Books read in August 2014
I thought I had read all of Seymour's thrillers from Harry's Game right up to the latest. Then I found this on a bookstall and realised it was the one I had missed. As is usual the author uses a real setting. This time it is now in the bad old days of apartheid South Africa, the tensions and atmosphere which it well describes. It is as usual a gripping thriller. No-one writes them better. It is a story of impossible daring and great bravery. Seymour is a realist in his fiction. A happy ending cannot be guaranteed.
2. Bloody Foreigners: The Story of Immigration to Britain by Robert Winder
Britain opened its doors to all comers, but extended a warm embrace to no-one. - Rosemary Ashton, Little Germany - Exile and Asylum in Victorian Engalnd, p 243. I found that quote when that book was loaned to me by the daughter of a German refugee from the Nazis whose story is in a footnote of this book, their ancestor immigrant featuring in this book, a friend of Marx and Engels.
The basic thesis of this book is that Britain is an island of mongrel races, the products of successive waves of immigration. Immigration is enriching and good. The author gives history from pre-historic times up to the turn of the century. So you will not hear of radicalised Muslims after 9/11 nor of the unrestricted immigration by EU nationals. Any reader will be informed of much ignored history. You will finish the book better informed and perhaps wiser. I think the author stands left of centre but this is not problematic. He tells of a country that has become a haven for the oppressed but one that often did not welcome immigrants without showing antipathy and racism.
My one criticism is the ignoring of some religious perspectives. Cromwell's theological motivation in re-admitting the Jews is not mentioned. Also, Ireland was not under the Bishop of Rome until the only ever pope from England gave Henry II leave to invade and bring Ireland into the RC church.
But overall a thoroughly good, informative and perhaps an attitude changing book. It is rare that I reread a book but this one was good enough for that.
3. Ephesians (Let's Study) by Sinclair B. Ferguson
Sinclair Ferguson is a first class theologian, preacher and author. I have never read any of his work that deserves less than five stars. This book is a thorough exposition of Ephesians. It is clear and heart warming and will benefit any Christian though second language readers may need their dictionaries. Three little niggles. There is no index. The study questions are not as helpful as the text. Are they from Dr Ferguson? Lastly commentators often skip controversial or disputed passages. So I was sorry to see no explanation of 'psalms; hymns and spiritual songs.'
4. The Elder: Today's Ministry Rooted in All of Scripture (Explorations in Biblical Theology)by Cornelis Van Dam
This is first of all a book for church leaders or those who aspire to lead. But any Christian with a measure of perseverance will be informed and edified. I have served as an elder for nearly 40 years and I wish this book had been published before my ordination. The treatment of the role of an elder is comprehensively exegeted from both Testaments. The OT background is of particular help. Having given us the biblical theology there is much practical pastoral teaching. The author takes the traditional view of the parity of elders but insists on the different callings, teaching and ruling within the grouping. He makes a good case from the Jewish origins but this reviever remains a dissenter. When Van Dam deals with the debated question of fixed term or life serving elders I assume he only talks of ruling elders. He tells us that ruling elders should not give a benediction with raised hands as that is for teaching elders. I dissent. He ignores the question of ruling elders presiding at the Lord's Table, presumably because he thinks that too is for teaching elders alone. Finally, in teaching that elders must be male he fails to mention the crucial argument about the authoritative headship of Christ. But overall an excellent book.
5. Ealing Then & Now by Jonathan Oates and Paul Howard Lang
Old postcards in the main, compared with current photos, endeavouring to shoot from as close as possible to the original position. One would have liked more varied subjects but I expect the available old postcards limited the range. Pleasure for past and present Ealing residents.
6. Stories of World War One - Tony (Comp) Bradman
I bought this book mistakenly thinking it was biographical. No, it is a brilliant anthology of short stories, fiction bur often based on the experiences of real people. The writers are all published authors and show their skill recalling how the was affected all kinds of people, those fighting as well as those at the home front. It is a real page turner and I finished it thinking I had entered the emotions of people a century ago.