The Parenting Book by Nicky and Sila Lee (Alpha International £7.99) This clear and readable book will be invaluable to parents struggling to raise their children in an age when the family is being increasingly undermined. The authors, who have been married for 30 years and have four children, are on the staff of Holy Trinity, Brompton, where they have run parenting courses for many years.
Drawing on their own experience they bring fresh insights and time-tested values to the task of parenting. Writing from a solidly Christian perspective they tackle fundamental questions such as how to develop a family identity, how to set boundaries, how to pass on our values and how to meet our children’s deepest needs – not least their need to know and respond to God’s unconditional love. Full of practical advice and good humour, The Parenting Book makes ideal reading for any parents with young or teenage children.
Adrian Read Dispatches from the Religious Left edited by Frederick Clarkson (IG Publishing £12.99) Frederick Clarkson, who edited this collection of essays, is a longterm agitator against the religious right in America. His latest book is an attempt to show how the “religious Left” can try to match the political influence that the religious Right has wielded over the last 30 years. It argues that a powerful “progressive counter-voice” would balance the religious conversation and help build a healthier political climate.
Unfortunately, the essays are on the extreme side: one, by Catholic Frank Cocozzelli, argues militantly in favour of embryonic stem-cell research; another, by Debra Haffner and Timothy Palmer, argues that any religious Left must put abortion and gay marriage at the centre of the debate. It’s not a book for moderates: only fully paid-up members of the progressive cause will be interested in what these writers have to say. Mark Greaves Boy and Man by Niall Williams (HarperCollins £14.99) Boy and Man by Niall Williams, the author of five previous novels, is a tale of seekers. It focuses on the parallel narratives of a man who has left his native Ireland in search of his father and another who searches for his missing grandson.
Jay is the Irish boy who went in search of his father, but has abandoned his quest and lives at a mission hospital in Africa. Back in Ireland, the Master is the man looking for his grandson, his last remaining offspring.
Both men look to have their faith in life confirmed despite the suffering that surrounds them, and both take heart from their encounwith kind strangers. It is ultimately the help of strangers – whether the travelling nun or the Polish builder – that helps these two characters to achieve their quests. By the end of the novel they have finally found what they have been looking for. Anna Arco And So To Rome by Marcus Nicklin (Athena Press, £5.99) If all the ecumenical agreements of recent decades were piled together they would create a veritable paper skyscraper. That’s a good thing, says author Marcus Nicklin, but “there has been a dearth of literature dealing positively with the Christ-centred faith common to both Roman Catholic and Evangelical Christians”.
Nicklin sets out to rectify this omission in this book, which describes his journey from Evangelical Anglicanism to Catholicism. He reflects clearly on the contrasting Christian views of the Mass, Mary and the papacy, while gently asserting the Catholic viewpoint. Nicklin concludes by challenging all denominations to realise Christ’s desire for unity. The acceptance of division, he writes, “is now largely a form of institutionalisation ... the churches have become more institionalised than mental hospitals.” Luke Coppen Darwinʼs Error by Thomas Jackson (4 oʼclock press, £9.99) Cave-dwellers may be unaware that it is 200 years since Darwin’s birth, but the rest of us have been made well aware of the atheist messiah’s first and only coming.
However Jackson’s take is rather original: that Darwin was not only a scientist but a wonderful “poet of nature” whose journal on board The Beagle is worthy of celebration in itself. An interesting angle, although one could argue it’s a bit like asking why no one remembers Churchill’s paintings and only mentions his beating Nazism.
But he also makes the interesting point that On the Origins of Species was presented to suit the worldview that Victorian England wanted to see, a world of brutal competition and death, rather than a brotherhood of life, with absolutely tragic results. I’m sure Darwin himself would be horrified by some of his attack dogs. Ed West