Lent Reading: Book Reviews

Several Lent books are reviewed here and are stocked in the Cathedral shops.

Fierce Imaginings by The Revd Canon Rachel Mann, Canon Poet, Manchester Cathedral

DLT 2017 £12.99

The first speaker in our Lent series of seminars (more here), Rachel Mann, has recently published Fierce Imaginings to a storm of acclaim. The book is a study of the collapse of Victorian and Edwardian culture and belief in the trenches of World War one. And that collapse she traces in poetry, in family history, and in popular belief. Rowan Williams has called the book ‘exceptional’. It is accessible, pungent and has a deep integrity. In a sense it also frames our Lent series – out of World War One was born a different culture – more open to women, more democratic, more ambiguous about traditional images of God, more open to diversity. Recommended reading!

John Davies, Dean

A place for God by Bishop Graham James
The Mowbray Lent Book 2018
Mowbrays, 2018 £9.99
Those who value Bishop Graham’s very accessible and approachable Thought for the Day contributions on Radio 4, will find the same voice here – gentle, insightful, wise. For each day in Lent a biblical passage is suggested for reading, accompanied by a mediation by Bishop Graham. And the meditations are always focused on places: some are in Norfolk where the Bishop works; but some are very far flung – Cornwall, Galilee, Soweto, Devil’s Island, Rome, the list goes on. Here is a gentle, uplifting book to carry through Lent.

John Davies, Dean

The Way of the Carmelites: a prayer journey through Lent by James McCaffrey OCD
SPCK 2017 £8.99
The treasure of the Carmelites is contemplation – which attracts and terrifies us in equal measure. For them contemplation pours out through prayer into community and service and this Lent book draws on the experience of the more familiar Carmelites; St John of the Cross, St Teresa of Avila, Edith Stein, whose comfortability with silence was borne out of the communion of love they had found in Jesus. This wise, humble and brilliant book is for anyone who takes their prayer life seriously, who longs for the treasure and needs a map!

Nicholas Jepson-Biddle, Precentor

Say it to God: in search of prayer by Luigi Gioia
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent Book 2018
Bloomsbury 2018 £9.99
Luigi Gioia is a Benedictine monk, and a professor of theology. He has preached spiritual retreats across the world. In 26 short chapters, with copious scriptural quotations (keep a Bible close at hand), Gioia invites the reader to read slowly and take time to reflect. Key to the book is the proposition “I am always with God and know God is always with me”. At times the author is refreshingly succinct. His guidelines for prayer are: “keep it simple, keep it short, keep it frequent, keep it real”. Prayer is hard work. Reading this accessible and searching book will be a good Lenten discipline, offering insight to those who feel they are novices in prayer, and to those who are wearied in their prayer and in need of refreshment.

Andrew Featherstone, Chancellor


Ash Wednesday: 14th February, services of the day 8am, 9:30am and 5:15pm: All services will include the imposition of ashes for those who
wish. The Eucharist at 5:15pm will be sung by Wells Cathedral Voluntary Choir.

1918-2018: The Conflict that shaped a Century

2018 marks the centenary of the end of World War One, a conflict that shaped the century to come in terms of theology, social practice and world politics. We have asked a series of preachers to explore some of these themes in addresses at Sunday Evensong (3pm), with tea and a seminar to follow each Sunday. The series begins on Sunday 18th February with The Revd Canon Rachel Mann, more here.