Learn more Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Learn more Click Here Shop Kindle New Album - Foo Fighters Shop now Shop now
Profile for Freeborn John > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Freeborn John
Top Reviewer Ranking: 1,271,099
Helpful Votes: 41

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Freeborn John (United Kingdom)

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3
pixel
Uoopo Compatible Ink Cartridges Replacement for Epson 29XL - Use for Epson Expression Home XP-235 XP-335 XP-432 XP-245 XP-435 XP-342 XP-332 XP-442 XP-247 XP-345 XP-445 Printer. (3 Black)
Uoopo Compatible Ink Cartridges Replacement for Epson 29XL - Use for Epson Expression Home XP-235 XP-335 XP-432 XP-245 XP-435 XP-342 XP-332 XP-442 XP-247 XP-345 XP-445 Printer. (3 Black)
Offered by Fuzoo_EU
Price: £39.99

1.0 out of 5 stars Poor quality, 18 Sept. 2017
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
There were no issues with installation and prompt delivery. However, quality of ink is very poor meaning it is not suitable to use to print anything for broader public consumption. WIll not be re-ordering in future.


Hostage in Iraq
Hostage in Iraq
by Norman Kember
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The faith to move mountains, 9 Jun. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Hostage in Iraq (Hardcover)
In 2005 Norman Kember, a retired university professor, travelled to Baghdad and joined up with three other individuals: James Loney, Tom Fox and Harmet Singh Sooden as part of a Christian Peacemakers Team delegation to Iraq. One of those individuals, the American Quaker Tom Fox, would not leave Iraq alive having been executed by Islamist rebels. Before that tragic end, and the group's rescue by special forces, Kember and his fellow CPT'ers were held prisoner by Iraqi rebels.

Hostage in Iraq is a personal reflection on Kember's experience as a hostage and the experience of his release and the media frenzy that accompanied his eventual release. Kember is a Baptist, in itself this makes Kember a little different from the Quaker and Mennonite dominated Christian Peacemakers organisation (CPT). CPT was started after a challenge by Ron Sider that the historic peace churches needed to start Jesus' call to be peacemakers seriously. In an important 1984 speech he challenged believers that unless Christians "are ready to start to die by the thousands in dramatic vigorous new exploits for peace and justice, we should sadly confess that we never really meant what we said, and we dare never whisper another word about pacifism to our sisters and brothers in those desperate lands filled with injustice. Unless we are ready to die developing new nonviolent attempts to reduce conflict, we should confess that we never really meant that the cross was an alternative to the sword."

By being in Iraq Kember was among a small cadre of Christians who took this challenge seriously. I am convinced that whilst it can be said to be a foolish mission it was foolish in precisely the same sense as Jesus own ministry was foolish - I am genuinely in awe of those like Kember who have the faith to move mountains.

This book is a poignant personal story of faith, hope and despair and it is exactly this vulnerability that makes the story such a powerful story of faith. Recommended.


Living Gently in a Violent World (Resources for Reconciliation)
Living Gently in a Violent World (Resources for Reconciliation)
by Stanley Hauerwas & Jean Vanier
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Living Gently in a Violent World, 17 May 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is a remarkable little book. I have quite a lot of Hauerwas before (although not the recent stuff) and what struck me reading the book was, apropos to the subject at hand a gentler Hauerwas. I have heard the comment that whatever he may say to the contrary in much of Hauerwas' there is a functional equivalence between the church and the Kingdom of God otherwise. Such an approach is probably not helped by Hauerwas' rhetoric - he has said that were he ever to run for political office it would be under the slogan "It's the Church, stupid!".

In reality though Hauerwas sees in the L'Arche movement a prophetic sign of the gentleness and inclusiveness of the Kingdom of God that far surpasses that manifested by the Church. The nub of the book's argument is summarised in a quote from the co-author Jean Vanier "In other words, people who are the weakest and least presentable are indispensable to the church. I have never seen this as the first line of a book on ecclesiology. Who really believes it? But it is the heart of faith, of what it means to be the church."

Both Vanier (whom I have never read before but will certainly read more of in the future) and Hauerwas have in this insightful dialogue made a good case for the value of diversity in the Body of Christ but, more than any work of theology for a while, this is also a spiritually encouraging work that gives me hope that God is at work in the world.


