The Naked God: Wrestling for a Grace-ful Humanity by Vincent Strudwick
I ought to declare a historical interest in this wonderfully and creatively written book which is part autobiography, part history and part extremely good theology! I first met Vincent in 1987 as a newly appointed chaplain to Bishop Richard Harries and experienced it first-hand his presence as a teacher and educator in the Diocese of Oxford. He was a skilled and wise teacher with a heart for prayer and people. There was a warm humanity to his work; above all those who worked with him felt loved, encouraged and enriched.
All these qualities and more come into play in this refreshing narrative. Eight chapters, carefully crafted and organised tackle questions head-on about the Bible, our experience of God, the nature of spirituality and the Church. There is a faithful commitment to those of us who wish to be honest about the struggles present in how we make sense of life and especially living with paradox, ambiguity and contradiction. The text urges us on into a deeper questioning that we must ask of ourselves, the societies we shape and the religion we share. Vincent’s honesty, experience and refusal to take refuge in irrelevance or superficiality make this a hopeful but also demanding read.
I recommend it as an Autumn read and possibly to be read together with friends or in home groups. You will not be disappointed and your intellectual horizons broadened into why theology can be a tool for human flourishing enabling us to understand our present religious situation and live with compassion and imagination.
Vincent’s humanity, his outward looking perspective combined with a sense of depth, his sense of fun and his deep love shine through this very original book. We are indebted for his perseverance and for Jane Shaw and her encouraging support.
Reviewed by James Woodward, Principal of Sarum College