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Julian Gardiner (London)

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Real God: A Response to Anthony Freeman's "God in Us"
Real God: A Response to Anthony Freeman's "God in Us"
by Richard Harries
Edition: Paperback

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A heart-warming defence of Christian orthodoxy, 15 Jan. 2003
Richard Harries, the long-time bishop of Oxford, has been writing on Christianity for a quarter of a century now. This slim book is a defence of traditional Christianity against post-modern deconstruction by the Sea of Faith movement in theology. Whereas Sea of Faith theologians maintain that God can have no reality and is, in fact, no more than a means of talking about human values, Harries firmly maintains the reality and constancy of God, even in a world that has changed so radically since the time of Jesus. Whilst he concedes that the existence of God can never be proved, he argues persuasively that Christianity is a coherent and meaningful response to the world we know and that there are good reasons why we should believe that God is real and the Christina message true. This book represents Christian apologetics at its best: it is gentle, broad-minded, and it radiates the joy that its writer finds in the world and in the God which he sees behind everything in it.


Down The Highway: The Life Of Bob Dylan
Down The Highway: The Life Of Bob Dylan
by Howard Sounes
Edition: Paperback

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly researched and very readable., 23 May 2002
"Down the Highway" is an enjoyable and readable Dylan biography. Sounes has interviewed a very large number of people who've known Dylan, as well as consulting a wide range of documentary sources, and he weaves this raw material into an atmospheric and convincing narrative that really captures the excitement of Bob's early career, as well as the difficulties and pathos of his more recent years. There's not a lot of detailed appreciation of the music, although there are some interesting observations (Did you know that no song on John Wesley Harding has a chorus?) as well as vivid descriptions of some of Dylan's varied live performances over the years.
Sounes is broadly sympathetic towards his subject, whilst steering well clear of sycophancy, and he builds up a believable and subtle picture of a unique and enigmatic man who, with all his faults, remains for fans and friends alike a strangely compelling figure.


Still She Haunts Me
Still She Haunts Me
by Katie Roiphe
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well-written, but somewhat disappointing., 15 May 2002
This review is from: Still She Haunts Me (Paperback)
Katie Roiphe's first novel is an imaginative recreation of the relationship between Lewis Carroll and the child Alice Liddell, for whom he wrote Alice in Wonderland.
Roiphe handles this potentially disturbing subject matter sensitively, neither demonizing Carroll nor attempting to sanitize the darker side of his attraction to Alice. The writing is imaginative and sometimes strikingly vivid. But in the end I was not really convinced by the characterization, or by the portrayal of the society Carroll inhabits. What really happened between Lewis Carroll and Alice we will never know, but I don't believe it was like this.


A for Andromeda (Story-Tellers)
A for Andromeda (Story-Tellers)
by Fred Hoyle
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still worth blowing the dust off!, 21 April 2002
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Written in 1962, in the early days of radio astronomy, this novel describes what happens when a new radio telescope picks up a signal that appears to be the product of extraterrestrial intelligence. When the message is decoded, and turns out to be the blueprint for a supercomputer, opinion is divided as to whether the experiments it asks its operators to perform are intended for our benefit or our undoing.
At 173 pages this book is more of a novella than a full-length novel, and it fails to explore the issues raised as fully as one might like. However, it is a vivid and sometimes disturbing read and it remains a seminal work of the science fiction genre.


Message for the Millennium: Forty Days at the Feet of Jesus the Teacher
Message for the Millennium: Forty Days at the Feet of Jesus the Teacher
by David Winter
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars An illuminating look at the teachings of Jesus., 18 April 2002
Don’t let the word “millennium” put you off. In this book David Winter offers a series of short Bible readings, one for each day of lent. The readings are all taken from the Gospel accounts of Christ’s teaching, and each reading is followed by a couple of pages of discussion of what these teachings might mean for us today. I found Winter’s commentary very clear, fresh, and insightful. Although the format is that of readings for lent, they could equally well be used for daily reflection at any time of year.


