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Author: James Woodward

A Grounded and Hopeful celebration of what matters in Pandemic times

A Grounded and Hopeful celebration of what matters in Pandemic times

I have had a busy week at Sarum College catching up with students, moderating assignments, a meeting of my body of Trustees as well as the usual range of unpredictable listening, mediating and resolving. Not all questions or difficulties move too quickly into the resolving zone ! I read for a small part of the day – it is a life line and sometimes sheer escape ! Anne Lamott has been my companion this week. And goodness what a gift….

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Chosen : Lost and Found between Christianity and Judaism Giles Fraser Allen Lane 2021

Chosen : Lost and Found between Christianity and Judaism Giles Fraser Allen Lane 2021

Some of you might be be familiar with the BBC series Who do you think you are? In the programme a number of celebrities uncover, one assumes with the BBC researchers assistance, a number of lost connections and unfamiliar parts of their histories. The thread running through the programme is the persons history revealed in their family tree. Connections are traced and with the help of family the viewer is drawn into the biography as it is revealed. These celebrities…

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In praise of Evensong

In praise of Evensong

This is an illuminating, thoughtful and carefully researched book that holds history, theology, spirituality and mission in skilful synergy ! Its focus is Choral Evensong – one of our national treasures – and these ten chapters celebrate its place in our Anglican ecology. It combines scholarship with nourishing insight. Although an easy read and short ( 128 pages) the book is littered with post -it markers indicating places that this reader will return to for further reflection. Simon Reynolds is…

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Outcome orientated chaplaincy – perceptive, intentional and effective caring

Outcome orientated chaplaincy – perceptive, intentional and effective caring

by Brent Peery, London, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2021, 121 pp., £18.99 (PBK), ISBN 9781785926822 This is a well-researched, grounded, and passionate text that makes a persuasive case for Outcome Oriented Chaplaincy (OOC). This process embraces a methodology of care that articulates the difference that a chaplain can make to patients, their families and the health care institution. It models generative practical theology that manages to hold theory and practice together. Written from an American perspective it has relevance for the…

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What shapes Faith ?

What shapes Faith ?

This is a gentle, modest and humane book by one of the leading theologians in the UK today. It absorbed a Sunday and stimulated, encouraged and challenged. The flow of the book is hugely helped by the careful fluency of the text and its skilled organisation of themes, ideas and influences. In particular the memoir deals with the intellectual relationship between science and religion. it maps the journey from Northern Ireland to Oxford and a conversion to faith. It is…

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Send my Roots Rain : A Poetry Retreat

Send my Roots Rain : A Poetry Retreat

Sarum College seeks to offer space and learning to nourish the human spirit. As we find our way out of lockdown we shall need time, refreshment, space and (perhaps) words to help us fathom the ambiguities and paradoxes of these days. We are glad to sponsor this event with a wonderful group of creative reflectors – including three of our visiting scholars ( Padraig O Tuama, Rachel Mann and Mark Oakley). Do carve out some time for yourself and join…

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A Writers Life ?

A Writers Life ?

Bird by Bird : Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott Google informs me that around 4,500 books are published each day across the world. This is daunting, by any account, for both reader and writer! How do we make what we write count, be read and make any kind of difference? For those with a limited budget where might our money be profitably spent? I stumbled across Anne Lamott and was offered this book and Almost Everything :…

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Theology for Pandemic Times

Theology for Pandemic Times

Honest Sadness Lament in a Pandemic Age John Holdsworth Sacristy Press 2021 Many of my friends have commented on their weariness with these weeks of lockdown. Government heralds progress with statistics about vaccinations delivered and the reducing infection numbers – and all that is all good – but these months have taken their toll. Uncertainty, anxiety, isolation, loss of community and many of the things that enrich our lives have all served to reinforce our vulnerability. We are bounded and…

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Understanding how decisions are Made?

Understanding how decisions are Made?

What Does Jeremy Think? Jeremy Heywood and the Making of Modern Britain, by Suzanne Heywood (Collins 2021) In these days of zoom TV interviews it is not unusual to see the learned and powerful sitting in front of (usually) tidy rows of books. It is impossible to not to notice what these shelves hold and intriguing to wonder what they represent for their owners. Which ones might be discarded if need be? Which are used regularly or even read more…

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Practices for the Soul : Finding Meaning in our strange new World ?

Practices for the Soul : Finding Meaning in our strange new World ?

The Power of Ritual : Turning Everyday Activities Into Soulful Practices Casper Ter Kuile William Collins 2020 I am indebted to my friend Jane Shaw for pointing me in the direction of this rather stimulating and wonderful book. It came out of a conversation about what learning might look ( and feel ) like at Sarum College as we move through these pandemic weeks. In particular, as a learning community, we need to explore the place of theology might be…

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Does Faith help us Age Well?

Does Faith help us Age Well?

