Books to take on your summer holiday

Books to take on your summer holiday

Sometimes it is good to take a thought provoking book along on holiday, after all what better time to consider life's fundamentals than when the daily round is set aside.

This list has been compiled by Maureen Bownas, who is chief librarian at the St Mark's Centre for Radical Christianity library, which you can access through our resource pages. All these books are available to borrow from the CRC.

Cranky, Beautiful Faith: for irregular (and regular) people, by Nadia Bolz-Weber

Former stand up comic and unlikely pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber weaves personal narrative, hilarious rants and powerful spiritual insight as she relates her unusual journey of faith, offering a fresh and uncompromising look at the transformative power of grace. As one of today’s most provocative Christian leaders, she blends irreverence and brilliant theology to offer a new portrait of faith – one that is edgy, outrageous and, above all, real.

Falling Upwards: Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life, by Richard Rohr

In the first half of life, we are naturally and rightly pre-occupied with establishing our identity – climbing, achieving and performing. But those concerns will not serve us a we grow older and begin to embark on a further journey, one that involves challenges, mistakes, loss of control, broader horizons, necessary suffering that actually shocks us out of our prior comfort zone. Eventually, we need to see ourselves in a different and more life-giving way. This message of “falling down” – that is I fact moving upwards – is the most resisted and counterintuitive of messages in the world’s religions, including and most specially Christianity.

In Falling Upward, Father Richard Rohr – the founder of the Centre for Action and Contemplation – offers a new paradigm for understanding one of the most profound of life’s mysteries: how our failings can be the foundation for our ongoing spiritual growth. Drawing n the wisdom from time honoured myths, heroic poems, great thinkers, and sacred religious texts, the author explores the two halves of life to show that those who have fallen, failed, or “gone down” are the only ones who understand “up”. We grow spiritually more by doing it wrong than by doing it right.

The world constantly presents new challenges for what it means to live wisely and well. The Pastor, theologian, preacher and broadcaster, Samuel Wells considers some of the most pressing contemporary political, social, and moral challenges and explores them in the light os Christian imagination, compassion and wisdom.

How then Shall We Live? : Christian Engagement with Contemporary Issues, by Samuel Wells

Under three broad headings, Engaging the World, Being Human and Facing Mortality, this insightful volume examines a wide range of issues including:

  • Religious extremism
  • Migration
  • Ecology
  • Social Media
  • Sexual Identity
  • Inequality
  • Obesity
  • Old Age
  • Dementia
  • Assisted Dying
  • And much more

This profound, wise and hopeful book engagingly articulates a theological imagination that is grounded in the reality of being human in a complex and sometimes fragile world, and yet open to transformation by the life and wisdom of God.

Samuel Wells is Vicar of St Martin-in-the Fields, London. He is Visiting Professor of Christian Ethics at King’s College London and a regular contributor to BBC Radio 4: Thought for the Day.

Many explanations of the miracle stories heard in churches and schools seem to get stuck at the supernatural element, speculating whether such things could possibly have occurred. Yet this is to mistake the shell for the kernel the Gospel writers are seeking to do far more than provoke open-mouthed amazement: they want to prompt us to ask, ‘What sort of changes does Jesus bring into the world an to our experience of it?’. And in the healing stories, they are telling us to consider whether and how we too want to be healed.

The Meaning in the Miracles, by Jeffrey John

In this wide-ranging, stimulating and often moving book, Jeffrey John revisits Jesus’ miracles an shows them to be loaded with prophetic and theological significance. Reflecting on the depths and dimensions of meaning the Gospel writers intended to convey, we encounter afresh the One whose works of power were always a means of announcing the good news of his transforming love – then and now

In this book, Adrian Alker, the chair of PCN Britain, calls for an honest look at the life of Jesus and the faith of the Church and suggests a radical and more honest reshaping of the churches to enable them to face the challenges of the present day.

Is a Radical Church Possible? Reshaping Its life For Jesus’ Sake, by Adrian Alker

The author has been an ordained as an Anglican priest for over thirty years and recognizes the important contributions which church congregations can and do make to their communities and the wider world. He passionately believes that the Church must become more Jesus shaped and less concerned with its own structures and beliefs in order to attract new members.

Dominic Crossan writes, of this book: ‘We have in God a radical vision of distributive justice for our earth. We have in Jesus a radical vision of its lived presence on our earth. But where is the radical vision of a Church that lives with that God and in that Jesus? Read this book and learn how what is necessary must be possible. Learn also that you are the Church, while the Church lasts. And how Honest to God, Honest to Jesus, and Honest to Church abide, these three. But the hardest of these is Honest to Church’.

Leaving Church, by Barbara Brown Taylor

Barbara Brown Taylor is an Anglican priest. She teaches spirituality at Columbia Theological Seminary and is Professor of Religion at Piedmont College in Georgia. Her many books, including the best selling An Altar in the World, has met with critical acclaim. She was recently named as one of the top ten contemporary sages. She lives in rural Georgia.

“ This beautiful book is rich with wit and humanness and honesty and loving detail. It is a book about the wonderful mess of being alive in this word, and about the wonderful and terrible things that happen to us in it, and about the dream of God. I cannot overstate how liberating and transforming I have found Leaving Church to be.” (Frederick Buechner, author of Secrets in the Dark)

On the Side of the Poor: The Theology of Liberation, by Gustavo Gutierrez and Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Muller Translated by Robert A Kreig and James B. Nickloff

For many years the theology of liberation, which emerged from Latin America in the 1970s, was viewed with suspicion in Rome. It was the subject of a critical notification from the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, and many of its leading proponents were disciplined or silenced. Now, with this historic exchange between Gustavo Gutierrez, one of the architects of liberation theology, and Cardinal Gerhard Muller, current Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, comes a new and positive chapter in this ongoing dialogue. Cardinal Gerhard Muller, a former student of Gutierrez, writes with deep feeling and conviction about the contribution of liberation theology to church teaching – particularly in articulating the preferential option for the poor. In his own contributions, Gutierrez lays out the essential ideas of liberation theology, its ecclesial location, and its fresh enunciation of the gospel for our time.

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