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http://www.epworthbooks.org.nz

Epworth Books Ltd, Wellington, New Zealand.
Specialist retailer in Christian, religion, theology, spirituality

and worship resources.

New Zealand distributor for
Christian Religious Education (CRE) materials,
(Bible in schools).

 

To Order please email sales@epworthbooks.org.nz or phone free 0800 755 355.

BOOK OF THE MONTH NEWS

Being Mortal: Illness, Medicine, and What Matters in the End. Atul Gawande. 304pp. Allen & Unwin. Ref 309220. $24.99. 

A revolutionary and emotionally searing account of death, dying and medicine. 

Gawande examines his experiences as a surgeon, as he confronts the realities of aging and dying in his patients and in his family, as well as the limits of what he can do. And he emerges with story that crosses the globe and history, exploring questions that range from the curious to the profound:

·         What happens to people's teeth as they get old?

·         Did human beings really commit senecide, the sacrifice of the elderly?

·         Why do the aged so dread nursing homes and hospitals?

·         How should someone give another person the dreadful news that they will die?

This is a story told only as Atul Gawande can – penetrating people's lives and also the systems that have evolved to govern our mortality. Those systems, he observes, routinely fail to serve — or even acknowledge — people's needs and priorities beyond mere survival. And the consequences are devastating lives, families, and even whole economies. But, as he reveals, it doesn't have to be this way.

Atul Gawande has delivered an engrossing tale of science, history and remarkable characters in the vein of Oliver Sacks.

 


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Jesus and Brian: Exploring the Historical Jesus and His Times via Monty Python's Life of Brian. Joan E. Taylor. 268pp. Bloomsbury T&T Clark. Ref 306677. $42.99.

Monty Python's Life of Brian film is known for its brilliant satirical humour. Less well known is that the film contains references to what was, at the time of its release, cutting edge biblical scholarship and Life of Jesus research. This research, founded on the acceptance of the Historical Jesus as a Jew who needs to be understood within the context of his time, is implicitly referenced through the setting of the Brian character within a tumultuous social and political background.

This collection is a compilation of essays from foremost scholars of the historical Jesus and the first century Judaea, and includes contributions from: George Brooke, Richard Burridge, Paula Fredriksen, Steve Mason, Adele Reinhartz, Bart Ehrman, Amy-Jill Levine, James Crossley, Philip Davies, Joan Taylor, Bill Telford, Helen Bond, Guy Steibel, David Tollerton, David Shepherd and Katie Turner.

The collection opens up the Life of Brian to renewed investigation and, in so doing, uses the film to reflect on the historical Jesus and his times, revitalising the discussion of history and Life of Jesus research. The volume also features a Preface from Terry Jones, who not only directed the film, but also played Brian's mum.

 

The Good Doctor. Lance O'Sullivan. 256pp. Penguin. Ref 307653. $38.00.

 Lance O'Sullivan is a man on a mission. Raised in Auckland by a solo mother, he had a modest upbringing typical of the time, if one chequered with difficulties. After being expelled from two schools, Lance could have gone off the rails. Instead, he found his way at Hato Petera College, connecting with his Maori ancestry, and going on to study medicine. After a brief but outstanding career working as a GP in the public health system, Lance and his wife Tracy quit their day jobs to set up a ground-breaking practice in the Far North that offers free healthcare to the many who can't afford it. 

For his work, Lance has been acknowledged as a Sir Peter Blake Emerging Leader, Public Health Champion, Maori of the Year and, most recently, Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year.

Passionate, brave and free-thinking, Lance stood up when no one else would. The Good Doctor charts his inspirational, one-of-a-kind life story, while relaying an overarching hope for a better New Zealand.

 

Honest to Goodness: Personal Reflections on the Liturgy. Joy Cowley. 96pp. Pleroma. Ref 307444. $19.99.

“For regular mass goers, the liturgy can become a familiar road to the destination of Holy Communion and we stroll past gifts that wait for us in words and phrases. There is a wealth of divine connection in the liturgy if we are open to receive it.

The contents of this book are not exegesis or commentary, but pauses on the road to hear what the Holy Spirit is saying. This form of lectio divina can be called ‘listening with the ears of the heart,’ and I invite you to make your own sacred pauses during the mass. Hear what you are meant to hear, and write your own prayer responses.” Joy Cowley, from her introduction to the book.

This book will also become a treasured resource for those in other denominations who want to experience more deeply their Holy Communion and Eucharist services.

 

The In-Between Land: Psalms, Poems and Haiku. Mark Gibson. 138pp. Philip Garside Publishing.
Print book Ref 306162 $25.00. eBooks (ePub Ref 306283, Kindle ref 306291, PDF ref 306306) $8.99.

