Author: Julian Porteous
ISBN 978 0 85244 748 2
Date: 2010
Price: £9.99 RRP
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Publisher: Gracewing

This is a well thought out book. Rooted in the teachings of the Second Vatican Council and subsequent popes, Bishop Porteous (an auxiliary bishop in Sydney NSW) explores how throughout the history of our Church different individuals and groups have responded to our core mission of evangelisation. All of these movements have been a response to the stirrings of grace, and have often developed way beyond the initial vision of their founding members. Our own era has included such people as Frank Duff, Jean Vanier, Chiara Lubich, Kiko Arguello, to mention just a few. Lay, religious, and clergy have been inspired to begin what we now call ecclesial movements, of all shapes and size, responding to particular needs and contexts.

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July-August 2013

Author: Chris Nancollas
ISBN: 978-0232528800
Date: 2012
Price: £12.99 RRP
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Publisher: DLT, London

One curious thing about this book by Chris Nancollas, a retired GP, is its title: Down’s Syndrome The Biography. Unfortunately the author does not explain why his treatment of the ‘story of Down’s Syndrome’ is biography rather than, say, history or an account. It is left to the reader to surmise that perhaps the book is as much to do with attitudes people have to those with Down’s as it is about the syndrome itself. And this is one issue that some might have with an otherwise clear and accessible book: on the one hand Nancollas successfully avoids presenting a difficult medical or technical account of the syndrome; on the other hand he speaks in an obvious medical tone about people with the condition and their carers as ‘patients’ and ‘sufferers’. Even though Nancollas devotes Chapter 6, entitled ‘A Day in the Life’ in part to the experience of living with Down’s and the educational challenges it brings, his presentation has the flavour of the detached observations of a medical professional, which of course he is, rather than being really about individuals. Nevertheless, there are some insights in the book that suggest a passionate and involved interest, a recognition that attitudes still need to change, that friendship and loving the other as neighbour is a necessary response.

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July-August 2013

Author: Rowan Williams
ISBN: 978 1408 18758 6
Date: 2012
Price: £20.00 RRP
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Publisher: Bloomsbury, London

It is hard to summarise over 300 pages of densely packed thought on a wide range of public issues from Rowan Williams’ years as Archbishop of Canterbury. This is a profoundly Christian engagement with the world beyond the doors of the Church based on the thesis that the world depends entirely on the free gift of God and that the direct act and presence of God in Jesus Christ has implications for how we think about the world and about human life.

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July-August 2013

Author: Paul Murray OP
ISBN: 978-1-4411-4550-5
Date: 2012
Price: £10.99 RRP
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Publisher: Burns & Oates, London

Besides his poetry and longer works, Paul Murray has a genius for writing short books, whether on the prophet Jonah, Mother Teresa, or the Hail Mary. And now he has written another, In the Grip of Light, on the experience of darkness and light in Christian contemplation. In fact this book is a bringing together of three talks, the first given in 2010 in the House of Lords, the second in 2001 at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, and the third delivered at Blackfriars in Oxford in 2008. That is the order in which they appear in this slim volume, but there is no need for the reader to feel confused or short-changed. The progress from one to the next is absorbing.

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July-August 2013

Author: Steven Pinker
ISBN: 978-1-846-14093-8
Date: 2011
Price: £12.99 RRP
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Publisher: Penguin

Anyone involved in pastoral ministry has to be open to dialogue with atheists and other unbelievers, however offensive some people’s views may be. At the same time, while developing the skills to defend religious belief, the believer also needs to acknowledge the dark and evil places in religious history.

Steven Pinker’s latest book is a good place to start. He is Professor of Psychology at Harvard and a self-confessed ‘Jewish atheist’: in this study he is very negative about religious belief and practice during human history, perhaps most of all about Christianity and the other monotheistic religions, which are seen as obstacles to human progress. While he does acknowledge the moral goodness of some contemporary believers, the overall picture is not flattering.

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July-August 2013

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