Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Celtic Christianity’

Review – Latest Spirituality Titles: 10 to Watch – Summer 2015

Here is a personal selection of my top ten ‘to watch’ Christian titles from the many hundreds published in the current sales period:

BLESSING 

To ‘bless’ someone is spiritually powerful, but what does it actually signify? In this accessible paperback (part of the Faith Going Deeper series), Andrew Davison lays out a comprehensive framework covering the theology and practicalities of Blessing. Superb – I loved it – if with a rather unimaginative jacket!

Blessing (2)

DEEP CALLS TO DEEP – SPIRITUAL FORMATION IN THE HARD PLACES OF LIFE

Tony Horsfall is a past speaker at CRT, and an accomplished leader of spiritual retreats. This new book of reflections is based on the Jewish Psalms, and of particular help to anyone going through difficult times. It’s also a book for group use, with material and questions designed for this purpose.

Deep calls to Deep

DELIGHTED IN GOD: GEORGE MULLER

Roger Steer’s biography of Muller is a classic. Published again as part of CFP’s HistoryMakers series, this book recounts the amazing story of this Victorian Christian who built five large orphanages in Bristol, relying on the scriptural principle of faith to raise the necessary funds.  A ‘must-read’.

George Muller

THE GOOD SHEPHERD: A THOUSAND YEAR JOURNEY FROM PSALM 23 TO THE NEW TESTAMENT

Magisterial – the only word to describe Kenneth Bailey’s books. Now this very welcome addition. Bailey writes in a unique way looking at scripture through Middle Eastern eyes. He’s one of those few authors who, in whatever they write, are always worth reading. Simply wonderful. I loved it.

good shepherd

HILDA OF WHITBY – A SPIRITUALITY FOR NOW

The North Yorkshire fishing port of Whitby rates as one of my favourite UK places. I’ve long been fascinated by the haunting ruins of its vast cliff-top Abbey. Nearly 1400 years ago, St Hilda, a Celtic nun, established the northern centre of Christianity here. This is Hilda’s inspiring story, expertly told and a pleasure to read.

Hilda of Whitby

JESUS WITHOUT BORDERS

I enjoyed this book although it’s terribly American.  However, that’s the point. This is a collection of travel stories as the author journeys from the USA Bible belt to a dozen different countries, looking at Church life and meeting with Christians. The chapter on his visit to England will make you smile!

Jesus without Borders

POPE FRANCIS: THE AUTHORISED BIOGRAPHY

Jorge Bergoglio or Pope Francis has been in office for two years. The only authorised biography to date, this book fleshes out the man and his ministry in a series of revealing conversations. Written by two journalists, it provides a clear and comprehensive picture of this most unconventional of Popes.

Pope Francis

THE THIRD TARGET

Written by a New York Times best-selling author, and in the style of Spooks and Homeland, this novel pushes all the buttons for a gripping read. Highly topical; ISIS, Al Qaeda, Israel, America and Syria are all in the story. There is not that much fiction on our shelves that appeals to men, but this is one such novel that can be recommended with confidence.

978-1-4964-0531-9

THE THOMAS THE TANK ENGINE MAN

2015 marks the 70th anniversary of TTTE. Who doesn’t love these stories and who cannot recite the names of most of the engines? Yet we know a lot less about Thomas’s creator, Reverend W Awdry. Here Brian Sibley, the best-selling biographer of C.S. Lewis, unlocks Awdry; train enthusiast, storyteller, family man, eccentric, pacifist and pastor.

TTTEM lion

WHERE IS GOD AT WORK?

Has the Church given the world of work short shrift over the years? This book explores the importance, indeed the imperative, of taking your faith to work with you. The author, an ordained C of E priest, is also a tax specialist in a major corporation. He reflects on the challenges and opportunities provided to Christians by their working environment. Innovative and practical.

Where is God

Metadata for these titles: Author ISBN
Blessing (Faith Going Deeper) Andrew Davison 978-1-84825-642-2
Deep Calls to Deep Tony Horsfall 978-1-84101-731-0
George Muller: Delighted in God Roger Steer 978-1-84550-120-4
Hilda of Whitby: A Spirituality for Now Ray Simpson 978-1-84101-728-0
Jesus without Borders Chad Gibbs 978-0-310-32554-3
Pope Francis: The Authorised Biography Rubin / Ambrogetti 978-1-444-75251-9
The Good Shepherd: from Psalm 23 to NT Kenneth Bailey 978-0-281-07350-4
The Third Target Joel C. Rosenberg 978-1-4964-0531-9
The Thomas the Tank Engine Man Brian Sibley 978-0-7459-7027-1
Where is God at Work? William Morris 978-0-85721-628-1

This article was written in March for publication in Together Magazine (May to June 2015).

