St John the Baptist Parish Church

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Book Club

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 Most found it a difficult book to get into because of the historical content in the first chapter.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


Book Club meeting on 11th Nov 2014

We met on the 11th November to discuss “LOVE WINS” by Rob Bell and the book evoked a lively discussion.

Rob Bell he argues that God’s love is for everyone both Christians and non-Christians. He also writes about his concepts of heaven, hell and eternity.

We found the style of the book was very staccato, in that it had short paragraphs with lots of questions posed. Not all the questions were answered. However the book was easy to read, conversational and in parts poetic. We were not always convinced by his arguments and there were no footnotes in the book, so we could not check what he said. The author is a good communicator expressing his views clearly. It was not as academic as a Tom Wright book such as “Surprised by Hope”

Mostly we enjoyed the book; some of us only enjoyed it in parts.  Over all I would say that we felt it was a book worth reading. There is a copy available in the library.

Anne Pelham

Book Club - Book for 10th June

The next book we will be reading is Tom Wright’s book “Simply Christian”. Professor Antony Flew has said of this book: it shows the “relevance of the Bible and Christian story for the contemporary world” and “It is absolutely wonderful, absolutely radical and very powerful”

We have been invited to hold this meeting at Quench Book Shop. There will be an opportunity to browse the shelves from 7.30 pm prior to starting at 8.00pm.

Please feel free to come along and discuss the book on Tuesday 10th June 2014. Do bring a chair and your purse!

Anne Pelham

Book Club - Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan

On the 18th February we got together to discuss the latest book that we had been reading.  Before discussing the book we were very lucky to hear from Irene Simmons whose ancestors knew John Bunyan. She had made up a time-line of John Bunyan's life including the national events of the time with pictures to illustrate and also had a collection of pictures that showed places in Bedfordshire which John Bunyan knew and which may have prompted Bunyan's imagination.

There are two parts to the book. The first part is about Christian and his journey from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City and was published in 1678; the second part, is about the same journey taken by Christiana (Christian’s wife) and her children, and was published in 1684. We all thought that the second part was softer and more tender.

We found the book surprisingly modern and erudite. The number of biblical references was really amazing.  The book was a very worthwhile read and relevant to us some 300 years after it was written. People had different editions of the book, including one on the kindle. Some of these were easier to understand being written in more up to date English.

If you haven’t read it, we would heartily recommend it. There will be a copy in the library.

The next meeting will be on 10th June. The book is yet to be decided.

Anne Pelham

“The Red Tent” by Anita Diamant

On 12 November 2013 we got together to discuss this book that we had been reading which is a novel about Jacob’s daughter Dinah.  The Bible is told from the male point of view but this book takes just a few chapters of Genesis and imagines what life may have been like for the women who lived at that time and in those places.  It goes into a great deal of very intimate detail about the lives of Jacob’s four wives. In parts of the book there are detailed scenes about killings.

Tracy and Ken came up with some very good questions about the book which led to a wide ranging discussion from Jacob and the Book of Genesis, women in the Bible to Liberal and Orthodox Jews today. Some of the group had re read Genesis or the relevant chapters to compare them to this book.

The book really divided the group. Some enjoyed the book and others disliked it intensely.

There will be a copy in the library for those who would like to read the book.

The next book is “The Pilgrim’s Progress” by John Bunyan. If you are interested in reading it and /or coming to the meeting on 18 February 2014 we would be happy to see you.

“Father Forgive” by Canon Andrew White

On 27 August 2013 we got together to discuss the most recent book that we had been reading:  “Father Forgive” Canon Andrew White’s new book.

The book has a foreword by Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury in which the Archbishop explains that the title “Father, Forgive” refers to the when the then Provost of Coventry Cathedral went into the ruins of the cathedral in November 1940 and wrote on a wall “Father, forgive” this was the start of Coventry’s reconciliation ministry.  The Archbishop goes on in the foreword to say “The book is controversial. There will be things in it that inspire most of us. Equally, some may disagree with something he says”. We certainly found this to be true.

The book starts with a lot about the history of various religions and rifts within the religions and between religions. The history of Christianity and the part of the book about Luther many of us found interesting.  We felt that the next part of the book became just a vehicle for Andrew White’s apparent Christian Zionist views, which surprised many of us.  We disagreed with many things that he said here. We also felt that the book did not reflect the title and that a disproportionate amount of the book was given over to discussing just one of the seven parts of the Litany of Reconciliation.

There will be a copy in the library for those who would like to read the book.

"The Testament of Mary" by Colm Toibin

On 14 May 2013 we got together to discuss the most recent book that we had been reading;

“The Testament of Mary”  by Colm Toibin.  This book is a novel based on Mary, telling her story of the crucifixion. One revue says “this is a short book, but it is as dense as a diamond”.

Most of the group did not like the book.  Some persisted to the end only because they were reading it for the book club.

There were problems with the chronology of the events described. The language throughout the book was modern except when Jesus or Pilot were speaking, then it reverted to the language of the “King James Bible”.  It was felt that there was a lack of God in the book. None of us liked the way Mary was portrayed. Overall it was rather a depressing book, one that we would not recommend.

A note of interest: this book has now been shortlisted for the Mann –Booker prize. Um! We did not have many (any?) positive things to say about it and we gave it a very bad review! What does that say about our literary prowess?


"Let Live" by John Madeley

On 16 October 2012 the book club met to discuss the book “Let Live” written by John Madeley. Ten days before this John had visited our church and delivered the sermon so that interest to the discussion.

The book is a novel about a bike ride across various African countries. It has a very thin plot; the main purpose of the book is to deliver information about climate change and its effects on the people and land. The “hero” a journalist, meets people who have been driven off their land due to low or no rainfall and crop failures and abandoned villages for the same reason. He becomes the target of CIA plots to discredit or injury him. In between the story there is a “letter from the climate” and other sections setting out the argument/facts for belief in climate change.

The consensus of the group was that we accept the damage that climate change is doing but the book didn’t gel as a novel and belittled the message.

The group discussed the book which then led onto discussing climate change, weather cycles, as well as greed and the over use of natural resources. So perhaps the value of the book is not the read itself but as a means to get people thinking and talking about climate change.