New Chaplaincy Books
Here's a fascinating reflection on the comparison between the Qur'an and Christ:
"The word of God in Islam is the Qur'an; in Christianity it is Christ. The vehicle of divine revelation in Christianity is the Blessed Virgin; in Islam it is he soul of the Prophet. The Prophet must be illiterate for the same reason that the Virgin Mary must be pure. The human vehicle of a divine message must be pure and unconscious. The divine word can be written only on the clean and unwritten sheet of human receptivity. If the word is in the form of a book, then this purity is symbolized by the illiteracy of the person who is chosen to make this word known among people. Both (the illiteracy of the Prophet and the virginity of Mary) symbolize a deep aspect of this mystery of revelation".
The writer is a Muslim, quoted in Understanding the Qur'an, by Anton Wessels. This book was a bestseller in Holland, presumably in the light of the murder of Pim Fortuyn and the national soul-searching and desire to understand Islam that followed it. It should be on the shelves of the Chaplaincy library, soon, along with the following other new purchases. (What follows is a copy of my weekly email).
In anticipation of the Da Vinci Code film, we have two books that take an accessible but not overly dogmatic view of Dan Brown's money-spinner. They are both very easy to peek into without getting bogged down. They give answers to curious questions such as, who were the Gnostics? did Constantine really put the Bible together? and who was this Mary Magdalene?
Truth and Fiction in the Da Vinci Code, A Historian Reveals What We Really Know about Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and Constantine, by Bart D. Ehrman
The Real History Behind the Da Vinci Code, by Sharan Newman (written with some help by a Professor of History from Reading!).
If by the end of term you are feeling completely burnt out, we have a new edition of The Good Retreat Guide which includes contact details of every kind of monastery, meditation centre, Creation Spirituality house etc. etc., you could possibly want to get you back on your feet (and how to do a retreat if you've never done one before).
If you've never looked into how a gospel 'works' or how they came about, and you want to find a safe place somewhere between complete skepticism and fundamentalism then Adrian Graffy's easy to read Trustworthy and True, the Gospels beyond 2000 might be for you.
Or, as is often the case, you've never been taught how to pray (or have only been taught one way which doesn't work for you) then John Pritchard's superb and simple How to Pray, A Practical Handbook has 25 different prayer styles (including using music, the arts, scripture, silence, Celtic, Franciscan and other styles - and also how to keep a prayer life fresh and how to pray in difficult situations).
Finally we now have the complete set of Brian McLaren's works. Brian is an American Evangelical who is thinking through his faith in extremely interesting (and for some, challenging) ways.
The subtitle of his A Generous Orthodoxy, Why I am a missional + evangelical + post/protestant + liberal/conservative + mythical/poetic + biblical + charismatic/contemplative + fundamentalist/calvinist + anabaptist/anglican + methodist + catholic + green + incarnational + depressed-yet-hopeful + emergent + unfinished Christian, should speak for itself!
We also have now the full set of his A New Kind of Christian series which does theology through narrative (think Sophie's World meets twenty-first century imaginative Christianity, covering science and faith and the thorny topic of hell).