St John the Baptist Parish Church

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Book Club

Heaven's Morning

We are currently reading “Heavens Morning” by David Winter. “This book explores the biblical teaching on what happens after death and considers the difference that can make to our lives here and now”.  We will be meeting at 8pm on the 27th June to discuss this book. The venue yet to be decided.

 Please do feel free to come along and discuss this book and surrounding issues.

Anne Pelham

Book Club held on 15th February

On the 15th February the book club met to discuss “Bread not Stones” by Una Kroll published by Christian Alternative Books in 2014.  The book is Una’s auto biography. She was a medical doctor, missionary nun, a pioneer of gender equality, an Anglican priest and then a contemplative Catholic. In the book Una says this is “an account of my journey from orthodox faith, through profound darkness and into a new way of living in the present moment”

It was quite a dense book for an autobiography. Like her life, the book changes direction abruptly, and towards the end of the book it is more about pastoral care and a call to action than an autobiography. Una was born in 1925 and died on the 6th January this year. Excerpts from two obituaries written in the national press were read out. Some people felt that you got to know more about her from them than from her book.

Una impressed us with her honesty in the book, including her doubts about church. We felt she was a person with very strong views and may have been difficult to get on with. However, she was obviously very sympathetic to people going through difficult times.

Una was involved in advocating for women priests and shouted in one meeting of the synod “we asked for bread and you have given us a stone”. This same slogan “bread not stones” was on a protest banner outside the very recent Church of England synod meeting.

Una reflects on a “mysterious force” and “unconditional creative love” which has she says she has experienced and which has changed her life. Towards the end of the book she says how she became able to love people with totally opposing views to her own.

Through the evening we enjoyed a lively and interesting discussion about the book and its author. If you would like to read the book for yourself there will be copy in the library.

The next meeting will be 27th June on a book yet to be decided.

Anne Pelham

Book Club - Next meeting 15th February 2017

On October 19th we met to discuss“The Lost Message of Jesus” by Steve Chalke and Alan Mann.

“The Lost Message of Jesus is written to stir thoughtful debate and pose fresh questions that will help create a deeper understanding of Jesus and his message. It is an encounter with the real Jesus of his world―not the Jesus we try to mould to ours”. (Amazon web site)

We had very wide reaching discussion as a result of reading this book We started our discussion with “Atonement theory” and it was mentioned that some people think Steve Chalke’s view of the Crucifixion as explained in the book is blasphemous.

There were specific parts in the book that people found helpful such as the explanation about the 10 Commandments, that they are not negative. They came from a God who was saying I am on your side, trust me. “don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t abandon me…..if you do it will unleash destructive powers destroying you”.  Others also found the explanation of the Beatitudes interesting and helpful. For some of us, there were also new facts in the book, for instance, that Rabbis could not forgive sins and therefore what Jesus did horrified the Rabbis of the day.

We then went onto a discussion about “Just War” about non-violence in personal and national situations. In the book there is an interesting suggestion that turning the cheek wasn’t passive it was pro-active because of the significance of not using the left hand.

 At the start of the book it does criticise the Church a lot, but it is from someone inside the Church. Most of the group liked the book, or at least parts of it. There will be a copy in the library. It is well worth a read.

The next book is “Bread not Stones” by Una Kroll published by Christian Alternative Books in 2014.  The book is Una’s auto biography. She was a medical doctor, missionary nun, a pioneer of gender equality and an Anglican priest and then a contemplative Catholic. We will meet on 15th February 2017 to discuss this book.

Everyone is welcome to come along to our very informal discussion of the book and of Una Kroll which will be at the Vicarage at 8pm on 15th February.

Anne Pelham

Next meeting - 19th October 2016

The book we have chosen to read next is “The Lost Message of Jesus” by Steve Chalke

A fresh―and perhaps controversial―look at Jesus by one of Britain’s most respected Christian authors. Who is the real Jesus? Do we remake him in our own image and then wonder why our spirituality is less than life-changing and exciting? Steve Chalke―a high-profile visionary in the United Kingdom and an evangelical recognized not only by Christians but by the general public as well―believes that the real Jesus is deeply challenging. And each new generation must grapple with the question of who he is, because only through a constant study of Jesus are we able to discover God himself.

The Lost Message of Jesus is written to stir thoughtful debate and pose fresh questions that will help create a deeper understanding of Jesus and his message. It is an encounter with the real Jesus of his world―not the Jesus we try to mould to ours. (Taken from Amazon web site)

On the cover of the book there is the following comment by Tom Wright: “Rooted in good scholarship, it’s clear, punchy style makes it accessible to anyone”

We shall be meeting on the 19th October to discuss this book. There is still plenty of time to read this book before the 19th October.

Anne Pelham

Report of Book Club held on 8th June 2016

We met on the 8th June to discuss “Being Mortal” by Atul GAWANDE.

Hilary led the discussion by asking some very good questions. The first one was: “does this book merit a place in our discussion group?” Which really set us all thinking from the off!  It is a book written by Atul Gawande who is an American surgeon and comes from a Hindu family. The book is about illness, medicine, and what matters in the end. In the resulting discussion it was said: “It (the book) is about humanity and living life to the full, and that is what Jesus said; (this book) has so many things to say to those who have faith and those who don’t” Someone else said: “It is refreshing to read something by someone so wise, and relevant to faith.”

