Confirmed: A Treasury of Faith and Prayer (CTS, £5). All too often the Sacrament of Confirmation is seen as the “conclusion” to the development of a young person’s faith. In this excellent, small hardback book, the CTS reminds us that, on the contrary, Confirmation “makes us witnesses and transmitters of this new life [baptism] within us”. The effects of the sacrament should be “boldness in confessing Christ, strength and responsibility for mission”. Today, more than ever, we are called to defend what we believe. Including prayers, litanies, novenas and other devotions, this book is indeed a treasury, making a fine Confirmation gift.
Bound to Be Free by Graham Tomlin (Bloomsbury, £12.99). The author, the Anglican Bishop of Kensington, has written a clear and useful guide to the “paradox” of Christian freedom: by following Christ we become more free rather than less. Thinking we can make up our own minds on everything is, he suggests, an illusion. Comparing the writings on freedom by Locke, Rousseau, Mill and others with those of Christian writers such as St Augustine, Anselm and Thomas Aquinas, Tomlin shows that demanding our “rights” is less liberating than freely responding to the love of God.
Changing the Subject: Philosophy from Socrates to Adorno by Raymond Geuss (Harvard, £24). If one of philosophy’s crucial tasks is to snap us out of complacency and re-frame the parameters of debate, then there is always scope for a roll call of practitioners who have particularly enjoyed inspiring the “moment when the gears shift”. Raymond Geuss defines his splendid book as an “intellectually relaxed, essayistic introduction” to the rule-benders. Big names predominate – Montaigne, Hobbes, Hegel, Nietzsche, et al – but Geuss, who wears his expansive learning lightly, has interesting things to say about them all.
Deep Calls to Deep by Tony Bayfield (SCM, £40). Between 2011 and 2015, Rabbi Tony Bayfield recruited a band of Christian and Jewish academics to participate in a project of “experiential theology”. Dialogue would allow the exploration of profound and urgent issues, from the role of Judaism and Christianity in modern society to the legacy of Scripture, and from the task of confronting the past to considering the place of modern Israel. The results have been distilled into this exemplary volume of interfaith encounter which meets Bayfield’s goal of reaching a “level deeper than polite acknowledgement”.
Mayhem by Sigrid Rausing (Hamish Hamilton, £16.99). In this affecting memoir of her brother, Hans, and his late wife, Eva, Sigrid Rausing, owner of Granta magazine and a member of a hugely wealthy Swedish business dynasty, describes their drug addiction and its tragic consequences. Exploring their privileged childhood in Sweden, followed by Hans’s first discovery of drugs in Goa in the early 1980s, she relates how Eva’s body was eventually found after her death, hidden within their mansion in London in 2012. As she bleakly comments, “Inside all that solid wealth … is a drug den. A locked room.”
How to continue reading…
This article appears in the Catholic Herald magazine - to read it in full subscribe to our digital edition from just 30p a week
The Catholic Herald is your essential weekly guide to the Catholic world; latest news, incisive opinion, expert analysis and spiritual reflection