The Fugitive: Menno Simons
The Fugitive: Menno Simons
Price: £13.24

2.0 out of 5 stars A nice idea ..., 28 Feb. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Augsberger's is described as being a work of historical fiction - that I think is a mischaracterisation. I am not really a fiction reader but I am not sure I would describe Augsberger as a natural fiction writer. For example, despite being a work of genuine fiction Luther Blissett's Q far more vividly brings the Anabaptist milieu to life.

Augsberger does not so much seek to write a fiction around the life of Menno Simons, known of course because of the relationship with the Mennonites (who were to adopt his name, although he is not quite their founder), rather, he seeks to utilise the work of constructing a life of Menno on the basis of historical work.

That this book is focussed on a realistic account of Simons' life from his entrance to the priesthood to his death is true. I do have some doubts as to whether Simons has been made into a slightly more evangelical Anabaptist (after the fashion of Grebal, Sattler et al) than is actually the case, for example, in Simon's Monophysite christology which, Augsberger repeatedly tells us he came later to reject and favour a wholly Orthodox christology. I cannot say for certain but I've never really seen it laid out that Simons unambiguously renounced a celestial flesh christology.

But, where the hagiographical nature becomes clearer is in Augsberger's characterisation of Menno Simon's approach to struggle - Menno feels downcast, and Augsberger has him reading the psalms and he is uplifted. Simons is upset at the execution of his colleagues, Augsberger has him recount the martyr's steadfast faith and he is reassured, etc. Of course, all of this, while plausible, is speculation and consistently present Simons in the best of lights - he is never angry, never hateful, never strikes out in violence and in a way, is dehumanised in the process.In fact the nearest we have is Simons getting depressed for a few days after the death of his wife but he soon recovers when his daughter encourages him and off he goes on another mission.

Still, Anabaptism has always had its stories and for many years this was evidenced in a somewhat unhealthy martyrology, most notably in van Braght's Martyrs Mirror. I think this focus on the stories of faith is a helpful one, even if it is ultimately a sanitised story.

More generally, for the complete beginner the book does offer a good introduction to Dutch Anabaptism and the Anabaptist relationship with the State without presuming background knowledge. I am however a little disappointed, the idea is a good one but perhaps with a little more imagination Menno Simons may have been presented a little more believable a character.


Gurkha: The True Story of a Campaign for Justice
Gurkha: The True Story of a Campaign for Justice
by Peter Carroll
Edition: Hardcover

2.0 out of 5 stars The Campaign for Gurkha Settlement Rights, 3 Jan. 2013
The campaign for Gurkha settlement rights is tied in the public mind with the British actress Joanna Lumley. The backdrop the campaign was the then Government's continued policy of previous administrations that the thousands of Gurkhas who had served in the British Army to be compulsorily discharged in Nepal and to have no route to be able to live in the country they had served for, in many cases, up to 15 years after they had completed their service.

Two issues, in addition to the celebrity and emotional appeal of Lumley, in particular coalesced to make this campaign so potent. First, Gurkhas, who all come and must remain Nepalese for the duration of their service, are not the only foreign military allowed to serve in the UK military. As a legacy of its previous colonialism Commonwealth nationals were also allowed to join and serve in the Army but, unlike their Gurkha colleagues, after four years' service they were able to settle in the UK. This disparity directly fed into the impression that Gurkhas were being picked out for unfair treatment.

Second, those veterans who did remain in the UK after their service in the main did so unlawfully. Consequently, those veterans were under UK law `illegal immigrants'. The term is within the mainstream media, particularly those on the political right (for example, the Daily Mail), one of opprobrium. And, to label military veterans who had served heroically as illegals, together with the financial destitution that status can result in (given they are unable to legally work in the UK) was seen by many as an affront to natural justice.

It is precisely this effrontery that motivated Peter Carroll, hitherto a local Liberal Democrat Councillor to begin campaigning for a change of UK legislation. Gurkha is the blow by blow account of the campaign that from small went on to become a major political issue and challenge to the New Labour government and forever linked the actress Joanna Lumley to the Gurkha cause and the Gurkhas themselves. In the course of which Lumley showed herself to be an astute opportunistic politician as the memorable showdown with the then Immigration Minister Phil Woolas showed.