 Severe earthquakes struck Christchurch in 2010–2011 and caused obvious damage to buildings, the land and waterways. The emotional impact of these events on the people who lived through them is harder to see. For many people, the city and life they knew has gone, but they are not yet able to move forward – they are stuck in-between. In this moving collection, Mark Gibson tells their story.

His 15 psalms put before God the hurts, frustrations, injustices and despair that people feel. They also offer praise and point to a new appreciation of the natural world around us and to hope for a brighter future.

The poems, which document and reflect on the author’s unfolding pastoral and spiritual journey, are grouped into broad categories:

·         Earthquakes

·         Loss and lament

·         Healing and renewal

·         Torrent Bay escapes

·         Life goes on

60 haiku offer playful, snapshot impressions of living through the four seasons: autumn, winter, spring and summer.

Draw on this collection for personal nourishment, strength in difficult times  or use in worship. You are not alone. There is hope.
 

NOOMA Complete Collection – DVD. Rob Bell. All Regions. Zondervan. Ref 306660. $79.99.

For the first time ever, all 24 NOOMA films featuring New York Times bestselling author Rob Bell are available in one 2-disc video package.

Jesus lived with the awareness that God is doing something, right here, right now, and anybody can be a part of it. He encouraged his listeners to search, to question, to wrestle with the implications of what he was saying and doing. He inspired, challenged, provoked, comforted, and invited people to be open to God's work in this world. Wherever he went, whatever he did, Jesus started discussions about what matters most, because for Jesus, God is always inviting us to open our eyes and join in.

NOOMA is a series of short films that explore our world from a perspective of Jesus. NOOMA is an invitation to search, question, and join the discussion.

 

Change of Heart: Justice, Mercy, and Making Peace with My Sister's Killer. Jeanne Bishop. 184pp. Hbk. Westminster John Knox. Ref 302616. $29.99.

Change of Heart begins with tragedy: the murder of Jeanne Bishop's sister Nancy, along with Nancy's husband and their unborn child, in their home some 25 years ago. In her dying moments, Nancy wrote a message in her own blood at the crime scene: a heart shape and the letter "u," last words of love.

When the killer, a local teenager, was arrested for the murders, he denied responsibility for the crime and showed no remorse. After the murderer was tried, convicted and sentenced, Bishop determined to forgive and then forget him. Bishop became a public defender, an outspoken opponent of capital punishment, and a supporter of the sentence her sister's killer received: juvenile life without the possibility of parole. All the while, she never once spoke the name of her sister's killer aloud, never tried to engage with him.

Then she met a law professor who gave her a book espousing a radical idea: that as Christians, we have an obligation to work to reconcile with those who have harmed us. Bishop challenged the book's author about that idea, and was challenged in turn to take seriously the prayer of Jesus on the cross and move beyond simple forgiveness to the hard work of personal reconciliation.

Change of Heart is the story of that uneven journey to confronting and reconciling with a murderer. The book takes on the larger issues of restorative justice, life sentences, and incarceration in the criminal justice system. It unflinchingly acknowledges the personal cost of advocating for mercy for people convicted of serious crimes.

In the end, the book is a story of moving beyond mere forgiveness to the deeper waters of redemption and grace.

 

Sacred in the City: Seeing the Spiritual in the Everyday. Margaret Silf. 96pp. Hbk. Colour. Lion. Ref 304706. $24.99.

In this beautifully illustrated book, Margaret Silf uncovers the shimmer of the sacred in the familiar places of everyday city living – the places where we live, work and choose to gather – and invites us to notice and respond to its glow in our own surroundings. In her words, “The sacred is all around us, all the time. It is the reality in which we live and move and have our being. But it is our own lives that make this holiness incarnate, and make our place of living and working sacred.”  

This book will guide and inspire you, too, to notice and engage with this transforming presence in places where you might least expect to find it. 

 

Did God Kill Jesus?: Searching for Love in History's Most Famous Execution. Tony Jones. Hbk. 296pp. HarperOne. Ref 304441. $49.99. 

Many Christians believe that God the Father demanded his only Son die a cruel, gruesome death to appease His wrath, since humanity is so irredeemably sinful and therefore repugnant to God.

Tony Jones, popular progressive Christian blogger, author, and scholar, argues that this understanding is actually a medieval invention and not what the Bible really teaches. He looks beyond medieval convictions and liberates how we see Jesus’ death on the cross from this restrictive paradigm. Christians today must transcend the shame and guilt that have shaped conceptions of the human soul and made us fearful of God, and replace them with love, grace, and joyfulness, which better expresses what the cross is really about. 

How we understand the cross reflects directly what kind of God we worship. By letting go of the wrathful God who cannot stand to be in our presence unless he pretends to see Jesus in our place, we discover the biblical God who reaches out to love and embrace us while “we were yet sinners.” Jones offers a positive, loving, inclusive interpretation of the faith that is both challenging and inspiring. Essential reading for modern Christians. 

