RECENT REVIEWS & ENDORSEMENTS



  • Reluctant Patient: A Journey of Trust, The
    Ian G. Wallis
    He may be a reluctant patient, but Ian Wallis is also a wise, well-humoured and knowledgeable one. He proves a trustworthy guide to the trials and tribulations - and the strange gifts, if we will - of illness, which most of us will suffer at one time or the other (if not our own, then certainly someone else's). But more than this, Ian’s acutely observed and humorously described experience of illness has much to teach all of us, healthy or sick (and he shows that this is only a matter of degree or perspective), about a fundamental attitude to living, one marked by inquisitiveness, courage, creativity and humility, in equal measure. This reader, for one, is grateful for the invitation to share something of this patient exploration of human frailty and its surprising potential for glory. ~ Nicola Slee, Personal Email



  • Reluctant Patient: A Journey of Trust, The
    Ian G. Wallis
    This is a delightful book:- deeply personal, highly reflective and full of thoughtful insight. Anyone who has ever been a ‘patient’ will be able to identify with Ian Wallis’ pertinent observations; and anyone who cares for patients would benefit from reading what he has to say.

    I enjoyed his wry humour, searing honesty and theological profundity, (especially on the importance of ‘trust’ and meaning of ‘identity’). He has done for those who are ill what C S Lewis did for the bereaved in ‘A Grief Observed’, and this little work may well become a classic of its kind. ~ Bishop James Newcome, (Bishop of Carlisle and Church of England Lead Bishop on Health Care)



  • Long Road to Heaven, The
    Tim Heaton
    The practical advice to Lent course leaders is excellent for confidence-building. The film repays watching several times, as it is richly multi-layered and refreshingly non-pious. It follows four (initially solitary) pilgrims who journey to Compostela for untraditional reasons- each in response to a different personal crisis. On the 'Way' they find that 'heaven' can begin even now, during the journey- it isn't confined to a far-off destination, a surprising discovery that readers of this book can share, if they are alert and willing. ~ Anne Bayley, Reflections, Diocese of Hereford



  • Reluctant Patient: A Journey of Trust, The
    Ian G. Wallis
    In The Reluctant Patient, Ian Wallis challenges us with a question: Can illness create a space capable of enriching our lives as a whole? He describes the process of being ill - the sense of being invaded by an unwelcome visitor, and the inconvenience of being ill when there are better things to do - with moments of wry humour enlivening the catalogue of events. His gradual acceptance of his status (or lack of it) as a patient leads him to reflect on the value of waiting as a positive time, a gift to oneself when one can learn the art of abiding - paying attention to the present moment instead of rushing onto the next thing. He came to an understanding of faith as the capacity to relate beyond our immediate circumstances to the mystery sustaining all life - what some of us call God. And he also discovered what he describes as 'the undeclared sacraments of human encounter', in the recognition of the humanity behind the professional masks, the compassion of carers and friends willing to share the pain without self-indulgence or histrionics.

    Ian's answer to the question lies in his sense of how a growing trust in relationships personal and professional enriches all our experience, enables us to become more integrated (which is the essence of wholeness) and enhances our appreciation of the gift of life.

    As survivor from a less dramatic life-threatening illness, I found much that resonated with my own experience in what Ian has written, and I commend it. ~ Ann Lewin



  • Growing into life - Living by design
    Janine Fair

    Growing in and through life is vital if we are to become the people that God designed us to be. This book examines the importance of growing and the tools that God has already given us to help us in this task. By sharing something of her own personal journey of discovery, Fair invites us to explore the role that emotions can play in facilitating this process, the importance of aligning ourselves with God’s purposes and plans, helping one another grow, and more. ~ Mind Body Spirit, issue 37, Spring 2014



  • Beyond the Lectionary
    David Ackerman
    Not One For The Pulpit

    One of the first questions provoked by the title of this book is – why? Why, when we have a perfectly reliable, tried and tested lectionary available to us, providing guidance and direction to a seemingly inexhaustible and well chosen study of daily material would we need anything more? The writer, in his introduction, makes precisely that point when he says he appreciates the discipline of a universal lectionary that compels, as a preacher, his theological reflection to conform to the rhythms of the theological year, rather than allowing him the freedom to impose the same favourite texts on a congregation week after week. But, as part of the defence of this (thoughtfully and intelligently chosen) selection of alternative readings, the point is made, with some validity perhaps, that, over its 3 year cycle the Revised Common Lectionary covers limited Biblical ground (calculating for Sundays and principal feast days only 7,756 verses or 24.9%) therefore depriving weekly congregations over the same period of over three quarters of the Bible. However, surely the greater justification lies in the universality of the lectionary – that on any given day, congregations and preachers alike may feel heartened and emboldened in the knowledge that the passages they listen to, reflect upon and deliver sermons around are the same passages that thousands of others also share and, in a way similar to the observance of the daily offices, our worship and praise and wonder is carried out of the doors of our own churches to unite with those of Christians everywhere. This though provoking and useful material for bedside table but perhaps not, in this reviewer’s mind, for the pulpit.




