Sarum Graduate Publishes The Spirituality of Jane Austen

Congratulations are in order for Sarum graduate The Rev Prebendary Paula Hollingsworth, who has just published The Spirituality of Jane Austen: Her Faith Through her Life, Letters and Literature.

Paula completed her MA in Christian Spirituality in 2007, and wrote her dissertation on Jane Austen.

‘A lot of invitations to speak followed,’ says Paula. ‘One of which was the invitation to write a book for Lion Hudson.

‘I really valued the MA course in Christian Spirituality, particularly the way that the modules were held as residential blocks that enabled you to get deeply into the subject, and have good in-depth discussions with other course members over meals and in the bar at the end of the day,’ says Paula. ‘I also appreciated the variety of modules – and in fact audited a number of them, as I wanted to do more modules than I needed. I did particularly enjoy the module on Literature and Spirituality. I have subsequently used much of what I learned on the course in sermons, lectures and Quiet Days – using material from all parts of the course, not just from my dissertation on Jane Austen!’

2017 marks the 200th anniversary of the death of Jane Austen, whose six completed novels have never been out of print. Best known for her novels, ‘Sense and Sensibility’, ‘Pride and Prejudice’, ‘Mansfield Park’, and ‘Emma’, first published anonymously, Austen commented, critiqued and illuminated the life of the English upper classes. But did Austen’s writings highlight anything about her own spirituality? In this celebratory book, Paula Hollingsworth explores Jane Austen’s gentle but strong faith and the effect it had both on her life and her writing. Drawing on Jane’s life story, her letters, her friendships, her books and the characters portrayed, Paula shows the depth of Jane Austen’s spirituality.

Paula is vicar of Westbury sub Mendip with Easton and Priddy, dean of Women’s Ministry, Diocese of Bath and Wells and sub dean of Wells Cathedral.

The book can be ordered online from Sarum College Bookshop. Email the Bookshop to register interest in a forthcoming launch of Paula’s book, The Spirituality of Jane Austen (date tbc).

If you’d like to know more about our MA programmes, why not come to a Taster Day? The next one is Saturday, June 10th (2017).

Book of the Month: April 2014

255715Journey to the Empty Tomb: Exploring the Final Week of Jesus’ Life by Paula Gooder (2014)

“maybe the poet… shows you new ways to see”

Paula Gooder’s Biblical Exploration might well have been titled ‘the Subversive Jesus’. From Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem (ironically turning the traditional Roman ‘Triumph’ into its antithesis – eschewing pomp… acting out of love not status) to the extraordinary ‘triumph’ of the Cross, her account of every part of these Last Days poses unimagined questions, presents radical answers.

While Sunday Readings throughout the Church year offer short Bible passages which thread together the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life, how often do many of us read the Bible as we might read a book?

Yet it is the interweaving of – for instance – the three stories of the Cleansing of the Temple, the Widow’s Mite and the cursing of the fig tree, that bring a shock of understanding never present when the stories remain separate.

Or, through the lens of the Vineyard owner’s parable, who would ever now forget that the blood money paid to Judas was actually the Tyrian shekels given for the Temple’s upkeep – God’s house – and at that moment used to ensure His Son’s death.

Art, like Music (via the great Passions) links both Old and New Testament in the route to the Cross. But it is a rare book that digs into the connectedness of words and action, of symbolism and story, to bring such intense insights to inform our Lent.

Rather than harmonising the Gospels (as preachers tend to prefer to do) Paula Gooder lays bare the uncertainties of their writers: ‘Why did Jesus die?’

It is a sharp and startling question to focus our personal Lent reflections.

As the great Canadian songwriter Bruce Cockburn once suggested, “maybe the poet… shows you new ways to see” and in this sense that Paula Gooder is both theologian and poet. This is a book to commend, to read in depth, and to allow to change our whole understanding.

Reviewed by Lavender Buckland LLM

Special price of £11.50 in the shop (posted out for free) or £9.50 + postage online from between the 1st and 30th April. RRP £12.99.

The Art of Worship CD Now in stock

A companion CD to Nicholas Holtam’s ‘The Art of Worship,’ this recording features arrangements of many of the prayers included in the book, sung by the Choir of St Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square.

It includes music by some of the best loved English choral composers, as well as some newly commissioned works recorded for the first time.

This beautiful recording complements perfectly Bishop Holtham’s most recent book, and will cetainly delight any who hear it.