 “Did God Kill Jesus? is the one and only book I have ever seen on the Atonement that I can wholeheartedly recommend without reservation and with devout enthusiasm. Even-handed, historically complete, accessible to any reader who chooses to approach it, this is a masterful piece of work.” Phyllis Tickle, author of The Great Emergence

 

Slipping the Moorings: A Memoir Weaving Faith with Justice, Ethics and Community. Richard Randerson. 243pp. Matai House. Ref 303914. $30.00.

Free Study Guide (PDF 147kb): Click here

For 50 years, Richard Randerson CNZM has exercised a ministry at the crossroads of Church and Society. In New Zealand, Australia, England and New York, he has served as industrial chaplain, inner city priest, social justice officer, royal commissioner, bishop and cathedral dean. Now resident in Wellington, he continues to write and speak on matters where faith finds expression in social justice, ethics, and contemporary theology.

Randerson's life and ministry have spanned a period of profound change in NZ and the wider world. During this time the Church has sometimes led, but often lagged, on a bewildering array of issues: marriage of divorcees, ordination of women, anti-nuclear and anti-apartheid protests, same-sex relationships, abortion, poverty, inequality in economics and justice, treaty settlements, church constitutional change, prayer book rewriting, contemporary theology, inter-faith relations, genetic modification, civil marriage, same gender marriage and the priestly vocations of gays and lesbians.

Richard has been in the thick of many of these defining battles down through the decades. His memoir is not just the story of one man's work in Church and Society through decades of turbulent change. It is a font of wisdom and practical advice for those seeking God's help today on society's even greater challenges.

 

Angels Unawares. Megan McKenna. 179pp. Paulist Press. Ref 296720. $33.00.

”Megan McKenna focuses her spiritual ken in this book on the messengers of God who have played such important roles in Hebrew and Christian scriptures. She writes about Michael, the protector; Gabriel, archangel of truth; Raphael, companion angel; and Uriel, archangel of death and conversion. At one point McKenna calls angels "mysteries of God's imagination." As usual, the author spices up this material with stories from many different religious traditions. McKenna concludes that the guardian angels of the poor, the dispossessed, and the persecuted are deeply appreciated. This is one book on angels that refreshingly stays grounded on earth.” Spirituality and Practice

The Great Reformer: Francis and the making of a radical pope. Austen Ivereigh. 446pp Hbk. Allen & Unwin. Ref 301406. $49.99.

When Pope Francis was elected in March 2013, he was virtually unknown. He fast captivated the world with his rejection of papal pomp, his love of the poor, his fearless critiques of injustice and corruption, and his far-reaching reforms of the Catholic Church.

This is the first intimate, in-depth biography of a pope whose visionary leadership has breathed new life into the Church and turned him into a global phenomenon.

Through extensive interviews in Argentina and elsewhere, and drawing on the author's deep knowledge of the country and Church that shaped him, The Great Reformer reveals the life, the spirituality and the thought of Jorge Mario Bergoglio as never before. It tells for the first time the story of how his visionary reform of the Jesuit order led to his internal exile in Argentina. It also offers the first behind-the-scenes accounts of the conclaves of 2005 and 2013.

The Great Reformer shows how a shy, austere assistant bishop came to be the leader of the Latin-American Church and eventually pastor of over a billion Catholics.

 

Simply Good News: Why the gospel is news and what makes it good. 189pp Hbk. HarperOne. Ref 301978. $39.99. 

Discover the real story Jesus came to announce.

Many people think the message of the gospel is that if we believe in Jesus we will be saved from hell and be transported to heaven after we die. But what if that is not what the Bible actually teaches? What if the good news Jesus came to announce is much bigger, much better, and includes much more than merely what happens after we die?

Revered bestselling scholar N. T. Wright reveals what the gospel really is and how it can transform our todays just as much as our tomorrows.

In Simply Good News, he takes us back in time to reveal how the people of the first-century—the gospel’s original audience—would have received Jesus’ message. He offers a clear and thoughtful analysis of the “good news” and applies it to our lives today, revealing its power to transform us.

 

The Christmas Candle – DVD. 100 mins. Rated G. Echolight Studios. $19.99

A timeless film for the whole family based on a Max Lucado story. Deep in the heart of the English countryside lies the enchanting village of Gladbury. Legend has it every 25 years an angel visits the village candlemaker and touches a single candle. Whoever lights this candle receives a miracle on Christmas Eve. But in 1890, at the dawn of the electric age, this centuries old legend may come to an end.

