Happy Talk that is to be published by Kevin Mayhew this September.

During Lent, I’ve been leading a Bible Study Course in a small Suffolk village. Despite a less than warm village hall and freezing weather, a faithful group of around 14 people have met each week. We’ve been looking at the Beatitudes as found in Matthew but exploring why Luke had a different version and what different translations and other Biblical texts can teach us of their meaning.

It has always struck me as slightly odd that any number of people I have met who have little interest in the theological intricacies of Christianity and are very sceptical of the possibility that Jesus could be the Son of God, nevertheless feel that in the Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes in particular, Jesus was saying things they think are good common sense. It seems to me that whatever else the Beatitudes are, they are not common sense – they are radical counter-intuitive challenges to the way we normally think. Why should the poor, those who mourn, or the persecuted be considered blessed or happy or, as Nicholas King has in his translation,* should be congratulated. There’s a shock to these sayings when you look at them seriously.

It’s the NEB and the Good News Bible, among others, that have ‘Happy are . . .’ And I find that interesting, not simply in trying to understand what Jesus was saying but in exploring what we think happiness is. I’ve been thinking quite a lot about this recently and have written a little book called Happy Talk that is to be published by Kevin Mayhew this September.

Over the centuries and in different cultures and religions, the idea of what makes us happy, and what happiness is, has taken quite a number of different forms. To an ancient Greek it was only the gods who could be really happy – living beyond this world of work and trouble, of disease and death. It was only when you were dead, sharing the realm of the gods that a human being could be really happy. However, as in other religions, including the Jewish, it came to be felt that if you were wealthy, had fertile lands, and big herds, a position of power and lots of children you could count yourself happy. Lots of people see it the same way today – have the latest model of car, the biggest, smartest TV you can fit on your wall, all the gadgets you can think of and you will be happy. At least that’s what the adverts tell you. That’s what the consumer society and capitalist economics urge us to believe. It keeps the wheels turning.

But increasingly people are realising, as many of the ancients had already realised, that it’s a mirage, a con. Stuff, more and more stuff just doesn’t ensure happiness. Happiness is relationships, happiness is experience. And for the Christian believer, true happiness is ultimately not something we achieve but something we are offered as a gift – from others and from God.

If you want to know what else I think about happiness, how about getting my book when it comes out? That’ll make me happy!

* The Bible, A study Bible freshly translated by Nicholas King, Kevin Mayhew 2013

Written by John Cox March 2018

Still Valued and Blessed

1501545-cover

When do we move from middle age into old age?  Is it when our hair begins to turn grey – or we lose it? Could it be when we hit the age of being eligible to receive our pensions? Maybe it is at that time of life when we cease to carry out any kind of paid employment? Is it when our health begins to fail, or when we come to a point of realising that we can no longer do what we used to? Many people say that ‘old age’ is all about attitude of mind.

God doesn’t want us to stop living fulfilling lives – filled with joy and hope – just because we have reached a certain age. We still have spiritual needs to be met; callings to fulfil; and, through our relationship with Jesus, an eternal spiritual connection with God that no one and nothing can take away. And this is why I came to write Still Valued and Blessed. Not to try and define when old age does or does not begin, but to encourage the kind of understanding of Scripture, relationship with Jesus and mind-set that enables us to approach, enter and journey through old age with a positive attitude that will enable it to be a spiritually fruitful and fulfilling time of our lives.

Just because we are older, doesn’t mean we have to stop! Indeed, surely it is better to see this stage in all our lives as nothing more – and nothing less – than another chapter! New experiences lie ahead, new wonders, new challenges.

With God beside us, these senior years have as much promise as the ones which we have already lived. It is not about dwelling on the things we can no longer do – though don’t for a minute think just because you’re a certain age you can’t run a half marathon or learn a new skill – it is about seeking God’s continued calling, no matter what our age. And in that, realising and relishing the fact that we are, each and every one of us, Still Valued and Blessed.

Patrick Coghlan

Q&A with Nicholas King

Nick King

If you didn’t catch Nicholas King’s talk on Bible translation at CRE, Sandown earlier this month, then you will have missed one of the highlights of the whole event; delivered with humour, humility and zest,  I was inspired to put on my theology hat for a bumper blog post! Below the respected New Testament scholar and Oxford University lecturer talks New Testament ‘freshness’, Hebrew, learning Zulu passed 40, ‘elderly gym antics’ and the ‘impossibly difficult task’ that is Bible translation!

