Mid-February 2020 Selection

Mid-February 2020 Selection

Here are books on truth and how we live our lives, maps and plants of the Bible, pastoral ministry and running our churches.

Highlights include two new books by Walter Brueggemann, a commentary on Matthew’s gospel by Pope Francis, and Guy Jansen’s book about choral singing in New Zealand

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[Prices, stock levels and estimated delivery time for titles on this page were last updated on 15 Feb 2020]

Materiality as Resistance:
Five Elements for Moral Action in the Real World.
Walter Brueggemann.
Pbk 120pp. ISBN 9780664266264.

Westminster John Knox (2020).
[Allow 2-3 weeks].

Brueggemann defines materiality as the use of the material aspects of the Christian faith, as opposed to materialism, which places possessions and physical comfort over spiritual values. He lays out how we as Christians can re-engage our materiality for the common good.

  • How does materiality inform our faith when it comes to food, money, the body, time, and place?
  • How does it force us to act?
  • How is the church obligated to use its time, money, abundance of food, the care and use of our bodies, observance of Sabbath, and stewardship of our world and those with whom we share it?

With a foreword from Jim Wallis, this book serves as a manifesto of Brueggemann’s most important work and as an engaging call to action. It is suitable for group or individual study.

Wounded Shepherd:
Pope Francis and His Struggle to Convert the Catholic Church.
Austen Ivereigh.
Hbk 416pp. ISBN 9781250119384.

Henry Holt & Company (2019).
[Allow 2-3 weeks].

Ivereigh’s colourful, clear-eyed portrait of Pope Francis takes us inside the Vatican’s urgent debate over the future of the church.

“Austen Ivereigh has established himself as the most astute historian of the pontificate of Pope Francis, through his meticulous research, dogged interviewing and vast knowledge of the church. His new book is a peerless look at the sometimes overwhelming challenges facing this ground-breaking pope, whose task is at once simple and complex: to help the church proclaim the Gospel in the modern world. Learned, subtle, and deep, his book is indispensable for understanding this man and this church.” James Martin, SJ, author of Jesus: A Pilgrimage

Truth and Hope:
Essays for a Perilous Age.
Walter Brueggemann.
Pbk 260pp. ISBN 9780664265960. Westminster John Knox (2020).

[Allow 2-3 weeks].

In this varied collection of essays, Brueggemann provides a lens into biblical teachings that speak to our present age of fake news, lies, and alternate realities. Compiled and edited by Louis Stulman, professor of religious studies at the University of Findlay, these essays engage a common theme of truth and hope.

As Brueggemann writes in the preface, “There is no doubt that the prophetic tradition regularly engages in truth-telling in order to expose social reality as a systemic act of ‘falseness’ that contradicts the purposes of God. The prophetic tradition of Jeremiah, for instance, is preoccupied with truth-telling that exposes ‘falseness.’ …The prophet exposes the deceit of dominant culture.”

Healing Worship:
Purpose & Practice.
Bruce G Epperly.
Pbk 160pp. ISBN 9780829817423.

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

Here is a resource to enable pastors and other church leaders to integrate healing services into the total life of the church using a wholistic approach that connects healing liturgies with the theology, pastoral care, and social concerns of the church.

The book provides practical tools for:

  • healing homilies and liturgies
  • theological reflection on the healing ministry of the church
  • pastoral self-care
  • congregational health care ministries.

The Basic Bible Atlas:
A Fascinating Guide to the Land of the Bible.
John A. Beck.
Pbk 176pp. ISBN 9780801077906.

Baker Books (2020).
[Allow 2-3 weeks].

A respected scholar, educator, and guide in Israel introduces the geographical settings of the Bible and explains how each place participates in the biblical story.

With its colourful maps, the atlas helps us link geography to Bible study so we can understand how place impacted events in the Bible. From Eden to Egypt, from the promised land to Persia, from Bethlehem to the New Jerusalem, this is a fascinating guide to the land of the Bible. Your Bible study will never be the same.

In the Garden:
An Illustrated Guide to the Plants of the Bible.
Whitaker House.
Hbk 128pp. ISBN 9781641234023.

Whitaker House (2020).
[Allow 2-3 weeks].

With original illustrations, this beautiful gift book clarifies the biblical references to 50 plants and provides delightful new insights into the Word of God. Includes indexes to each plant and its corresponding Scripture references, a calendar of Jewish festivals and the growing seasons in Israel, and tips for growing your own biblically inspired garden.

Consider not only the lilies of the field, but all the plants, trees, herbs, shrubs, and flowers that play a role in the biblical narrative through this illustrated guide. From the barley Ruth harvested to the hyssop David craved, from the frankincense the wise men brought to Jesus to the sycamore tree Zacchaeus climbed, the Bible is peppered with allusions to the plants that were a part of daily life in the ancient Near East and in New Testament Israel.