These titles can be purchased via any good Bookshop or from clcbookshops.com

Advertisements

Review – The Sacred Texts Collection: British Library, London

February 18, 2012 Leave a comment

Earlier in February, I treated myself to a few hours in the British Library – situated next door to the beautifully restored St Pancras International Station – taking in the magnificent treasures of the permanent Sacred Texts Exhibition. That afternoon I tweeted:

Spent 20 glorious minutes gazing at stunning MSS of Lindisfarne Gospels. Face pressed to glass, just a few cm away. Moving, exquisite.

There are 78 Sacred Texts and Illustrated Manuscripts from all around the world, representative of every religion, on display in the Sir John Ritblat Gallery (alongside original Beatles lyrics and the actual Magna Carta).  Best of all public access to the collection is completely free of charge!

For the sake of time and in line with personal preferences I spent much of the time concentrating on some of the most important texts of the Christian Faith. What follows is a snapshot of those treasures and the MSS that I most enjoyed.

Before that let me ask you this question: Have you ever wondered about the origin of paper and where in the world moveable type printing was first used? In which case, where best to start than with the Dawn of Printing display in the gallery?

The East – paper was invented in China in 100AD. We have Buddhism to thank for the arrival of printing in the 7th century. The world’s earliest recognisable book dates to China in 868AD. Moveable type printing was first used in a Buddhist text from Korea in 1377.

The West – In 1455, 180 copies of Johannes Gutenberg’s Bible were the first ever Bibles printed with moveable type. This was much later than that in Korea but Gutenberg’s method was far more suited commercially.

 

Included in the BL’s collection of Christian texts, these top 10 treasures stand out:

Codex Sinaiticus, 350AD – The Codex Sinaiticus is a treasure beyond price. Produced in the middle of the 4th century, the Codex is one of the two earliest Christian Bibles. (The other is the Codex Vaticanus in Rome.) It contains the complete Greek New Testament, plus parts of the Old Testament.

Codex Alexandrinus, 5th Century – Codex Alexandrinus is one of the three earliest and most important manuscripts of the entire Bible in Greek, the others being Codex Sinaiticus, also in the British Library, and Codex Vaticanus in Rome.

Lindisfarne Gospels, 698AD – This 7th century masterpiece of Anglo-Saxon art is originally from Holy Island in Northern England and the earliest surviving of the Latin Gospels. This book is truly gorgeous; a crinkly, illustrated MSS with jagged edges, about ¾ the size of a standard Pulpit Bible. The text is exquisitely handwritten but in uniform Latin lettering. There is a smaller Anglo-Saxon translation which was added between the Latin lines in 970AD by Aldred.

To be within a ‘nose’ of these Gospels – separated only by thin glass – is a thrilling and ethereal experience. These Gospels were written ‘For God and St Cuthbert’ by just one artist, Eadfrith who was the Bishop of Lindisfarne from 698 – 721AD. This is one of my all-time favourite books. 

St Cuthbert Gospel, 698AD – The St Cuthbert Gospel, a 7th century manuscript, is the earliest surviving intact European book and one of the world’s most significant treasures. It retains its exquisite original fine-tooled red leather binding and survives intact. This is the starting point for books as we know them today, an exceptional example of Anglo-Saxon craftsmanship. This handwritten Gospel is a Latin copy of John’s Gospel. It was placed in St Cuthbert’s coffin in 698AD on Lindisfarne and later found when the Saint’s coffin was opened in Durham Cathedral in 1104.

STOP PRESS (April 2012) – The St Cuthbert Gospel has now been saved for the nation (at a cost of £9m) and is now on open display in the BL Galley. It’s quite small and beautifully hand-scripted in Latin. Well worth seeing if you can.

Holkham Bible Picture Book, 1325 – 1350 This celebrated picture-book tells the Biblical story in Norman French, with the help of copious illustrations of everyday 14th-century England.

Sherborne Missal, 1400 – 1407 This early 15th-century manuscript is probably the largest and most lavishly decorated English medieval service book to survive from the Middle Ages. It came from the Benedictine Abbey in Dorset and weighs a whopping 3 stones!

Gutenberg Bible, 1455 – Probably the most famous Bible in the world and the earliest full-scale work printed in Europe using movable type. 

