The Virgin Eye by Robin Daniels (Instant Apostle, £9.99). The late author, a Jungian analyst for 30 years, explores a way of seeing life as if for the first time, like a child or poet. By this means he hopes readers will come to recognise God in everyday encounters and in what they experience. Prayer, mindfulness, chastity and facing one’s shadow are some of the themes he reflects upon in this powerful study, compiled by his widow, Katherine. Sister Wendy Beckett has written the foreword, stating that “the presence of God [in the book] is all-pervasive but hardly ever explicit”.
Exploring Doubt by Alex Wright (DLT, £12.99). In this moving personal account of his own uncertainty when his marriage ended, author Alex Wright, an editor at IB Tauris, shares his hard-won conviction that it is doubt, rather than certainty, which gives greater insight into the spiritual life. Quoting journalist Peter Hitchens, “These days I know with complete certainty that there are a number of things about which I have no idea at all, and nor does anyone else,” Wright ranges over and reflects on many modern thinkers in his quest for meaning, alongside sharing his love for the North Norfolk coast.
Too Brave to Dream by RS Thomas (Bloodaxe Books, £12). These three dozen ekphrastic poems (ie written to works of art) are here published for the first time. With a useful introduction by the editors, they show how Thomas was influenced by two books on modern art, Art Now and Surrealism, which contained reproductions of artworks that stimulated his poetic imagination. Including poems to paintings by Henry Moore, Dalí and Magritte, the book reveals the Welsh poet at his most dense and philosophical, as he set about “refracting the visual through the verbal”.
The Tunnel Through Time by Gillian Tindal (Chatto and Windus, £20). Tindal, who specialises in miniaturist history, has written an absorbing account of what has been unearthed by the new Crossrail route under construction through London, which will be called the Elizabeth line. Anyone interested in the archaeology of the city will enjoy her detailed forensic reconstruction of the past, using contemporary records and personal accounts as well as maps and engravings. The medieval, Tudor and Victorian remains reveal how London was knocked about, reconstructed and grew into today’s vast metropolis. This is a work of love and scholarship.
Bringing in the Sheaves by The Rev Richard Coles (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, £20). Following his earlier autobiography describing a hedonistic lifestyle, the author has written a sequel, charting his subsequent life as a High Church vicar. Coles provides a telling glimpse of Anglo-Catholic personalities, attitudes, vestments and liturgy – where a Walsingham pilgrimage becomes a “High Church Jamboree” and he reveals an underlying apprehension that the compromises in Anglicanism holding its warring factions together will not last indefinitely.
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