(Re)union, by Bruxy Cavey. In Other Worlds, by John D. Wilson. So Shall We Love: Songs of Worship and Faith, by Ali Matthews. The Turning Aside: The Kingdom Poets Book of Contemporary Christian Poetry
Edited by D. S. Martin. A Great Reckoning, by Louise Penny.
(Re)union: The Good News of Jesus for Seekers, Saints and Sinners
By Bruxy Cavey
Herald Press, 2017. 232 pages. $18.99 (e-book $16.99)
BRUXY CAVEY, author of bestseller The End of Religion (NavPress, 2007), is the teaching pastor at The Meeting House in Ontario, "a church for people who aren’t into church."
His new book helps people suspicious of religiosity and entertaining serious doubts about Christian faith. It offers a creative presentation of the Good News in one word (Jesus), three words ("Jesus is Lord," see 1 Corinthians 12:3), and finally more comprehensively in 30 words – "Jesus is God with us, come to show us God’s love, save us from sin, set up God’s Kingdom, and shut down religion, so we can share in God’s life."
The last part of the book considers "God’s graphic love," a searching "requiem for religion" and "God’s love life" to single out a few chapters, with special emphasis on what the author calls the F words – a (reasonable) faith whose "flip side is repentance," forgiveness and following (or discipleship).
The Christian message is explained simply and powerfully, and the book closes with an evangelistic challenge to repent, believe and experience the wonderful new life God offers to all who seek Him in sincerity and truth. –ALLISON TRITES
In Other Worlds
By John D. Wilson
Westbow Press, 2014. 268 pages. $23.99 (e-book $5.99)
JOHN D. Wilson was an unexceptional senior in a Scottish high school when he prayed, "God, you know that I want to live my life for you, so please guide me in the choices I have to make." He sensed God asking, "Are you willing to be a missionary?" His "Yes" opened the door to other worlds.
There was the world of testing when, early on, he was rejected by the mission board. There was the world of Papua, Indonesia, where he lived for 20 years in exotic mountain villages with the Yali tribe, former cannibals, translating the Bible and helping to establish a church. There was the world of retirement, with its disorienting culture and identity crises, exacerbated by a move to Canada. And there was, finally, the world of reflection and maturity, which led Wilson into a new role as an international missionary consultant and mentor.
His storytelling is riveting. His detailed descriptions help us experience scenes that are exotic (an early morning in the Heluk River Valley), depressing (the return of his cancer), climactic (a Yali celebration about the arrival of the gospel) and more. Black and white photos also bring the story to life. This is a worthwhile read on many levels. We see the value of cross-cultural missions through the eyes of someone who loved his work. We appreciate the challenges faced by missionaries when they enter a new culture with an unwritten language, raise a family in a remote location, then return home where they feel they no longer fit in. But most of all this story of God establishing His Kingdom in a particular place on Earth lifts us as we see Him using an ordinary man, made extraordinary when he said, "Yes." –VIOLET NESDOLY
The Turning Aside: The Kingdom Poets Book of Contemporary Christian Poetry
Edited by D. S. Martin
Wipf & Stock, 2016. 262 pages. $34.99 (e-book $9.99)
IF EUGENE Peterson is correct in stating that busyness is an illness of spirit, then a healthy spirit is one which takes time to be quiet. Poet R. S. Thomas expresses it this way: "Life is not hurrying / on to a receding future, nor hankering / after an imagined past. It is the turning / aside like Moses to the miracle / of the lit bush."
Brampton, Ont., editor D. S. Martin borrows this phrase as the title to this stunning anthology of contemporary poetry by 60 distinguished and lesser-known Christian poets. It encompasses work in a broad variety of styles, including familiar names such as Wendell Berry, Luci Shaw, Christian Wiman and Eugene Peterson. It also presents powerful voices in Madeline DeFrees, Richard Wilbur, Jeanne Murray Walker and Mary Karr, among others. They have all been drawn from the editor’s posts at www.KingdomPoets.Blogspot.ca and collected over decades.
The works highlight the divine in the gamut of human experience, from the painful despair expressed in a DeFrees poem – "All the long night in the moaning wind / the bruised reed breaks and the sparrow falls" – to the joyful exaltation Richard Wilbur describes as "the morning air is all awash with angels." Readers also find exaltation in poems such as one by Robert Siegel in which "Yellow flames flutter / about the feeder: / a Pentecost of finches."
Humour and irony are also present in a Scott Cairns poem which reads, "Your petitions – though they continue to bear / just the one signature – have been duly recorded" and in another Richard Wilbur poem which states, "In the light of our gross product, the practice of charity / is palpably nonessential."
Poets are prophets and truth tellers in a world driven by commerce. These poems invite us to turn aside and listen to God’s still, quiet voice amid the noise. –MARIANNE JONES