Tyndale New Testament in English, 1526 – Tyndale’s New Testament was the first to be printed in English. The BL has one of only two copies of this earliest English translation of the Bible. It was regarded as a heretical text and Tyndale was strangled and burnt at the stake for his efforts in 1536. This was the Bible that Anne Boleyn, wife of King Henry VIII read, so eventually even members of the Royal Household accepted the text. 

Geneva Bible, 1560 – The first Bible version divided into verses, produced by English Protestant exiles in Calvinist Geneva during the reign of Queen Mary Tudor. This was a much smaller Bible printed in legible Roman type.

King James Bible, 1611 – The King James, or Authorised, Version of the Bible remains the most widely published text in the English language. King James convened the Hampton Court Conference in 1604 to produce a suitable version for England and this Bible duly appeared in 1611. The 400th anniversary of the KJV was celebrated last year in 2011.

Celtic Christianity – in the Footsteps of St Kentigern (or St Mungo)

February 13, 2011 Leave a comment

I lived in the North of England for 15 years. As a southerner, and therefore an ‘incomer’, it took a while for it to fully sink in that the northern counties of England were Christianised very early on in our island history. Monks, mainly from Ireland, had sailed across and planted Monasteries and Churches from Galloway in southern Scotland to Lindisfarne in Northumbria. This was not the Rome-centric Christian faith but the more vigorous and earthier Celtic form.

It’s a hugely thrilling and inspiring story which has impacted on many aspects of the Northern landscape.  I returned south 15 years later with a much greater appreciation of the mystery and beauty of a Celtic faith that is anchored so very securely in the ‘here and now’. It certainly strengthened my experience of God and I remain very grateful for the experience.

In my opinion, the best exponent of Celtic Spirituality is David Adam (his books published mainly by the SPCK).

You cannot live in these Northern counties very long before you come across the name of ‘Mungo’; usually as a place name (as in Mungrisdale in the Lake District) but more often as the founding name of a Church. I started to look into the story of this 6th century Saint … and what a story it is! Much of what we know of his life comes from Jocelyn, a monk at Furness Abbey, writing his hagiography in around 1180AD.

Mungo was an early Saint – to give him his baptismal name, Kentigern – who literally evangelised his way across Scotland, England and Wales. There are places (notably Glasgow, Cumbria and St Asaph) in all three countries of the UK which have an association with St Mungo.

Kentigern was born in 516AD at Culross on the northern shore of the Firth of Forth. He was almost certainly of royal blood but illegitimate. His father was a King of Rheged and his grandfather was King Loth (hence the name, Lothian). Kentigern was brought up in the Culross monastery and grew to become a godly man. As with St Cuthbert, we have several accounts of his miracles. At age 20, he left the monastery (due to certain petty jealousies) and travelled south on a missionary journey to Glasgow. He was obviously successful as he was consecrated very early on as the first Bishop of Strathclyde, conducting evangelistic trips into Aberdeenshire. He always travelled on foot, becoming known as St Mungo (meaning one dearly beloved).

Due to persecution which arose in Scotland, Kentigern moved south to Carlisle. From there he continued his work preaching to the people of Cumbria and founding a number of Churches across the county (Mungrisdale 550AD, Keswick 553AD). St Mungo then travelled as far south as North Wales where he met St David and founded a Christian community, St Asaph after one of his disciples. When Christianity (in the form of a local King near Penrith) took back control in Cumbria following the battle of Arderydd in 573AD, Kentigern was asked to return from Wales and he did so, travelling back via Cumbria to Scotland.

Kentigern revisited some of the Churches he had established on his way south; Great Crosthwaite (near Keswick), Mungrisdale (St Mungo’s Dale), Castle Sowerby, Caldbeck and Aspatria. All of these places continue to have their dedication to St Mungo.

Kentigern’s (St Mungo) Saints day is the 13 January.  He is rightly remembered as the ‘Apostle of North West England and South West Scotland’. The City of Glasgow’s motto ‘Let Glasgow flourish by the preaching of His word and the praising of His name’ and the more secular ‘Let Glasgow flourish’ are both inspired by St Mungo’s original call to “Let Glasgow flourish by the preaching of the word”.

Along the way, St Mungo had many run-ins with the Druids but he lived to a good old age dying in his eighties, in either 603AD or 612AD (depending on your source!).

For a very good account of Kentigern’s life, see Shirley Toulson’s book ‘Celtic Journeys’ (Fount 1995) – now OP.

%d bloggers like this: