May 2019 Selection

May 2019 Selection

This month’s selection includes several books on the broad theme of how people of faith can organise their churches to contribute to their local communities and the wider world.  There are also several titles from Chalice Press and SPCK released in the last year or so. 

At the bottom of the list are 5 excellent titles now available paperback, including Grateful by Diana Butler Bass. Christchurch Presbyterian minister Sylvia Purdie’s book of paraphrases of the Psalms – Let’s Say a Psalm –  for children, families and worship, and an new 2nd edition of the appealing The Big Bible Storybook round out the list.


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[Prices, stock levels and estimated delivery time for titles on this page were last updated on 30 April 2019]

True Inclusion:
Creating Communities of Radical Embrace.
Brandan Robertson.
Pbk 128pp. ISBN 9780827237186.

Chalice Press (2018).
[Allow 2-3 weeks]

Discover how to move your church beyond mere welcome to radical embrace. So your church website says you’re welcoming, a rainbow flag flies out front, worship uses gender-inclusive language, and you make sure you greet the stranger next to you on Sunday mornings. But is all of that really enough? And what if those welcoming gestures actually keep visitors from returning and exclude dozens of other groups or people in your community?

Learn practical, step-by-step approaches to becoming deeply, robustly, and richly inclusive of all people regardless of race, gender identity, sexual orientation, political affiliation, and socioeconomic status.

Written for people and communities at every stage of the journey, True Inclusion will challenge and inspire you to embody a gospel of radical embrace for all.

An Unlikely Messiah, a Messy Ministry, and the Call to Mobilize.
Derek Penwell.
Pbk 192pp. ISBN 9780827231665.

Chalice Press (2019).
[Allow 2-3 weeks].

Jesus did everything wrong: Poor judgment picking a team of disciples – Ministering to the wrong people – Angering the wrong people – Having outrageous expectations of his followers –Questionable teaching methods – Allowing others to have unrealistic opinions about his mission – A humiliating end followed by an improbable surprise ending.

And then, somehow, inspiring millions to attempt to change the world in his name.

Penwell shows how Jesus’s ministry flew in the face of conventional wisdom, a ministry that would be described as misguided, mistaken, and miserable – and succeeded beyond his wildest dreams.

Then, fast-forwarding 2,000 years, learn how that kind of ministry is sorely needed today and the political, social, and organisational lessons to be learned from Jesus’s radically different ministry.

Transforming Communities:
How People Like You Are Healing Their Neighborhoods.

Sandhya Rani Jha.
Pbk 144pp. ISBN 9780827237155.

Chalice Press (2017).
[Allow 2-3 weeks].

What can one person do to change the world?

Be inspired by real stories of ordinary people who changed their neighbourhoods. Transforming Communities will give you the vision, the tools, and the encouragement to start your own transformations.

“Sandhya’s stated goal – which she ably achieves here – is simple yet arduous: to get us out of our stifling cynicism so that we may see deeply, listen intently, act justly, and love radically.

To break down our world-weariness and its consequent inactivity, she beautifully fuses the enduring wisdom of faith and justice movements with the raw tactility and wounded victories of on-the-ground work, in ways that both disarm and charm.

To be sure, her scholarship is needed more than ever, for it is nuanced yet accessible, technical yet gritty, erudite yet disruptive.” Jose Francisco Morales Torres, Director of Pastoral Formation, Disciples Seminary Foundation, Claremont, California

Organizing Church:
Grassroots Practices for Embodying Change in Your Congregation, Your Community, and Our World.
Tim Conder; Dan Rhodes.
Pbk 160pp. ISBN 9780827227637.

Chalice Press (2017).
[Allow 3-4 weeks].

“Lots of people are fed up with ‘organized religion.’ They recognized that religion is too often poorly organized – or well-organized around the wrong purposes!

That’s why this book is so valuable: drawing wisdom from the important field of community organizing, it helps you imagine a church organizing well and for the right purposes.”
Brian D. McLaren, activist, author of The Great Spiritual Migration

“Tim Conder and Dan Rhodes know what they are talking about. They have formed and reformed a number of congregations and have been leaders in fitting churches for more faithful, fruitful futures.

Now they tell us how in their spirited call for churches to organize themselves to make a more vibrant Christian witness in their communities. They make a strong case that in giving to our community contexts we receive more lively, faithful congregations. Conder and Rhodes have led community organizing ministry in their contexts, now they guide us in organizing the church Christ means for us to be.”
Will Willimon, Duke Divinity School, United Methodist Bishop (retired)

Love Big:
The Power of Revolutionary Relationships to Heal the World.
Rozella Haydee White.
Pbk 200pp. ISBN 9781506433738.

Fortress Press (2019).
[Allow 2-3 weeks].

Leadership coach Rozella Hayde White introduces readers to the power of revolutionary relationships. Modelled after the image of God as a lover, these relationships can heal the brokenness of our lives by crossing over the dividing lines of race, gender, religion, orientation, ability, identity, and class to provide relief and inspiration.

