February 2021 Selection

February 2021 Selection

This selection includes books on:

  • personal prayer and spiritual living
  • planning for when your church’s minister moves on and refocussing your church towards the community
  • lessons to be learned from Clare of Assisi and Henri Nouwen’s The Return of the Prodigal Son
  • women in the Bible and women as preachers today
  • including the earth in our prayers and exploring the worth of our jobs and work.

See https://pgpl.co.nz/shipping-orders
for information about ordering and payment options, and our current postage charges.
For deliveries to Rural Delivery addresses an additional fee applies.
Please click the button below to add this cost to your shopping cart


[Prices, stock levels and estimated delivery time for titles on this page were last updated on 28 January 2021]

Learning to Pray:
A Guide for Everyone.
James Martin.

Hbk 400pp. ISBN 9780062643230
HarperOne (2021).
[Allow 3-4 weeks].

Learning to Pray explains what prayer is, what to expect from praying, how to do it, and how it can transform us when we make it a regular practice in our lives.

Father James Martin Martin lays out the different styles and traditions of prayer throughout Christian history and invites us to experiment and discover which works best to feed our soul and build intimacy with our Creator.

Martin makes clear there is no one secret formula for praying. But like any relationship, each person can discover the best style for building an intimate relationship with God, regardless of religion or denomination. Prayer, he teaches us, is open and accessible to anyone willing to open their heart.

The Monastery of the Heart:
Benedictine Spirituality for Contemporary Seekers.
Joan Chittister.
Hbk 137pp. ISBN 9781629190204. BlueBridge (2020).

[Allow 3-4 weeks].

Here is a beautiful, practical guide for those who are looking for the rhythm of a better life in this time of social upheavals and global transformations. Anchored in Benedict’s ancient Rule, rooted in its values, Chittister offers a fresh approach to spiritual living in the very centre of our own world – without ever withdrawing from it.

Written for seekers of any faith or none – for individuals, couples, families, and small groups – it is a gentle invitation to embrace the sacred in the everyday.

The Elephant in the Boardroom
– Speaking the Unspoken about Pastoral Transitions:

How to Handle Pastoral Transition with Sensitivity, Creativity, and Excellence
Carolyn Weese; J. Russell Crabtree.
Pbk 226pp. ISBN9781506463414.

Fortress Press (2020).
[Allow 3-4 weeks].

One way or another, every church will eventually lose its pastor or minister, yet few congregations prepare for this dramatic event.

Weese and Crabtree – experts in the field of church leadership – have written a nuts-and-bolts guide to developing a succession plan for smooth pastoral transitions. Filled with strategies and solid advice, this handy resource is based in solid research and the authors’ many years of experience working with churches in a wide variety of denominations.

They clearly show that leadership succession should be part of every church’s planning process. Using assessment tools and quizzes, the book walks church leaders through the process of identifying their particular church’s culture type and creating a succession plan that will meet their congregation’s needs. Its many examples from real-life situations and solid explanations offer elders, deacons, board members, and other lay leaders a how-to manual for planning, preparing, and executing a leadership transition.

The Externally Focused Quest:
Becoming the Best Church for the Community.
Eric Swanson; Rick Rusaw.
Alan Hirsch
– Foreword.
Pbk 235pp. ISBN 9781506463452.

Fortress Press (2020).
[Allow 3-4 weeks].

This book is designed for church leaders who want to transform their churches to become less internally focused and more oriented to the world around them. The book includes clear guidelines on the changes congregations must adopt to become truly outwardly focused. This book is not about getting all churches to have an annual day of community service as a tactic but changing the core of who they are and how they see themselves as a part of their community.

It outlines ten changes needed for church leaders to transform their churches and presents a highly practical approach that shows leaders how to become more externally focused without having to give up programs that serve members.

The Way of Julian of Norwich:
A Prayer Journey Through Lent.
Sheila Upjohn.
Pbk 114pp. ISBN 9780281083695.

SPCK (2021).
[Allow 3-4 weeks].

An inspirational guide to Julian of Norwich and the Revelations of Divine Love that will deepen the reader’s prayer life during Lent and throughout the year.