    -Review by Simon Tarlton, Weston-upon-Penyard ~ Simon Tarlton, The NEWSpaper Issue 56, Spring 2014



  • Long Road to Heaven, The
    Tim Heaton

    Another Lent course based around the film – and that’s no bad thing at all. In fact, in these days of media attraction, it’s a positive boon in encouraging some to attend. This time the film is one directed by Emilio Estevez, starring Martin Sheen. It’s about a journey through bereavement and along the pilgrimage route of the Way of St James. It is a brilliant and emotional film and this book makes a good, well considered, use of it to open up discussion on the issue of starvation. In many ways the book, through brilliantly set up and appropriate for Lent, would work at any time for an in-depth group study. The course is set out with real weight to it; the sessions are well timed and contain intelligent discussion questions along with good endings in a series of reflections and contemplations, gently rounding off each one.

    - Review by Melanie Carroll
    ~ Melanie Carroll, Together-Issue 6. Mar / Apr 2014



  • Long Road to Heaven, The
    Tim Heaton
    Another Lent course based around a film, in many ways the book, though brilliantly set up and appropriate for Lent, would work at any time for an in-depth group study. The course is set out with real weight to it; the sessions are well timed and contain intelligent discussion questions along with good endings in a series of reflections and contemplations, gently rounding off each one. ~ Melanie Carroll, Together



  • Long Road to Heaven, The
    Tim Heaton
    This Lent, consider making a journey of faith on the route to Santiago de Compostela. Without leaving home, you can walk with others, join with them in prayer, and share bread and Rioja wine, guided by the narrative of an extraordinary movie.
    Pilgrimages can take you far away, but there is one pilgrimage you are invited to do in the comfort of your armchair. By using a powerful combination of Bible insights rooted in the film "The Way", and a book called "The Long Road to Heaven" by Tim Heaton, your Christian way of life will be challenged and nourished by the wisdom of the centuries.
    Taking part in a Lent course like this can easily become a life-changing experience. ~ Tom Grufferty, The Tablet



  • Still, In One Peace
    Ronald William Cadmus
    In this gathering of thoughtful observations Ronald Cadmus has assembled a powerful resource for seekers of peace. ~ Joseph M. Martin, International Composer, Author, Lecturer.



  • Why Religions Work
    Eleanor Stoneham
    "a wonderful job making the inter-connectedness of religion, science and education as well as the grave responsibilities of the media and the churches so apparent - it will clarify the thinking of many. Something of interest and worth rereading on every page." ~ Felicity Williams Anglican Christian, priest's wife, private correspondence



  • Long Road to Heaven, The
    Tim Heaton
    [Recent new] Lent courses have one great feature in common: the written word on its own is not enough. Tim Heaton's course requires participants to watch the film "The Way", which stars Martin Sheen as a bereaved father who makes the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela with an extemporary group of travellers. None of them initially is undertaking the Camino for religious reasons, although all are seeking release from pain, anger, disappointment, or bitterness. Their journey, movingly depicted in the film, becomes, in the hands of a skilful devotional writer, a powerful exposition of the Christian salvation story.

    "The Long Road to Heaven" will probably appeal to thoughtful participants who are prepared to wrestle with some fairly challenging material. Heaton writes beautifully - indeed Chapter Four, "A Love Story", could stand alone as a powerful and moving allegory of salvation. The book is as effective a treatment of its great themes as I have read. What are we saved from? What are we saved for? Who can be saved, and how? Given the right group of people, I would love to be a fly on the wall as they tackle those disarmingly simple questions under Heaton's persuasive probing.

