Mid-February 2021 Selection

Mid- February 2021 Selection

This selection includes new books by leading authors: Barbara Brown Taylor, Brian D. McLaren, Amy-Jill Levine, Walter Brueggemann, Richard Rohr and Will Willimon.

Topics covered in this selection include:

  • preaching effectively
  • encouragement to take the next step our personal spiritual journeys and moving to deeper levels of faith
  • fresh ideas about women in the Old and New Testaments, and
  • the Bible a text of liberation for women experiencing domestic abuse

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[Prices, stock levels and estimated delivery time for titles on this page were last updated on 12 January 2021]

Always a Guest:
Speaking of Faith Far from Home
Barbara Brown Taylor.
Hbk 256pp. ISBN 9780664261702.
Westminster John Knox Press (2020).
[Allow 3-4 weeks].

Episcopal priest Taylor is a well-known speaker and writer who bills herself as a “spiritual contrarian,” declaring, “I say things you’re not supposed to say.” Taylor keeps that promise in this book, which is a collection of sermons delivered to various congregations over the past decade or so. The author uses her role as guest speaker to challenge traditional thought about the teachings of Jesus and Christian norms.

Each of Taylor’s 31 thought-provoking discourses are based on a scriptural passage made relevant to believers’ everyday lives:

  • “Believing Thomas” shows us that it’s okay and only logical to harbour doubts from time to time
  • The “Widow’s Might” is not a story of one woman’s ultimate sacrifice but of people and institutions that fail to use their power to care for those who are poor and powerless
  • The “Good Heretic” informs us that the parable of the Good Samaritan teaches that instead of trying to make our lives conform to unexamined belief systems, we should allow events in our lives to shape our beliefs.

Full of Taylor’s astute observations on the Spirit and the state of the world along with her gentle wit, this collection will inspire Taylor’s fans and preachers alike as she explores faith in all its beauty and complexity.

Faith After Doubt:
Why Your Beliefs Stopped Working and What to Do about It.
Brian D. McLaren.
Hbk 256pp. ISBN 9781250262776.

St. Martin’s Essentials (2021).
[Allow 3-4 weeks].

“Faith has been equated with certainty, but that is its opposite. Faith is choosing to believe even though you don’t know for certain; it embraces doubt and gives it space.” Goodreads review

McLaren proposes a four-stage model of faith development in which questions and doubt are not the enemy of faith, but rather a portal to a more mature and fruitful kind of faith. The four stages – Simplicity, Complexity, Perplexity, and Harmony – offer a path forward that can help sincere and thoughtful people leave behind unnecessary baggage and intensify their commitment to what matters most.

Using his own story and the stories of a diverse group of struggling believers, McLaren, a former pastor and now an author, speaker, and activist shows how old assumptions are being challenged in nearly every area of human life, not just theology and spirituality.

The Bible With and Without Jesus:
How Jews and Christians Read the Same Stories Differently.
Amy-Jill Levine; Marc Zvi Brettler.
Hbk 512pp. ISBN 9780062560155.

HarperOne (2020).
[Allow 3-4 weeks].

In this accessible and stimulating book, Levine and Brettler show how and why Jews and Christians read many of the same Biblical texts – including passages from the Pentateuch, the Prophets, and the Psalms – differently. They explore and explain these diverse perspectives, and reveal more clearly Scripture’s beauty and power.

They take readers on a guided tour of the most popular Hebrew Bible passages quoted in the New Testament to show what the texts meant in their original contexts and then how Jews and Christians, over time, understood those same texts. Passages include the creation of the world, the role of Adam and Eve, the Suffering Servant of Isiah, the book of Jonah, and Psalm 22, whose words, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me,” Jesus quotes as he dies on the cross.


An Introduction to the Old Testament:
The Canon and Christian Imagination
Third Edition.
Walter Brueggemann; Tod Linafelt.
Pbk 512pp. ISBN 9780664264413.

