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25 April 2016

The April book club

The April book club

PLACES OF PILGRIMAGE

by Ian Scott Massie  (SPCK)

This attractive coffee table book should have a wide appeal, not only to Christians, but to others interested in the history, landscape and architecture of mainland Britain. The author provides brief notes on many places of pilgrimage, combined with his own watercolour paintings and screen prints of the sites described. There are sections on the obvious places of religious pilgrimage – Canterbury, Ely, Glastonbury, Durham, Lindisfarne, Whitby – but 'secular' sites of historical and architectural interest are also featured. These include Hadrian's Wall, Hampton Court, and even King's Cross Station.   Legendary Britain is represented by Robin Hood's Major Oak in Sherwood Forest and Tintagel, King Arthur's supposed birthplace. Lewis and Tolkien fans will be pleased to find Oxford's Eagle and Child pub included. There are some surprising omissions: Avebury is included, but not Stonehenge.   The Cerne Abbas Giant, with its phallic symbolism, even puts in an appearance.

Reviewed by Graham Hedges


HOLY HABITS

by Andrew Roberts (Malcolm Down Publishing)

What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus Christ? This new book from Andrew Roberts is a manual on Christian discipleship and combines insights from the Bible with anecdotes from the author's own experiences as a Methodist minister and with the Fresh Expressions movement. The author begins with a study of the four gospels' accounts of the call of the early disciples. He stresses that Christian discipleship is an adventure, but doesn't minimise the suffering and sacrifice that can accompany following Jesus. The remaining chapters examine the various spiritual disciplines that can play a part in the Christian life. These include receiving biblical teaching, fellowship, prayer, the breaking of bread, giving, service and worship. I was struck by the chapter on eating together, which stresses that shared meals are a major feature of many contemporary manifestations of church life, ranging from Alpha to Messy Church.

Reviewed by Graham Hedges


PATTERNS IN THE PSALMS

by James Newman Grey (SPCK)

OK, so this isn't the kind of book we usually review in our round-up, but this release by SPCK, which jumps on the adult colouring book trend, was too good to leave on the shelf. With 30 illustrated Psalms to colour, this book is not only a refreshing look through these inspirational verses, but also a great way to unwind and relax. Publishers are saying they can't print these colouring books fast enough, such is their appeal, so it's only right that the Christian sector got involved. This beautiful book makes a great gift, or the perfect way to jump on the trend if you're yet to give colouring a try in your adulthood. 

Reviewed by Amaris Cole


ZEAL WITHOUT BURNOUT

by Christopher Ash (The Good Book Company)

Having worked in the secular workplace, the Church and Christian organisations, I've seen far more people burnout in the Christian sector. This short yet practical book (123 pages) is a helpful read as prevention or cure for ourselves and to support others. It reminds us that too often we spot the warning signs too late. That we are not always good at balancing our wholeheartedness, so that it doesn't become "ministry machismo".

Christopher Ash writes from personal experience. There are biblical and pastoral insights into the demands of Christian ministry, as well as personal stories from men and women that illustrate different points. The book reminds us that we are not irreplaceable and shares seven keys for pacing ourselves wisely including sleep, Sabbath, friends and inwards renewal. The book ends with a helpful self-check and a short yet challenging reflection.

Reviewed by Helen Calder, executive director: finance & services Evangelical Alliance