The Bible presents a universalistic vision of God and the world. The strength of its universalism has made it the most translated, most widely read book of all time. The main factors in its spread are the Jewish diaspora and the Christian missions around the world. The universalism of the Bible is reflected in the expansion of the Christian Churches, of which it is the founding document.
News in Book Review
THE CONNECTION between landscape and spirituality is long established. A thousand years ago, Celtic monks used to cross a treacherous strait of water to see out their days on Bardsey Island off the Llyn Peninsula in north-west Wales because it was, for them, a “thin” place between this world and the next. As a result, it is still known to this day as the island of 20,000 saints.
Each year, I write a column sharing with readers the title and a brief synopsis of the ten books that touched me most that year. Occasionally, however, I judge a book to be exceptional enough to merit its own column. Robert Ellsberg’s new book, A Living Gospel – Reading God’s Story in Holy Lives, is such a book.
I look around at the people I work with and minister to, and find myself asking: “What is it to have a Christian faith?” And Rowan Williams’ Christ the Heart of Creation helps me identify something about their spirituality and mine. To have a Christian faith is to grope towards trying to understand what it is we’re caught up in, as individuals, as the Church, when we acknowledge Christ as Redeemer.
The Shattering of Loneliness is the fruit of that pursuit and learning: and there is much learning of a scholarly kind to be found in this former Fellow of St John’s College, Cambridge, all lightly worn and always helpfully serving the overall purpose of his book, offered to the reader “companionably, as an invitation to set out”.
University historian, Eamon Duffy – formerly professor of church history in Cambridge, and a Catholic, has published “Essays in Medieval Christianity”. Its 21 chapters supply a vivid panorama of themes in Western Christianity between the fall of the Roman Empire and the advent of Martin Luther.
“My experience has been that more people worry about me being a Conservative rather than me being a Catholic. I have never found a sense of hostility to me because I am a Catholic.” There have, he concedes, been odd moments when his religion has caused a few raised eyebrows. “I got into trouble as a junior Minister in Northern Ireland [in 1983] when I attended a civic lunch in Derry and made the Sign of the Cross as we said grace. This was taken by some there from the DUP as a great sign of my incipient treachery.”
Religious turmoil saw numerous victims of successive Tudor monarchs perish there: 48 in the reign of Mary I alone. Virginia Rounding provides a thorough, if rather exhausting, account of the casualties. She is sound, for the most part, on the historical context, but the tales of trials, interrogations and gruesome deaths have been told many times before.
The new Mass translation introduced in 2010 has few admirers. Reports that Pope Francis has established a commission to revisit the controversial document that inspired it have raised expectations of a more intelligible and prayerful missal
With this prosaic title, you might be forgiven for expecting a predictable narrative accompanied by pictures of dour, bearded reformers being executed in various unpleasant ways. In fact it contains seven essays by leading Reformation historians, with an array of fascinating pictures that are not just illustrations but integral parts of the argument.
With so many interpretations being presented for Pope Francis’ new encyclical, Fr. Robert Barron says only one theologian can give us the proper context for reading Laudato Si': Romano Guardini. “As I read through the document, I saw, on practically every page, the influence of Romano Guardini and his distinctive take on modernity.”
Among those who write in the area of spirituality today, who’s being read? Here’s my list of spiritual writers who are highly influential today in the English-speaking world. My apologies to those whom I didn’t name, particularly those young, emerging voices such as Kerry Weber, David Wells, and Bill McGarvey, among others. Who should be more widely read.
The release of the complete adult faith formation series “Symbolon: the Catholic Faith Explained” hopes to offer a profound way of encountering the truths of the Catholic Church.
The Pope speaks on numerous themes, including evangelization, peace, homiletics, social justice, the family, respect for creation, faith and politics, ecumenism, interreligious dialogue, and the role of women and of the laity in the Church.
A sudden burst of interest in God's word has meant that the Bible has become a best-seller in Norway, overtaking Fifty Shades Of Grey. In a surprising move in what is one of the most secular nations in Europe, a new Norwegian language version of the Scriptures has become the country's best-selling book.
So why are we still waiting for Godot? How has Samuel Beckett's play grown from a tiny avant garde performance in Paris to become part of the West End theatre coach party circuit? It asks all the big philosophical questions - about life and death and the uncertain purpose of what goes on in between - but in a way that isn't limited to a particular place or era.
There were between 850,000 and 1 million Jews who lived in Arab countries in 1948. By 1976, there was only 25,000. In one generation, that is, almost all Jews had left the countries where they had lived for ages. “Juifs en pays arabes. Le grand déracinement 1850-1975” by the Frenchman Bensoussan.
The transition to the new English missal has gone better than many of us expected. After a month or two of awkward and hesitant liturgical exchanges, the people in the pews seem to have gotten used to the new texts. By now the responses mostly come automatically, as ritual texts should.
The Testament of Mary - review. Perhaps Mary is too well known? After all, her life is recorded in one of the two great originating books of the Judaeo- Christian tradition. The question for the wary reader approaching Tóibín’s novel is whether it is an atheist’s demolition job or an attempt to deepen our religious understanding of the birth, the death and the resurrection.
The myth of matriarchy is one of patriarchy's oldest inventions. Those stories of primitive warrior queens, buxom mother goddesses and tribes of Amazons are no evidence at all that women did once rule the world. As most anthropologists have recognised for decades, these are cautionary tales invented by men to justify their own dominance.