Upjohn reveals how Julian’s fresh perspectives on sin and judgement, anger and forgiveness, the Incarnation and the crucifixion can challenge and enlighten us, 600 years later, in a world so badly in need of the assurance of God’s unconditional love. Upjohn transports the reader back to the middle ages to give a deeper understanding of Julian who was so often perceived as an outsider.

Clare of Assisi:
Gentle Warrior
Wendy Murray.
Pbk 208pp. ISBN9781640601833.

Paraclete Press (2020).
[Allow 3-4 weeks].

Clare of Assisi is generally known as “the female friend” of Saint Francis of Assisi and for centuries her legacy has remained obscured by his shadow. Yet Clare’s life and story ought to shine in its own light and on its own terms (her name, after all, means “light”). She is a figure of true heroism, tenacity, beatitude and grit who plotted her improbable course in the context of the raucous and explosive period of the Middle Ages.

Much went wrong for Clare after the day when, as a teen, she fled the home of her noble and wealthy family to follow Francis in a life of poverty. No one would have begrudged her if, when the trials had become onerous, she had decided simply to “go home.” Yet she stayed the course, even after Francis had died.

She pulled from the fire of her trials embers that would become her crown. Murray digs deeply into Clare’s decision to abandon rank and wealth for allegiance to Christ (and in no small way, Francis) and explores the circumstances which, later on, tested Clare’s devotion. Clare’s curious and vivid spiritual vision galvanized her ability to persevere amid difficult circumstances and enabled her to stay her course and lay claim to a legacy that shines brightly among the host of medieval saints.

Henri Nouwen and the Return of the Prodigal Son:
The Making of a Spiritual Classic.
Gabrielle Earnshaw.
Pbk 176pp. ISBN 9781640601697.

Paraclete Press (2020).
[Allow 3-4 weeks].

Drawing from extensive research in Nouwen’s archives, author and Chief Archivist for the Henri Nouwen Legacy Trust, Gabrielle Earnshaw, provides a detailed account of how Nouwen’s The Return of the Prodigal Son (see on right) came to be written. He sheds light on Nouwen’s writing process and aspects of his life experience that influenced his insights and ideas.

Earnshaw examines Nouwen’s intellectual formation as well as the impact of his family and friends on the shape of the book. Letters, many published here for the first time, give us a privileged look at Henri’s world during the nine years he took to complete the book.

Earnshaw considers how it compares to other books published at the same time to place the work and its author in a historical, cultural and religious/spiritual context. Finally, she explores how Nouwen himself was changed by the book and why it continues to touch the hearts and minds of 21st century readers.

The Return of the Prodigal Son:
A Story of Homecoming.
Henri J.M. Nouwen.
Pbk.160pp. ISBN 9780385473071.

Image (1994).
[Allow 3-4 weeks].

The challenge, to love as the father and be loved as the son, is the overriding message of this spiritual writer’s deeply personal and resonant meditation on the parable of the return of the prodigal son, as inspired by Rembrandt’s painted masterpiece.

Nouwen evokes a powerful drama of the classic parable in a rich, captivating way that is sure to reverberate in the hearts of readers. Nouwen probes key movements of the parable: the younger son’s return, the father’s restoration of sonship, the elder son’s resentfulness, and the father’s compassion.

The themes of homecoming, affirmation, and reconciliation will be newly discovered by all who have known loneliness, dejection, jealousy, or anger. The challenge to love as God loves, and to be loved as God’s beloved, will be seen as the ultimate revelation of the parable known to Christians throughout time, and is here represented with a vigour and power fresh for our times.

The Lost Art of Scripture:
Rescuing the Sacred Texts.
Now in paperback.
Karen Armstrong.
Pbk 560pp. ISBN 9781847924322.

The Bodley Head (2019).
[Allow 3-4 weeks].

An urgent review of the use and abuse of holy texts in today’s world – and a call for understanding and compassion at a time when religion is viewed as a source of conflict.

