Book of the Month: September 2011

Confessions of a Lapsed Catholic

Confessions of a Lapsed CatholicConfessions of a Lapsed Catholic

By Sheila Cassidy

Sheila Cassidy defines herself as “lapsed” in the sense that – for the moment anyway – she does not attend Mass or receive the sacraments. But that does not mean that she has cut herself off from God or worship. Every page is full of her ongoing and intensely spiritual communion with the God who is “everywhere, in everything, shining forth if only we care to look.”

Like Barbara Brown Taylor, she has discovered the divine presence waiting to be found “in the sea, in the mountains, in the gentle alcoholics who greet me as I walk my dogs … I have only to acknowledge his presence to know him as powerfully as if I had received the bread and wine.” What does it say about our churches that two such remarkable women found they must leave them in order to become closer to God?

Having shared her reflections on churchgoing (or not) in the early pages, the majority of this book focuses on finding God, whether in the other, in the written word or in the natural world, and on what might be a proper response to the divine. Along the way she shares generously out of her own experience, which has shown her both the best and the worst that human beings can do to one another. Never again will I read the story of the loaves and fishes without thinking of how her small cake became dessert for 80 women in a Chilean prison.

At the heart of this book, I think you will find an image of what it means to try and live out Micah’s instruction to act justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with your God. Sheila Cassidy is honest about her struggles, but overall she has found that, in the words of the old hymn, “the heart of the Eternal is most wonderfully kind.” If this is what it means to be “lapsed”, may we all be so blessed.

Reviewed by Norma Fergusson, STETs Student


E-books now available from the Library

The following E-books are now available from the Library, via Dawsonera.  These can be read online (recommended) or downloaded to your PC for a few days.  Access is automatic from within the College but please contact the Library for information on how to access them from elsewhere. 

Click here to go to the catalogue records.

Practical theology and qualitative research by John Swinton (ed)

Studying local churches by Philip Richter (ed)

Writing your dissertation by Derek Swetnam

Fourteen Artists Showcase “The Word”

Lightcatcher by Suzanne Redstone

Works in sculpture and lettering on stone, glass and fabric offer a unique reflection on the cultural importance of the King James Bible and its contribution to society through Christianity.

The Presence of Christ, a carving by Henry Gray in Portland stone, is decorated in the colourful style prevalent when the KJV was first printed 400 years ago.

“These days it is unfashionable to paint stone,” comments Gray. “Tastes and attitudes change, so the continuity provided by the written word is essential. It can help to carry the message that resides in our hearts, that it is possible to move beyond the words, towards a direct relationship with the love of God. This is to be treasured.”

The unique qualities of alabaster are key to sculptures by Frederic Chevarin ARBS and Roger Stephens.

“As Christ is light, the pale fragile alabaster echoes the subject thanks to natural light shining through the material,” says Chevarin about his sculpture, Nativity.  “All the curves in alabaster turn as the movement represents life.”

The other exhibition artists are Peter Eugene Ball, Tim Chadsey, Zoe Cull and Alex Evans, Christopher Elsey, Robyn Golden-Hann, Elizabeth Herkstroter, Giles Macdonald, Mary Noble, Jemimah Patterson, Suzanne Redstone ARBS and Tracey Sheppard FGE.

The Messenger by Peter Eugene BallThe Word: A Reflection on the King James Bible is free and open to the public.  Opening hours are 9am to 5pm, Monday to Saturday (closed Sundays). The exhibition ends on 19 December 2011.

Salisbury Journal article on The Word

Country Life listings

New Testament for Everyone

New Testament for Everyone

New Testament for EveryoneBy Tom Wright (SPCK, £14.99)

Why another translation of the New Testament? As Tom Wright points out in his Preface: ‘Translating the New Testament is something that each generation ought to be doing. Just as Jesus taught us to pray for our daily bread, we can never simply live on yesterday’s bread, on the interpretations and translations of previous generations.’

Professor Wright’s concern is that Scripture should be something that everyone can read, understand and enjoy. Without Scripture, how can we know the mind and heart of our loving God? So this renowned biblical scholar has undertaken a tremendous task: to produce a modern and accessible version of the New Testament. He has drawn together the translations of Scripture from his For Everyone guides to make a seamless whole. Broken up into easy-to-read, bite-sized chunks and illustrated throughout with clear, helpful maps, this is a new rendering of ancient wisdom that can be read like a novel, studied in sections or used as an aid to daily devotion.



HeavenBy Paula Gooder (SPCK, £9.99)

Paula Gooder considers the ways in which the Bible sees heaven and earth connecting, and explores all the major strands of belief about life after death, including the role of paradise, and what happens between death and resurrection.

She shows how the biblical writers see heaven and earth as closely connected, so that what happens in heaven affects events on earth and vice versa.

“In this profound, lucid and compassionate book, Paula Gooder demonstrates that heaven is not a vague future hope but the presence of the God who made heaven and earth. . . The concept of heaven that is just about the fate of the pious individual after death is a meagre diet compared with the feast that this book lays before us: heaven and earth renewed, restored and reconnected.”
Jane Williams, author of Lectionary Reflections



PrayerBy Michael Mayne (DLT, £9.99)

‘Prayer’ is a series of short talks on prayer which Michael Mayne gave at Westminster abbey in 1996. It was privately published as a booklet with the title Something Understood. With great economy and elegance, one the greatest spiritual writers of the last century writes practically, simply, briefly and beautifully about prayer. Prayer is not primarily something one does. Prayer is something that is. It is in God that we live and
move and have our being. God is always in us, waiting to be released into expression.
All the different techniques and ways of prayer are reminders, alerting us that every moment of our life is lived in the presence of God.

At Helpston

At Helpston

At HelpstonBy Ronald Blythe (Black Dog Books, £20.00)

These essays, many of the presidential addresses to the John Clare Society, form a uniquie series of ‘meetings’ between the Northamptonshire labourer who became England’s finest nature poet and our own ‘rural intellectual’, the author of Akenfield. The work of the Suffolk artist Mary Newcomb provides a perfect foil to the lyricism of Blythe’s prose and the genius of Clare’s verse.

The Monastery of the Heart

Monastery of the Heart

Monastery of the HeartBy Joan Chittister (SPCK, £10.99)

Joan Chittister’s powerful spiritual guide builds on the ancient Rule of Benedict to show us how to live this life, our daily life, well.

 “. .the allure of this book is its promise that “the monastery of the heart” is where we learn to live our lives “from the inside out” in a contemporary world that is spiritually bereft and bewildering. “
Ephrem Hollermann, author of The Reshaping of a Tradition