At a recent talk given at CRE, Sandown you said you began by translating two Gospels simply ‘just to see what it was like’. You’ve also been quoted as saying that Bible translation happens because ‘the community has forgotten the language of the sacred texts’- do you think subconsciously you were feeling this when you chose to translate?

I don’t think that was what was going on inside me; I sat down to translate Mark and John because I had to give a summer school about the two of them, and there is no better way of getting a ‘feel’ for a document than to translate it. And it was certainly a great education.

Nicholas King
Nick signs copies of his latest book ‘The Prophets’

What age did you begin learning Hebrew, how long did it take you to master and also what advice would you give to someone wanting to learn the language?

I started learning Hebrew in my mid-20s; and my advice is that the brain works better the younger you are. I learnt Zulu when I was past 40, and that was really hard work. The only advice is that learning a language is very hard work, and you must never give up. Do a bit every single day; do new stuff in the morning, and familiar material last thing at night before you go to sleep.

Nick King - Book Signing

Presumably you’ve read the bible simply as a reader and believer in God as much as you’ve read it as a scholar…how much do you think personal beliefs inadvertently ‘cloud’ a translation…would having no belief in God take some of the feeling out of the text?

Many non-believers have worked on the biblical texts (though I sometimes wonder why); so it is certainly possible to work on them without believing in them. As for being clouded by ‘personal beliefs’,any translator is the person they are and not some other person, and what you do as a translator is greatly affected by the person you are.

Before you began each of your translations did you have an idea of what you didn’t want to produce…what you didn’t want it to sound like and also how you’d strike a balance between literal renderings and paraphrase; about pitch of discourse, style and format?

Before I started the translation, I thought translation was easy; I thought, for example, that every word in the source language would always be translated by the same word in the target-language, and that I could control the effect of what I was doing. I found in fact that the translation dictated itself, and that it was out of my hands. The one quality that I wanted the NT to have was that of ‘freshness’ which is there in the 27 documents that make up the original; and I am pleased to notice that several reviewers have used that word. Now I know that translation is an impossibly difficult task.

The Old Testament - Nicholas King

Did you find yourself seeing, in your minds eye, the various people in the Bible– was there enough there in the text to get that kind of clarity?

One always forms an impression of the people who are part of the narrative; how accurate the impression is, must be, of course, another matter.

You spoke of avoiding ‘puréed sludge’; translating the various voices in a way that they all retained their uniqueness rather than sounding like one and the same. Are you able to summarise in one or two words the personalities/character traits of say, Matthew, Mark and Paul?

Matthew: a school-teacher, with all that implies
Mark: young and vigorous
Paul: a great lover

The New Testament - MathewThe New Testament - Mark

Have there been many sleepless nights during the course of translating the Bible and has there been anything that was particularly difficult to translate?

The hardest bit was Romans; at times I found that the closer I looked the less I understood what Paul was saying.

Not that man - Nicholas King

Are there any parts that seemed ‘easier’ than others to translate and why do you think this was?

Perhaps Joshua to 2 Kings, the ‘Deuteronomic History’, because it is mainly narrative. Ruth, because it is a breath of fresh air after the appalling narratives with which the book of Judges ends.

Who or what kept you sane throughout…I read that you’re a big cricket fan so perhaps watching/playing?

Playing cricket and squash, as well as some running and downhill skiing, until osteo-arthritis brought retirement upon me. Now I content myself with elderly antics in the gym.

Did you check your translations with other readers?

For some reason I felt very private about the translations, preferring to wait and see how readers reacted. However I had an excellent copy- editor in Peter Dainty, who was incredibly vigilant, and a former student, Yolande Trainor, who read every word of the text with her Ladies’ Bible Study group in South Africa, and preserved me from many blunders.

With regards to the things left unspoken in the Bible, for instance in Mark 16:8…why do you think that some translators have felt the need to fill in the gaps- do you think it’s because they didn’t trust the reader to get the nuances in the text or simply because they wanted to put their own stamp on it?

It is probably a bit of both; biblical narrative operates by understatement, such, for example as the terrible story of the binding of Isaac in Genesis 22, which is simply crying out to fill in the gaps. And quite often later authors have been unable to resist the temptation to fill them in.

Strangest Gospel - Nicholas King

You have said “The Greek text of the New Testament is only a scholars’ guess, and what we have in our modern editions is not a manuscript that ever existed; all the manuscripts that we possess have mistakes in them, so we do not even know what the original text was”…does this conflict in any away with your belief that god’s voice is just below the surfacedo you believe that this voice will get harder to hear/find?

