The Benefice Book Club

The creative meeting last night looked at books for the club and we have come up with the following plan. As we meet on the first Monday of the month the calendar month mentioned refers to month that we will be reading the book.

We have selected books that others have recommended and ones that we have wanted to read. There was the suggestion that we should read some Christian classics and some popular anthropology and we have tried to balance books to the seasons with ‘Humility’ and ‘Enough’ in Advent and Lent. We have also tried to alternate genres and content and we hope that this has something for everyone.

This is a lively and enthusiastic group that has no membership so please do pick a book you like the look of and come to the discussion in the undercroft of St Peters Church at 7pm on the first Monday of the Month.

October

A review on amazon said….. I really like this book, although I am still reading it slowly because it is the sort of thing you have to stop and think about. I have just finished reading “You must be Joking, Mr. Feynman” at the end of which Feynman calls for science to be more honest and include all the reasons why a theory might be wrong, and other relevent factors, when proposing a theory, and I’ve often thought that Christian books should be more like that: well, this one is: it includes all the reasons against believing in the mad things that Christians believe: ‘yes’, it says, ‘look; we know all that, it is not that we haven’t thought of these arguments, we hold these in our heads and we battle with them every day, but we still believe’.

Francis explains that the biblical concept of sin is not the modern interpretation of jolly sexual pecadilloes but rather the concept of the human capacity to deliberately or undeliberately wreck things, and how Christianity provides the language and beliefs for us to cope with this: he talks about the way monotheism is an externalisation of some shimmering voice that we recognise inside ourselves as ‘other’. And that’s only what I’ve read so far.

November

We wanted some Adrian Plass for the lighthearted nature of his work and we also wanted to have a look at some classic Christian literature so a 2 book month!! The Adrian Plass is not too heavy and the Augustine is best dipped in and out of!

The whole idea of the SERIOUSLY FUNNY tour was for Adrian Plass and Jeff Lucas to let people in on their conversations about God, life and the universe – and it went pretty well. After all, that’s pretty much what they’ve been doing in their separate writing and speaking careers all these years.
All told, people seemed to like the way their trademark styles came together and shed light on even the most difficult subjects, in a way that perhaps made those burdens a little easier to bear.
However, as they toured around the country, Adrian and Jeff realised that other people’s questions were at least as interesting as their own – possible more so. Eventually they decided they’d better have a go at some answers. This book is the result.

They may not have got the answers right, but they have certainly had a good time along the way – and they hope you will, too.

The son of a pagan father and a Christian mother, Saint Augustine spent his early years torn between conflicting faiths and world views. His Confessions, written when he was in his forties, recount how, slowly and painfully, he came to turn away from his youthful ideas and licentious lifestyle, to become instead a staunch advocate of Christianity and one of its most influential thinkers. A remarkably honest and revealing spiritual autobiography, the Confessions also address fundamental issues of Christian doctrine, and many of the prayers and meditations it includes are still an integral part of the practice of Christianity today.

December and January

In the spirit of the popular poem ‘Desiderata’, world-renowned ethicist, theologian and preacher Samuel Wells offers eight exhortations in this extended meditation on being alive in the world and making our way through life.

Each exhortation is simple and direct – be humble, be grateful, be your own size, be gentle, be a person of praise, be faithful, be one body, be a blessing – and accompanied by thought-provoking comments that speak to our deepest needs for meaning and for belonging

February

Straw Dogs is a radical work of philosophy that sets out to challenge our most cherished assumptions about what it means to be human. From Plato to Christianity, from the Enlightenment to Nietzsche and Marx, the Western tradition has been based on arrogant and erroneous beliefs about human beings and their place in the world. Philosophies such as liberalism and Marxism enthrone humankind as a species whose destiny is to transcend natural limits and conquer the Earth. Even in the present day, despite Darwin’s discoveries, nearly all schools of thought take as their starting point the belief that humans are radically different from other animals. In Straw Dogs, John Gray argues that this humanist belief in human difference is an illusion and explores how the world and human life look once humanism has been finally abandoned.

March

For millions of years, humankind has used a brilliantly successful survival strategy. If we like something, we chase after more of it: more status, more food, more info, more stuff. Then we chase again. Its how we survived famine, disease and disaster to colonise the world.But now, thanks to technology, we’ve suddenly got more of everything than we can ever use, enjoy or afford. That doesnt stop us from striving though and its making us sick, tired, overweight, angry and in debt. It burns up our personal ecologies and the planets ecology too.

We urgently need to develop a sense of enough. Our culture keeps telling us that we dont yet have all we need to be happy, but in fact we need to nurture a new skill the ability to bask in the bounties all around us.

ENOUGH explores how our Neolithic brain-wiring spurs us to build a world of overabundance that keeps us hooked on more. John explains how, through adopting the art of enoughness, we can break from this wrecking cycle. With ten chapters on topics such as Enough food, Enough stuff, Enough hurry and Enough information, he explores how we created the problem and gives us practical ways to make our lives better.

“When Yahweh became a man, he was a homeless vagrant. He walked through Palestine proclaiming that a mysterious kingdom had arrived…He called people to follow him, and that meant walking.” – Charles Foster Humans are built to wander. History is crisscrossed by their tracks. Sometimes there are obvious reasons for it: to get better food for themselves or their animals; to escape weather, wars, or plague. But sometimes they go-at great expense and risk-in the name of God, seeking a place that feels sacred, that speaks to the heart. God himself seems to have a bias toward the nomad. The road is a favored place – a place of epiphany. That’s all very well if you are fit and free. But what if you are paralyzed by responsibility or disease? What if the only journey you can make is to the office, the school, or the bathroom? Best-selling English author and adventurer Charles Foster has wandered quite a bit, and he knows what can be found (and lost) on a sacred journey. He knows that pilgrimage involves doing something with whatever faith you have. And faith, like muscle, likes being worked. Exploring the history of pilgrimage across cultures and religions, Foster uses tales of his own travels to examine the idea of approaching each day as a pilgrimage, and he offers encouragement to anyone who wants to experience a sacred journey. The result is an intoxicating, highly readable blend of robust theology and lyrical anecdote – an essential guidebook for every traveler in search of the truth about God, himself, and the world. When Jesus said “Follow me,” he meant us to hit the road with him. The Sacred Journey will show you how. The Ancient Practices There is a hunger in every human heart for connection, primitive and raw, to God. To satisfy it, many are beginning to explore traditional spiritual disciplines used for centuries . . . everything from fixed-hour prayer to fasting to sincere observance of the Sabbath. Compelling and readable, the Ancient Practices series is for every spiritual sojourner, for every Christian seeker who wants more

May

Combining New Testament scholarship with the terseness of thriller writing, Gerd Theissen conveys the gospel story in the fresh and imaginative prose of a novel.

The story is told by Andreas, an imaginary contemporary of Jesus, through whom we learn a great deal about life and politics in Palestine, as well as what Jesus (the Galilean of the title) might have been like and how he might have behaved.

June onwards…….

We thought about one of the female mystics and a classic novel …… TBA

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