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Wednesday, 13 March 2013


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Lost Certainties 

Brian Wilson is a classical scholar of Christ’s College, Cambridge, for whom theology has been a lifelong interest. He taught in several leading independent schools, (Radley College, King’s Canterbury, and Eastbourne College), before becoming Headmaster of Campbell College, Belfast during a challenging period of educational and civil disturbance. He has been a guest speaker for Swan Hellenic on Mediterranean cruises, an A Level examiner in Latin and Ancient History, the co-author of several ancient history source books, a religious broadcaster, and served for a time on the joint Central Religious Advisory Committee of the BBC/ITV. The evolution of his increasingly radical view of the faith of his church will disturb traditionalists, but may encourage those of a more progressive disposition, who like him still wrestle with their faith. 

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You have worked wonders. Keeping up with your speed is quite a challenge, Yet another very satisfied customer.


This is a free-thinking literary blog about current affairs, culture, society, religion, politics, atheism, humanism, the English language and literature.
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What people are saying about Lost Certainties:
In a recent sermon on his website, , John Churcher, Chair of PCN-B (The Progressive Christianity Network of Britian) writes: "Everyone who is concerned about the free falling membership of the mainline churches in this country should read Lost Certainties. It is a challenge to take up a new Reformation that will give the institutional church at least a chance of survival in our increasingly secular post-modern world." 

This is a book for those who, like Brian Wilson, are prepared to turn around. The essence is caught in his quotation from Michael Ramsey: 'Cease to think of God as a definable, supernatural person. Being the other way round. Look into the depths of human existence, and discover deep down the ultimate meaning of things. This ultimate reality is personal; it is love. Then we can say that love, the ultimate reality, is God.' 

Progressive Voices 

Lost Certainties is a sequel to A Faith Unfaithful, Brian Wilson’s previous collection of broadcasts, sermons and addresses.
In this new publication, through the medium of essays and letters to friends, he seeks to give an account of the evolution of his own faith and explores the dilemma, which he shares with many modern Christians, of how to reconcile a rational and educated modern mind with the largely mythological faith still propagated by the traditional Church. He makes no claim to having the answers. But he firmly believes that if those who are sympathetic to the Christian faith can bring themselves to recognise those elements of faith which modern scientific knowledge and biblical scholarship have rendered untenable to the modern mind, it will help them to rediscover the true value of the teaching of the historical Jesus of Nazareth, who was transformed by centuries of theological argument into the Christ of Faith. Religion, he argues, is not just an intellectual construct; but without a solid rational basis, it is as a house built upon sand.
With two archbishops, a bishop, and a monsignor in his immediate ancestry, he has found it as difficult to abandon the faith of his fathers as it is to accept the traditional teaching of the Church in the face of what we now know of Biblical scholarship, the early years of Christianity within the Roman Empire, and what modern science has told us about creation, and the evolution of our species. We are not fallen angels, he argues, but risen apes. He has found many friends and colleagues, both in his own teaching profession and further afield, who have had similar problems of belief. This book contains a selection of his essays and letters written for them.

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The Improbable Bishop 


John S. Peart-Binns, is a critically acclaimed episcopographer of fifteen prominent twentieth century subjects. In 2008 he received an M.Phil. with distinction from the University of Leeds for his thesis on Establishment and Disestablishment in the life, thought and work of Herbert Hensley Henson, Bishop of Durham. Born and brought up in Bradford, he now lives with his wife Annis in the hub of the universe, Hebden Bridge in the South Pennines.

A succession of masterful figures had the honour of serving as Bishop of Durham; saints and sages, prince-bishops, warriors and statesmen, builders and governors, reformers and controversialists. In 1966 a most unlikely candidate stepped into this mix. Born and bred in Lancashire, Ian Thomas Ramsey’s background gave few clues as to his future calling.

A brilliant and original thinker, his works on philosophy, theology and science developed and popularised new concepts in each discipline. Ordained in 1940, he served a curacy at Headington Quarry, Oxford and spent twenty three years as an academic: a lecturer and chaplain at Cambridge followed by a professorship at Oxford. Ramsey was an unexpected but inspired choice for appointment as Bishop of Durham. Ian Ramsey was immediately embraced by the people of Durham and soon the Church of England had an irrepressible and popular bishop in their midst. Focusing on Ramsey’s years in Durham The Improbable Bishop depicts a man whose compassion and work ethic made him ‘Everybody’s Bishop’ in pit villages, rural communities and secular institutions across the county. The book is a sensitive but rigorous assessment of the virtues, strengths, vulnerabilities and limitations of a man who left a lasting legacy in Durham and whose ideas influenced thinking across the country.

An affectionate and critical assessment of Ian Ramsey’s time as Bishop of Durham … one of the many good things about this book is the affectionate but shrewd memoirs by those who knew  Ramsey and worked with him.
Well researched and informative. It contains some very amusing and attractive photographs. Well worth a read.
Christ College Oxford
In his latest biography Peart-Binns has done a great service. He has reminded us of a great scholar and churchman whose work on a number of moral and ethical issues influenced the thought of a nation.
Canon Malcolm Grundy Teal Trust

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Circle Completed 

When she left the convent she had called home for almost a quarter of a century, Sister Giles faced many challenges as she readjusted to life in the secular world. Constantly surprised and moved by acts of kindness, she was able to make a new life for herself, all the while preserving strong bonds with her order and never losing her sense of vocation.
In her follow-up to The End and The Beginning, Sister Giles celebrates the simple pleasures of the day to day and reminds us to value and appreciate the things that we all too often take for granted. A constant theme of Circle Completed is love - love of God, love of each other, love of life. Sister Giles’ love for others leaps from the page as she eloquently creates portraits of some of the people that have been important to her. Their stories are valued and shared. Written with compassion and a warm sense of humour, this elegant, thoughtful and at times poignant book is a joy to behold. It is also a reminder of the richness and fullness that life has to offer, if only we take the time to look for it.