    The main problem facing those who are planning a church-based Lent course is getting the right kind of material for the likely participants, rather like choosing a supermarket for your shopping. I suggest that Tim Heaton's is Waitrose. ~ David Winter, Church Times



  • Long Road to Heaven, The
    Tim Heaton
    I really enjoyed Tim Heaton's second book, "The Long Road to Heaven". It's another Lent course based on a film, this time "The Way", about a group of pilgrims (Martin Sheen among them) walking the Way of St James to Santiago de Compostela. The film has lots of themes within it, which Tim allows us to explore gently in five well structured sessions.
    The guidance is clear (including to take the cinematic complexity of film as seriously as its narrative), and the sessions allow contributors to think for themselves. The film material is, again, underpinned by solid theological reflection on the theme of "salvation" (past, present and future), but don't be intimidated! All Tim's quoted material is well selected and accessible and, because he sometimes gives us his personal take on it, also feels quite intimate at times.
    I'll be recommending Tim's course for Lent this year, but I'll also be recommending it as something that can be done at other times - it would be a shame if it wasn't used more widely. ~ Karenza Passmore, Religious Resources Centre



  • Naturalist and the Christ, The
    Tim Heaton
    This excellent book explores very thoughtfully the question of whether God and evolution can co-exist. In his introduction, Tim Heaton discusses Darwin's faith and loss of faith when his much loved daughter Annie died, and the way in which Victorian Christianity failed him. But the book also manages to encompass a wide sweep of theological contemplation: it describes a new orthodoxy of Christian thought that has developed in response to the major sufferings of the 20th century - the First World War and the Holocaust to name but two. The book also provides a fascinating survey, in its opening chapter, of the life and work of Charles Darwin.

    The text is written in a very accessible style, that draws you into committing to the, at times, complex subject matter. Where the going gets tough we, the readers, are encouraged to persist, and the author does successfully untangle the difficult and elucidate the obscure. This is a very intelligent and rewarding course that encourages one to explore difficult areas of theology. It teaches about the life and work of Darwin and convinces one to commit to serious thought about some of the most difficult areas of Christian theology; how far we refract our faith through the lens of contemporary thought and ideas, and how we address the issues of suffering and evil.

    As the Chancellor of Salisbury Cathedral, The Revd Canon Edward Probert very aptly says, "This is an impressive piece of work. I am struck throughout by the pleasantness of Heaton's style - he is entirely readable and never lets that slip." ~ Catriona Wickson, The Harrovian



  • Long Road to Heaven, The
    Tim Heaton
    Following the success of his first Lent study book, The Naturalist and the Christ, Tim Heaton has recently published a second, The Long Road to Heaven. As with the first book, Tim uses a film as the basis for the study material. As a medium, film has a particular capacity to engage us and draw us into the lives of the characters and the issues they face. The film chosen, The Way, certainly does just that. It illustrates how journeys can be more than just the movement from one place to another, and shows how journeys have the capacity to take people from their pain to a place of healing, and from loss and regret to a state of acceptance and fulfilment. It's essentially a film about finding salvation, which is exactly the theme of this study course.

    This excellent course, providing a rich mix of clips from the film, Bible study, reflection and prayer, gives us the opportunity of also going on a journey. In this Lenten journey, Tim invites us to address five key questions: What are we saved from? What are we saved for? Who can be saved? What do we have to do to be saved? How are we saved? These questions are carefully teased out through the interweaving of Jesus' journey to the cross with the journeys of the characters in the film. The course is extremely well constructed and imaginatively presented, and goes right to the heart of what it means to be a Christian disciple. ~ Book of the Month: January 2014, Sarum College Bookshop



  • What's Still Right with the Church of England
    Canon David Jennings
    Fifty years ago the then Bishop of Leicester, Dr R.R. Williams, argued that the Church of England had a “death wish”. In some ways, this still resonates today.

    To add a contemporary for context, the recent vote in the General Synod outlawing women to the episcopate has caused a high level of consternation for the energy lost over an issue that is considered largely settled in other walks of life. Consequently, accusations have been voiced that see the Church becoming irrelevant by debating matters that simply don’t resonate with the wider public.

    Since its publication in 1966, we now have women priests, authorised forms of worship in modern language, and in many churches Parish Communion has displaced Mattins on any given Sunday. Though the context has changed, the challenges raised by Williams are still relevant today.

    At this junction, Canon David Jennings steps in to update the discussion. From a somewhat more liberal, practical perspective, he sees a more inclusive role of the Church in today’s liberal society. The suggestion given is that churches should financially and socially look beyond their worshippers for fund-raising and caregiving. Similarly, where the minister’s responsibilities are too finely stretched, they should be delegated to the ordained priesthood to be more sensibly devolved to the laity.