This is where the Church comes in; we get the Bible from the Christian community, and not the other way round. However (and this is really important) it is also true that the Church is subservient to the text, as well as being its source, and we all have to listen to that voice of God which is there “below the surface of the text”, whatever the quality of the translation, and whatever the state of the manuscripts.

Book

You mentioned the biblical narrative has ‘a certain fullness’ would you say that in distilling/ editing this ‘fullness’ in your own translations you’ve done away with poetics? Was there a chance that the translation would not only have been ineligible but twice the size if you’d left the ‘fullness’?

“A certain fullness”. I can’t quite remember saying this, nor what precisely what I might have meant by it! However I have tried to be faithful to the text, and where it was poetic I have tried to be poetic, and so I don’t think that I distilled it in a way that would have made my final text notably shorter than the original.

At CRE, you spoke of your affinity with Ronnie Knox (a theologian who amongst other things translated the Latin Vulgate Bible into English, using Hebrew and Greek sources)– remarking that you said a prayer at this grave in ‘allegiance’. Are there other people you admire/feel an allegiance to?

The list is too long, but those who taught me above all. In different places, Peter Hardwick (and he would be surprised by that), and Geza Vermes, both of whom have died this year; Robert Murray SJ, Professor Christopher Rowland – and many many others.

Father Ronald Knox
Father Ronald Knox d. 1957

Has translating the Bible changed your understanding of it in any significant way? And would you say it’s strengthened your faith?

One thing that it has taught me is how much I love the bible. And, yes, I think that my faith has gone deeper.

And finally, what advice would you give to someone wanting to translate the bible?

Think twice about it.

 

With special thanks to Nick for this interview!

Posted by Sarah

The books featured in this post are available from all good Christian bookshops or direct from Kevin Mayhew online: www.kevinmayhew.com/info/contributors/nicholas-king.html or by telephone: +44 (0)845 3881634

From the archives: The Cowshed Revolution By Ray Simpson (2011)

Cowshed Revolution by Ray Simpson

At a glance, you may think it’s a book that’s going to summon you to renounce capitalism, rid yourself of all possessions and go and live in the desert and/or offer your life exclusively to the service of others. And yes, whilst Ray Simpson does highlight individuals who did just that, this book isn’t a call to ultimate self-sacrifice and self-denial but a book that will make you realise how important it is to live life in accordance with your most true and authentic self.

What struck me most was the author’s light touch (no guilt- inducing sermons or lofty academicism here). His is a vision grounded in enlightened common sense with the concept of ‘downward mobility’ simply encompassing what is good, true and ‘right’: spirit and heart over ego, community over self-interest– personal progression that’s inclusive of social awareness and responsibility.

He includes examples of good politics from both the left and right (though it’s ultimately apolitical- recognising ‘goodness’ and enlightenment wherever it springs from), as well as mentioning inspiring economists, prophets, visionaries and modern day heroes– you’ll have a brilliant and inspiring reading list to be getting on with after you’ve devoured this!

It’s the kind of book you finish and think ‘everyone should be made to read this’, especially those in positions of authority/leadership. This is for people of all faiths and none–  a book that’s vital to our times.

Available from all good Christian Bookshops or direct from KM online or by telephone: (www.kevinmayhew.com/the-cowshed-revolution.html) +44 (0)845 3881634

Posted by Sarah

At a glance: Three recent KM publications

Word Alive! All-age dramas to bring the Gospels to life ~ Claire Benton-Evans (Pub. Feb 2013)

Word Alive by Claire Benton-Evans

Quote “Reading scripture dramatically like this can be wonderfully revealing…exchanges like these can bring to life the noisy, argumentative crowd surrounding Jesus and his disciples…The key ingredient in all these dramas is freshness.

Overview Reading through I’m enthused!…Claire is good at setting the scene for each drama e.g. for ‘Walking on Water’ she compares the calm of the Lake District to the ‘wicked wind’ in the Jordan valley whipping up a storm on Lake Galilee ‘before you can say man overboard’. Props are kept simple but are effective and the book lacks none of the creativity and freshness that we’ve always loved about a Benton-Evans publication!

A selection of other titles published by KM Feasts and festivals (Aug 2012) Food for Prayer (Dec 2008). She’s also written chapters on Celebrity-obsessed culture, Family breakdown, Sexism, The NHS and Women in the church for Sermons on Difficult Subjects (Aug 2011).

