A record of my reading and my recommendations:

Theology and Spirituality

 Margaret Barker, Temple Mysticism: An Introduction

Barker reconstructs the theology and mysticism of the Jewish Temple and what this meant for the figure of the Servant and what this means for Jesus’ understanding of himself and his mission.  This book excited me. 

 Don Brophy, Catherine of Siena: A Passionate Life

I read this recent (2011) biography of St Catherine to prepare for our holiday in Siena in May, and a very good read it was.  I have to admit that I don’t like St Catherine very much, though she has some admirable qualities – her wisdom and knowledge despite being illiterate, the way she dealt with kings and popes, her spirituality grounded in the practical expression of love.  I found difficult her eating disorder and her belief that the pope is always right.

 Sergius Bulgakov, Jacob’s Ladder: on Angels

I read books about angels because of my own experience in Stockton.  I very much appreciated this one – an Orthodox theologian considers angels, who mediate between God and the world.  He concludes: 

“The world is sheltered by angel wings. Angel eyes keep watch without rest over us.  Between heaven and earth the holy angels ascend and descend unceasingly.  They join with us in our prayers.  Angel hosts unceasingly glorify the Creator of the worlds.  Angels, standing before the throne of God, live a common life with us, and are united by the bonds of love.  How great is the joy bestowed on humankind in knowing this!” (p. 164)

 Paula Gooder, Heaven

A beginner’s guide to heaven, an earthly reality shaped by God’s love, justice and compassion.

“…believing in heaven should mean that we carry with us a vision of the world as God intended it to be and strive with everything that we have to bring about that kind of world in the places where we live and work.” (p. 102)

 Steven Weitzman, Solomon: The Lure of Wisdom

A Jewish scholar sets out what we know of Solomon from the Bible and from Jewish tradition, and explores his own fascination and longing for wisdom.  He shows that wisdom is more complex and slippery than I had ever imagined. 

 

Novels

 Helen Dunmore, The Greatcoat

A ghost story; a love story.

 Hilary Mantel, fludd

Set in a Northern mill village, the Catholic priest, Fr Angwin has lost his faith and struggles with the new instructions from the bishop.  The young Irish nun dreams of freedom, while the mother superior makes plans of hate.  Then Fludd arrives.  Everyone assumes he is the new curate.  He is there to bring transformation.

 

Poetry

 Ed Neil Astley & Pamela Robertson-Pearce, Soul Food

I have a number of anthologies edited by Neil Astley and enjoy them very much.  I came late to this 2007 collection, subtitled “nourishing poems for starved minds”, which includes some poets entirely new to me. 

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