Finishing Well – A God’s Eye view of Ageing by Ian Knox ( SPCK 2020) Ian Knox is an experienced, wise, creative priest and evangelist. His love of people, of life, of Scripture and learning are all present in the fourteen chapters of this book. His scope of reading and listening to a range of voices are also woven into each chapter. It is part autobiography, part testimony to the absolute necessity of faith in Jesus Christ and in part…

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People who changed the course of Covid 19

People who changed the course of Covid 19

More than 80 years ago, in Greece, 60 thousand Jews lived peacefully in Thessaloniki. It was a vibrant and valuable community, with most of these Jews working in the port. So much so that the port of Thessaloniki was even closed on Saturday, Shabbat. There also lived and studied great rabbis emeritus. Everyone hung out and liked each other. But on September 2, 1939, on the eve of the outbreak of World War II, it was in this glorious community…

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Priests in Secular Work -Participating in the Missio Dei by Jenny Gage

Priests in Secular Work -Participating in the Missio Dei by Jenny Gage

 Sacristy Press 2020 (207 pages) 978-1-78959-142-2 £14.99 Sacristy Press has established itself as an innovative publishing house with a diverse, engaging and ground breaking list. Natalie Watson, Richard Hilton, Eric Sharman and Thomas Ball are a strong team. This book is an example of the good judgement and outward facing learning ecology of its the Press and its witness and work. This book is masterful. It is well written and carefully organised. Its origins lie in the authors doctoral research….

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Listening and Learning from the journey of Jonathan Herbert : Accompaniment,Community and Nature (JKP 2020)

Listening and Learning from the journey of Jonathan Herbert : Accompaniment,Community and Nature (JKP 2020)

This is a book that has taken a long time in the reading. Why? It is so rich, so searching, so challenging that I had to keep putting it down to ingest the questions, stories and wisdom that is captured so simply in these eight chapters. A phrase here, a question there, an idea or theme sent me to my journal for reflection. More often in the last lockdown it catapulted me our of the door for some air and…

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Lessons in Ministry : Reflections on fifty years of Ministry, Paul Beasley- Murray DLT 2020

Lessons in Ministry : Reflections on fifty years of Ministry, Paul Beasley- Murray DLT 2020

Nothing much stands still these days except perhaps weekends in Lockdown. I have been to Church (online of course) and my usual catch up with friends or trip out of Salisbury have been properly curtailed. The opportunity to catch up on some reading before my mandatory exercise. Walking requires some decisions. Where am I now and where do I want to get to? Shall I venture into a new pathway and destination – if so, what map will give me…

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Being Reverend – A Diary Matt Woodcock CHP 2020

Being Reverend – A Diary Matt Woodcock CHP 2020

At Sarum College a significant part of our work is in the formation of women and men for lay and ordained ministry ( see a little of our work here https://www.sarum.ac.uk/ministry-training). I enjoyed Matts last book (Becoming Reverend) which charts his progress, survival and flourishing amidst the ups and downs of theological College in Durham. So I came to this volume of dairies expecting to be stimulated and heartened – and was not disappointed! However, I also opened up the…

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On writing Autobiography

On writing Autobiography

Lessons from the 44th President of the United States of America I have spent far too much time with my head buried in the pages of political memoir for good and less good reasons! As a genre they are complex, contradictory and (on the whole ) much given to short term judgments that seek to defend and justify. Understandable perhaps – politics is a bruising game even for the winners. One feature stands out in these books – leaders are…

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Thinking Again Jan Morris Faber & Faber 2019

Thinking Again Jan Morris Faber & Faber 2019

An observant friend taking note of the small pile of ‘books being read or (being attempted) to be read’ saw a copy of Jan Morris’ earlier volume In My Minds Eye A Thought Dairy on my table and thoughtfully produced this book for a Christmas present. So those days between Christmas and New Year were absorbed in these 130 ( more or less) daily entries. They cover from 2018 to early 2019. Jan Morris puts her nonagenarian life and house…

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Spirit of Place Susan Owens Thames & Hudson 2020

Spirit of Place Susan Owens Thames & Hudson 2020

As adventures in reading go this wonderful volume is a sheer delight. Skilfully researched and lucidly written the author inhabits the space with creative care. The passion and love of the subject matter shine through the text as each chapter inhabits history, place, art and writers across the centuries. These past months have imposed upon most of us many limitations especially for travel. We all have spaces and places that we return to. These landscapes have shaped us, inspired, consoled,…

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In Praise of the Oak Tree

In Praise of the Oak Tree

The Glorious Life of the Oak John Lewis-Stempel Doubleday 2018 As the ‘hibernation’ ( see my post 22 December) continues helped by persistent rain I turned my attention to this book recommended by the sister of a friend and colleague. It followed my use of the image of the Oak Tree( In Windsor Great Park) in a sermon – as a symbol in these Covid months of endurance, stability and patience. Farmer and Naturalist Lewis-Stempel examines the significance of oak…

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