Today we see the Quran being used by some to justify war and terrorism, the Torah to deny Palestinians the right to live in the Land of Israel, and the Bible to condemn homosexuality and contraception. The holy texts at the centre of all religious traditions are often employed selectively to underwrite arbitrary and subjective views. They are believed to be divinely ordained; they are claimed to contain eternal truths.

But as Karen Armstrong, a world authority on religious affairs, shows in this fascinating journey through millennia of history, this narrow reading of scripture is a relatively recent phenomenon. For hundreds of years these texts were instead viewed as spiritual tools: scripture was a means for the individual to connect with the divine, to transcend their physical existence, and to experience a higher level of consciousness. Holy texts were seen as fluid and adaptable, rather than a set of binding archaic rules or a ‘truth’ that has to be ‘believed’.

Armstrong argues that only by rediscovering an open engagement with their holy texts will the world’s religions be able to curtail arrogance, intolerance and violence. And if scripture is used to engage with the world in more meaningful and compassionate ways, we will find that it still has a great deal to teach us.

A Very Big Problem.

Amy-Jill Levine; Sandy Eisenberg Sasso; Annie Bowler (Illustrator)
Hbk 40pp. ISBN 9781947888111.

Flyaway Books (2020).
[Allow 3-4 weeks]

In the beginning, God’s garden is beautiful and peaceful, but it doesn’t stay that way. Everyone has something to say! Rain brags that it’s the most refreshing. Birds boast that they’re the most splendid. Earthworms bluster about their busyness. Then Children come along, claiming to be the best of all. And it’s only fair that the best is loved most, isn’t it?

“The artwork is colourful and multicultural depicting a world filled with beauty…Accessible and written in age-appropriate language.” Association of Jewish Libraries

Women in the Bible:
Resources for the Use of Scripture in the Church.

Interpretation series.
Jaime Clark-Soles.
Hbk 408pp. ISBN 9780664234010.

Westminster John Knox Press (2020).
[Allow 3-4 weeks].

What was it like to be a woman in the biblical period? It depended, in part, on who you were: a queen, a judge, a primary wife, a secondary wife, a widow, a slave, or some other kind of ordinary woman. Clark-Soles investigates how women are presented in Scripture, taking into account cultural views of both ancient societies as well as our own.

While women today are exercising leadership in churches across a number of denominations and our scholarly knowledge related to women in the Bible has grown immensely, challenges remain. Most of Christendom still excludes women from religious leadership, and many Christians invoke the Bible to circumscribe women’s leadership in the public square and in the home as well. It is more urgent than ever, therefore, to investigate closely, honestly, and intrepidly what the Bible does and doesn’t say about women.

Also on this topic:

Sophia and Daughters Revisited:
Reflections on Women of Biblical Connection.
Rosalie Sugrue.
Click for details and to order:
Print or eBooks


Preaching Women:
Gender, Power and the Pulpit
Liz Shercliff.
Pbk.224pp. ISBN 9780334058380.

SCM Press (2019).
[Allow 3-4 weeks].

Should women who preach, preach as women?

Shercliff argues that far from being a gender-neutral space, the pulpit is a critical place in which a gender imbalance can begin to be redressed. There is a vital need for women preachers to speak out of their experience of living as women in today’s culture and church.

Filling a glaring gap in the literature around homiletics, Preaching Women considers reasons why women preachers should preach from their experiences as women, what women bring to preaching that is missing without us, and how women preachers can go about the task of biblical preaching.

Praying for the Earth:
Remembering the Environment in our Prayers of Intercession.
Rob Kelsey.
Pbk 95pp. ISBN 9781789591354.

Sacristy Press (2021).
[Allow 3-4 weeks].

Prayers for the environment are often missing from the intercessions in church on a Sunday morning, perhaps because we struggle to find the right words. Here is a resource for congregations and for individual Christians who believe that environmental concerns should be an integral part of the public and private prayers of all Christian people.

The book is intended to be used as a supplement to the prayers of intercession in church on Sunday, and by individuals in their private prayers, so that praying for the earth becomes an “ordinary” part of our spiritual and daily life, rather than something that happens on a special occasion.

