0

Category: Books

Vision Upon Vision, a Review

Monks are free from the social rules that everyone else has to follow and George Guiver CR has been telling it like it is for countless years. I’ve chatted with him on numerous occasions whilst at the College of the Resurrection and he has a propensity for dropping huge theological bombshells into the conversation and then wandering off for one of the monastic offices.

20130913-173544.jpg

Vision Upon Visions is the first of his books I have read since I was a candidate for the priesthood contemplating The Fire And The Clay. Vision Upon Vision was recommended as an important source for my research into Anglican liturgy and inculturation. Within its pages are a rather comprehensive look at the history of liturgical development and the place of worship within society throughout the ages. This may sound like a dry topic, but Guiver’s refreshing directness cuts to the heart of the matter like a surgeon wielding a sternal saw.

The midsection of the book is an inspirational exploration of the relationship between the worship of the church and the culture in which it occurs. Guiver has prompted many questions that I suspect were already unspoken in the recesses of my mind. Do we check our culture at the door and worship as incomplete expressions of ourselves? Do we allow our liturgical responses to God to critique and inform our culture? These and countless other questions I will seek to explore in the coming months.

The final portion of the book is dedicated to the future of Christian worship. In a world that is shifting culturally with ever increasing speed, what is the vision for worship in the future? Guiver asks some provocative questions about worship from all traditions as he lays a vision for worship that both inspires and challenges the worshipper whilst edifying and glorifying God.

This is by no means a lightweight read; it has a distinctly academic depth to the material covered but Guiver’s style is easily accessible. I’d highly recommend it to anyone who is involved in leading worship.

The Manga Jesus

I did a quick search and it would seem that I have been a little remise.  A minister and a comic book nerd and I haven’t ever blogged about the Manga Bible.  Of all the different reinterpretations that I have mentioned before you would have thought I would have mentioned this sooner!

There are all sorts of different editions.  Of the many attempts to make a comic book out of the Bible and many fall short.  However, I have found the manga bible to be a faithful not only to its genre but also to the biblical texts.  As always, not a replacement for the original texts but a way of reimagining them.

Today, Church House Bookshop have announced the Manga Jesus.  No doubt this will be just as good.

Marked

I have just finished reading Marked by Steve Ross.  I was sent it by a friend who was feeding my comic book addiction.  Here’s a quick review by Alan Grant:

Steve Ross’s graphic novel ‘Marked’; is an exceptionally impressive achievement. The New Testament’s Gospel According to Mark is re-told in comic strip using contemporary life, characters and culture. The result is startling, remarkable and completely unique: the horrors and demons of 2,000 years ago are dragged drooling and screaming into the mean streets – and meaner people – of today. Steve’s chilling message seeps out from under his bold words and images: nothing has changed in two millennia, and Mankind will always fail, unless… somebody cares enough to save us. –Alan Grant

From my own perspective, I was greatly impressed with it.  However, I am a comic book nerd who knows the gospel of Mark.  There have been other attempts to reimagine religious narratives in graphic novels and some have been more successful than others.  For example Deepak Chopra and Shekar Kapur’s Ramayan is an artistic delight and authentically manga experience.  However, the Bible is usually given the well meaning but saccarine 60’s pastel shades of the ghost of sunday school past.  Even the artistic talents who worked on Judge Dredd seemed heavily influenced by the images of their childhood.  Marked however has no such hangups.  This really does look like it belongs up there with Judge Dredd.  The art work is really good.  Mark’s Gospel has been placed into a futuristic post apocalyptic setting that intrigues the reader to carry on.

I have only a couple of concerns.  What is it for?  It doesn’t follow a true enough course to the Gospel itself although it does make you want to ask more questions.  Is this a springboard into the text for someone who has never really encountered the biblical narrative or is it a thought provoking encounter for people like me who have a good knowledge of the original?  Is it both and at the same time actually neither?

The Book – The New Testament as a Magazine

I was intrigued by a post over on Jonny Baker’s blog about a glossy magazine version of the bible.  I ordered it weeks ago but missed the post and had no way of collecting it from the sorting office until the wonderful wife went and picked it up on her way home from work.

I was originally sceptical about how well the full new testament would work as a magazine.  Magazines tend to be short and to the point with small articles.  I envisaged vast amounts of text printed on floppy pages with a couple of pictures here or there.  Instead I found something that looks visually stunning.  It actually feels like it needs to be read.  It is wonderful!  The images are thought provoking and linked with some key passages from the text.  There are many wonderful contemporary depictions of familiar scenes such as the birth of Jesus.

This is clearly not a Bible you are going to want to sit down and read verse for verse with a commentary.  That is not its purpose – there are many different study bibles out there.  This serves a much more important market – those who have never read the bible before and are unlikely to do so because of the format.  We live in a world where a vast majority rarely pick up a book to read.  The internet and magazines are the predominant reading material – and this is who may well pick this up.  As they flick through they may only glance at the occasional piece of text but as with all magazines, key verses are highlighted.

I was at first worried about the durability of this visually stunning glossy mag.  I was quite concerned about the £22 I had paid for it.  What if it becomes less pristine?  What if it looks like it has been thumbed through as though in a doctors surgery waiting room awaiting the next grubby paws to come along and leaf through it.  Hopefully it will become just that.  Hopefully whilst I am making a cup of tea for a couple who have come to talk about the prospect of a marriage in their local parish church they will pick it up.  Hopefully they will paw through it.  Hopefully they will perhaps see what I see – the hope of the world.  Perhaps when it looks a little too dog eared from people finding out about Him, I will buy another one and leave it lying around where people can get their hands on it!

Available from Bible Illuminated and Amazon and you can check out a sample chapter here.