Jonathan Wright

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February 20, 2020
America’s Teilhard By Susan Kassman Sack CUA Press, 324pp, £38.50/$34.95 Sixty years can be a short time in theology. These days, the French Jesuit writer Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955) is all the rage. Benedict XVI had nice things to say about him, Pope Francis mentioned him approvingly in an encyclical, and some would even like
February 13, 2020
God in the Rainforest By Kathryn T Long OUP, 446pp, £22.99/$34.95 In the mid-1950s, no fewer than 23,000 North American Protestants were whizzing – sometimes trudging – around the world’s mission fields. An isolated spot, inhabited by people who had probably never seen a Westerner, and who spoke a particularly tricky language, was regarded by
January 23, 2020
The headline statistics are, admittedly,  impressive. According to South Korea’s Catholic Pastoral Institute, Church membership in the country rose by 48.6 per cent between 1999 and 2018; Suwon diocese reports a phenomenal hike of 89.1 per cent. Altogether 5,866,510 South Koreans identify as Catholics – that’s 11.1 per cent of the population – and all
January 16, 2020
In 1923 a local Ku Klux Klan newspaper grumbled about events in Gary, Indiana. Enforcement of Prohibition legislation (which came into effect 100 years ago today), had become rather sluggish and the town needed a “sheriff big enough to fight and who can deliver a squared fist at the jaw of the Gary foreign element,
January 16, 2020
Divine Bodies By Candida Moss Yale, 195pp, £35/$45 Most Christians would agree that heaven is a place that can’t be conceptualised from our feeble earthly perspective. But it has always been tempting to make the imaginative leap and the issue of bodily resurrection has been a tricky topic. Many thinkers have assumed that some continuity
December 19, 2019
When Bishops Meet By John W O’Malley Harvard University Press, 223pp, £20/$24.95 How many bishops does it take to change the course of Catholic history? The answer, as John O’Malley’s spirited new book explains, can vary. Attendance rates during the early sessions of the Council of Trent were pitiful: somewhere in the region of five
December 05, 2019
What Are Biblical Values? By John F Collins Yale University Press, 285pp, £22/$28 A venerable idea lies at the heart of John Collins’s guide to biblical ethics: that we are responsible for the moral choices we make. We can’t just bleat that we were pushed towards a decision or posture because social convention demanded it,
October 24, 2019
The Plight of Western Religion by Paul Gifford, Hurst, 173pp, £25/$28.69 A familiar image of Western Christianity before modern times has been doing the rounds for quite a while. Back then, just about everyone took the supernatural for granted and God’s providence counted for a great deal. It was the fount of causation and it
September 26, 2019
On Trial for Reason By Maurice A Finocchiaro OUP, 289pp, £25/$32.95 June 22, 1633, was not the happiest of days for Galileo Galilei, though it might have been a good deal worse. His musings on the workings of the cosmos brought down the charge of “vehement suspicion of heresy” on his head. But the Inquisition
September 05, 2019
A 13th-century Norwegian chronicler thought long and hard about why anyone would want to settle Greenland – the subject of a recent dispute between Donald Trump and Denmark. The place was chilly, seal meat appeared on menus with disheartening frequency, and far too many people developed irksome, often deadly, infections of the middle ear. “Desire
September 05, 2019
Confronting Religious Violence Edited by Richard A Burridge and Jonathan Sacks SCM Press, 280pp, £25/$29.95 How do you solve a problem like religious violence? Assembling a team of academics (however eminent) to toss around ideas about recasting and revisiting age-old tales of sibling rivalry between the great faiths might seem like a rather meek and
August 08, 2019
The Wealth of Religions Edited by Rachel McCleary and Robert Barro Princeton, 160pp, £24/$29.95 I can only assume that I am the target of an elaborate practical joke. A time machine seems to have transported me back several decades and the theories of Max Weber (epitomised by his The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of
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