RECENT REVIEWS & ENDORSEMENTS

  • Friday's Child
    Brian Mountford
    Thank you for your book, which I am enjoying enormously. It fits my attention span perfectly and is making me look again at things I had long taken for granted or never thought about at all. ~ Nigel Hamway, email

  • Psychedelic Christianity
    Jack Call
    I was brought up with little religion. My mom and dad are non practicing Christians, and my stepfather is most likely an atheist. What little I know regarding Christianity, I have learned from my grandmothers and I have picked things up here and there. I admit, I am an agnostic and am still trying to figure this all out. That's part of the reason why I wanted to read this book. The other being I've never taken an LSD trip. As someone who is afraid of death and what happens after, this book has brought some comfort. If anything it has taught me a little more about Christianity from a completely different viewpoint. As a scientist, I like things that make logical sense. Not everything does, but the author did an excellent job of using logic in many of his arguments. I enjoyed this, as I felt the author was using more than blind faith to justify his views and to me that is important. Evidence and thought. As a philosopher the author has a way of keeping the reader intrigued by using evidence and logic, some may find the reading a bit dense at times, but others will also appreciate the preciseness of the language used. ~ Paul Swatzel, Professor of Mathematics, Citrus College, Glendora, California

  • Psychedelic Christianity
    Jack Call
    Jack Call’s Psychedelic Christianity offers readers a kaleidoscope of profoundly personal experience and emergent theology-- hoping for “glorious joy” in life-after-life while exploring this life, focusing on human desire for moral, sensual and intellectual beauty in the here and now. Not “an aging hippie,” Call shoots from the hip; he is both self-reflective and frankly straight-forward in opinion (e.g. opposing politicized Christianity). Scripture is generously cited. ~ Deanna Wilcox, Executive Director, Kids-Net LA, Inc., a non-profit in service to young foster children

  • Heart of Oneness
    Jennifer Kavanagh
    I finished the book with a sense of hope. Reading it had strengthened my awareness of all manner of connections: between me and other people, with the natural world and with the Divine. I was reminded that no one of us has to save our planet single-handedly. Through spiritual discernment we can each see the part we have to play, and together we can make a difference. And yes, I felt I received both solace and inspiration from this little book. ~ Lynden Easterbrook, Quaker Voices November 17

  • Heart of Oneness
    Jennifer Kavanagh
    “Heart of Oneness is another sublime and profound pearl of spiritual wisdom by Jennifer Kavanagh.
    Her new book is a gorgeous treatise of practical mysticism, a liberating testimony to the truth and reality of oneness, interconnectedness and personal power amidst the divides, difficulties and traumas of today’s world.
    Her inspiring personal journey of actions and initiatives to support and liberate others moved me deeply. In her humble, Quakerful manner she quietly models the path of the non-dual wise soul who truly encompasses “only us” and lives oneness from her heart; as simply and naturally as breathing.” ~ Rev Dr Lynne Sedgmore OBE

  • Psychedelic Christianity
    Jack Call
    According to Luke, Jesus says about the Kingdom of Heaven that it isn’t something to be found down the road, but is already here. Similarly, Thomas reports Jesus as having said that the Kingdom of Heaven is already on earth, but that men do not see it. In Psychedelic Christianity, Jack Call echoes these profound and yet puzzling proclamations. Psychedelic Christianity is Jack Call’s most recent exploration into connections he and others have made between insights gained by way of psychedelic and “traditional” religious experience. This is a connection first suggested in God is a Symbol of Something True (2009), and pursued further in some detail in the follow up Dreams and Resurrection (2014). A highly trained philosopher, Jack Call (PhD, Claremont) takes great care to present clear and convincing arguments, and as someone who has walked the walk, speaks with authority about both psychedelic and religious experience. One of the aims of this book is to show how Christianity, how its system of archetypes that constitutes its intelligible framework, can work toward healing the spiritually blind, so that they may now see the Kingdom of Heaven that has been here all along.
    ~ Kurt Smith, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy, Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania

