Each month we choose a selection of titles that we think you will find stimulating and satisfying to read. So come back to the Monthly Selections section of our website regularly.
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October 2016 Selection
The Christian story, from Genesis until now, is fundamentally about people on the move—outgrowing old, broken religious systems and embracing new, more redemptive ways of life.
It’s time to move again.
Brian McLaren, a leading voice in contemporary religion, argues that, notwithstanding the dire headlines about the demise of faith and drop in church attendance, Christian faith is not dying. Rather, it is embarking on a once-in-an-era spiritual shift. For millions, the journey has already begun.
Drawing from his work as global activist, pastor, and public theologian, McLaren challenges readers to stop worrying, waiting, and indulging in nostalgia, and instead, to embrace the powerful new understandings that are reshaping the church. In The Great Spiritual Migration, he explores three profound shifts that define the change:
- Spiritually, growing numbers of Christians are moving away from defining themselves by lists of beliefs and toward a way of life defined by love.
- Theologically, believers are increasingly rejecting the image of God as a violent Supreme Being and embracing the image of God as the renewing Spirit at work in our world for the common good.
- Missionally, the faithful are identifying less with organized religion and more with organizing religion—spiritual activists dedicated to healing the planet, building peace, overcoming poverty and injustice, and collaborating with other faiths to ensure a better future for all of us
With his trademark brilliance and compassion, McLaren invites readers to seize the moment and set out on the most significant spiritual pilgrimage of our time: to help Christianity become more Christian.
Wharenui: House of Hope is about the creation of communities that are both hopeful and inclusive. With the Maori meeting house (wharenui) as the basic model, and circling around five key words – Standing, Touching, Communicating, Remembering, Prophesying – the book explores resurrection as an open-ended process within history that has potential for now.
Applied to any space whatsoever — home, workplace, club, political party, church, sports club — we’re talking about Christ-inspired open spaces for life: houses of hope, rather than places of horror. At a time of great human suffering, we need access to a fullness of life which also puts us in solidarity with the hopes and aspirations of people everywhere. If you’re prepared to do the hard yards to make such a vision real, this book is for you!
Raymond Pelly is an Anglican priest in Aotearoa New Zealand. His most recent work, 2005–14, has been as Honorary Priest Associate at the Cathedral of St Paul, Wellington, where he had a ministry of counselling, spiritual direction and education.
What if changing our perception of God has the potential to change everything?
God is not what you think. Visions of an angry, distant, moral scorekeeper or a supernatural Santa Claus handing out cosmic lottery tickets to those who attend the right church or say the right prayer dominate our culture. For many others, God has become irrelevant or simply unbelievable.
In The Divine Dance, Fr. Richard Rohr (with Mike Morrell) points readers to an unlikely opening beyond this divinity impasse: the at–times forgotten, ancient mystery of the Trinity―God as utterly one, yet three.
Drawing from Scripture, theology, and the deepest insights of mystics, philosophers, and sages throughout history, Fr. Rohr presents a compelling alternative to aloof and fairytale versions of God: One God, belovedly in communion, as All–Vulnerable, All–Embracing, and All–Given to you and me.
Rohr makes accessible and practicable the Christian tradition’s most surprising gift…
God as Community…as Friendship…as Dance. Are you ready to join in?
Weaving, Networking & Taking Flight: Engaged Ministry in Avondale Union and Manurewa Methodist parishes 2006-2014. ‘Alifeleti Vaitu’ulala Ngahe. 68pp. Pbk. ISBN: 9781501004476. Philip Garside Publishing Ltd (2014). Was $18.00, now NZ$9.99. [10+ in stock]
Tongan Methodist minister ‘Alifeleti Vaitu’ulala Ngahe has been in full-time, ordained ministry for almost 10 years. This book reflects on those years in Avondale Union and Manurewa Methodist parishes in Auckland, New Zealand.
Rev Ngahe’s approach is to create strategies for change by engaging in deep theological thinking, in networking with key local people and organisations, and in careful reflection on learnings from his ministry. He believes all people in a community have a contribution to make and hopes this book will encourage church and other local leaders to work effectively in their communities.
Church life and ministry is changing. Alongside this, our communities are changing and are often stressed. How does the Church engage effectively with the communities in which they are set?
Rev Ngahe says, “Over my years in ministry it has become clear that people are excited and enthusiastic about engaging in God-talk and living out the Gospels. …communities come together when a vision and the possibility of achieving positive change are offered.”