Her second book builds on the foundations of the first, illustrating how she had been able to make a new life while retaining the sense of her vocation
Midhurst & Petworth observer

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The End and The Beginning

The End and The Beginning now available in eBook format: To buy click on the link. 
Amazon Kindle

The End and The Beginning is a fascinating memoir of the later part of Sister Giles life. It relates the unexpected, often humorous, journey from an enclosed community to the secular world, without in any way jeopardising Sister Giles sense of vocation.In the early chapters the author touches briefly on her life as a nun in an enclosed order and the reader is given an insight into the austere regime of such a vocation. She is later given leave of absence when a friend asks her help to set up a retreat and Sister Giles is surprised to discover that she is called upon to offer succour in a much wider circle than she could have foreseen.
The author discovers a whole new way of life outside the order; she learns to drive, visits the hairdressers and discovers supermarkets. But there comes a time when she has to make a painful decision: should she leave her order permanently? Fortunately there had been a change in Canon Law some years previously which meant that she could ‘remain consecrated, yet released from community life.’ After three days she decided to remain in the secular world.
This is a story of courage, of the power of prayer and of a nun’s devotion to what she perceived as her duty to others in need of help. A combination of direct conversation, humour and eloquent descriptive passages means that the reader is taken with Sister Giles through her life story.
This is a unique story of an unusual person whose life is lived for other people.

An Amazing WomanHaving trained at the Webber School of acting then became a Nun. After 20 years in a contemplative community she came into the outside world to look after those who needed affection, nursing. This account is written with humour with understanding & one is never felt to be in any way a lesser mortal for failing in ones own way of life. Strongly recommended to be read - not just once but again & again.
Elspeth (Hampshire, UK)

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Listen To The Gospels 

Richard Ferguson has served as a Parish Priest for more than forty years in places as far apart as Stretford (Manchester), North Shields, Oldham, Slough and Northumberland. Now in active retirement, he not only takes services when called upon; he has translated St Mark’s Gospel and has recited it on almost fifty occasions. Most recently he has turned his attention to writing. His first book, Rocks and Breakers is a presentation of the Gospel according to St Mark, with his translation of the Gospel spoken on two CDs – so that it can be heard as well as read. In this book he takes his passion for the Gospels further, and in this original study faces the paradoxes and puzzles which the four Gospels give to twenty-first century minds. In his hands these difficulties become discoveries, and our understanding of the Gospels is greatly enriched.

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Thank You, Holy Spirit 

This is not merely a straightforward autobiography and the author has chosen to write about those aspects in particular where he has detected God's guidance. We are told how his time as a junior army officer in World War II brought about a life-changing encounter with God on the battlefield of El Alamein and how this undoubtedly influenced his career, as following this he studied theology and trained for the ministry serving throughout Britain and India. 
However it is not only in the times of crisis or desperation when the presence of the Holy Spirit is apparent, Horace Dammers also tells of the occasion in his day to day life when the Spirit has corrected him. The book conveys an overall message that the influence and inspiration of the Holy Spirit can be seen in many different ways and found in the most unexpected places. 

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Gordon Fallows of Sheffield 

The Anglicanism to which Fallows adhered and which he commended was wary of crisp rules, clear authority and definitive answers. His vision and conviction was to a Church, which encouraged pioneering seekers and critical thinkers; he was a realist and encourager, statesman and conciliator; his gifts of peacemaking were needed when he moved to Sheffield, then a divided and unhappy diocese. His sense of humour and restrained wit diverted many a potential crisis and he was able to hold radical views without causing offence, for charm and integrity never left him.
Being a husband and father were his greatest joys and the love he had of the natural order and walking on the fells of his native Cumbria helped to dispel the ecclesiastical cobwebs. His appeal to people from all walks of life was wide, solid and permanent and all shared his extended painful final journey suffering from cancer and Parkinson’s disease. He died in 1979.


Such a study in clerical progress develops supremely well when we see how Fallows came to be appointed to the large and significant parish church in Preston at the age of 33. He then charts, with helpful and interesting comments from Fallows' Contemporaries and parishioners how they experienced this energetic man pursuing his clerical career.
Malcolm Grundy

Earthen Vessel Holding Treasure (not for sale)

The Irish writer and poet, James Joyce, described the biographer as a biografiend. This biography is from the pen of a biografriend whilst being sufficiently
detached to be objective. Without Gordon McMullan’s generosity in placing
his private and public papers at my disposal any portrayal and evaluation of
his ministry and episcopate would have been impossible. He is not given to
self-analysis or soul-searching. As he gradually disclosed a willingness to reveal
and share those parts of his life which hitherto he kept guarded and secret it
appeared cathartic.
A biographer of a priest must recognise and respect that the real life
of a priest is invisible, measured in secret by the lives he touches and helps
heal. That so many people responded to my overtures for reflections and
memories of Gordon McMullan with candour and sensitivity is remarkable. Some correspondents wished to remain anonymous. Others were cautious, but the majority were content that their contributions may be used with their names. A number of these appear in the biography. To everyone who assisted with their insights and stories I offer heart-felt gratitude

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