The Good Priest

Author: Tina Beattie
ISBN: 987-1-78901-692-5
Date: 2019
Price: £9.99
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Publisher: Matador

The custom of issuing Lent books has become important in religious publishing in recent years. Sometimes the author is enabled to go through a book in line with the days and weeks of the season. This is less common in the genre of thriller detective novels involving the serial killing of women, but few such novels are written by theologians. Tina Beattie is one of the most brilliant and original Catholic theologians in this country; she has for some years (according to social media) been squeezing the writing of this novel into early morning sessions, alongside her other writing and academic work.

The novel follows the life of a priest, John Patterson, from Ash Wednesday to Good Friday in an urban Catholic parish in a fictional city in the west of England. There are three interlocking strands: his daily parish ministry, centred in particular on the hearing of confessions and celebration of the Mass; his struggle with being gay, stretching back through the whole of his life and his time as a seminarian in Rome in particular; and a series of particularly horrifying murders of women, carried out every Friday, in the local area. A review cannot really indicate more of the ways in which these strands are skilfully interwoven by Beattie without revealing too much of the plot.

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SCM Guide to Catholic Liturgy

Editors: Martin Foster and Peter McGrail
ISBN: 978-0-334-05662-1
Date: 2018
Price: £22.99
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Publisher: SCM Press

For some years SCM Press has been producing very readable study guides aimed at giving students and others a clear introduction to particular topics in pastoral ministry. The SCM Study Guide to Liturgy by Stephen Burns, originally published in 2012, was aimed at students at Anglican and Free Church theological colleges, together with general students in liturgy, and it has just been reprinted. It has been joined by a new guide in the series specifically focused on the liturgy of the Catholic Church in this country. The editors are both experienced liturgists who are involved in the Liturgy Office of the Bishops’ Conference. The book achieves the rare feat of combining clear but accessible scholarship with a very practical vision about how the Church tries to order its public worship. The editors and contributors are drawn from a variety of ministries in the Church and show a great deal of practical experience as well as a thorough knowledge of their topic.

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Miscarriage and Early Baby Loss. Caring for yourself and for others

Author: Breda Theakston
ISBN-13: 978-0-85231-516-3
Date: 2018
Price: £4.95
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Redemptorist Publications
Pastoral Outreach Series

This tiny book, symbolic of the short young lives it represents, is at once moving and consoling. Throughout the book, like a refrain, the author encourages us to express all the feelings we experience at this difficult time. Sometimes these can resurface much later on, when we have given ourselves permission to remember.

Asserting that each of us is an individual, the author reminds us that there is no ‘correct’ process of grieving, our own process is unique. There is no judgment about the sensation of relief which may occur with an unwanted pregnancy, nor the angry despair drowning us when we have waited and longed for that child. She recognises that an ambivalent attitude can accompany any loss.

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Engines of Privilege. Britain’s Private School Problem

Authors: Francis Green
and David Kynaston
ISBN: 978-1-5266-0126-1
Price: £20.00
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Date: 2019
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Many readers will be aware that you can make use of Catholic Editions of versions of the Bible such as the Revised Standard Version or the Good News Bible. Someone enterprising should carry out a similar exercise in relation to this excellent new book which has attracted considerable attention, including in the Catholic Press. For while it is about the contemporary private school system in this country, among the many specific schools referred to in the text there is only one brief mention of a Catholic independent school (Austin Friars school in Carlisle).

The basic case made by Green and Kynaston is that the place of the private schools within UK leaders have failed to grasp the seriousness of the problem – partly because most of them have been educated in the schools concerned and the private sector itself, particularly since the 1970s, has been very well organised in defending its interests. The authors’ case is backed up by compelling arguments and extensive research from various sources; at the same time they are concerned to give the apologists for the private schools plenty of space.

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Ezra and Nehemiah. (The Two Horizons Old Testament Commentary)

Authors: David J.Shepherd & Christopher J.H.Wright
ISBN: 9780 8028 6432 1
Date: 2018
Price: £23.99
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Publisher: Eerdmans / Alban Books

Here, in the estimable series which seeks to bring together the Two Horizons of biblical studies and theology, two respected scholars, the one currently a lecturer at Trinity College, Dublin, the other a director of the Langham Partnership (an international Christian fellowship) tackle two biblical books which are concerned with the Restoration of Judah (as the Persian kingdom of Yehud) after the Exile. The biblical books highlight the careers of Ezra the scribe who made the Jews the people of the Torah, and Nehemiah the governor appointed by the Persian overlord who rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem. An Introduction outlines issues of chronology, use of sources and the relationship of Ezra-Nehemiah to the Books of Chronicles; these issues are not central to our authors’ concerns, so are treated rather summarily.

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