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New titles just published

16 June 2023

Sensing the Spirit: Toward the future of religious life by Judith A. Merkle (T & T Clark, £16.99 (£15.29); 978-0-567-70699-7).

“Drawing on the work of Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor, this book examines how secular culture affects both the living of Christian discipleship today and impacts how religious congregations engage in their own renewal and future. It argues that religious communities can do more than improve and fix the out of date conditions they met in the renewal after Vatican II.”

The Peculiar Dialect of Faith by Walter Brueggemann (Cascade Books, £16 (£14.40); 978-1-666-7-1517-0).

From the preface: “Biblical utterance, in contrast to the sounds of power and certitude, offers imaginative probes into the mystery of God’s creation and into the hidden complexities of human hurt and human hope. Thus the dialect of the Bible is offered in relational terms, so that the key ingredients to lived reality characteristically concern justice and righteousness, steadfast love, faithfulness, and compassion. Insofar as the church relies upon and attests to this dialect, we may expect that in church we will speak in a different rhetoric, and consequently we will speak about different subject matter. To be sure, the church is sometimes seduced away from this relational dialect to speak in cadences that are elementally alien to the Bible and to the claims of the gospel. Such seduction of the church takes place, for example, when our nation is at war and the church is tempted to reflect and reiterate the force of that social reality. Or such seduction occurs when the church is captured by any ism, notably in our time, racism or nationalism. Or alternatively, ideological conservatism that craves the language of certitude or ideological liberalism that is easily bewitched by the rhetoric of psychology or the market. When the church is domesticated to such alien claims, it loses its distinctiveness, and consequently loses its nerve and its courage for serious mission. Thus attentiveness to our peculiar dialect is an important investment.”


Creative Repair: Pastoral care and creativity by Anne C. Holmes (SCM Press, £25 (Church Times SPECIAL OFFER PRICE £20); 978-0-334-06176-2).

“The recent pandemic has highlighted an increasing need for support for those experiencing mental health challenges and those caring for them. There is an urgent need for clergy and others involved in pastoral care both to attend to their own well-being and to develop resilience. The role of pastors in accompanying those grieving, planning, and conducting funerals carries a toll of emotional and psychological resources which need to be replenished routinely. Showing how everything from singing in choirs or joining theatre or dance groups to painting or sculpting can help those in leadership to develop a flexible mindset and give relief to the pressures of responsible roles, Creative Repair is essential reading both for those who train others as pastors and those who are themselves in training and preparing to take on pastoral responsibility themselves.”

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


Short notice: MEMBERS of the Guild of Clerical Ringers, Max Drinkwater, Anthony Ellis, Jonathan Rose, and David Grimwood, have written The Voice of the Church: Bells and bellringers in the life of the Church of England (The Ringing World, www.ringingworld.co.uk, £7). It explains what ringing is all about, with photos, reflections, notes, an index, and suggestions for further reading. Chapters look at what is distinctive about change-ringing; the spiritual impact on the public soundscape; bells as proclamation; ringing organisations and communities; and ideas about how churches, communities, and bell-ringers can work together creatively, with examples of projects. The reflections have spiritual and sacramental content, and good-quality colour photos add to the appeal of this short book.

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