The Holy Spirit: Fire of Divine Love by Fr Wilfred Stinissen OCD (Ignatius, £12). Originally published in Swedish in 1989, this little classic by a Carmelite priest emphasises the importance of the Holy Spirit in the life of a Christian. Just as the Holy Spirit filled the early Church with the fire of divine love at Pentecost, so He wants to do the same with us. Covering aspects of the Spirit such as His relationship to Love and to Truth, the author describes the Third Person of the Trinity as “the great ecumenist”, as it is his “charism” to make all things one.
The Living Flame of Love by St John of the Cross (SPCK, £9.99). This new translation of the famous Spanish classic reminds us why this poem and prose commentary on the love between the soul and God is justly celebrated. Baroness Cox, who introduces it, writes that despite St John’s well-known emphasis on the absolute, she finds reading him “comfortingly reassuring and realistic” when he says that “if you are not going backwards you are going forwards towards God!” St John reminds us that all he writes “falls far short of that which passes in this intimate union of the soul with God”.
Loving Justice, Living Shakespeare by Regina Mara Schwartz (Oxford University Press, £20). Professor Schwartz provides a new and stimulating perspective on why the writings of Shakespeare are still so important today. Raising the question of why we separate love from justice in boardrooms and in universities, she argues that in Scripture and Shakespeare no distinction is made between the exercise of these two virtues: just as we abhor the evil of Iago, the murderous ambition of Macbeth and the self-absorption of Lear, we also recognise how love provides a dramatic and spiritual leaven to Shakespeare’s poetical dramas.
A Really Good Day by Ayelet Waldman (Corsair, £13.99). The author, an American novelist, has written a funny and absorbing account of “How Microdosing Made a Mega Difference to My Mood, My Marriage and My Life”, as her subtitle puts it. The microdoses she refers to are tiny, therapeutic amounts of LSD, which she took as part of a medical experiment in order to treat her mood swings. This book is the result of a month’s charting of her experiences. Her provocative conclusion: that the experiment “lessened the force of the riptide of negative emotions that so often sweeps me away”.
The Fifty Things by Peter Dunne (Orion, £14.99). The author decided when he turned 50 to select 50 essential values that he wished to teach his children. They include compromise, tolerance, courage, persistence, charity, enthusiasm and integrity. Written with affection and humour, the book sums up Dunne’s own philosophy of life. He comes across as honest about his own failures, grateful for the good things that have happened to him (especially his marriage and his family), and anxious to warn his children of possible pitfalls they may encounter.
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