About Claire Claire writes exclusively for Kevin Mayhew. Her consultancy work includes all-age worship workshops and children’s spirituality training for clergy, worship leaders, head teachers and school governors. www.clairebentonevans.com.

Forthcoming events:

25 April 2013 Marham Church C of E Primary School in Cornwall, helping the school to design their own  ‘spiritual space’ for the children to use.

11 May 2013  Edinburgh, leading a ‘Taste and See’ day on children’s spirituality and all-age worship for the Church of Scotland.

All mentioned books available from KM Publishing and all good Christian book shops. A free sample of Word Alive! is available on our website:

Rejoice with Me~ Hope for lost sheep~ Annie Heppenstall (pub. 5 March 2013)

Rejoice With Me by Annie Heppenstall

Quote “Whether our path is rocky or smooth, the way we respond depends a lot on whether we feel loved or not.

Overview Annie Shares her personal ups and downs to explore what it is to feel like a ‘lost sheep’. This is an uplifting read covering a lot of ground. It includes lots of imaginative references (Leo Tolstoy’s story about a Russian shoemaker) and great imagery (Annie’s two tatty bookmarks- one of which is a yellowing photocopied sheep!). Great if you’re feeling ‘spiritually sick’ or just want an inspiring pick-me-up.

About Annie Annie is a qualified teacher and has a degree in Theology and Religious Studies from Cambridge University. She has spent the last four years practising a contemplative lifestyle, giving time to her family, to her writing and other creative expressions of spirituality as well as training in spiritual direction and counselling skills.

Other titles published by KM Hiding in God  (April 2012)

Both books available from KM Publishing and all good Christian book shops. A free sample of Rejoice with Me is available on our website ()

The Lindisfarne Gospels~ The English Church and Our Multicultural World (Reflections and Liturgical Resources~ Ray Simpson (Pub. Feb 2013)

Lindisfarne Gospels by Ray Simpson

Quote “I write, not as an expert, but a hungry pilgrim who picks up crumbs left by the experts, finds them life-giving, and shares them with other hungry spiritual seekers.

Overview Very current/ topical, this slim but packed volume (you’ll have to keep up!) takes you through the history of the Gospels- unravelling the various strands in a colourful and impassioned tone.No expertise on the subject is required (so it’s suitable reading for the layman!) though the resources and liturgies section (which is quite big) lends itself more to those in Celtic ministry.

About Ray

Ray Simpson is the founding guardian of the international Community of Aidan and Hilda and the principal tutor of its Celtic Christian Studies programme. He sends a daily prayer tweet @whitehouseviews and writes a weekly blog www.raysimpson.org

A selection of other titles published by KM Reflective Services for Lent (Oct 2012) Exploring Celtic Spirituality (Feb 2004). He also has
two chapters on Abstinence and Fraud in More Sermons on difficult subjects (Dec 2012).

All mentioned books available from KM Publishing and all good Christian book shops. A free sample of The Lindisfarne Gospels is available from our website  http://www.kevinmayhew.com/the-lindisfarne-gospels.html and The Lindisfarne Gospels Facebook Page www.facebook.com/pages/The-Lindisfarne-Gospels/122422204605486

An interview with Andy Robb a.k.a Derek the Cleric!

Andy Robb aka Derek the Cleric

With over 40 books under his belt, a Children’s Book of the Year Award 2010, not to mention a thriving Twitter and Facebook fan base for ‘Derek the cleric’, a KM interview with the very funny and talented Andy Robb was surely long over due!

Did you have an artistic/Christian upbring?

I was brought up in a Christian household but didn’t give my life to Jesus until I was married. Deep down I’d been searching for a God who I could encounter, and my experience of being baptised in the Holy Spirit, subsequent to my conversion, gave me a living reality of God and spoiled me for anything less.

My parents were amateur artists and drawing was something that absorbed my childhood. In my teens I set my heart on making it my career.

Do you remember your first efforts at writing?

I come from a family that loves books, in fact we had a family bookshop for a number of years. My brothers and I always seemed to be writing something or other be it school magazines, stories or our own comics.

Was there ever a desire to work in ministry?

Not initially. Before I became a Christian I had two rather shallow ambitions: fame and fortune. I’d had some success as a cartoonist and illustrator working in publishing and advertising including being involved in the initial design of the Kellogg’s Honey Nut Loop bee and being licensed to draw Hagar the Horrible for a national advertising campaign.

