Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Books read May 2017

1. Fifty-Six: The Story of the Bradford Fire by Martin Fletcher  (Author)

An horrific account of a 12 year old bot going to football with his father, brother, uncle and grandfather but returning alone with the marks from a fire that killed 56 people. Amazingly, later he was also present at the Hillsborough disaster. His story. an emotional roller coaster is well told as is his investigation into why the official enquiry was so brief and reached a questionable verdict. The civil case brought by his mother found negligence and brought considerable compensation. Reviewers have criticised his research into the fire but it seems reasonable to me and totally incredible that the team's chairman could be without any culpability when his businesses had so often gone up in flames and he was enriched by insurance money. But if he was still alive would the publishers have printed the book as it is?  Minor criticism. Why no photos? Why only one map of the stand and that diagram far too late in the book. The author was of course chronically affected by his experience but he was also at times very unwise in his behaviour. One feels for him.

2. Victorian Pharmacy Remedies and Recipes by Jane Eastoe  (Author), Ruth Goodman (Foreword)

As a retired pharmacist I found this an informative and enjoyable rad. It starts with health and disease in Victorian Britain. It was nor a healthy plan, especially for the poor. There was ignorance as to the causes of diseases and few specific cures. The development of pharmacy is related with the licensing and appearance of chemists and druggists who complemented the traditional apothecaries, surgeons and physicians. Recipies for many  cures are given. I spotted one mistake. Cinchona bark does not come from South Africa but from South America. I started in pharmacy six decades after the end of the Victorian age and learned how to make many of the kinds of products described here but by 1963 pills were no longer made though they were still with us as a misnomer for tablets.

3. John Newton - Walter Chantry (editor)

2007 saw the bicentenary of the death of Newton. This issue of the Banner of Truth magazine commemorates the event with nine excellent articles, staring with John Newton 'a wonder to myself' by Iain Murray who as ever is an exceptionally accomplished historical author. The articles give a real feel for Newton, the catholic calvinist, warm and wise, an exceptional pastor.

4. Cricket and All That Hardcover by Henry Blofeld (Author)

Published in 2001 we have here an entertaining history of cricket  but it stops short of the 20:20 game. Sadly the history here begins and ends with gambling. How it affected the integrity of early cricket is not clear. But the love of money is the root of all evil and the modern affliction with Asian gambling has had a sad effect, some of which we will never know as it seems to have been officially hushed up. But the stories are great. Never again will I look upon Grace as a hero. Amazing cricketer he was but venal and unscrupulous totally belying his name. A game full of characters well portrayed by a gifted journalist.

5. Understanding the Scriptures: How to read and not to read the Bible (Christian perspectives series) by Arnold H De Graaff  (Author)

This is co-authored with Calvin G Seerveld and comes from Canada but its background is Dutch Reformed . Its purpose s to give what it calls a reformational reading of scripture. First it rightly asserts the Bible is not a book of moral tales to instruct in right and wrong but a history of God's covenantal dealing with his people. A covenant theology is the lens though which the progress of revelation is seen. At first I found disconcerting the view that the Bible does not teach propositional truths about God. But what this means is made clearer when the usual ways of reading Scripture are critiqued. These are put as fundamentalist evangelical which seeks to draw moral lesson, neo-orthodox which deconstructs text by rationalistic literary criticism and finally an orthodox scholastic approach which sees task as to  the find theological doctrines in Scripture. A case study is given in how to understand Numbers 22-24 from a covenantal perspective. I believe the authors are right. If you merely want moral lessons any literature can provide it. You might as well studyuyy Shakespeare. But the Bible is salvation history and must be read from the perspective of the saving acts of the covenant God.

6.Christianity and Islam under colonialism in northern Nigeria by Jan Harm Boer (Author)

This booklet was written in response to a Nigerian newspaper article in 1974 which the writer equated British colonialism in northern Nigeria with christianisation. Boer did his doctorate on the relation between colonialism and a Christian mission in this country and this booklet draws on that more detailed study. British missionaries were supporters of the colonial enterprise. They were children of their age. They especially welcomed it for putting an end to the slavery which is horrifically described here. But the British government chose to rule through the Muslim emirs and not to disturb their political hegemony by allowing the missionaries to evangelise. Missions were restricted to the area of followers of traditional African religion. The missionaries believed such restrictions unwarranted, a denial of religious liberty. They also objected to being told that for their own health they could not live within 440 yards of the locals. It was erroneously thought that mosquitoes could not fly that far.There was co-operation in some work. notably education but the missionaries were concerned that government grants meant government control and secularised education. The general conclusion of this book is that the colonial regime was more helpful to the spread of Islam rather than being in cahoots with Christian missionaries, some of whom took very courageous stands against the powers that be and on one occasion maintained discreet silence so as not to embarrass Britain in WWI. A most excellent small corrective to the myth of colonialism being the friend of Christian mission. Remember, the British kept Carey out of their India. The one spect of colonialism praised is the abolition of the slave trade as soon as the British came to rule. However he fails to mention that slavery was not outlawed until the 1920s.

Christians and mobilization by Jan Harm. Boer (Author)

The author was a career missionary with over 30 years service in Northern Nigeria. His concern is the mobilise the Christian poor to communally take action against injustice and corruption. He investigates why the rural peasants have traditionally been subservient, suffering under an often unjust authority structure. He also sees submission to hierarchy in church life too. Pastors may be part of the problem. So this is his liberation theology for northern Nigeria.

.Wholistic health care of, for and by the people by Rev. (DR.) Jan H Boer

When an African is helped by Western type heath care, he may go to a practitioner of African Traditional Medicine for further help. Boer says this is because what he calls biomedicine is concerned solely with the physical aspects of life to the neglect of the whole man who is a spiritual psyco-somatic unity. How to make biomedicine wholistic is the theme of this book. It describes a practical programme for wholistic health care by Christians in Northern Nigeria.

9, Can We Have Our Balls Back, Please?: How the British Invented Sport by Julian Norridge

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