Roll of Honour

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Resources - Book Reviews


This section contains some infrequent and "random" reviews of books new and old which members of the congregation have found helpful and think that others may also find beneficial.

We are not professional "book reviewers" so these are our own views provided with a hope that some might find them helpful.

They are not recommended by the Church Council or Hatfield Road Methodist Church. However, having said that we would not recommend anything which would cause problems!

The Journal of John Nelson (1707 - 1774)

John Nelson was a Yorkshire stonemason who became one of Mr Wesley's preachers and travelled with him on some of his journeys.

Cover of the Journal of John Nelson

His journal provides a fascinating insight into his journey of faith and the struggles of early Methodism and the resistance and violence which accompanied the establishment of our denomination.

He heard John Wesley preach in 1739 and inspired returned home to preach and pray. John Wesley stayed with Nelson in 1742 and after this he became one of the most successful and tireless of Wesley's evangelists.

He was a pacifist and when forcibly enlisted refused to carry arms his view was that he could not pray for a mans soul one day and seek to kill him the next. He was only released after Charles Wesley found a substitute for him and persuaded the authorities to allow his release.

As a preacher Nelson was almost as powerful and influential as Wesley. He was specially at home with the poor and uneducated.

I recommend his Journal to you wholeheartedly.You can read it online at the internet archive Here

If you have an electronic reader capable of reading epub files you can download it from the internet archive although it has many errors due to the OCR process so I have created a proof corrected copy which you can download here.

There is a brief biography of John Nelson on the Path to Prayer website which you can access by Clicking Here

I also have a book of the biography of John Nelson by Annie Keeling which is not available online but which I will add here when I have completed converting it to electronic format.

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The Wisdom Books - Robert Alter

A new translation of the Books of Job, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes

These are "difficult" books of the Bible with some of the most challenging and perplexing words and concepts in scripture.

They are in some ways books for this modern sceptical age as they question the possibility of knowing God or believing in his justice.

I recently discovered and read this excellent book which addresses these issues in a new and fresh way. It is the latest of a series of translations of Old Testament books by Robert Alter. The translation seeks to draw the best interpretation of the available ancient sources of these books and to restore the poetry of the original Hebrew.

Cover of the Wisdom Books by Robert Alter

As the author explains much of the lyrical poetry of the writing can be lost by our modern English language when compared to the original Hebrew where much was nuanced by context and literary structure.

There are also many helpful notes to explain the reasons behind the choice of words and the interpretations applied to create the translation.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book although it is not a "light read".

One way to read it, which I found helpful, was to read the translation through first, skipping the extensive notes, so that you get a better "feel" for the flow of the translation and then go back to the notes and explanations which are very helpful.

These really do bring the text to life from literary, historical and linguistic perspectives.

As with all commentaries the book reflects the views of the author and there are alternative views available.

You can "Look Inside" The Wisdom Books on Amazon by Clicking Here

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I am delighted to start our book review section with a recommendation from Rev Sharon Willimott from the North Norfolk Circuit. Sharon recommended this book to us during a service we attended and has generously agreed that I can use the review element of her church magazine article as a book recommendation for us.

The Power of Blessing by Kerry Kirkwood.

Cover of the Power of Blessing by Kerry Kirkwood

In his book 'The Power of Blessing' Kerry Kirkwood seeks to remind us of this indwelling image of God in all people and encourages Christians to remember this and actively seek to discover that reflection of God in all those whom they meet.

Kirkwood says that grasping the truth that God wants us to bless others does not come naturally. We like to pick and choose. We find it easier to see God in Christ in those who are loving and kind, who share the same values and morals as us, whose life choices resonate with our own. Kirkwood seeks to remind us that we come unstuck not only when we refuse to see God in Christ in those whose circumstances are so very far from our own, the unkempt, unsavoury drug addict or alcoholic for example, but also in those with whom we find ourselves at loggerheads.

Kirkwood's book is a powerful read and I highly recommend it to you. He explores the biblical concepts that God desires to bless humankind and how God desires us to bless our fellow man. He gives firsthand witness to the transforming power of blessing and he writes of healing, of reconciliation in relationships and business breakthroughs. He talks of hopes long gone and dreams surrendered being realized. It is an uplifting but challenging read and one that it is impossible to really get to grips with unless one turns the theory into practice.

When we decide to see God in Christ in the other, whoever they might be, and intentionally, verbally bless them - even (and perhaps especially) when they are in direct opposition to us, we will find ourselves blessed too. Moreover when we choose to bless we increase the opportunities for others to see God in Christ in us. Rev Sharon Willimott

One of the joys of the internet is that you can often have a quick preview of a book to see if it is of interest. You can "Look Inside" the power of Blessing on Amazon by Clicking Here