Revolutionary relationships will usher us into a reality marked by love, connection, and a belief in abundance. Revolutionary relationships lead us to love big – to love despite hardships and fear; to love in the face of despair; to love ourselves and others deeply and passionately; to love in ways that change us all.

Let’s Say a Psalm:
The Psalms in a fresh voice for children, families and worship.
Silvia Purdie
Print on demand ISBN 9781086480306

Philip Garside Publishing Ltd (2019)
[1 in stock – then allow 2-3 weeks]

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You will enjoy using these delightful paraphrases of the Psalms at home and in church. Includes Silvia’s own photos, many from a trip to Israel.

“For millennia, the Psalms have been the prayer book for people of faith. Silvia Purdie has paraphrased each one in a delightful way, bringing freshness to the themes.

She helps people today – including youth and children – experience the relevance of the thoughts and prayers in each Psalm. Her paraphrases are a delight.”
Lynne Baab, author of Sabbath Keeping and The Power of Listening.

These prayers can be used at home and for worship in church. Silvia has interpreted the Psalms through a Jesus lens, assuming the they include prophecy about Christ, that Jesus re-interpreted them and that all scripture breathes the Word of Christ.

The book includes brief notes on: involving children in worship, the name of God “the Lord,” the violent texts in some of the Psalms, and reading the Psalms with Jesus in mind. There is also a thematic index and a list of New Testament references.

The Big Bible Storybook:
Refreshed and Updated 2nd Edition
Containing 188 Best-Loved Bible Stories To Enjoy Together.
Mark Carpenter.
Hbk 256pp Colour throughout.
ISBN 9780281081127.
SPCK (2019).
[Allow 3-4 weeks].

‘Small children have BIG minds when it comes to thinking about God.’

Discover the big story of the Bible from Creation to Revelation, told especially for young children. Perfect for use at home, at school and in groups, The Big Bible Storybook brings 188 stories to life on every page with the much loved Bible Friends characters.

Come and share in the wonder of God’s good news!

Bob Hartman’s Rhyming Bible.
Bob Hartman.
Hbk 144pp. ISBN 9780281077946.

SPCK (2019).
[Allow 2-3 weeks].

Internationally acclaimed storyteller and best-selling children’s author Bob Hartman re-tells classic Bible stories in rhyme. Featuring popular tales from the Old and New Testaments, this is an ideal book for a parent to read with a child or for use in any storytelling setting with young children.

Bob Hartman’s fresh take on these well-loved stories are a joy to read aloud with any child. They also lend themselves to be used in any storytelling setting with children, e.g. preschool groups, all-age services.

How Career, Parenting, Technology, Food, Politics, and Romance Became Our New Religion and What to Do about It.
David Zahl.
Hbk 211pp. ISBN 9781506449432.
Fortress Press (2019).
[Allow 2-3 weeks].

At the heart of our current moment lies a universal yearning, writes David Zahl, not to be happy or respected, so much as to have enough – what religions call “righteousness.”

Zahl challenges the conventional narrative of religious decline. He unmasks the competing pieties around which so much of people’s lives revolve, and he does so in a way that’s playful, personal and incisive.

He brings us to a fresh appreciation for the grace of God in all its countercultural wonder.

To fill the void left by religion, we look to all sorts of everyday activities – from eating and parenting to dating and voting – for the identity, purpose, and meaning once provided on Sunday morning. In our striving, we are chasing a sense of enoughness. But it remains ever out of reach, and the effort and anxiety are burning us out.

Religion Hurts:
Do Religions Do More Harm Than Good?
John Bowker.
Hbk 176pp. ISBN 9780281080168
SPCK (2018).
[Allow 3-4 weeks].

The world contains a bewildering variety of religions, and an equally bewildering variety of practices and beliefs within them.

This is a book for readers who ask such questions as:

  • Why did religions develop and become so widespread?
  • Why do religions matter so much to so many people?
  • Why do some believe that their faith requires them to terrorise and kill others?
  • Do religions do more harm than good?

Bowker, one of the world’s most distinguished scholars of religion, delivers a timely analysis of the issues. He shows how recent research, particularly in the neurosciences, genetics, and evolution, throws new light on what religions are and on what part they have played in human life and history.

This explanation of why religions have been a force for both good and evil is of vital importance for those trying to understand the politics of the modern world.

The Bare Bible:
Uncovering The Bible For The First Time (Or The Hundredth).
Peter Graystone.
Pbk 192pp. ISBN 9780281078431. 

SPCK (2018).
[Allow 3-4 weeks].

Written with humour and a friendly, accessible tone, this perfect introductory guide to the Bible assumes no prior knowledge from readers.

Graystone discusses the different genres found within its pages, the history of how these books came to be known as the Bible, and why, even after all these years, its words are still relevant to us today.

Johann Sebastian Bach:
A Very Brief History.
Andrew Gant.
Hbk 144pp. ISBN 9780281079575.
SPCK (2018).
[Allow 3-4 weeks].