This is a fairly well written and entertaining book but not a particularly insightful one. What Carroll gives is a chronological narrative of the the campaign for settlement rights from instigation through to High Court challenge; what is not given - which would have been interesting - is an analysis of the politics that enabled what most people clearly see as an injustice to continue for as long as it did or the legal arguments which, at the end of the day, was the necessary precursor to what became the changed government policy in 2009.


(THE IMAGINATIVE WORLD OF THE REFORMATION) BY Matheson, Peter(Author)Paperback Jul-2001
(THE IMAGINATIVE WORLD OF THE REFORMATION) BY Matheson, Peter(Author)Paperback Jul-2001
by Peter Matheson
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars The Imaginative World of the Reformation, 30 Dec. 2012
Peter Matheson, formerly principal of the Theological Hall of the Uniting Church in Melbourne, offers this little book as an alternative entry point into reformation history. The point of departure for Matheson is Alfred North Whitehead's assertion that to understand the spirit of an era one should not so much look to the explicit intellectual constructs of its leaders but instead look out for their unconscious presuppositions. Matheson, therefore begins by noting that his study of church history has suggested to him that "the reforming process was not fundamentally about ideas in the mind or structures in the church" but rather consisted of "more elemental changes in spiritual direction" (p. 6); or, as he puts it in his concluding chapter the reformation was "an event in the imagination, a shift in the basic paradigms through which people perceived their world".

Matheson claims this is "a new approach to the reformation", I am not so sure. I can't pretend that I have read a great deal on the subject but that which I have is not just the dry scholasticism against which Matheson seems to be reacting against. I am thinking for example about the lively presentation of scholars such as James Stayer that capture how the reformation affected ordinary people. I am therefore sceptical of Duncan Forrester's assertion on the rear cover that this is "a work of critical and penetrating scholarship". Maybe some readers will correct me but at no point did I have a "they never taught me that at theological college" moment!

However, that is not to say that this is not an engaging book to read. For a start, the cover image completely rocks. Similarly it is appropriate given that this is a book about the reformational imagination that the book has a collection of prints of artwork from the era that are extremely interesting to view. Likewise, it is interesting to see unknown and lesser known subjects to be given equal attention to the protagonists; for example, I would be interested to see a page count for both Luther and Muntzer, I suspect they would run each other pretty close.

The highlight of the book is without doubt chapter four in which Matheson considers the "nightmare" of the reformation which is often the flip side of the utopian dream that captured many people's imagination. Matheson writes:

"There may be no access to the heritage of the reformation until we come to terms with its nightmarish dimensions - its divisiveness and destructive polemic, for example. It is not acceptable that central issues such as the witch hunt or the drive into confessional warfare tend to be left to historians of culture and kept outside the purview of the church historian (p. 78)."

Here I think Matheson may have a valid point. What is it that led, for example, to Christian to execute (whether in actuality or by proxy) other Christians? What explanation for Luther's often excised anti-semitism? Nightmare seems as good an explanation as any.


The Elusive Messiah: A Philosophical Overview Of The Quest For The Historical Jesus
The Elusive Messiah: A Philosophical Overview Of The Quest For The Historical Jesus
by Raymond Martin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £19.99

3.0 out of 5 stars What has Athens to do with Bethlehem?, 30 Dec. 2012
Tertullian's question "What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?" was aimed at questioning the apparent incursion of philosophy into religious thought. As you can see I am shamelessly plagiarizing Tertullian's question for the title of this review.

So, what does Athens (philosophy) have to do with Bethlehem (the historical Christ)? According to Martin the answer is a hell of a lot. We all know the story that Jesus was in born in Bethlehem after Joseph was forced to return there for a census etc, etc. The trouble is that scholarly consensus is that the gospel authors simply made the story up. For example, J P Sanders refers to the story as being "fantastic" (56) while Dominic Crossan considers the story "pure fiction, a creation of Luke's own imagination" (83) albeit that these imagined stories are written for specific theological reasons. Such issues raise the question for the Christian as to the historicity the received knowledge of Jesus and how one the christian is to deal with scholarship that can seem to undermine the received theological vision of who Jesus a) was and b) perceived himself.

