March/April2017

Contemplative Prayer: A New Framework

Author: David Foster
ISBN: 978-1-4081-8710-4
Date: 2015
Price: £12.99
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Publisher: Bloomsbury

Dom David Foster, a monk of Downside Abbey, begins his book with a somewhat alarming experience for a Benedictine monk – a sense of having ‘lost God’ in his student days and how he subsequently had to build up a new relationship with God coming from this place of comparative darkness. From this starting point he constructs an analysis of prayer from what he terms the ‘philosophical point of view’. To this end he references his account of prayer from the perspective of many nineteenth and twentieth century, mainly European, philosophers including Ludwig Wittgenstein, Martin Heidegger, Friedrich Nietzsche and William James.

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Dethroning Mammon

Author: Justin Welby
ISBN: 978-1-4729-2977-8
Date: 2016
Price: £9.99
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Publisher: Bloomsbury
Not long after he became Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby joined Cardinal Vincent Nichols in a visit to the London Catholic Worker community in Haringay. This expression of support from both leaders was an important endorsement of the movement founded by the Servant of God Dorothy Day in the 1930s which had in many ways been marginal in Church life in this country (as well as being rather small), and the visit broke new ground. One of the distinguishing marks of Dorothy Day’s teaching and her movement is a rejection of lending or borrowing at interest, what we traditionally call usury, so those whom the Archbishop and the Cardinal visited in 2014 may be interested in this new book about money by Archbishop Welby.

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God with Us

Author: Rowan Williams
ISBN: 978-0-281-07684-2
Date: 2017
Price: £8.99
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Publisher: SPCK

This set of reflections by Archbishop Welby’s predecessor Rowan Williams seems similarly to be written with Lent groups in mind, helping the reader reflect on the Cross and the Resurrection, the book being divided into two parts on this basis; the reflections are based on addresses given in different contexts – Holy Week addresses in Canterbury cathedral in 2006, the Bishop of Winchester’s 2008 Lent lectures, and a sermon at St Andrew’s Church, Holborn.

 The first half of the book is called The Meaning of the Cross and Williams begins by reminding us of the jarring nature of the Cross as a symbol of faith, rooted in the disgrace which surrounded its use in the ancient world: ‘We can only begin to get some sense of what it might have felt like to encounter the symbol of a cross in the first couple of Christian centuries if we imagine going into a church and being faced with a large picture of an electric chair, or perhaps a guillotine.’ (p.3) He then explores the meaning of the cross as a ‘sign of the transcendent freedom of the love of God’ – because in earthly terms it makes no sense, we see revealed God’s freedom.

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Judas

Author: Amos Oz
(translated by Nicholas de Lange)
ISBN: 978-1-784-740504
Date: 2016
Price: £14.99
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Publisher: Chatto and Windus

Amos Oz is undoubtedly Israel’s finest living author. His latest novel, Judas, was written in 2014, the following year winning the German World culture centre’s Internationaler Literaturpreiz, and has now been translated. Reflecting Oz’s own young life and his celebrated memoir A Tale of Love and Darkness, the novel is set in late 1950s (Israeli) East Jerusalem. It is the story of Shmuel Ash, an eccentric student who decides to abandon his formal studies and take up a post as a live-in companion to an elderly and frail intellectual, Gerhsom Wald, who is also cared for by his daughter-in-law Atalia Abravanel.

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The Enthusiast: How the Best Friend of Francis of Assisi Almost Destroyed What He Started

Author: Jon M. Sweeney
ISBN: 978-1-59471-601-0
Date: 2016
Price: £12.99
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Publisher: Ave Maria Press

The Enthusiast is not a standard biography of St Francis of Assisi. It is an original portrayal of the saint in the light of the unscrupulous Brother Elias of Cortona. Despite the affection of Francis for the friar who would become Francis’ personal deputy, Elias betrayed the order, leaving to join forces with the chief enemy of the Church, Hohenstaufen Emperor Frederick II. Jon M. Sweeney is an award winning author of When St Francis Saved the Church (Ave Maria Press, 2015), and has long researched medieval history and the life of ‘the greatest saint since the apostles.’ The Enthusiast is an intriguing tale that shows how Elias’ ambition refashioned the order Francis first envisaged. It is largely the story of Francis; the beginning and ending sections provide a thought-provoking account of the saint’s closest confidant.

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‘If You Sit Very Still’. A sister’s fierce engagement with traumatic loss

Author: Marian Partington
ISBN: 978-1-78592-140-7
Date: 2016
Price: £12.99
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Publisher: Jessica Kingsley Publishing.

If you sit very still ... charts the 40 year journey of a sister’s grief. Lucy Partington vanished in 1973 and was not heard of again until she was discovered in 1994, one of the twelve girls and women killed by Fred and Rosemary West. The book developed out of the article Salvaging the Sacred written by her elder sister Marian for the Guardian in 1996. Marian was determined to reclaim Lucy from the identity of being just another West victim as portrayed by the ‘Pain Vultures’ of the press and to restore Lucy’s soul, her individuality, ‘that which is of God’.

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