Only after I became a Christian did God give me a passion for communicating the things of God and bringing alive the Bible to children.

Did you study art/illustration formally are you self-taught?

I trained at Colchester School of Art which gave me a solid grounding but have invested time over many years developing my own artistic style.

Tell me a bit about your creative process – where do you do most of your creative work and which medium/media do you prefer to work in?

I now work from home but don’t have a problem with self-motivation. Yes, it’s great to have creative inspiration but it’s also possible to operate in the creativity you innately have to fulfil a brief.

I begin the artwork process by producing rough sketches which I then trace over in Indian ink. I scan this into my Mac and then colour it up in Photoshop.

Derek the Cleric - Range of cards by Andy Robb

How was the idea for Derek the cleric conceived and can you tell me a bit about his journey so far?

Derek the Cleric began life as a single frame cartoon on the back of the now defunct Christian Herald newspaper. Three years ago I decided to resurrect Derek by bringing alive his world (and that of his church, St Cliff’s) in a regular blog.

As Derek’s audience grew, I added Facebook, Twitter and a website www.derekthecleric.com to this.

Derek’s very own book ‘A Year at St Cliffs’ was published last year and there is now a range of greetings cards and other merchandise bearing his name.

Derek the Cleric - BishopDerek the Cleric - PopeDerek the Cleric - Bishop

To what extent is your writing inspired by your own experiences of church?

Although I’m not an Anglican my experiences of church have given me much fodder for Derek the Cleric.

As for my kids books, the content very much springs from my relationship with God and my personal understanding of the Bible.

“Christianity doesn’t have to be boring” – do you consider yourself to be the leading light of this message? And are there any other writers whom you feel are doing a good job?

I’ll let another be the judge of that but having experienced something of God’s love and power in my life and having come to put my faith wholeheartedly in his word I remain passionate about helping others to know this also.

Christian writers I come back to time and again include Derek Prince, John Bevere, Colin Urquhart, Bill Johnson and Andrew Wommack.

Are there any  particular illustrators/writers that have influenced your own work?

I’ve read so widely over the years that I probably wouldn’t be able to single out any authors but cartoonists who I’ve admired include the illustrator of the Asterix books, Albert Uderzo and a guy called Robert Nixon who drew many of my favourite childhood comic characters.

You are the author of over 40 books including  Derek the Cleric – a year at St Cliffs, the Professor Bumblebrain series as well as the award-winning 50 Weirdest Bible Stories (CWR). Are there any more books in the pipeline?

50 Wackiest and 50 Juiciest Bible Stories are in production right now but after that, I’m not quite sure. I do have a heart for a kids product range which mobilises children to be agents of God so I’m praying for a publisher who has this on their heart as well.

Derek the Cleric

What was the motivation behind the Boring Bible Series?
I’d seen the Horrible Histories books and thought a book range that brought the Bible alive to kids in the same way would be great.  It’s really pleasing to know that the twelve book series is still in print years later.

Derek the Cleric - Boring Bible

Would you consider applying your humour to something other than the Bible and church life and perhaps writing away from the Christian book genre?

I have thought about it and am not closed to the possibility. I have a secret ambition to write a radio comedy. We’ll see!

Andy’s Boring Bible books are available from the Kevin Mayhew website www.kevinmayhew.com/catalogsearch/advanced/result?name=Boring+Bible and all good christian bookshops.  A mixed-pack of 8 Derek the Cleric greetings cards is now available for both retail customers and trade customers. Look out for a gift range of Derek the Cleric products coming soon from Kevin Mayhew.

Posted by Sarah

Poring over Pastoral Care

Pastoral Care by Bill Merrington

Well-considered and honestly written, Pastoral Care is packed full of engaging anecdotes, useful bits of advice and wise perspective. Peppered with quotations from the likes of Eckhart Tolle, Julian of Norwich and even The Wizard of Oz, this book will most certainly speak to more than just those working in ministry.

Merrington explores pastoral care as broad ranging and ongoing; from the kind of everyday care that starts with conversations over a cup of coffee right up to dealing with issues such as eating disorders and drink and drug problems, pastoral care is not (unlike therapy) reliant on affordability and may be required before, during or after other counselling has been explored. Throughout the book, Merrington refers to knowing ones own capabilities and boundaries as a carer – knowing what level you are able to work at and when to refer to other counselling bodies, how to recognise when you’re heading for burnout (a discussion on ‘Jesus Syndrome’), as well as recognising inappropriate uses of power and authority.