The Elusive Messiah begins by offering a survey of the state of historical Jesus studies; the majority of the book however is a study of the methodology and the assumptions that underlay them of some principle historians such as Meir, Sanders, Crossan, Schussler-Fiorenza, and N T Wright. In sum, Martin highlights in a close study what is probably evident to most individuals who have spent time thinking on such subjects: namely, the distinction between secular and faith histories (meaning internal and external to Christian faith) is an arbitrary and ultimately illusory one. Every history is in some sense founded on presuppositions and accepted `canons' of knowledge (such as methodological naturalism, for example). What is required is a recognition of this situatedness of historical method which Martin argues is not detrimental to historical enquiry. By way of example Martin refers to the scholarship of both N T Wright and Marcus Borg as historians who are cognisant of this dimension and incorporate it into their academic work without detriment to its usefulness to the academy (indeed, Martin goes on later in the book to argue this openness is a positive strength). Given this recognition of the faithful nature of all historical work in addition the fascinating portrayal of Borg's personal mystical experiences as a basis for presentation of Jesus it is something of a mystery why Martin still continues to label Borg a secular scholar for the remainder of the text.

In the last section of the book Martin offers a somewhat eclectic survey of the three dominant approaches to balancing the challenge of the historical Jesus with the life of faith. The three approaches Martin offers Only Faith, Faith Seeking Understanding, and Only Reason are by far and away the weakest section of the book. All Martin argues have weaknesses and Martin's approach is to offer a fourth interpretive strategy which he calls multiperspectivism. The problem confronting the twenty-first century Christian theist is as follows:

"The source of tension is still the contest between religious faith and secular reason. But now secular reason looks more like religious faith than it used to. In fact, to many, secular reason looks as if it includes at its core a kind of secular faith. If it does, that makes all the difference. It is no longer a question of planting our feet on the solid ground of science purged of faith and seeing if our heads will reach to the heaves for ... there is no solid ground. We have to make assumptions even to get the knowledge enterprise going, and if we are going to make assumptions that we cannot prove, why not also make others that we cannot prove? (p. 201)."

Since the whole book had been leading up to the point of providing a solution it is strange that Martin only covered his muliperspectivist argument in four and a half pages. Roughly stated Martin largely follows Basil Mitchell who he had just previously discussed in asserting a form of the faith seeking understanding approach in taking seriously the facts of history but paying significant attention to personal experience and tradition, otherwise one may end up changing one's Christology as often as one changes one's socks. It is, in short, a hermeneutic of controlled doubt.


The Tudors
The Tudors
Price: £4.91

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Tudors, 19 Sept. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Tudors (Kindle Edition)
It may not be the most academically sound reason for picking up a book but I read Rex's the Tudors off the back of finishing the Showtime TV series of the same name to see how the show fared in terms of the basic historical narrative. Having read Rex's account I have to say in terms of main plot-lines the TV series seems moderately faithful in terms of the main characters.

Whether the re-issue of the book is linked to the success of the TV series I don't know but for those if not it is a happy coincidence and I am sure I am not alone among those who wanted to read more into `what happened next'.

The Tudors (Henry VII, Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I) have an unparalleled place in the English psyche. In this introductory study Richard Rex addresses each monarch in turn and examines the key moments and trends in their reign, focussing on the political machinations within the court.

Not have read a great deal of the monarchs in question (at least, not for a good decade or so) I do not know how other scholars view the work but would be surprised if it was not regularly used as an introductory text in undergraduate studies: it is comprehensive, clearly well researched (although without footnotes which generally I am a fan of but in this case their absence helps the book's flow) and, most importantly, The Tudors is eminently readable.

Unsurprisingly, the spectre of the break with Rome and papal supremacy over the issue of the `King's great matter', namely the desire for his marriage to the Spanish Catherine of Aragon to be annulled so that he could marry Anne Boleyn. The Pope refused this request and so the `marriage' to Anne and dissolution of Henry's first marriage became the occasion whereby England ceased, in name, to be a Catholic country. And, whatever the conservative piety of Henry a bell had been rung that would not be unrung, even by Henry's recalcitrant and Catholic Mary I when she became Queen.

Good though Rex's survey of this crisis and the consequential political ramifications of this policy decision is the most interesting aspect of the book is how this decision was to govern the rule of the three Tudors who were to follow Henry (Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth 1).

