Page 6, 18th July 1980

18th July 1980
Page 6
Page 6, 18th July 1980 — Religious Books

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Locations: Oxford


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Religious Books

Christian Mysticism by Emma Shackle (Mercier Press. £1.80).

THE AUTHOR writes in her introduction "This book sets out to give an account of Christian mysticism as it has been experienced within the Catholic tradition and experienced most fully in the writings of St John of the Cross."

She commences the book with a chapter on "The Essentials of Christian Mysticism. lri it she writes about the elusiveness of God. His will in relationship to mankind and the love of him through the heart of Christ.

There are two chapters devoted especially to the writings of John of the Cross and then an interesting chapter on the Anatomy of the Christian Mystic in which she deals with depth psychology and the biological foundations of mysticism. It is difficult in a short review to convey the valuable insights into this subject that the the author has provided. It is a book highly to be recommended to all those interested in Christian mysticism.

Salvation and Damnation by William J. Dalton S.J. (Mercier Press. £1.80).

THIS is a controversial work. Nobody likes the thought of Hell and few sermons are preached about it.

The author of this book does not deny that if a man dies completely cut off from God he will remain so for ever. But he questions that such a person has ever existed because, he says, that there must be some good some love even though it is hidden under a cloak of evil.

But what about the numerous texts of Scripture that, if taken literally, speak of Hell and its inhabitants? Father Dalton writes that these must be interpreted against the background of the time in which they were written.

"The extreme black and white eschatological picture which appears in the sayings of Jesus and in the New Testament generally denotes a deep concern for ultimate human values rather than a prediction of the future."

Maybe. But however one may dislike the thought of Hell and however much emphasis one puts on the words "God wants all men to be saved" one would be foolish indeed to deny the possibility of Hell's existence.

Father Dalton does not do this but he seems to make things nice and easy.

The Ileart of Rahner (Burns & Oates £2.95).

IT IS GOOD to be given evidence of the devotional life of' a great theologian because one realises that it will be based on sound theology.

In these extracts from the writ

ings of Karl Balmer we can see how head and heart co-operated in his devotional life. Prominent in it is his love of the Holy Spirit and the Church. "Prayer", he writes, "is always individual and social. The theological reason for this is the unity of the Spirit, who is the Spirit of the Church and also animates each of the faithful". He has much to say about prayer and its relationship with the Spirit.

It is, he says "an act of salvation, borne by the grace of the Spirit and having God an' Christ in view". This is not a book to be read cursorily, it is a book for meditation and study. There are meditations on a whole variety of subjects. They are intended to stimulate devotion and provide matter for theological pondering.

Your Hundred Best Tunes. by Alan Keith (Dent & Sons. £1.95).

FOR the last 20 years "Your hundred best Tunes" has been one of the BBCs most popular light classical music programmes This book comprises sketches of the composers and their works. The former are set out in alphabetical order. It is more than a reference book. Besides giving a rough outline of the life of each composer and his best known works the author adds little anecdotes about them. This makes for very pleasant reading. The book is well worth buying at its low price.

You can Understand the Bible by Nelson B. Baker (Eyre & Spottiswoode. £1.95).

THE sub-title of this book reveals its purpose. This is to give an overall understanding of the Bible "by its unifying Themes".

The author sets out, not to give a detailed study of the Bible but to provide the reader with a picture of the whole. The Bible has a unity: it is bound together by certain common themes.

It is the story of God and man, of the human {surlily and a chosen race. It is also an account of the fall and rise of a nation, of its songs and aspirations, of its promised future with the coming of Christ and the formation of the Church.

This is not a book for the scholar but for the ordinary reader who loves to get to know the word of God.

Vision for Unity by Eric Houle (Kingsway Publications 95p).

IT IS difficult to preach on Christian unity without quoting from the 17th chapter of St John's Gospel with particular reference to his words 'that they may be one This book provides an excellent study of the chapter, The author heads each section with a verse from St John and then provides an analysis of it. He brings out the unifying power of the Holy Spirit; the nature of the Church as the Body of Christ and the fact that every member of that body is a gift from the Father.

At the end of the book are appendices on "The Jewish Passover", "The Ecumenical movement" and Baptism.

Shaking the Sleeping Beauty by al iehael Griffiths (InterVarsity Press. £1.75).

THE author writes "The New Testament is full of calls to wake up and stay alert for the coming of the bridegroom.

"So the purpose of this book is to seek to rouse and shake ecclesiastical Sleeping Beauty to a fresh sense of her mission in the world". The hook contains the substance of lectures given at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford.

A large number of questions concerning missionary activity are dealt with among them the Church and growth, the Church and culture and the Church in the world. The writer also discusses the problem of the relationship of' the desire of God for all men to be saved and the existence or non-existence of Hell.

Jr all men are saved what is the point of missionary activity? At the end of each chapter questions are posed for seminar discussions.

Maurice Nassan SJ

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