When David Richmond (Hans Matheson), a progressive young minister, arrives in Gladbury, the villagers discover a new formula for miracles: good deeds and acts of kindness. While David’s quest to modernize Gladbury sets him at odds with the old world candlemaker, he finds an unlikely ally in the lovely skeptic, Emily Barstow (Samantha Barks). Now, the fiery candlemaker must fight to preserve the legacy of the Christmas Candle. But when the candle goes missing, the miraculous and human collide in the most astonishing Christmas the village of Gladbury has ever seen.

 

Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi. Amy-Jill Levine. Hbk 313pp. HarperOne. $45.00.

Levine interweaves history and spiritual analysis to explore Jesus’ most popular teaching parables, exposing their misinterpretations and making them lively and relevant for modern readers.

In this wise, entertaining, and educational book, Amy-Jill Levine offers a fresh, timely reinterpretation of Jesus’ narratives. She analyses these “problems with parables,” taking readers back in time to understand how their original Jewish audience understood them. Levine reveals the parables’ connections to first-century economic and agricultural life, social customs and morality, Jewish scriptures and Roman culture. With this revitalised understanding, she interprets these moving stories for the contemporary reader, showing how the parables are not just about Jesus, but are also about us—and when read rightly, still challenge and provoke us 2000 years later.

 

Gardening With Soul: Love, Faith… and compost. DVD. Jess Feast. 96mins, Region 4. Pop Film. $29.99.

“Sister Loyola is one of the liveliest nonagenarians you could ever meet. As the main gardener at the Home of Compassion in Island Bay, Wellington, her daily tasks include heavy lifting alongside vigorous spade and wheelbarrow work, which she sometimes performs on crutches. Loyola and the other Sisters of Compassion follow the vision of Mother Aubert to 'meet the needs of the oppressed and powerless in their communities'.

… Any belief we might harbour that becoming a nun is avoiding the real world is turned firmly on its head as we witness this extraordinary soul steer a sharp course through all weathers, trying to shine love on everything she sees.” Jo Randerson

See the official trailer on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KkzFh83J8xA

 

The Historical David: The Real Life of an Invented Hero. Joel Baden. 310pp. HarperOne. $29.00.

David is one of the most celebrated characters in the Bible. We know him as the brave young man who defeated Goliath, the first king of a united Israel, the composer of the beloved Psalms, and, for Christians, the messianic forerunner to Jesus. And yet for all the glory we attribute to David's legend, the historical reality is both fascinating and disturbing.

In The Historical David, Joel Baden reveals that, in David's case, the Bible is political spin, "the goal of which is to absolve David of any potential guilt and to show him in a positive light." Through deep textual analysis, Baden reveals how the historical David has been painstakingly and successfully diminished, replaced by the portrait of a glorious king we are now familiar with.

To question David's legend opens up a debate about what it means to be a descendant of David—be it nationally, ethnically, or religiously. In The Historical David, Baden confronts this challenge, bringing the historical David vibrantly to life, and ultimately revealing that the flesh-and-blood man was far more complex and interesting than the mythical king.

 

Live and Laugh with Dementia: The essential guide to maximizing quality of life. Lee-Fay Low. 224pp. Exisle. $34.99.

For every person with dementia, their family and carers are faced with the decision of how best to care for them. Live and Laugh with Dementia is all about how to make life with dementia as positive as possible — to maximize quality of life for all concerned.

Just as we need to exercise our body’s muscles to keep them strong, flexible and working well, so too do we need to exercise our mental muscles (our brain) in order to strengthen and maintain our neural capabilities. By tailoring activities to suit the needs and abilities of dementia patients, we can help them to:

       maintain their relationships with others

       maintain their self-identity

       slow the decline of mental function by providing physical and mental stimulation

       stave off boredom

       experience happiness and pleasure.

Low also addresses our attitude towards dementia and caring for people with dementia. It supports and inspires carers to build their relationship with the person with dementia and provide meaningful engaging activities. As well as suggestions for activities and how to tailor them, tips for people with mild dementia are included in order to empower them to be active and keep control of their lives as much as possible.

 

The (Un)Common Good: How the Gospel Brings Hope to a World Divided. Jim Wallis. 320pp. Baker. $24.00.

Jim Wallis thinks our life together can be better. In this timely and provocative book, he shows us how to reclaim Jesus' ancient and compelling vision of the common good—a vision that impacts and inspires not only our politics but also our personal lives, families, churches, neighbourhoods, and world.

“Jim Wallis has once again issued a passionate, stirring challenge to the church. In this hopeful, incisive book that pulls few punches, he challenges the church to engage in the 'next battle' to 'occupy the gospel' and thus to join in God's reclamation of God's cherished world. As always, Jim gives us a way of rethinking today's pressing social issues in a vibrantly Christian way, producing fresh insights on almost every page. He also gives Christians some specific personal decisions we can make to better align ourselves with God's continuing revolution in Jesus Christ.” William Willimon

 

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