  • Psychedelic Christianity
    Jack Call
    Jack Call plunges deeply into concerns of meaning and purpose. "What's the point?" he asks. If there is only one ultimate goal, that points to "an eternity that scares me ... frozen, motionless, stale and suffocating." Instead, he paints a vibrant picture of hope for "absolutely fresh newness, as on the day of Creation, with solids that look like they have just gelled from liquid, and liquids that look like shining solids, and everything breathing and squirming with life." Wow!
    This book deepened my understanding of the kingdom Jesus spoke of; it deepened my faith. My own experiences of "spiritual ecstasy" have come through REALLY good music and nature. It was fascinating to read how Jack Call's psychedelic experiences have given him deeply beautiful spiritual insights.
    I hated to have the book end. I know I will read it again. ~ Barbara Kremins, Registered Nurse, retired

  • Psychedelic Christianity
    Jack Call
    Psychedelic Christianity offers a refreshingly relevant, philosophically rigorous approach to how modern Christians can practice an ancient faith in a complex world. Author Jack Call draws on his own experiences as a philosopher and a Christian, along with his occasional use of LSD, to offer a path toward re-conceptualizing a relationship with God. While Call’s anecdotes are deeply personal, and some of his experiences unique, his spiritual journey is easy to relate to.
    Despite its presence in the book’s title, the psychedelic experience is used only as a lens, and the book’s point is not exclusive to that specific experience. Instead, the book begins by exploring important philosophical concepts that nicely frame some of the big questions in Christianity, including the idea of having an “ultimate goal” in life and the question of an afterlife. With the philosophy established, the book moves on to a discourse about how finding a more meaningful relationship with God can inspire us to be creative, to interface with the mystery of spirituality, and to make decisions about how to treat other people.
    Written with humor, clear language, and a practical approach to the spiritual journey, Psychedelic Christianity does its readers a great service by reflecting on what many of us have probably thought or wondered, but few of us have the context and rigor to evaluate on our own. ~ Michael Dennis, Moderator, First Congregational Church of Los Angeles

  • Psychedelic Christianity
    Jack Call
    Bravo!! Loved it. This book contains marvelous insights. ~ The Rev. Bill Garrison, Rector, St. Matthias Episcopal Church, Whittier, California

  • Psychedelic Christianity
    Jack Call
    . . . a breath of fresh air at a time when many folks are losing their religion. The book offers bold and refreshing takes on age-old questions in a modern context. . . . I highly recommend this book for believers, non-believers, and those that are undecided. The author has built a large tent for all of us to be together in peace. ~ Bruce Olav Solheim, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of History, Playwright, Citrus College, Glendora, California

  • Quaker Roots and Branches
    John Lampen
    John Lampen has a gift for connecting the contemporary concerns of Friends with the rich heritage of the Quaker past. In his latest collection of essays, he shows us how the experiences of Friends like George Fox, William Penn, and Elizabeth Fry offer us wisdom and guidance in confronting the problems we face today. ~ Thomas Hamm, Professor of History, Earlham College, Richmond, Indiana, U.S.A.

  • Christian Middle Way, The
    Robert M. Ellis
    ...a densely argued book, needing, and deserving, time to digest; and to work out, with the author’s help, the implications of approaching religion in general and Christianity in particular, in terms of the Middle Way. ~ Edward Walker, author of Treasure Beneath the Hearth

  • Authority of Service and Love, The
    Roger Payne
    The Authority of Service and Love: A Recovery of Meaning
    by Roger Payne

    All eight definitions of 'authority' in the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary contain the word ‘power’. This ineluctable association of ‘power’ with ‘authority’, frequently unhelpful and potentially harmful in a religious context, is at the core of this book.The author’s preface states:

    ‘The aim of this book is to show that our perceptions of the word “authority” must change if we are to be true to the message of Jesus. In particular we need to go back to the message of Jesus that “authority” should be about “service,” not “power.”’

    The opening chapter - What is religious authority? - examines origins of the word ‘authority’, seeking to determine its originally intended meaning in the term ‘religious authority’. Payne concludes, from his review of numerous sources that ‘the etymology of the word “authority” is not straightforward.’ The etymological complexity associated with ‘authority’ and resultant confusion emphasise the importance of achieving a ‘recovery of meaning.’ This chapter concludes:

    ‘This brief review … reveals the potential for tension between those who promote the different sources of that authority. It also exposes the danger of its misuse as authority becomes power.’