Simone Weil (Fount Christian Thinkers)
Simone Weil (Fount Christian Thinkers)
by Stephen Plant
Edition: Paperback

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent introduction to a remarkable spiritual thinker., 15 April 2002
Simone Weil was one of the most original Christian writers of the 20th century. She was born in Paris in 1909 into a non-practicing Jewish family, but she regarded herself as a Christian throughout her life, although she was never baptized into any church. She was an outstanding student of philosophy and a lover of Ancient Greek thought. She saw strong parallels to the gospels in Greek poetry and drama, particularly in Aeschylus’s retelling of the Prometheus myth. (Prometheus, punished by Zeus for giving fire to mankind, can be seen as a foreshadowing of Christ.)
Weil’s most important contribution to Christian theology is probably her distinctive approach to the “problem of pain”: that is, how can a loving God allow people to suffer? This was not mere abstract speculation. She lived with excruciating migraines throughout her adult life, and she continually faced danger and difficulty in doing what she believed to be right: whether supporting striking workers, fighting in the Spanish Civil war, or working for the French resistance in Vichy France. She died in London in 1943.
This book provides a clear and succinct introduction to Weil’s remarkable life and thought. I recommend it to anyone interested in spiritual questions.


The Pilgrim's Regress
The Pilgrim's Regress
by C. S. Lewis
Edition: Paperback

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A powerful book, but not Lewis at his best., 11 April 2002
This review is from: The Pilgrim's Regress (Paperback)
C. S. Lewis wrote this highly personal allegory a year after his dramatic conversion to Christianity in his early thirties. Modelled on Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, he gives a vivid allegorical portrayal of all the worldviews and philosophies he was beguiled by on his spiritual journey until he finally, and reluctantly, accepts the truth of Christianity. The first half of the book, in which the various worldly delusions are depicted, I found charming and amusing, and often powerful too. What I think prevents this book from being as highly regarded as Lewis's other Christian writings is the forbidding and sometimes repulsive picture of Christianity that emerges in the second half of the book. The joy of the Christian life seems to be quite absent, with the emphasis on temptation in this world and death as a welcome release from it. (He seems to regard lust as the most pernicious and corrupting sin, with Hell as the inevitable fate of those who cannot overcome it completely.)
This book gives a powerful and revealing insight into Lewis's spiritual journey. But, overall, it fails to do justice to the Christian faith in the way that he later achieved in books such as The Screwtape Letters and Mere Christianity.


Nemesis
Nemesis
by Isaac Asimov
Edition: Paperback

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great read for anyone into science fiction., 23 Mar. 2002
This review is from: Nemesis (Paperback)
This is a "stand alone" story, not related to Asimov's Foundation epic. It has been seriously suggested by astronomers that the sun could have a faint red dwarf companion. This story explores some of the consequences of this possibility, with faster-than-light travel and conscious planets thrown in for good measure. This is not great literature or even profound scientific speculation, but it's thoroughly entertaining and well worth reading.


Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human
Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human
by Harold Bloom
Edition: Hardcover

14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bizarrely personal appreciation of Shakespeare�s works., 17 Jan. 2002
In this book Harold Bloom discusses his highly personal views of many of Shakespeare's plays and their most famous characters. The incredible theory this book allegedly advocates is that Shakespeare in some sense created the modern human condition rather than merely depicting it. I imagine most readers will be as unconvinced of this idea as I was. Bloom's interpretation of Shakespeare's characters are vivid, but also highly idiosyncratic and sometimes really bizarre. He seems to be infatuated with Sir John Falstaff and apparently believes that he is not only a wonderful theatrical character but also a depiction of a good man!
Having said all this, Bloom's book is certainly an enjoyable and thought provoking read for anyone who is keen on Shakespeare's plays.


Explaining Hitler
Explaining Hitler
by Ron Rosenbaum
Edition: Paperback

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant and thought provoking book., 12 Jan. 2002
This review is from: Explaining Hitler (Paperback)
How did Hitler come to be such an evil person? Ron Rosenbaum explores the different ways that people have attempted to answer this question over the past 80 years. Was Hitler abused as a child? Was he insane? Was his hatred of the Jews fuelled by a fear that he might himself be of Jewish descent? Some of those whom Rosenbaum consults on these questions are sure they have the answers; others believe that it is impossible to answer the question of how Hitler came to be so evil, or even that it is wrong to try and answer it because any explanation may be seen as some kind of an excuse for Hitler's actions. By exploring so many different views of Hitler, Rosenbaum produces a far more compelling and intriguing work than if he had simply presented his own opinions in a straightforward biography. This a truly remarkable and profoundly intelligent book, even if, in the end, it raises more questions than it answers.


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