Westminster John Knox Press (2021).
[Allow 3-4 weeks].

Brueggemann and Linafelt focus on the literature of the Old Testament as it grew out of religious, political, and ideological contexts over many centuries in Israel’s history. Covering every book in the Old Testament (arranged in canonical order), the authors demonstrate the development of theological concepts in biblical writings from the Torah through postexilic Judaism.

Incorporating the most current scholarship, this new edition also includes concrete tips for doing close readings of the Old Testament text, and a chapter on ways to read Scripture and respond in light of pressing contemporary issues, such as economic inequality, racial and gender justice, and environmental degradation. This introduction invites readers to engage in the construction of meaning as they venture into these timeless texts.

Preachers Dare:
Speaking for God.
Will Willimon.
Pbk 192pp. ISBN 9781791008055.

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

Dare to be bold and speak about the God who speaks to us as Jesus Christ.

Willimon draws upon his decades of preaching, as well as his many books on the practice of homiletics, to present a bold theology of preaching. This book emphasises preaching as a distinctively theological endeavour that begins with and is enabled by God. God speaks, preachers dare to speak the speech of God, and the church dares to listen.

By moving from the biblical text to the contemporary context, preachers dare to speak up for God so that God might speak today. With fresh biblical insights, creativity and pointed humour, Willimon gives today’s preachers and congregations encouragement to speak with the God who has so graciously and effusively spoken to us.

Every Thing Is Sacred:
40 Practices and Reflections on the Universal Christ.

Richard Rohr, Patrick Boland.
Hbk 256pp. ISBN 9780593238783.

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

In this companion to The Universal Christ (see right), Richard Rohr and Patrick Boland offer forty reflections and practices exploring what it means to live “in Christ.”

In The Universal Christ, Rohr discussed what it means to recognise Jesus as “Christ” – as a portrait of God’s constant, unfolding work in the world. Now, in partnership with Patrick Boland, a psychotherapist and member of Rohr’s Center for Action and Contemplation community, he invites readers to engage with the themes of the book through spiritual practice.

Each reflection in this book draws on a key passage of The Universal Christ, paired with prayers, journal prompts, and embodied exercises that invite readers into a more personal encounter with the truth that the presence and compassion of the Christ are in every thing.

Whether read daily for the season of Lent or explored over the course of a year, Every Thing Is Sacred is a hope-filled journey into the love at the heart of all things.

The Universal Christ:
How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope For, and Believe.
Richard Rohr.
Pbk 288pp. ISBN 9780593238325. Convergent (2021).

[Allow 3-4 weeks].

God loves things by becoming them,” Rohr writes, and Jesus’s life was meant to declare that humanity has never been separate from God – except by its own negative choice. When we recover this fundamental truth, faith becomes less about proving Jesus was God, and more about learning to recognise the Creator’s presence all around us, and in everyone we meet.

Thought-provoking, practical, and full of deep hope and vision, The Universal Christ is a landmark book from one of our most beloved spiritual writers, and an invitation to contemplate how God liberates and loves all that is.

The Bible Doesn’t Tell Me So:
Why you don’t have to submit to domestic abuse and coercive control.
Helen Paynter.
Pbk 178pp. ISBN 9780857469892.

Bible Reading Fellowship (2020).
[Allow 3-4 weeks].

This book is addressed directly to women experiencing domestic abuse, and to those who seek to support them, including pastoral leaders, friends and support organisations.

It debunks the myths – perpetuated by some abusers and, unwittingly, by many churches – which prevent women from getting out of harm’s way. It helps them realise that the Bible does not belong to their abuser but is a text of liberation. Written with careful attention to pastoral issues, it closely examines and clearly explains the relevant scriptural texts.

From Widows to Warriors:
Women’s Stories from the Old Testament.
Lynn Japinga.
Pbk 192pp. ISBN 9780664265694.