Johann Sebastian Bach is today considered one of the greatest musicians ever to have lived, and his compositions are known throughout the world. Yet, despite being successful during his lifetime, after his death Bach’s compositions initially declined in popularity until a 19th century revival.

Gant explores the social, political, and religious factors that formed the original context of his life and work and considers how these factions affected the way in which Bach’s music was initially received. He then goes on to explore the intellectual and cultural afterlife of Bach, and the ways in which his music has been revived and the interpreted by later generations.

The book has a brief chronology at the front plus a glossary of key terms and a list of further reading at the back.

God Created Humanism:
The Christian Basis of Secular Values
Theo Hobson.
Pbk 208pp. ISBN 9780281077434.

SPCK (2018).
[Allow 3-4 weeks].

In this compelling account of the origins and evolution of our secular worldview, Hobson shows how Christian values continue to underpin our public morality, how faith remains indispensable to Western humanism, and how atheistic humanism represents a dead end. At the same time, he offers a timely warning against the dangers of a religious-secular culture war, given the radically politicised and destructive forms of religion endemic in the world today.

Here is a fresh and provocative argument about religion and politics – but one that doesn’t fit into the normal boxes. It suggests that although the public creed of the West is best described as `secular humanism’ we can only really understand and affirm secular humanism if we see how firmly it is based on Christian norms and values. If we don’t, the West is divided: mired in a stagnant stand-off between fundamentalist atheism and an equally hard-line Christian theism.

This book offers a more nuanced and historically more persuasive way forward, showing just how much our secular morality owes to Christianity, and how it can only find coherence through a new and positive view of its origins.

The Mystery of Christ:
Meditations and Prayers.
Keith Ward.
Pbk 96pp. ISBN 9780281079155.

SPCK (2018).
[Allow 3-4 weeks].

Though little can be known with certainty about the historical Jesus, the image of a heavenly figure – `Christ crucified and risen’ – was constructed out of his life and teachings.

In order to help us form a truly contemporary Christian spirituality, Keith Ward (writing in our own time and place) offers a set of reflections on what he believes to be the unique and life-transforming revelation of God in the person of Jesus Christ.

And as we explore the spiritual truths relating to this mystery as expressed in the Gospels, meditation leads naturally to prayer.

Waiting for the Last Bus:
Reflections on life and death
Richard Holloway.
Pbk 176pp. ISBN 9781786890245.
Canongate (2019).
[Allow 3-4 weeks].

Radical, joyful and moving, Waiting for the Last Bus is an invitation to reconsider life’s greatest mystery by one of the most important and beloved religious leaders of our time.

Now in his 9th decade, former Bishop of Edinburgh Richard Holloway has spent a lifetime at the bedsides of the dying, guiding countless men and women towards peaceful deaths.

A positive and profound exploration of the many important lessons we can learn, this is also a stirring plea to reacquaint ourselves with death. Doing so gives us the chance to think about the meaning of life itself; and can mean the difference between ordinary sorrow and unbearable regret at the end.

The Great Shift:
Encountering God in Biblical Times.
James L Kugel.
Pbk 476pp. ISBN 9781328505927.

Mariner Books (2019).
[Allow 2-3 weeks].

This landmark book is the culmination of a scholar’s lifelong reckoning with the foundational text of Judaism and Christianity.

Kugel uses the Bible’s own words to understand a fateful change that occurred during the biblical era, one that would ultimately determine the whole way in which Jews and Christians would encounter God ever since.

A great mystery lies at the heart of the Bible. Early on, people seem to live in a world entirely foreign to our own. God appears to Abraham and Sarah, Jacob and others; He buttonholes Moses and Isaiah and Jeremiah and tells them what to say.

Then comes the Great Shift, and Israelites stop seeing God or hearing His voice. Instead, later Israelites are ‘in search of God,’ reaching out to a distant, omniscient deity in prayers, as people have done ever since. What brought about this change?

The answers come from the Bible and other ancient texts, archaeology and anthropology and recent advances in neuroscience. Ultimately, the book leads readers to the most basic matter of all, the nature of humanity’s encounter with God from earliest times to our own day.

The Triumph of Christianity:

How a Forbidden Religion Swept the World.
Bart D Ehrman.
Pbk 352pp. ISBN 9781501136719.
Simon & Schuster (2019).
[Allow 2-3 weeks].

Christianity didn’t have to become the dominant religion in the West. It easily could have remained a sect of Judaism fated to have the historical importance of the Sadducees or the Essenes.

Ehrman, a master explainer of Christian history, texts, and traditions, shows how a religion whose first believers were twenty or so illiterate day laborers in a remote part of the empire became the official religion of Rome, converting some 30 million people in just four centuries.

He combines deep knowledge and meticulous research in an eye-opening, immensely readable narrative that upends the way we think about the single most important cultural transformation our world has ever seen—one that revolutionised art, music, literature, philosophy, ethics, economics, and law.


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Year C – 2019 Devotional, Worship and Preaching resources

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