We Were Spiritual Refugees:
A Story to Help You Believe in Church.
Katie Hays.
Pbk 360pp. ISBN 9780802877789. Eerdmans (2020).

[Allow 2-3 weeks].

Galileo Church is not a cool, hip, exotic breed; it’s just church, reimagined for a new day.

Hays, planter-pastor of Galileo Church, shares the story of departing the traditional church (on good terms) for the frontier of the spiritual-but-not-religious and building community with Jesus-loving (or at least Jesus-curious) outsiders.


Galileo Church is not like the churches you have known. Every day of its existence has been an experiment in practical theology rehabilitated for a new context. It’s surprisingly orthodox but with peculiarities about life together that go beyond questions of style and aesthetic – peculiarities that are best communicated through story.


So, if you are all-in with Jesus but have trust issues with church this book will give you hope for finding a community-of-belonging to call home.

The Splendor of Creation:
A Biblical Ecology.
Ellen Bernstein.
Pbk 162pp. ISBN 9780829816648.

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

Many people see the environmental crisis as a spiritual one. Bernstein sees the Book of Genesis as a guide to living peaceably with the Earth. The creation story invites a deep appreciation of nature and may be the perfect muse for a world that is hungry for an integrated ecological vision.

Written from a Jewish perspective, this book is both accessible and compelling to a broad audience, as it explores Genesis 1, verse by verse, reflecting on the language that contributes to a holistic ecological vision.

Sing New Zealand:
The story of choral music in Aotearoa.
Guy E. Jansen.
Pbk 384pp. ISBN 9780995100152.

Massey University Press (2019).
[Allow 10-14 days].

New Zealanders love to sing together. Thousands of us sing in hundreds of choirs throughout the country, making it our most popular and participated in performing art. Jansen describes New Zealand choral music’s trajectory from the enthusiastic amateur efforts of the 19th-century to today’s internationally renowned national choirs.

Jansen, (who founded Philip’s choir Festival Singers in 1976), was one of the key people leading the growth in and excellence of NZ’s choirs in recent decades. The world’s first national youth choir, the National Youth Choir of New Zealand, was just one of his initiatives.

The Gospel of Matthew:
A Spiritual and Pastoral Reading.
Pope Francis.
Pbk 240pp. ISBN 9781626983540.

Orbis Books (2020).
[Allow 2-3 weeks].

In these heart-stirring reflections by Pope Francis, readers will meet Jesus and discover hidden treasure in the individual lines and words of Matthew’s Gospel.

Not intended for study or preaching, these pages simply allow us to be guided by Pope Francis, a master of prayerful silence, so that we may embrace a simple and living intimacy with Jesus, the Word made flesh.

Kuwi & Friends Māori Picture Dictionary.
Kat Merewether, Pania Papa.
Hbk 64pp. ISBN 9780994136497.

Illustrated Publishing (2020).  
[Allow 10-14 days].

From the award-winning author and illustrator of the Kuwi the Kiwi series, Kat Merewether, comes a large scale, stunningly illustrated visual dictionary. Full of over 1000 basic words in te reo Māori and English, perfect for every New Zealander.

Planning Sabbaticals:
A Guide for Congregations and Their Pastors.
Robert C. Saler.
Pbk 128pp. ISBN 9780827231795.

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

Sabbaticals are becoming increasingly common practice in congregations, and while there are many books on helping pastors prepare for their time away, there are no texts that approach the experience with the congregation in mind, from start to finish.

This practical guide will help congregations and pastors make the most of a pastoral sabbatical time.

Holy Moments:
Activities for Teaching Children about Worship.
Emily La Branche Delikat.
Pbk 80pp. ISBN 9781501890895.

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

A library of activities created to help children fully understand how and why we worship together as a community of faith.

These simple activities cover each of the elements of a typical traditional or contemporary worship service and are perfect for adding holy moments to your children’s church, worship service, Sunday school, or children’s event.

Parent letters and photocopiable resources are included to help children and their families experience holy moments at home and connect them to what they have experienced at church.

Redemption Songs: 
Prayers for people like us
By Mark Laurent

Pbk 80pp, ISBN: NZ 9781927260586
PGPL (2016)
[20 in stock].

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“…poetry in motion. Freewheeling, anguished and inspirational…” Review in NZ Catholic , 12–25 March 2017

“Mark Laurent’s ‘psalms’ are a conversation between head and heart, full of wisdom and truth. We read the wisdom, recognise truth, and hunger for more. They are lovely and I think many people will identify with them.” Joy Cowley, author, retreat leader

The 71 songs in this book started out as responses to The Psalms but Mark soon found himself wandering to all sorts of places, the Psalms being good jump-off points. The songs are numbered instead of having titles, in the hope that this leaves a degree of open-endedness, so that God can say to you what you need to hear. Dip into them at random. May there be a few holy surprises here for you.

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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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.