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Review of the Year 2023: Books

22 December 2023

BOOKS featured in the Church Times in a Coronation year included God Save the King: The sacred nature of monarchy by Ian Bradley, and The Throne: 1000 years of British coronations by Ian Lloyd. To commemorate the late Queen, Richard Harries’s book Majesty: Reflections on the life of Christ with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II appeared.

Books featured to mark the 650th anniversary of Julian of Norwich’s “shewings” included: I, Julian: The fictional autobiography by Claire Gilbert; For Thy Great Pain Have Mercy on My Little Pain by Victoria Mackenzie; and Julian of Norwich’s Literary Legacy by Luke Penkett.

Books on the Bible included A Journey Through the World of Leviticus by Mark W. Scarlata; The Cambridge Companion to Biblical Wisdom and Literature, edited by Katharine Dell, Suzanna R. Millar, and Arthur Jan Keefer; Mary, Bearer of Life by Christopher Cocksworth; Come Forth: The raising of Lazarus and the promise of Jesus’ greatest miracle by James Martin; and Poetry, Catastrophe and Hope in the Vision of Isaiah by Frances Landy.

The relationship of science and religion was explored in Magisteria: The entangled histories of science and religion by Nicholas Spencer; An Intimate History of Evolution: The story of the Huxley family by Alison Bashford; God After Einstein: What’s really going on in the universe? by John F. Haught; Varieties of Athe­ism in Science by Elaine Howard Ecklund and David R. Johnson; and Astrobiology and Christian Doctrine: Exploring the implication of life in the universe by Andrew Davison.

Titles on mental health and dementia included God’s Not Forgotten Me: Experiencing faith in dementia by Tricia Williams; Creative Repair: Pastoral care and creativity by Anne C. Holmes; Light to Those in Darkness: “Total pain” and the communion of saints by Charlie Bell; and Struggling with God: Mental health and Christian spirituality by Chris­­topher C. H. Cook, Isabelle Hamley, and John Swinton.

Priesthood and ministry were considered in When Jesus Calls by Marcus Throup; For This I Came: Spiritual wisdom for priesthood and ministry by Wyn Beynon; and Lighting the Beacons by Jill Duff. Collections of sermons included The Well of Life by Douglas Dales, and How to Preach by Samuel Wells.

Titles on mission included Church Beyond Walls: Creative church in public spaces by Martin Poole; Finding the Treasure: Good news from the estates, edited by Al Barrett; Present in Every Place?: The Church of England’s new churches, and the future of the parish by Will Foulger; The Craft of Church Planting: Exploring the lost wisdom of apprenticeship by Christian Selvaratnam; and How to Build the Church of the Future: Twenty years of Inclusive Church, edited by Ruth Wilde.

Reflections on the Christian life included Living God’s Future Now: Conversations with contemporary prophets, edited by Samuel Wells; Love Makes Things Happen, edited by Jennifer Strawbridge, Jarred Mercer, and Peter Groves; Living for Love by David R. Tomlinson; and Being With: A course exploring Christian faith and life by Samuel Wells and Sally Hitchiner.

Liturgy and worship were covered in The Eucharist in Four Dimensions: The meanings of communion in con­­temporary culture by Jessica Martin; Keeping Time: Time, liturgy and Christian discipleship by Tim Gor­ringe; The Spirit of Witness, edited by Martyn Percy; Lively Oracles of God: Perspectives on the Bible and liturgy, edited by Gordon Jeanes and Bridget E. Nichols; and A Body of Praise: Understanding the role of our physical bodies in worship by W. David O. Taylor.

Theology titles included Natural Theology by Alister E. McGrath; The Vowed Life: The promise and demand of baptism, edited by Sarah Coakley and Matthew Bullimore; Forgive: Why should I and how can I? by Timothy Keller; Theology and the Enlightenment by Paul Avis; Bad Theology: Oppression in the name of God by Leah Robinson; and Naming God by Janet Soskice.

Titles charting religious changes across the generations included: Why Baby Boomers Turned from Religion by Abby Day, and Religion and Generation Z, edited by Brian Mountford.

Politics was discussed in Code of Conduct: Why we need to fix Parliament by Chris Bryant; A Mucky Business by Tim Farron; Politics and Mission by Martin Gainsborough; Political Formation by Jenny Leith; and Before and Beyond the “Big Society”: John Milbank and the Church of England’s approach to welfare by Joseph Forde.

Works of church history included Women, Dance, and Parish Religion in England, 1300-1640 by Lynneth Miller Renberg; The Cambridge Companion to the Council of Trent, edited by Nelson H. Minnich; The Jesuits: From Ignatius of Loyola to Pope Francis by Michael Walsh; and Old Parish Life by J. Lovill.

Christian buildings were celeb­rated in 900 Years of St Bartholomew the Great, edited by Charlotte Gauthier; Late-Georgian Churches by Christopher Webster; Bath Abbey’s Monuments by Oliver Taylor; Another Fifty Catholic Churches to See Before You Die by Elena Curti; and Steeple Chasing by Peter Ross.

Titles on spirituality included Listening to Your Soul by Julia Mour­ant; Jesus’ Alternative Plan by Richard Rohr; Lifescapes by Ann Wroe; and The Dog Walker’s Guide to God by Henry Martin.

The Arch­bishop of Canterbury’s Lent Book was Failure by Emma Ineson. Other Lent and Easter titles included The Falling of Dusk by Paul Dominiak; An Easter Book of Days by Gregory K. Cameron; and God­forsaken by Stephen Cottrell. Titles for Advent included Stick with Love by Arun Arora.

Books by authors well-known to our readers included Have a Little Faith by Kate Bottley; Questioning God by Tim­othy Radcliffe and Łukasz Popko; Robot Souls: Pro­gramming in humanity by Eve Poole; Spiritual Intelligence in Seven Steps by Mark Vernon; Precarious Church: Redeeming the body of Christ by Martyn Percy; and Chastity: Recon­ciliation of the senses by Erik Varden.

Autobiographies and memoirs included The Shaping of a Soul: A life taken by surprise by Richard Harries; Politics, Poverty and Belief by Frank Field; Touching Cloth by Fergus Butler-Gallie; and Adventures in Belief by Keith Ward. There were also biographies of William Temple, Henry Beeching, and Edward King.

Novels included Catherine Fox’s latest instalment in the Lindchester Chronicles The Company of Heaven; Cahokia Jazz by Francis Spufford; A Death in the Parish by Richard Coles; Cuddy by Benjamin Myers; The Choice by Michael Arditti; and Star of the Sea by Katharine Tiernan.

Other books of interest reviewed in our columns included The Thou­sand Year Old Garden by Nick Stewart-Smith; Women and the Gender of God by Amy Peeler; Religion and the Rise of Sport in England by Hugh McLeod; Policy of Deceit: Britain and Palestine, 1914-1939 by Peter Shambrook; Holy Russia? Holy War? Why the Russian Church is backing Putin against Ukraine by Katherine Kelaidis; The Rebel Christ by Michael Coren; Archae­ology of Jesus’ Nazareth by Ken Dark; Defusing the Sexuality Debate: The Anglican Evangelical cul­­ture war by Mark Vasey-Saunders; One Fine Day: A journey through English time by Ian Marchant; and Art: Mary Mag­dalene: A visual history by Diane Apostolos-Cappadona.

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