We went on to discuss some of our early experiences of having grandparents living in the same home as us and the difficulties that posed. Then we went on to consider the issues of elderly parents and how as people get older their vison narrows and the problems that can cause.

Hilary then asked another question about how can provisions for the elderly be improved? In answer to this we talked about the need to talk to people to find out what they need or want. The book has a series of scenarios about elderly people going into various care and nursing homes as well those who are getting near to death. For example, the book has a story about a person called Peg who had Leukaemia and had been admitted to hospital. The doctors did not hold out much hope and Peg felt hopeless but she was put in contact with the hospice movement whose aim was to give people their best possible day. Peg said it had been a while since she had had a good day and she would like to resume her teaching (the piano).The hospice movement made it possible for her to go home from hospital and to teach again.

Our discussion touched on us getting older and dying and that for Christians we should have the least fear of dying and more to hope for after death, but that does not make it is not any easier for Christians.

It was mentioned in our discussion that the author was saying “it is important not to have a good death, but a good life - all the way to the very end”

I think we all found it a very important book to read; it is about ageing that will or does currently affect us all. One person commented that it was a fantastic book; everyone got a lot out of reading this book. There is a copy in the library and I do urge people to read it.

Thebook we have chosen to read next is “The Lost Message of Jesus” by Steve Chalke

A fresh―and perhaps controversial―look at Jesus by one of Britain’s most respected Christian authors. Who is the real Jesus? Do we remake him in our own image and then wonder why our spirituality is less than life-changing and exciting? Steve Chalke―a high-profile visionary in the United Kingdom and an evangelical recognized not only by Christians but by the general public as well―believes that the real Jesus is deeply challenging. And each new generation must grapple with the question of who he is, because only through a constant study of Jesus are we able to discover God himself. The Lost Message of Jesus is written to stir thoughtful debate and pose fresh questions that will help create a deeper understanding of Jesus and his message. It is an encounter with the real Jesus of his world―not the Jesus we try to mould to ours. (Taken from Amazon web site)

On the cover of the book there is the following comment by Tom Wright: “Rooted in good scholarship, it’s clear, punchy style makes it accessible to anyone”

We shall be meeting on the 19th October to discuss this book.

Anne Pelham

Book Club - 27th January 2016

Regular members of the book club and others who are going to Israel in February met on the 27th January to discuss “Whose Promised land?” by Colin Chapman. The book covers the conflict between Israel and Palestine and explains the roots of the problem by giving a history of the land; it gives an interpretation of the bible regarding the land in the Middle East and outlines the arguments of the main parties involved today.

Read more: Book Club - 27th January 2016

Book Club - 14th October 2015

We met on the 14th October to discuss “Archbishop” by Michele Guinness. Published by Hodder and Stoughton, 2015. The central character is a fictional Vicky Burnham-Woods and the story follows her life from 2020 when she is appointed as Archbishop of Canterbury. Her earlier life was covered from school through to becoming a diocesan bishop by way of flashbacks to significant events but not always in chronological order. This style of writing irritated some of us.

The book touches on a lot of topics, such as; politics, voluntary care of the elderly, dis-establishment of the Church of England, Anglian Communion, anti- proselytising, corruption, friendship and betrayal, and gay marriage. One comment about the book was that it has too many topics; it was almost like a TV soap.

The book did illustrate the hierarchy and corporate nature of the Church of England quite well. Different roles and bodies such as diocesan secretary, cathedral dean, the house of bishops and the general synod played a part in the story although we felt that some of the characters lacked depth and many were there just to make a point. As there was a large cast of characters a list of who’s who in the front of the book would have been helpful.

There were reflective quotes from among others, a German theologian, Jürgen Moltmann, at the start of each chapter. These were quite dense ideas. Other than that, some felt that there was not much about God or faith in the book.

However saying all that I think everyone enjoyed reading this novel. There will be a copy in the library for people to borrow.

The next book club meeting will be on 27th January to discuss “Whose Promised Land?” by Colin Chapman. This book is about the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. The preface to the book says “The book seeks to address the both the history and the politics and questions of religion -with a special focus on the different ways in which Christians interpret the Bible.”

We are sending a special invitation to this meeting to all those who are going on the pilgrimage to Israel in February, as well as anyone else who would like to come along and discuss this book and surrounding issues. 

Anne Pelham 

Book Club - 16th June 2015

We met on the 16th June to discuss ‘Hilda of Whitby - A spirituality for now’ by Ray Simpson. There was a mixed response to this book. Most found it a difficult book to get into because of the historical content in the first chapter. Hilda lived from around 614 - 680 during the Anglo-Saxon invasions of Britain. We found the many Anglo-Saxon names very difficult; some of us would have liked more source references for the historical background. It was a book that needed concentration and although a small book it took time to read. However, there were some parts of the book that we found interesting, especially the reflections at the end of each chapter.

Read more: Book Club - 16th June 2015

Book Club/Reading Group for St John's

The book club meets 3 times a year when we will discuss a set book over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine.

The next book will be “The Weeping Chamber” by Sigmund Brouwer. This is a novel based around the events of Holy Week.  We will be meeting to discuss this, appropriately during Lent, on Tuesday 24th February 2015. The book is out of print but we have at least 2 copies to share between us. It is available online as a download for a kindle. Anyone interested in reading the book and or joining the discussion about the book is very welcome. 

Anne Pelham 01344 774973