Having just referred to Emma Kennedy’s new book Justice and the Heart of God in my ‘Makeover, anyone?’ post, I was delighted to receive an email out of the blue from Kate Tuckett, Christian Aid’s Co-publishing Manager. Kate wants to visit LST and show me the rest of Christian Aid’s list, and I’m looking forward to that visit: if you’d like someone from Christian Aid to visit your shop, I’m sure Kate would love to arrange it (KTuckett@christian-aid.org or 020 7523 2200). If you’re not bothered about a visit and just want to get the books in, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 08700 787788. Trade terms are available: ask for details.
But since we’re here, bang smack in the middle of Christian Aid Week with Christian Aid working incredibly hard in Burma in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis, I’m taking the opportunity now to highlight the books Kate has told me about:
Justice and the Heart of God tops the list, of course: published just in time for Christian Aid Week and drawing our attention to the big issues of today’s world that Christian Aid is contending with: climate change, HIV/AIDs and people trafficking, to name but a few. Ideal for cells or small groups, I’m told, “each study includes questions, prayer and action points and links to further resources” (9781854248565, Lion Hudson, £5.99).
Also hot off the press is Kathy Galloway’s Sharing the Blessing, “A reflection on the spirituality and practice of working for justice and overcoming poverty, both local and global” (9780281059492, SPCK, £8.99).
Then we have The Christian Aid Book of Simple Feasts by Sarah Stancliffe: “A unique recipe collection for church caterers and party organisers everywhere… tried-and-tested ideas for cooking for large numbers on a budget” (9781853118364, SCM-Canterbury Press, £8.99).
Michael Northcott’s A Moral Climate: The Ethics of Global Warming is billed as “essential reading for anyone concerned about the greatest threat to our planet and its people” (9780232526684, Darton, Longman & Todd, £12.95).
Taking a more meditative approach, but I suspect nonetheless challenging for that, we have Timothy Radcliffe’s Just One Year: “An indispensable resource for groups who wish to include poor communities in their prayer and worship” (9780232526691, Darton, Longman & Todd, £12.95).
Through the Year with Oscar Romero presents a series of daily meditations taken from the late Archbishop of San Salvador’s broadcast talks which “invite us to move into the ‘intimate space’ of our conscience and then go out to create a more just world” (9780232526950, Darton, Longman & Todd, £9.95).
Finally Pocket Prayers for Peace and Justice offers a selection of “thought-provoking prayers from many different countries and traditions, collected to inspire those praying for fairness, harmony and freedom around the world” (9780715140215, Church House Publishing, £5.99).
The importance of Christian Aid’s work was brought home to me very powerfully last Sunday when we were privileged to have Amanda Farrant, their Communications & Information Officer, as our guest speaker at church. Amanda had planned to tell us about Christian Aid’s work after the cyclone that hit Bangladesh last year: instead she found herself speaking about the current crisis in Burma and, since she was needed to help co-ordinate the response, she had to leave immediately after speaking, walking out as we started reciting the Apostles’ Creed.
“We believe in God the Father Almighty…” — at which point I balked. What kind of God is this we’re supposed to believe in, who permits cyclones and earthquakes and other disasters to strike, to kill and maim so many? God Almighty? The Apostles’ Creed passed me by last Sunday as so much empty gibberish as I realised afresh that the God in whom I believe is not that mythical omnipotent deity created out of our desperate longings but is rather the one who walks amongst us, God incarnate in those who work in these disaster areas, picking up the shattered pieces of ruined lives.
And so I thank God — the God who is, not the God of that ancient mythology — for these workers; and I pray that these books may be effective in waking up each and every one of us to our responsibilities as the body of Christ here on Earth…