Prayer is arguably one of the key things that distinguishes pastoral care from other types of counselling and Merrington provides some interesting perspectives on how prayer should be utilised. It should not be a substitute for applying practical support, knowledge and skills, but a gift that offers a new and important dimension to care – noting how taking time to reflect on something bigger (God) can refresh, strengthen and allow for new perspectives and new insights. As Merrington points out ‘Prayer is far more than getting God to do a miracle.’

While this book is ultimately aimed at those involved in Church life, those involved general counselling/caring as well as community and youth groups, would benefit from the fresh perspective and accessible, non-preachy tone that Pastoral Care has to offer. Those struggling with issues of anxiety, self-esteem, forgiveness, as well as disenfranchised grief (where loss can not be openly acknowledged or publically mourned) or even ‘singleness’- of being single within a (church) community would find this a useful alternative to the many books on offer within the self-help genre– many of which may not live up to their dazzling titles and may lack the honesty and wisdom of a book such as this.

Whether you dip into relevant chapters or read this from cover to cover, this is a priceless companion that deserves frequent referral.

Bill Merrington has been an Anglican Priest for over 29 years and is currently the Lead Chaplain at Bournemouth University.

Pastoral Care was published at the end of 2012 and is available to purchase from all good Christian Bookshops or direct from the KM website: www.kevinmayhew.com/pastoral-care.html

Posted by Sarah

It’s a family affair!

Critical friend by John CoxMore Sermons on Difficult SubjectsA Day Away by Paul Cox

Identical twins John and Paul Cox have more in common than it would initially seem. The retired duo, both of whom worked in parish ministry, have had titles published by Kevin Mayhew on the exact same day- a first ever (we think!)

Twins - John Cox and Paul Cox

John’s Critical Friend, which provides information and guidance to help school governors fulfil their important, demanding and worthwhile role and A Day Away, in which Paul Cox contributes his valuable experience in planning parish away days and study groups, were published on the same day last month.

While John has been writing for Kevin Mayhew for many years and is also a commissioning editor for the company, it is only recently that Paul began writing. From their contributions to pastoral care handbooks to their very own titles that range from study courses and joining the Anglican Church to retreat days and the important work of church schools, the Cox brothers have covered a wide spectrum and their list of titles have been well received critically.

Other recent publications include their esteemed contributions to the important new title More sermons on Difficult Subjects. Elsewhere, John offers a fresh and exciting resource for those leading and speaking during this season of Lent in the aptly titled The Week that Changed the World.

The Week that Changed the World by John CoxJoining the Anglican Church by Paul CoxMore Than Caring and Sharing by John Cox

More information about the twins plus further titles by the pair are available at www.kevinmayhew.com. You can ‘like’ Critical Friend on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Critical-Friend-The-Work-of-Governors-in-Church-Schools/549242891776459

Posted by Sarah

How is ‘Fit for Purpose’ fit for purpose?

Fit for Purpose by Ed Hone

 Fit for purpose is a seven week Lent Course primarily but not exclusively for groups. The absence of frills and props means there’s a smooth transition between using it in either capacity and there are chapters at the start of the book on using it whichever way too.

The tone is searching and impassioned- from the ‘restless creativity of God’ to what unbalanced ‘spiritual diets’ would look like, and there’s a real pick and mix of lively writing with the author dipping in to everything from the first moon landing to budget air travel in order to get the reader thinking. The ‘Spiritual fitness quiz’ will let you know if you need a ‘spiritual ambulance’ or are ‘the picture of rosy spiritual health’; light hearted and fun but there’s perhaps a limited option of answers for some questions!

The suggested hymns are optional if working through this book alone, as I did, and it didn’t seem odd or distracting to be reading ‘leader’ parts without there being one. I did find the weekly ‘Catching up’ part repetitive but it is aimed more at groups and would be apt for breaking the ice and also for forming real connections with others.

Lastly, it’s fairly short at 107 pages but for £8.99 you definitely won’t be feeling short changed!

Reviewed by Sarah

Available from all good Christian Bookshops or direct from KM online and by phone (www.kevinmayhew.com/fit-for-purpose.html) +44 (0)845 3881634

Ed Hone is a member of the Redemptorist missionary order. He specialises in mission development, preaching and creative liturgy, working chiefly in Britain and Ireland. Ed is currently parish priest of the English-speaking Catholic parish in Luxembourg.