Luther When The Boys Came Out To Play by Ray Salisbury, (Andre Deutsch, £8.95).
I HAVE NEVER been terribly keen on books where children are the predominant characters, but Ray Salisbury captured my interest and imagination in his first novel Close the Door Behind You, a story of Simon in Sussex and his early childhood experiences.
His follow-up book, When The Boys Came Out To Play is a welcome addition and it follows Simon's escapades from the age of five up to ten years. No doubt some of this book is autobiographical and it is the better for that. Simon's use of words and dialect enhances the story-telling.
This book will appeal to those who experienced separation from their children and those who value family life. The action takes place in beautiful Sussex and one can relive childhood experiences when one had time ' to savour the countryside, watch the birds, play with leaves, small animals and was generally free.
Looking at life through Simon's eyes will also help those in the field of child care and others who can share with Simon and his friends, Bim, Geoff Gibbs, Larry Eccles (Slimey) and many others, the jealousies and happiness of children vividly recounted.
The Leavelaking by John McGahern (Faber and Faber, paperback £2.95).
JOHN MeGAFIERN is probably one of the most powerful of living Irish novelists, and also one of the most depressing to read. This novel was first published in hardback in 1974, and the second part has been completely rewritten in a new, strong and deceptively simple style. Martin Luther, Prophet of the Catholic Church by James Atkinson, (Paternoster Press, Exeter, £6.80).
JAMES Atkinson, Professor of Biblical History and Literature at Sheffield University is the one theologian today who is certainly more like Martin , Luther than any other.
He is one of a small number of English speaking theologians who are thoroughly conversant with all Luther's vast work. But Atkinson adds to this a temper of emotive sincerity which is itself positively Lutheran. One could not mistake him for anything but an evangelical.
He has now turned his mind to the possibility that Luther's theology has a genuine message, throughout its range for the Catholic Church; and he says also that since Vatican II the Catholic Church has a message for the Protestant churches.
He argues his thesis in this survey of Luther's theology, and of contemporary Catholic theology.
Occasionally a reader may find Atkinson a little bit hectoring, but at least he is talking direct from experience with today's students, so many of whom are from all denominations, disillpsioned with today's society and politics just as they were in Luther's day.
The theological content of the book which burgeons on every page, illustrated widely from Luther's works, seems to be entirely correct. And I am sure Atkinson is himself a prophet and that Luther is indeed gradually being recognised as a prophet for all Christians.
John M. Todd