Praying for the Earth may be used by those who lead intercessions in public worship, by groups of Christians whenever they pray together, and by individual Christians in their personal prayers. The prayers may be used unchanged, or adapted, or as an inspiration for praying in one’s own words.


The Uninhabitable Earth:
Life After Warming.
David Wallace-Wells.
Pbk 384pp. ISBN 9780525576716.

Tim Duggan Books (2020).
[Allow 3-4 weeks].

It is worse, much worse, than you think. If your anxiety about global warming is dominated by fears of sea-level rise, you are barely scratching the surface of what terrors are possible – food shortages, refugee emergencies, climate wars and economic devastation.

The Uninhabitable Earth is both a travelogue of the near future and a meditation on how that future will look to those living through it – the ways that warming promises to transform global politics, the meaning of technology and nature in the modern world, the sustainability of capitalism and the trajectory of human progress.

The book is also an impassioned call to action. For just as the world was brought to the brink of catastrophe within the span of a lifetime, the responsibility to avoid it now belongs to a single generation – today’s.

Not in Narrow Seas:
The Economic History of Aotearoa New Zealand.
Brian Easton.
Pbk 688pp. ISBN 9781776563043.

Victoria University Press (2020).
[Out of stock at distributor
pending a reprint.
Allow 2 months].

Not in Narrow Seas is a major contribution to the history of Aotearoa New Zealand. It covers everything from the traditional gift-based Māori economy to the Ardern government’s attempt to deal with the economic challenges of global warming and is the first economic history to underline the central role of the environment, beginning with the geological formation of these islands.

Economist Brian Easton throws new light on some cherished national myths. He argues that Britain’s entry into the EEC was not the major turning point that many assume; of much more lasting importance was the permanent collapse of wool prices in 1966. He asks how far it is true that New Zealand is an egalitarian country where ‘Jack’s as good as his master.’ He offers the most extensive investigation yet of the Rogernomics revolution of the 1980s and early 1990s, and shows that governments of left and right are still grappling with its legacy.

Easton deals with the major economic trends since the war – the movement of Māori into the cities, of women into paid work, and of Pasifika people to Aotearoa. He analyses the rise of the modern Māori economy and the increased political power of business, and includes vivid pen portraits of the important yet largely unremembered people who shaped our economy. This is also a profoundly political history, which focuses not only on governments but the share of votes won by the parties: it is our first MMP history.

“Not In Narrow Seas is really a lifetime of work turned into an accessible and sometimes challenging book on the economic history of New Zealand.” Shamubeel Eaqub, Newsroom

Bullshit Jobs:
A Theory.
David Graeber.
Pbk 368pp. ISBN 9781501143335.
Simon & Schuster (2019).
[Allow 3-4 weeks].

Does your job make a meaningful contribution to the world? In the spring of 2013, David Graeber asked this question in a playful, provocative essay titled “On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs.” It went viral. After one million online views in 17 different languages, people all over the world are still debating the answer.

There are hordes of people – HR consultants, communication coordinators, telemarketing researchers, corporate lawyers – whose jobs are useless, and, tragically, they know it. These people are caught in bullshit jobs.

Bullshit Jobs gives individuals, corporations, and societies permission to undergo a shift in values, placing creative and caring work at the centre of our culture. This book is for everyone who wants to turn their vocation back into an avocation and “a thought-provoking examination of our working lives.

Church Comes Home:
Start a House Church Network Anywhere.
David L. Barnhart, Jr.
Pbk 160pp. ISBN 9781791007331.
Abingdon Press (2020).
[Allow 3-4 weeks].

People have lost faith in many collective institutions: government, corporations, the media and the church. We are in the midst of a spiritual disaster, a flood of biblical proportions, and house churches provide lifeboats for people who are seeking a more authentic, life-giving form of Christian community.

Church Comes Home provides an alternative model for denominations and established churches to consider. It will help pastors reconnect with the traditions of community organising, itinerant preaching, and discipleship training that sparked Methodism and other church movements.