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

This Bible study introduces and retells every female character who contributes to one or more Old Testament stories, diving deeply into what each woman’s story means for us today with questions for reflection and discussion.

Japinga acquaints us with the women of the Old Testament. From flawed heroes like Ruth and Rahab to fierce fighters like Deborah and Jael to tragic characters like Jephthah’s daughter and the unnamed concubine of the book of Judges, readers will encounter a wealth of foremothers in the faith in all their messy, yet redeemable, humanity.

Faith in Children.
Ronni Lamont.
Pbk 226pp. ISBN 9780857219510.

Monarch Books (2020).
[Allow 4 weeks].

A book about children in the church, and how to reach and nurture them.

In most churches, Christian education for children is run by enthusiastic volunteers from the worshipping community. But how much support and training do they receive? Do they get the opportunity to explore and apply principles of child development or current theories of faith development? And to what extent are they supported by their ministers and congregations with a clear focus on children’s work?

Drawing on the author’s extensive experience of working with children, she offers a window into the process going on inside our children and enables those who work with them to understand what makes a particular child ‘tick.’ With insights into a range of teaching methods, learning styles and the unique spirituality of children, this book suggests how adults can truly learn from children as they learn from us.


Everyday Public Worship.
Susan H. Jones.
Pbk 160pp. ISBN 9780334057550.

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

“Susan Jones’ book is a rich and helpful resource on the origins and development of worship in the Church of England and beyond. It is engaging, accessible and a fantastic resource for both groups and individuals seeking a deeper understanding of worship.” Justin Welby

Everyday Public Worship has been designed to engage with the ordinary experience and ordinary theology of Christian disciples as they work to develop and deepen their discipleship learning. In so doing it links the reader’s everyday experience with the key influences that have shaped the Church’s understanding of public worship, with the Scriptures, with Christian doctrine, with Church history, and with the landmarks in Christian liturgy.

The book explores the themes raised by a serious and thoughtful consideration of public worship by engaging in conversation with three Christian disciples who came from very different backgrounds and who have very different experiences of and expectations for public worship.

The Ministry of Women in the New Testament:
Reclaiming the Biblical Vision for Church Leadership.
Dorothy A. Lee.
Pbk 240pp. ISBN 9781540963086.

Baker Academic (2021).
[Allow 3-4 weeks].

Lee considers evidence from the New Testament and early church to show that women’s ministry is confirmed by the biblical witness. Her comprehensive examination explores the roles women played in the Gospels and letters of Paul, with a particular focus on passages that have been used in the past to limit women’s ministry. She argues that women in the New Testament were not only valued as disciples but also given leadership roles, which has implications for the contemporary church.

“Although the ministries of women, ordained and otherwise, have been acknowledged by great segments of the church, rejection and resistance persist. In this fine volume, Lee presents a comprehensive and engaging case for the ordained ministry of women, drawing on evidence from Scripture, history, and the theological tradition. Her work challenges the idolatry of masculinity that continues to cripple men and women alike within the Christian community. A most welcome contribution.” Beverly Roberts Gaventa, Baylor University


Now back in Stock
Let Your Light Shine Through:
Collected Sermons
– Creative Worship Volume 2.
Philip Garside.
304pp. ISBN 9781988572260
PGPL (2020). 

[10+ in stock]

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New Zealand Methodist lay preacher and progressive Christian, Philip Garside, offers fresh insights into Bible readings that will stimulate your thinking, warm your heart and support your spiritual journey. He always aims to engage congregation members’ hearts and minds as they gather to worship God.

The 62 sermons in this book are arranged in the order they were preached over 12 years, and follow the three-year cycle of readings in the Revised Common Lectionary. There are indexes of Scripture readings and of People / Themes, and a Bibliography of key books, recordings and other sources referred to in the sermons.

The book is supported by a password enabled page on our website with free links to PowerPoints, images & photos, video clips, and audio recordings of many of the sermons.

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.

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