by David Bentley Hart (University of Notre Dame Press, £18.99 (£17.09); 978-0-268-20194-4).

“In recent years, the theological — and, more specifically, Roman Catholic — question of the supernatural has made an astonishing return from seeming oblivion. David Bentley Hart’s You Are Gods presents a series of meditations on the vexed theological question of the relation of nature and supernature. In its merely controversial aspect, the book is intended most directly as a rejection of a certain Thomistic construal of that relation, as well as an argument in favour of a model of nature and supernature at once more Eastern and patristic, and also more in keeping with the healthier currents of mediaeval and modern Catholic thought. In its more constructive and confessedly radical aspects, the book makes a vigorous case for the all-but-complete eradication of every qualitative, ontological, or logical distinction between the natural and the supernatural in the life of spiritual creatures. It advances a radically monistic vision of Christian metaphysics but does so wholly on the basis of credal orthodoxy.”

 

Grief Notes: Walking through loss: The first year after bereavement by Tony Horsfall (BRF, £8.99 (£8.09); 978-1-80039-126-0).

“Tony Horsfall charts the first year of his grief journey since the death of his wife from cancer. Month by month, he tells the unfolding story of walking with and through loss, weaving this together with biblical teaching on grief and insights gained from grief counselling. With a poignant mix of honesty and humour, Tony shares the challenges of rebuilding his life and reflects on how he has seen God meet his needs as he wrestled with grieving in a time of lockdown and pandemic.”


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

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