by Jonathan Clatworthy
from Signs of the Times No. 68 - Jan 2018

It was common practice to cut off a finger or portion of one as a sacrifice to the gods for the recovery of a superior relative who was sick.

So wrote the anthropologist, James Frazer, about the islanders of Tonga.

Earlier, Captain Cook reported the same thing:

by Nicola Slee
from Signs of the Times No. 68 - Jan 2018

This is a blockbuster of an anthology of contemporary poems about the quest for God. Some 460 pages long, the range of authors, topics, poetic styles and approaches is vast.

It has been an exhausting as well as eclectic read, full of surprises as well as some frustrations (the lack of any kind of editorial organisation of the material is a major limitation to its usefulness).

by Martin Wharton
from Signs of the Times No. 68 - Jan 2018

David Osborne’s Reformation Pilgrimage describes and reflects upon his cycle ride through Germany in the summer of 2016.

His aim was to visit some key places of the Reformation, to reflect upon the significance of those major events and upheavals and to discern what some of the key players might have to say to the issues of our day.

by Paul Brett
from Signs of the Times No. 68 - Jan 2018

I approached this book with suspicion. Eerdmans is an Evangelical publisher, and the story is about something happening in America.

The title itself suggested a feast of emotion, not to say sentimentalism. The foreword confirmed my fears:

by David Greenwood
from Signs of the Times No. 68 - Jan 2018

This book achieves its objective of being, on the one hand, a self-help guide to gaining a sense of spiritual well-being and, on the other, a guide to Christian ministers wishing to improve their communication skills.

The guide is written from the Christian perspective and is very firmly embedded in the Biblical tradition, with an anthropomorphic approach assumed. The author is an Anglican priest working in New Zealand, involved in the training of spiritual directors and, as a Canon of Taranaki Cathedral, she leads workshops on spirituality and ageing.  For those involved with parish life and mission action planning, this book could make a huge contribution.