Duration: 57:44


ISBN: 9781857095432


Simply Jesus

Simply Jesus

Simply JesusBy Tom Wright (SPCK, £9.99)

We begin with a thought experiment. Modern critical biblical scholarship often points out how the church’s teachings about Jesus have become encrusted with tradition so that it is hard to see what the core documents—the New Testament—really say about him.

Now, with the insight of 200 years of modern critical scholarship and assuming an audience that includes both the well-churched and the non-churched, how should the church present the story and identity of the central personality of their faith, Jesus of Nazareth? Many people will be surprised at the story they hear.

The Nail

The Nail

The NailBy Stephen Cottrell (SPCK, £6.99)

This Lent book offers imaginative reflections on Christ’s crucifixion. Each of the seven chapters is focused on a different key character, who describes his or her experience of the Passion. The nails used to crucify Christ are used as a jumping off point for their reflections.

Each character considers the questions, ‘who killed Christ’ and ‘who was responsible?’ Each chapter includes a Biblical passage, a meditative hymn, a reflection from the point of view of the character, and a short prayer.

The book finishes with practical suggestions on how it can be used as a Lent study course. It is ideal for individual reflection or group study, and can also readily be adapted for use as a Good Friday liturgy.

The Heart’s Time

The Heart's Time

The Heart's TimeBy Janet Morley (SPCK, £9.99)

A day by day Lent book aimed at the individual reader, in which a poem appropriate to the themes of the season is read, along with a short reflection from the editor and a couple of questions to ponder. The purpose is to use a poetic text as the basis for ‘slow reflection’ during Lent and Eastertide.

“I think this is a brilliant Lent book, and one I would use. It is a marvellous anthology, but it offers so much more: critical insight into the poems, cultural and theological insight into their spiritual resonances and guidance as to how to read them prayerfully.” Angela Tilby



EvensongBy Kenneth Steven (SPCK, £8.99)

Kenneth Steven’s poems are inspired first and foremost by wildscape, by the places and people of Highland Perthshire and of the Celtic west – Iona and the Hebrides. But they are inspired by faith too, by the struggle to see God in the complexities of this world’s turmoil and find light in the darkness.

“For those of us who know Scotland, though not as natives, and for those of us who are forever attempting to know ourselves, Kenneth Steven is another inner voice, and never more so than in this collection of his work. Evensong is intimate and beautiful.”

Ronald Blythe

The Philosopher and the Gospels

Philosopher and the Gospels

Philosopher and the GospelsBy Keith Ward (Lion Hudson, £10.99)

The teachings of Jesus Christ, as presented in the Bible, are familiar to millions around the world. But do we really understand what he said and did?

Keith Ward argues that the Gospels as passed down to us by centuries of Church teaching can seem an over-literal and spiritually superficial interpretation – good stories with nice morals attached, or clear instructions that need little thought to understand and put into practice. But by scrutinising them through the lens of contemporary philosophy, we can discover a more wondrous and profound teaching.

Ward’s analysis of what Jesus really said uncovers four central themes: that the Gospel is for everyone, that there is a spiritual dimension to Jesus’ apocalyptic teaching (as opposed to a purely material world reading), that he presents a ‘virtue ethic’ for life rather than a literal set of rules, and a ‘unitive idealist’ understanding of God expressed through creation and redemption.

Speaking Christian

Speaking Christian

Speaking ChristianBy Marcus Borg (SPCK, £9.99)

As with French, German or Spanish, learning the basic vocabulary of Christianity is a vital first step in understanding what it means and how it works. We think of words like ‘faith’, ‘forgiveness’, ‘salvation’, ‘sin’ and ‘heaven’. But how can we be sure that we understand them correctly? Over the centuries all sorts of different meanings have grown up around these words, and sometimes those meanings can obscure or distort the way the words were originally used in the Bible.

In Speaking Christian, Marcus Borg takes some of the key words in the Christian dictionary and exposes the negative and unhelpful connotations they still carry today. At the same time, he goes back to the Bible and unpacks their meaning in a way that is both more faithful to the teaching of Jesus and more relevant to his followers today.

Making the most of your Child’s Baptism

Making the most of your child's Baptism

Making the most of your child's BaptismBy Ally Barrett (SPCK, £4.99)

A short, full-colour gift book which explains the baptism service for parents. Aimed at those not familiar with church, this book explains what baptism is and is structured around the service itself. It includes questions to think about and follow-up activities for parents and children. It is ideal for baptism preparation.