Redeeming Gender

Author: Adrian Thatcher
ISBN: 978-0198744757
Date: 2016
Price: £25.00
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Publisher: Oxford University Press

Over the last fifty years, the world – and consequently the academic research – has developed a growing interest for the topics of sexuality, sexual orientation and gender. Being objects of intellectual and cultural debates, modern churches and contemporary theologies have been challenged to develop their own responses to issues that have long been considered taboos (e.g. women’s emancipation, homosexual marriage, transgender rights, etc).

In his most recent book, Adrian Thatcher denounces the failing of some churches to pick up the challenges of modern times. His investigation focuses particularly on the cases of the Catholic Church and the Anglican one, stating that both Churches are failing – although to different extents – to untangle themselves from the misogyny and errors of their past traditions.

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Taboo or to do? Is Christianity complementary with yoga, martial arts, Hallowe’en, mindfulness and other alternative practices?

Authors: Ross Clifford and Philip Johnson
ISBN: 978-0-232-53253-1
Date: 2016
Price: £12.99
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Publisher: Darton, Longman and Todd

Successive waves of non-Christian belief and practice have been hitting the shores of Christianity in the past few decades. Following in the footsteps of The Beatles, the ‘West’ has become fascinated with, successively, Transcendental Meditation (TM – remember that?), yoga, Tai Chi, and latterly, mindfulness. Each in its way has held up the promise of spiritual and emotional wellbeing, usually through the pursuance of certain programmes, courses, and nowadays, apps or online interaction. The authors of this new book – two Australian Baptists – round up all these with many of the usual suspects in the battle to keep Christianity untainted by such distractions: astrology, tarot, and even aromatherapy, crystals and angels. The result is an interesting and diverting book, not least in the insights it throws on the unease these practices have caused in some quarters of Christendom. From a Catholic perspective, and to give the authors their due they respect this, this of course is nothing new.

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God’s Wild Flowers. Saints with Disabilities

Author: Pia Matthews
Year :2016
Price: £12.99
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Publisher: Gracewing, Leominster

In an overheard conversation, this book was described simply as a ‘book about disability’. In fact its arresting title, God’s Wild Flowers conveys much more than such a brief description might imply, for the message of the book, at every stage, is profound. The title, inspired by St Thérèse of Lisieux (who herself features in the book), makes its significance clear from the outset. St Thérèse painted the world of souls as ‘God’s living garden’ in which every flower, tiny violet or glorious rose, cultivated or growing wild in the fields, has its own distinct worth and beauty. Field flowers, or ‘wild’ flowers, therefore, are an integral and necessary part of God’s garden.

St Thérèse’s emphasis on the dignity and worth of each person is powerfully echoed by Pia Matthews as she presents us with portrayals of 142 individuals, called to sanctity.

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Ecce Homo. On the Divine Unity of Christ

Author: Aaron Riches
ISBN: 978-0802872319
Date: 2016
Price: £21.99
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Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company

A revised version of a doctoral thesis at the University of Nottingham, Ecce Homo sets its face against any attempt and even against any alleged hint of dividing or reducing the one Lord Jesus Christ. It argues that the deep difference between God and human beings is (paradoxically) realized in the perfect union of divinity and humanity in the one Christ. It presents the differentiated unity of Christ through a study of the first six general councils of the Church and the controversies associated with them. Riches pays particular attention to Cyril of Alexandria and the ways his teaching was received. He detects a pervasive semi-Nestorianism in modern theology, and finds a solution in Cyril’s teaching as recovered by Thomas Aquinas.

 Riches may recognize Norman Tanner as ‘the distinguished scholar of conciliar history’ but rejects the interpretation he and others give (in ‘the modern standard narrative’) of the teaching of the Council of Chalcedon (451 CE) as a justified via media between the schools of Antioch and Alexandria (73–74).

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Thinking Christian Ethos: The Meaning of Catholic Education

Authors: David Albert Jones and
Stephen Barrie
ISBN: 978-1784690311
Date: 2015
Price: £9.95
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Publisher: Catholic Truth Society, London

This book will enlighten and encourage many who are committed to the work of Catholic education. In general, the volume has a decidedly ‘insider’ feel in the ways it touches upon some of the traditional philosophical, theological and educational themes constitutive of Catholic education’s distinctive ethos, drawing on the likes of St Augustine, St Thomas Aquinas and some of the more significant Church documents on education of our own times. For all that, it is in not to be regarded as strictly confessional; indeed it includes reference to a wide array of ‘outside’ scholars stretching from such luminaries as Aristotle and Plato to more contemporary figures of psychological and educational theory such as Piaget, Bloom and Kohlberg.

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