The title refers to the series that holds this work, "All that Matters," but it also holds a deeper double meaning here. It will after all be argued by some that God is all that matters.
This short book is written by a man who has, like Jacob, wrestled with the divine. Mark Vernon, now a writer, journalist, broadcaster and teacher, was once a priest in the Church of England but left it a convinced Atheist. But he has continued his struggle with the divine and is now an agnostic, passionate about exploring how we, the human race, have thought about and explored the power larger than ourselves.
So his struggle must have been intense, scorching, bitter, despairing, but still passionate and charged with a fierce determination to take faith issues seriously. And this shows in this small book, which is crackling with energy and engagement with its subject. It is passionate and lively, not dry and academic, and throws up mind bending concepts with ha lightness of touch and clarity of expression that makes them enjoyable for us to grasp.
And so we explore, in thematic chapters, different understandings and expressions of the divine through history and the world; How God has been experienced though suffering, moral ideals, nature, peak experiences (as in the work of William James), goodness, ecology and nature, eschatology and love. The writer draws on the thought and work of some fascinating thinkers and writers through history, and his enthusiasm makes you want to research and explore further. And so with me I was fascinated to read about William James's work "The Varieties of Religious Experience "and I will be investing in that work. The illustrations are used sparingly and well, and some key concepts are explored in separate dialogue boxes.
A recommended, highly accessible work.