    Canon Jennings’ analysis and recommendations should make for healthy churches. However, the ideals of liberal thinking are likely to conflict with discourse of Anglicans who are likely to source out neighbouring churches where they feel more at home. Similarly, concerns over how (or indeed whether) a church defines and measures “success” can be raised. A detailed analysis of what works and what doesn’t in differing contexts would be useful in any follow-up volume. ~ Martin Keiffer, Faith and Freedom



  • Bible as Politics, The
    Andrew Parker
    In this book, Andrew Parker proposes the Bible is a political book, rather than a religious one. For him, Yahweh is essentially a god of the marginalised and the Bible essentially offering a coherent ideological message.
    One level, this is profoundly irritating. The tone is often hectoring, with Parker frequently expressing frustration with those who don’t agree with him. Which is quite a lot. At one point he states that of all the 50 books by 30 Biblical scholars he has read, they are all wrong. This is not a man plagued with self-doubt.
    The style can range from polysyllabic, to the toe-curlingly demotic. But it’s worth working your way through all of this. He deals in detail with a number of Biblical passages, and in all cases his arguments are engaging, stimulating and – especially with his final chapter on the Labourers in the Vineyard – compelling.
    If you don’t want your understanding of the Bible to be challenged, stay well away. If you want to be able to see the Bible in a completely new perspective, than this is for you. ~ Nicholas Lowton Craswall, The NEWSpaper’ (Issue 64/Winter 2013)



  • Bible as Politics, The
    Andrew Parker
    Stories in the Bible are as much about relationships as theology. They are often vivid and disturbing, working on many levels and open to literal, metaphorical and symbolic reading. Parker looks at these stories ideologically and politically, teasing out the ways in which people have tried to understand and articulate their relationship with God.
    When reading biblical stories, Parker believes in three broad approaches: literal and conservative; liberal; and his own – political and ideological. The book spends its first half on Old Testament stories, whilst its second half focuses on the New Testament. With each one, Parker develops his argument about the Biblical as political. Adam and Eve become morally aware in the garden and are able to break free from ‘a centrarchical ideology’ of an authoritarian God: as a result they have to leave, but at least they are responsible now. Job is not brought down through sin but is a revolutionary and prophetic figure, confronting God face-to-face, looking for a direct non-judgemental covenantal relationship with God. The story of Jonah and the whale becomes a parable lampooning conservatism.
    Jesus is seen as ideological, rather than a ‘full-on’ revolutionary – the people wanted and needed ideas about political transformation, Parker admits that this is often not the stance people take today, and in an opinionated and often stimulating book, he highlights how theological conservatives and liberals clash. Stories are often over-parsed in literal terms, neglecting the symbolic and side-lining the political, obscured by a mistaken view that the Christian God is merely authoritarian and that Christians should be reactive rather than proactive.
    Drawing from the vineyard and Emmaus stories, Parker admits his own socialist beliefs are deeply challenged by the story of the workers in the vineyard: gut trade-unions responses to the story weaken its political impact, and literalism ~ Stuart Hannabuss



  • Quiet Mind, A
    Eva McIntyre
    A compelling read, especially for those who see life through “a glass half empty” outlook. This should be a compulsory read for Church officials and Church Ministers alike. Would any of you dare to introduce any of the measures Eva McIntyre puts forward?
    A light-hearted read with a serious undertone.
    ~ Yetta Littlehales, Minsterley, The NEWSpaper’ (Issue 64/Winter 2013)



  • Fruit-Bearing Spirituality, A
    Carolyn Reinhart MA, DProf
    review/reccommendation of Carolyn Reinhart's book "A Fruit Bearing Spirituality"

    2013,11,28

    A much needed critical look at the emerging field of spirituality, challenging popularly circulated easy claims of the movement. A call for humanity's recognition of its own power for transformation emerging from not only self-realization but also from the individual's recognition of connection to all else. Written in deceptively plain language, there are many essential tools for understanding human nature and spirituality. Emerging from a place of compassionate knowing and a studied praxis, many aspects and qualities of our current global situation are discussed including obsolescent power structures, the effects of language on worldview, and the need for refelection and discerment. An available summary of her doctoral dissertation and a valuable document to assist in humanity's vital (re)awakening.

    Rob Gill – Huntsville, Ontario
    ~ Rob Gill, Author

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