Kevin Kelly. 50 Years Receiving Vatican II: A Personal Odyssey. ISBN 1856077772.
The task of reviewing books for the Quest Bulletin has, over the years, been nothing if not interesting. A number of very good books have passed through my hands, as have a number of rather poor books. Some books I have been able to recommend wholeheartedly, others I have been unable to recommend. There was even one book I recently reviewed where I preferred not to take any position, leaving it up to the reader of the review to decide whether, on the basis of my review, he/she should purchase and/or read the book. All in all, the experience of reviewing books has been a very pleasant one.
The present book does, however, present me with some difficulty. Not, I hasten to add, that I am intending to present an unfavourable review – on the contrary. I very much enjoyed reading the book. Writing the review, however, is another issue altogether. How does one review a book which covers a personal journey over the past fifty years in forty very disparate chapters plus Introduction? Read more…
Downs, Alan (2005) The Velvet Rage. Overcoming The Pain of Growing Up Gay in a Straight Man’s World. Cambridge MA. Da Capo Press. £10.99
This book troubles me. In fact it troubles me so much that, while working on this review, I did two things that I would not normally do when reviewing books: I read the book twice and I searched for and read other reviews. Certainly, the first of these was a very helpful activity. The second showed me only that, no matter my own opinion of the book, I would have a large number of other reviewers who would agree with me. In other words, this is a book which divides opinions and one review in favour will be cancelled out by another review against.
A review of a book which is more than five years old may seem strange to many readers. The reason for this lengthy delay is that the book has been a ‘slow burner’. It is only in the past couple of years that sales of the book have really taken off. Indeed, it has achieved something of a cult status both here in the UK and in its home territory of the United States – a fact which troubled many reviewers. Towards the end of August 2011 I ‘googled’ the name of the book and the author’s last name. A list of some 35,800 internet entries was returned. The book’s fame seems to have spread by word of mouth; to my knowledge there has been no massive publicity campaign to bring the book to the attention of the public. Read more…
Weiss, David R (2008). To the Tune of a Welcoming God. Lyrical reflections on sexuality, spirituality and the wideness of God’s welcome. Minneapolis MN: Langdon Street Press.
I suppose that, if asked what is the issue leading discussion and controversy in the Churches today, most people would say that of same-sex marriage. It is somewhat salutary to go back to an earlier period where the burning issue was one of simple inclusion of GLBT people in the Churches. Not that this issue has disappeared, with all problems solved. It is still very much alive, as is evidenced in the current controversies within both the Church of England and the Church of Scotland. This book is centred on one man’s struggle with the issue of inclusion of GLBT persons in his own Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA). What makes the book unusual is that the author is not in the typical run of ‘gay activist’: he is a ‘self-confessed’ straight, happily married man with five children. A Lutheran minister, David Weiss held a number of academic posts in Universities and Seminaries throughout the United States, among which was the bastion of American Catholicism, the University of Notre Dame. The book’s subtitle of “Lyrical reflections…” is a good description of its range. In addition to articles of varying length, there are examples of the author’s poetry and a compilation of his hymns, hymns for which he – God bless him – gives explicit permission to copy for use in worship. Read more…