Using the metaphors of weaving a mat, creating a network the way a spider spins a web and a bird taking flight, he explains how he has given new life to his parishes:
- The mat represents the history of the church. Leaving the edges of the mat unfinished allows new stories and experiences to be woven in.
- The web represents the network that needs to be deliberately built up between people in the church and the leaders and organisations that form the surrounding local community.
- The bird reminds us that it takes a lot of energy to take flight. But when the community is working together and heading in the same direction, we can relax and enjoy the ride, soaring through the air.
Tom Wright, renowned scholar & Anglican bishop, contemplates the central event at the heart of the Christian faith—Jesus’ crucifixion—arguing that the Protestant Reformation did not go far enough in transforming our understanding of its meaning.
Wright once again challenges commonly held Christian beliefs as he did in his acclaimed Surprised by the Cross. Demonstrating the rigorous intellect and breathtaking knowledge that have long defined his work, Wright argues that Jesus’ death on the cross was not only to absolve us of our sins; it was actually the beginning of a revolution commissioning the Christian faithful to a new vocation—a royal priesthood responsible for restoring and reconciling all of God’s creation.
Wright argues that Jesus’ crucifixion must be understood within the much larger story of God’s purposes to bring heaven and earth together. The Day the Revolution Began offers a grand picture of Jesus’ sacrifice and its full significance for the Christian faith, inspiring believers with a renewed sense of mission, purpose, and hope, and reminding them of the crucial role the Christian faith must play in protecting and shaping the future of the world.
Hardly a day goes by without some poll or news story documenting the changing relationship between the general population and religion, often accompanied by predictions of doom. The rise of the nones” and the dones leaves many adrift in a world with multiple complex challenges. Providers of spiritual friendship—pastors, spiritual directors, pastoral counselors, concerned Christians—will need to change their approach as those with whom they interact distance themselves from the church. How should we talk with the nones and the dones about their spiritual lives? How can we be with them in their struggles when they are suspicious of our motives?
These are questions providers of spiritual friendship face every day. This book offers answers that can help them look at their work in new ways. Stewart-Sicking presents an innovative approach to spiritual friendship, addressing major challenges of modern life and significant challenges in the lives of individuals, as well as making accessible scholarship on the subject that is difficult for practitioners to access.
New York Times bestselling author Rachel Held Evans embarks on a quest to find out what it really means to be part of the Church.
Like millions of her millennial peers, Rachel Held Evans didn’t want to go to church anymore. The hypocrisy, the politics, the gargantuan building budgets, the scandals—church culture seemed so far removed from Jesus. Yet, despite her cynicism and misgivings, something kept drawing her back to Church. And so she set out on a journey to understand Church and to find her place in it.
Centered around seven sacraments, Evans’ quest takes readers through a liturgical year with stories about baptism, communion, confirmation, confession, marriage, vocation, and death that are funny, heartbreaking, and sharply honest.
A memoir about making do and taking risks, about the messiness of community and the power of grace,Searching for Sunday is about overcoming cynicism to find hope and, somewhere in between, Church.
Based on the largest near-death experience study in history, involving 3,000 people from diverse backgrounds and religious traditions, including nonbelievers, God and the Afterlife presents startling evidence that a Supreme Being exists—and there is amazing consistency about what he is like.
In his bestselling book Evidence of the Afterlife, Dr. Jefferey Long showed us that there is a strong scientific case for life after death. Now, he goes further, revealing evidence that God is real. At the Near Death Experience Research Foundation, Dr. Long studied the stories of thousands of people who have journeyed to the afterlife. Though there are a wide variety of differences in how people experience NDEs—some see a bright light, others go through a tunnel, still others experience a review of their life—he discovered that many of the accounts shared a remarkably similar description of God; a Supreme Being who radiated love and grace.
Expanding on his analysis begun in Evidence of the Afterlife, God and the Afterlife is the first intensive exploration of the people who have reported going to the frontier of heaven, met God, and have returned to share their journey. Groundbreaking and profound, it provides new insight into the human experience and expands our notions of mortality, offering possibility, hope, and comfort.
The controversial evangelical Bible scholar and author of The Bible Tells Me So explains how Christians mistake “certainty” and “correct belief” for faith when what God really desires is trust and intimacy.