Many people remember that the early church started in homes, but they don’t understand that house churches are still a legitimate and viable model today. House churches can create the intimacy so many people are hungry for. They can nurture life-changing discipleship for individuals and create justice-centred communities. Networked house churches can become truly diverse, multi-ethnic communities that spread the Gospel by emphasising practices over programs. These communities de-centre the preacher, opting instead for grassroots organising, but are not leaderless – they are leader-full.

The City Is My Monastery:
A Contemporary Rule of Life.
Richard Carter;
Rowan Williams

Pbk 304pp. ISBN9781640605824.
Paraclete Press (2020).
[Allow 3-4 weeks].

In the midst of an established monastic life, Richard Carter answered a new call, leaving his life of 15 years in the Melanesian Brotherhood to answer a need in a busy church in the heart of London, Saint Martin-in-the-Fields.

There Carter founded the Nazareth Community. Its diverse members – in Samuel Wells’ words from the foreword, “a community of faith and forsaken, wondrous and woolly” – gather from everyday life to seek God in contemplation, to acknowledge their dependence on God’s grace, and to learn to live openly and generously with all.

With wit, wisdom, and generosity, Richard Carter tells the story of the Nazareth Community, and offers spiritual insight for daily Gospel life rooted in these seven spiritual pillars: Silence, Service, Scripture, Sacrament, Sharing, Sabbath Time and Staying.

Mentoring Conversations:
30 key topics to explore together.
Tony Horsfall.
Pbk 154pp. ISBN 9780857469250.
Bible Reading Fellowship (2020).
[Allow 3-4 weeks].

This is a core resource for anyone involved in spiritual mentoring. It provides a basis for spiritual conversation in a mentoring context through 30 short chapters structured around six key topic areas:

  • Foundations
  • Steps to growth
  • Living out your faith
  • Going deeper
  • Staying strong, and
  • Living with mystery.

Each chapter begins with a Bible passage or text, followed by the author’s comment on the topic, questions to use as a starting point for conversation and suggestions for further reading.

“This wonderful book will make an excellent tool, enabling both mentor and mentee to walk together with God. It will provoke conversation, reminding them of what God has already done in their lives, and offer practical teaching to increase a sense of his presence and purpose for the future. Rooted in scripture, it will help answer the heart cry of many for a deeper walk with Jesus. I am delighted to commend this volume to anyone who is serious about following Christ.” Andy Lancaster, pastoral care leader, Bridge Community Church, Leeds

This Hallelujah Banquet:
How the End of What We Were Reveals Who We Can Be.

Eugene H. Peterson.
Hbk 224pp. ISBN 9781601429858.
Waterbrook Press (2020).
[Allow 3-4 weeks].

In this powerful new interpretation of the Book of Revelation, the late, revered author and translator of The Message Bible shows us how to live with profound joy and faithfulness – even when it feels like the end of the world.

When John the Beloved Disciple penned the Book of Revelation, Christians lived in a time of oppression, violence, deception, and injustice. There were temptations from outside the church and divisions within. Some days, it felt like the end of the world.

Two millennia later, the characters are different, but the story’s the same. The life of faith is anything but easy. So how can we learn to live with truth and power when challenges seem to be everywhere?

Through the dramatic symbolism of John’s Letters to the Seven Churches, Eugene Peterson encourages us to see ourselves in these ancient communities as they are examined by the Risen Christ. As we do, we’re forced to ask: What if the troubles that face us were intended to test our faith? What if the secret to deeper satisfaction in Jesus did not mean avoiding pain and trial, but living faithfully through it?

In this powerful, never-before-published work, we are given a new and timely message from one of our most iconic Christian voices. Our anxious longings for peace and joy will be met as we learn to live with overcoming faith, even in the most turbulent times.

Click here for our:
Lent and Easter 2021 Selection
and here for our
Year B – 2021 Worship, Preaching and Devotional Resources page
which lists other books covering Lent & Easter 2021 Year B.

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.

Are you looking for a specific book?

Please also ask us to find any other books you are interested in. We will give you a price and time to deliver. Emailing us at books@pgpl.co.nz works best.