Page 18 - Church Review JUNE 2020 [IM)
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What are you reading now?
   Dominion by Tom Holland; Published by Little, Brown
Many years ago, as a student studying History in UCD, I was fortunate to attend a lecture given by historian and author, Tom Holland. Holland seemed adept at doing the impossible, bringing the study and enjoyment of the classical civilisations back into vogue, through books such as Rubicon and Persian Fire, and through his TV programmes on the BBC. His success lay in his skills as a
communicator, breathing life into these stories of ancient empires.
In his latest book, Dominion, Holland charts what he describes as the Christian revolution and how Christianity has shaped western civilisation as we know it. The reader is carried swiftly through a historical account of the influence of Christianity on the formation of western society, highlighting notable Christian figures and events. This book is not a theological thesis on Christian morality, rather the role of Christianity in shaping the ideals and outlook of a secular western world, told through the eyes of an agnostic historian. It is an enjoyable and challenging read.
Ross Styles
Ross is Curate in Christ Church Cathedral Group of Parishes.
The Choice: A true story of hope by Edith Eger; Published by Rider
I picked up this book after my wife Susan, read and highly recommended it. ‘The Choice’ is the incredible autobiography of a young Jewish girl who ends up in Auschwitz enduring enormous loss and suffering. However, the theme of this book is about survival, facing adversity, hope and the power of forgiveness. Many autobiographies are merely factual accounts of a life, but Edith Eger looks deep into her soul and brings out the emotions and
feelings that makes it a very real, heartfelt story. The danger is that because the book is so readable, you must remind yourself it is not a novel but the true account of someone who lived through one of the darkest periods of human history. A book that will live in the memory for a long time.
Roland Heaney
Roland is the Rector of Dunganstown
The Furious Longing of God by Brennan Manning
I have spent some time since the ‘lock in’ building forts in my front room with the children. We’ve become quite good at it. A cardboard box is no longer just a cardboard box, it a potential bastion or parapet. Last Saturday we expelled ourselves and built a fort so big we could all hide in it and read. I enjoyed the time so much I read most of my book in one sitting (though it is short!).
It was the Furious love of God by Brendan Manning. Manning is a recovering alcoholic and a former Franciscan
priest. He speaks from the heart about grace.
Every chapter talks about God’s intense, consuming love for His children. He calls God’s desire for us a ‘furious longing’ and finds evidence of it in the Song of Songs 7:10: ‘I am my Beloved’s and his desire is for me.’ There is no in-depth theology, or insightful exegesis, but there is a core message that we all need to hear and to be reminded of. As I rested in the duvet covered fort with my children, I felt something of that furious love, and I gave thanks.
Rob Clements
Rob is Rector of Kilternan
Enfolded in Christ: The Inner Life of a Priest by John-Francis Friendship; Canterbury Press
I decided to reread this book whilst in the current seclusion. John-Francis writes from long experience of ministry, he was a Franciscan friar (a member of the Anglican SSF) for 25 years and was ordained priest during that time. He left the Society and was a parish priest in East London for 10 years and now, after retirement, he has a wide ministry in spiritual direction and gives retreats for clergy. His concern is that priests should always remember the love that brought them
into ministry in the first place and remember that love is at the centre of our calling. In his preface he quotes the Curé d’Ars: ‘The priesthood is the love at the heart of Jesus’. It is a book for clergy, for those on the journey of vocation and for anyone who wants to understand more of what’s going on beneath the role of ministry. I know the author, and as I read, I can hear him speaking, it is a very gentle, encouraging and warm book. It’s also a book which inspires reflection and discussion, coincidentally I joined in a conversation about a simple suggestion in the book with a friend online. The book is laid out in sections, and so can be taken at a leisurely pace. It delves into the question of why we believe we are called, and how to maintain that sense of calling and being loved by God whilst in the midst of ministry – even more important when we are in the midst of such challenging and uncertain times. It is also a practical book, giving ideas of what we can do to help ourselves and to renew ourselves in ministry.
I might also add that, providing we can return to some normality one day, we have invited John-Francis to act as chaplain to our clergy conference next year.
Paul Barlow
Paul is Chaplain to St John the Evangelist, Sandymount
The Culture of Contentment by Kenneth Galbraith.
In 1992 I attended the Sunday Eucharist in the Episcopal Cathedral of St John the Divine in New York. After the service we were invited to remain for the launch of Dr Kenneth Galbraith’s new book The Culture of Contentment. Galbraith, one of the leading economists of the 20th century, was described as “the voice and conscience” of his profession.
In December 1941, Kenneth Galbraith was one of the small group of experts invited by President Roosevelt to the White House to plan America’s response to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour.
His book deals with the fundamental unfairness of economic systems that sustain the interests of a self-satisfied elite who are indifferent to the needs of those he described as “the functional underclass.” He hoped his book would “in some small measure understand the present discontent and dissonance and the not inconsiderable likelihood of an eventual shock to the contentment that is the cause.” The shock came in the form of Donald Trump.
What is wonderful about Galbraith’s book is that while dealing with complex political and economic issues it asserts fundamental principles of Christian social justice. He was and remains a prophet for our times.
Gordon Linney
Gordon is the former Archdeacon of Dublin, now best known for his regular column in the Irish Times.
Richard Rohr: The Universal Christ; Published by Penguin/Random House in USA 2019 & SPCK in UK 2019
Once in a decade (if not less frequently) a theology book comes along that shakes us up and wakes us from our spiritual and academic hibernation. This book, at times controversial, at times disturbing but consistently inspiring is currently that book for me – From the dedication onwards you know it is going to be something different where speaking of his recently deceased pet Labrador
    Venus Rohr states ‘Venus was also Christ for me’.

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