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.