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22 December 2023

This week’s selection: wisdom from Black spirituality, the Bible and violence, and Christian teaching about the body

Tarry Awhile: Wisdom from Black spirituality for people of faith: The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent Book 2024 by Selina Stone (SPCK, £11.99 (£10.79); 978-0-281-09010-5).

“Tarrying is a Black Christian spiritual practice in which believers actively wait to experience the manifestation of God's presence. It answers yes to the question Jesus once asked his disciples: will you tarry here and watch with me? Whether in the vibrancy of music and singing, or in the hushed silence of the congregation, people of all ages anticipate an encounter with God that will transform what they know, feel and experience day to day. This book makes the wisdom of Black spiritualities and faith available for all people.”

Blessed are the Peacemakers: A biblical theology of human violence
by Helen Paynter (Zondervan, £20 (£18); 978-0-310-12554-9).

“Before exploring what the Bible says about violence, Old Testament scholar Helen Paynter sets out the contours for the study ahead by addressing the various definitions of violence and the theories of its origins, prevalence, and purpose. What is violence? Is there such a thing as "natural violence"? Is violence a human or social construct or can we describe natural phenomena as violent? How does the concept of violence relate to the concept of evil? Violence is everywhere; is it escapable? How do we resist violence? Having queued up the questions, Paynter takes us to the Bible for answers.” 

Vile Bodies: The body in Christian teaching, faith and practice
by Adrian Thatcher (SCM Press, £35 (Church Times SPECIAL OFFER PRICE £28); 978-0-334-06360-5).

“Vile Bodies are bodies that have been vilified by Christian thought, often with catastrophic consequences. The bodies of women, Jews, Muslims, slaves, Blacks, LGBT people, children, wives have all been harmed by negative Christian teaching about bodies. This book sidesteps the endless controversies in the churches about sexuality and gender and goes deeper unmasking instead the abusive theology that ensures these controversies and their harmful outcomes persist. Drawing extensively from scripture, and from two millennia of church history and theology, Vile Bodies slowly exposes how churches have preferred doctrine to compassion, orthodoxy to justice, and legalism to love, culminating in the global abuse crises in the churches that have largely destroyed their moral credibility.”

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

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