Unfortunately due to illness the talk this evening with Elaine Storkey has been cancelled. Apologies for any inconvenience and disappointment. You can still read her new book Scars Across Humanity available from Sarum College Bookshop.
Published to coincide with the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (25 November 2015), Scars Across Humanity is a thoroughly documented investigation into the causes of violence against women, past and present.
Global in scope, and addressing the issues as they affect women at every stage of life, this powerful book also offers a probing critique of evolutionary and social-scientific accounts of gender-based violence, and of the role that religion can play, for good or ill, in the struggle against this worldwide problem.
Elaine is a philosopher, sociologist and theologian, who has held posts at the Open University, King’s College, London and the University of Oxford. From 1997 to 2014 she was President of Tearfund, and has been involved in monitoring aid, relief and advocacy work in countries of the Global South. In 2010 she and her husband Alan became founder members of Restored, an organization committed to advocating against violence towards women.
Richard Topping, Principal of Vancouver School of Theology was the speaker for the 2015 Niblett Memorial Lecture.
The lecture explored the challenges facing Christian witness in Canada and was followed by questions and a discussion between Richard Topping and Peter Selby, formerly Bishop of Worcester and Bishop to HM Prisons.
One of Paula Gooder’s great gifts is that it can feel as though her books have been written just for you. I now know I’m not the only one who loves nativity plays yet believes that the individual birth narratives should be read and respected for themselves. We can have our Christmas cake and eat it.
This is the book you need to make sense of apparently conflicting Gospel narratives; to guide your thinking about where historical truth might lie; and to help you find your own way towards greater spiritual truths. Yet she achieves this without taking away the magic of traditional (or even untraditional!) nativity plays, by encouraging you to use your own theological imagination to reflect on the mystery of the incarnation. Not just “God made man” but God made fragile and vulnerable: the first born son of a poverty stricken house hold. God seen – and seen as salvation – before he had done anything other than survive the dangers of birth.
You can read this for a master class in scholarship worn lightly – when you need to know the Greek or the Hebrew to fully understand the point she is making, it is there. Or you can read it as a critical study of the birth narratives in Matthew, Luke and John, drawing attention to other passages of Scripture as needed to give context to what is written, and why it may have been written in a particular way.
But I have been using it as a companion: someone to share the doubts, the “what ifs” and, best of all, the moments that take your breath away as familiar scenes are suddenly viewed from a different angle. Paula Gooder deliberately avoids the temptation to say, “this is what happened” in favour of an “I think this, what about you?” approach. And I did give a quiet cheer to discover she also thinks Simeon need not have been an old man!
Don’t save this for Christmas morning: buy and read it now, and the experience of taking a fresh look at the wonder-full accounts of Jesus’ birth as you journey to the manger will be a gift worth having.
Reviewed by Revd Norma Fergusson
Special price of £11.50 in the shop (posted out for free) or buy online for £9.50 + postage until 31st October 2015. RRP £12.99.