During the last few weeks I haven’t done any research as I have spent some time away with some good friends on holiday and then went up to Gateshead to visit my parents. Having said this I have managed to get a bit of reading done and thought I would just tell you about the books.
Firstly: Browsing around Waterstones I purchased Suicide of the West which has proved to be a stimulating and fascinating read. This book seeks to highlight 6 influences which have shaped and built western society. These are Christianity, Optimism, Science, Growth, Liberalism and Individualism. The authors (Richard Koch and Chris Smith) see that the collapse of the West is on the cards. The west is heading on the road of ‘cynicism, unmitigated selfishness, re-centralisation and aggression… this road could take many forms, from anarchy to neo-facism, environmental collapse to a new American empire…Western civilistaion will not be destroyed by our enemies; but it may be destroyed by ourselves.’ (pg 195). However the authors do not think ‘collective suicide’ is inevitable but that another road is to be travelled. A road which demands a ‘recovery of nerve, confidence in ourselves and culture’,….a road of ‘ compassion, equality, individualism and mutual identity’ 196.
This book has highlighted the great strenths of western civilisation. The ideas of Christianity are shown to have inspired the western ideals of ‘activism, based on individual responsibility and initiative, with non-coercive social harmony’ 182. In recent decades, the authors argue, the moral compass has been removed from western society and a new breed of individualism has arrived. An individualism which it calls Thatcherite which does not look for the common good. All in all a great read for those who want to look at the ideas which have shaped the modern western world. It can be criticised at various levels but is a good short read. For those wishing a longer read on similar ideas see Passion of the Western Mind
Borwsing my Dad’s bookshelf I picked up and staretd reading The Case for Christ which I assumed would be a kind of Josh Mcdowell put into a story. The author is a journalist who sought to investigate the claims of Jesus. He interviews leading scholars (Blomberg, Metzger, Ben Witherignton, etc) and asks them questions about the reliability of the gospels. This book proves to be an excellent introduction for those interetsed in the historical Jesus and helps to give a good overview of the conservative position. Its well written and is easy to read.
I am a member of audible and was browsing around to see what I would listen to over the next month. I surpised myself when I downloaded Pope Benedict XVI Jesus of Nazareth. I was surpised. I don’t read many books by Catholic authors (err! Meier and Raymond Brown as exceptions) but in this book (have listened so far to the first two chapters) the Pope seeks to offer his own portrait of the historical Jesus. As with others he is aware of the historical critical method but says, in his introduction, that it is limited. Benedict seeks to offer a portrait which comes from the canonical gospels. I only wish I was in ther country for an up and coming conference on his work at Nottingham University which John Milbank, Markus Bockmuehl, Geza Vermes, Archbishop Martinez, Fergus Kerr OP, Walther Moberly, Olivier-Thomas Venard OP, and Mona Siddiqui will attend.