Edward as a young ruler who died prematurely (aged 16) never had the chance to fully assert his own will on the Tudor court, that responsibility fell to the Duke of Somerset and later the Duke of Norfolk.

What Rex shows is that the popular conception of the three reigns as a time of religious turmoil: Edward protestantising the Church of England, Mary retracting these reforms and returning to Rome and, subsequently, Elizabeth settling the matter is true; but only to a point.For me the most interesting aspect of Rex's study is interplay between the discussion of the interplay between Mary's undoubted conservatism in matters of religion and despite the subsequent submission to Rome the desire to maintain mastery of the realm in matters of religion according to the whim's of the monarch remained strong - even when Mary's opinions differed from that of Rome.

The break from Rome put into train a radical change in the nature of English government. Whilst the ostensible cause was the disestablishment of the Church of England from global Catholicism the underlying issue, which Rex suggests was a Tudor trait, was the centralisation of power within the gift of the monarch rather than the nobility at large. With this centralisation came the emergence of `the State' and, with it an emerging courtly professionalism that did not necessarily include the usual noble suspects.

The consequence, Rex argues, is that "the emergence of the state is not so much a dynastic achievement as a by-product of dynastic weakness. It was the vulnerability of the succession [caused by the religious question] which called forth the `state'. The royal supremacy in the Church of England, the omnicompetence of statute, the revival of parliament, the institutionalism of the Privy Council - all these constitutional developments arose directly from the succession problem or else its attempted solutions."

So long as readers understand that this is not a history of Tudor England or a biography of the Tudor monarchs but a history of Tudor politics of and in the service of the respective monarchs then this is a highly recommended book. The closing essay on the secondary sources available will also be valuable to students, notwithstanding his dismissive comments about `postmodern' approaches.


Just Boris: A Tale of Blond Ambition - A Biography of Boris Johnson
Just Boris: A Tale of Blond Ambition - A Biography of Boris Johnson
by Sonia Purnell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

8 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Just Boris, 18 Sept. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
For a reason that passes this reviewer's understanding Boris Johnson was last month re-elected as the Mayor of London. So far as I can see Johnson has shown absolutely no competence or political substance to warrant him holding any political office whatsoever. His sole qualification seems to be to play the role of a bumptious and bumbling toff who is capable, on occasion, of amusing TV audiences.

In this irreverent biography Sonia Purnell, a former journalist colleague of Johnson's, pretty much agrees with that assessment.

Purnell traces Johnson's early childhood and young adulthood through Brussels, Eton and Oxford University where he was to become President of Oxford Union. It is, as the sojourns at Eton and Oxford suggest, the story of the privileged upbringing and an ingrained sense of entitlement which is alien to the vast majority of Britons (mainly because the doors opened by their status to Johnson et al are never opened for us). It is precisely these type of connections that enabled Johnson to become a major journalist (in reality he is more of an essayist) for the Spectator where, working from Brussels he set forth a flood of Eurosceptic pieces that energised the political right of the Conservative Party and, arguably, hastened the rise of New Labour at the UK polls.

This is a well researched biography that will be of interest to watchers of London and UK politics. However, for me it was far too concentrated on `Boris' and often what read as personal attacks rather than his actual record in office but then, as the parliamentary journalist Quentin Letts explained in talking of his failure as a MP in parliamentary debates (quoted in the book) perhaps that's the way Johnson likes it. "Boris isn't angry. You've got to be angry: you've got to feel things as an MP," says Letts, but for Boris "there's no soul, no church in him. No belief. Most people don't just go into politics out of vanity, but maybe he has." On this Purnell is in agreement with Letts.


Employment law: an adviser's handbook
Employment law: an adviser's handbook

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Employment Law: An Advisor's Handbook, 6 Aug. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
To plagiarise the words of a certain long running TV advert Tamara Lewis' Employment Law: An Advisor's Handbook does pretty much exactly what the title suggests it does on its cover.

I am a new volunteer workplace advisor and without putting too much of a dampener on trade union training courses this book has equipped me with the knowledge to understand the role more than the courses. Written in an accessible style Lewis provides workplace representatives and, for that matter, employees with a handy reference guide to the law as it stands.

This is a must read.


Page: 1 | 2 | 3