With compelling and often humorous stories from his own life, Bible scholar Peter Enns offers a fresh look at how Christian life truly works, answering questions that cannot be addressed by the idealized traditional doctrine of “once for all delivered to the saints. Enns offers a model of vibrant faith that views skepticism not as a loss of belief, but as an opportunity to deepen religious conviction with courage and confidence. This is not just an intellectual conviction, he contends, but a more profound kind of knowing that only true faith can provide.
Combining Enn’s reflections of his own spiritual journey with an examination of Scripture,The Sin of Certainty models an acceptance of mystery and paradox that all believers can follow and why God prefers this path because it is only this way by which we can become mature disciples who truly trust God. It gives Christians who have known only the demand for certainty permission to view faith on their own flawed, uncertain, yet heartfelt, terms.
The Gospel of John recounts the story of an encounter between Jesus and a Samaritan woman at the well. After their conversation, she goes out to tell her neighbours about the mysterious stranger, and many of them believed “on the strength of her witness.” These essays, drawn from around the world, reflect the many ways that women have reflected on and borne witness to the person, teaching, and praxis of Jesus Christ in light of their own varied contexts. These contexts include their struggles for life amidst wrenching poverty, racism, and violence; their experience of being female in male-dominated structures in the church and society; and their commitment to promote justice in view of the human dignity of women, all done in tandem with their faith relationship with the living God.
If you are responsible for managing digital communications in your parish, staying current with trends in the rapidly changing world of social media can seem like an overwhelming task. What social medium platforms make sense for your parish community? How can you make them an effective tool for ministry?
As a veteran social media expert, author, and sociologist, Meredith Gould has helped answer these questions and more in her best-selling book The Social Media Gospel. In this second edition, Gould provides an easy-to-understand, step-by-step guide to digital ministry for those who wish to embrace new technologies to build community and deepen faith. In this expanded edition, Gould delivers new content with humor, helpful tips, and counsel anchored in practical experience.
She focuses on key topics for effective church communication including:
• Building and ministering to online communities
• Privacy and self-disclosure in the digital age
• Integrating communications across digital platforms
• Managing and monitoring social media
• Faith storytelling with visual social media
• Hashtag development and live-tweeting (BD)
Ignorance is bliss—except in self-awareness.What you don’t know about yourself can hurt you and your relationships—and maybe even how you make your way in the world. It can also keep you in the shallows with God. Do you want help figuring out who you are and why you’re stuck in the same ruts?
The Enneagram is an ancient personality type system with an uncanny accuracy in describing how human beings are wired, both positively and negatively. In The Road Back to You Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile forge a unique approach—a practical, comprehensive way of accessing Enneagram wisdom and exploring its connections with Christian spirituality for a deeper knowledge of God and of ourselves.
Winsome and filled with stories, this book allows you to understand more about each of the Enneagram types, keeping you turning the pages long after you have read the chapter about yourself. Beginning with changes you can start making today, the wisdom of the Enneagram can help you get on the road that will take you further along into who you really are—leading you into places of spiritual discovery you would never have found on your own, and paving the way to the wiser, more compassionate person you want to become.
“Beloved spiritual teacher, poet, and philosopher Mark Nepo returns to the inspiring short-chapter format to map an insightful and resilient path for inhabiting the soul by engaging in the world.
Nepo has been called “one of the finest spiritual guides of our time,” “a consummate storyteller,” and “an eloquent spiritual teacher.” With the rare ability to communicate stirringly profound truths directly to each individual heart, Mark inspires audiences of more than 15,000 people as well as small, intimate groups. Now, in The One Life We’re Given, Nepo’s personal stories, questions, and meditations take us on a deep and uplifting journey to know our own hearts and enliven our souls.
“In order to fully live the one life we’re given,” Nepo writes, “we each must affirm how precious this one life is and open ourselves to loving whatever life puts before us. Whether that is suffering, pain, fear or loss, or surprise, beauty, love or wonder, we work to stay in touch with our hearts in order to make sense of our experience. As we learn when to try and when to let go, when to give our all and when to surrender and simply receive, we unfold the moments that reveal meaning and ready us for grace. This is how the heart breaks a path to our soul’s work, leading us to our authenticity, and to how we can be useful to others and the world.”
By illuminating the art of finding and restoring what matters and exploring the craft of awakening, The One Life We’re Given affirms our purpose as not just to stay alive but to stay in our aliveness.