    The next two chapters - Who exercised authority in the early years of the Christian Church? and Who or what exercised power from the Middle Ages to the Twentieth Century? - provide a historical narrative. It is in the following chapter – The ‘crisis of authority’ in the Christian Church – where, starting in the febrile year of 1968, challenges to authority within the Church are set alongside those within society and politics. Almost half a century later, the socio-political landscape remains volatile and unpredictable, as recent events attest. . Authority as a whole – let alone religious authority – has never had it tougher. Time, perhaps to pursue ‘a different way’ - the title of Payne’s earlier book, to which this book is a sequel.

    The book concludes with the proposition that ‘Service is the key to authority,’ supported by this quotation from the works of Jack Dominian:

    ‘The more each person realizes his potential, the more he achieves autonomy, self-acceptance, inner-directed purpose and a love of self which is not a reflection of selfishness … but … is available to others in and through love. Such a concept of growth, personal or spiritual, owes nothing to the need to hold on to a “significant other” for survival, as Freud postulated, but an identification with a significant other called God, who invites us to realize our potential and become like him, not in absolute power and authority, but in absolute love, which is his nature’.

    This is a well-written and stimulating book, citing 123 references, addressing a complex and important subject with exemplary clarity, and is highly recommended.

    Dr Malcolm Purbrick is a research scientist who has been working with the European Commission at the University of Naples since his retirement. He was a member of St James' Church, Bushey.

    ~ Dr Malcolm Purbrick

  • Shaken Path, The
    Paul Cudby
    Cudby points out where commonality may emerge in dialogue, as well as matters of difference. The book can be recommended to tho those who would wish to be better informed of an important aspect of spirituality in contemporary society, but is also a moving account of the change in attitudes of the author and his wife. In the fields of concern for justice and peace, and for environmental morality, Christians may find that pagans are not people to be feared. They may indeed be a stimulus to our conscience in some areas of life, and offer insights that bear witness to neglect in current mainstream churches. Your reviewer can highly recommend this book. ~ Kevin Tingay, The Christian Parapsychologist

  • Quaker Roots and Branches
    John Lampen
    This exploration of Quaker identity shows how modern Quaker ways have developed out of, but are clearly rooted in, the lives of earlier generations. It is engaging and very readable. John Lampen gives frequent examples of real Quakers seeking to follow ‘guidance’. There are some familiar stories, and some quite tantalising glimpses into less well-known characters which left me wanting to know more. They illustrate how today’s Quaker practice is frequently on a continuum with the past, but at other times breaks significantly with tradition – and it is helpful to be aware of which is which, and why. A worthwhile read for anyone wanting to understand early 21st century (British) Quakers! ~ Helen Rowlands, former Head of Education, Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre, Birmingham, UK.

  • Quaker Roots and Branches
    John Lampen
    From his insight that modern-day Quakers are the product and carriers of an inspiring tradition, John Lampen paints a compelling picture of the Quaker character: clear intellectual enquiry, resolute moral integrity, and quiet, unsung heroism. The lives he describes are led by the guidance emerging from silent worship. In describing the resonance of these Quaker lives with his personal experience, John makes these stories relevant for us today.   ~ Gerald Hewitson, author, Journey Into Life: Inheriting the Story of Early Friends

  • Shaken Path, The
    Paul Cudby
    As a pagan, I was interested in reading this book, but I had serious reservations. I was raised in a Roman Catholic family, and my beliefs haven't always been met with open minds or hearts. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this book was written by a very open-minded priest, and instead of deriding pagan beliefs, simply discussed them in a Christian context.
    ~ Liliyana Shadowlyn, NetGalley

  • Shaken Path, The
    Paul Cudby
    I knew, from the moment I started reading ‘The Shaken Path,’ by Paul Cudby, that I would be in a danger zone, not because I consider myself Christian, but the whole opposite: My mind is more than fine considering Pagan oriented ideals and ideas.
    There was something that told me I should read this book, and I kind of knew this could be a comparison between the two faiths, but there was still the fear, the doubt. Would I be facing an egocentric priest that wanted to tell me that Paganism was only a misunderstood Christianism? Not at all.
    What I discovered was that there something in common between the Gospels and the Pagan believes, more than what I would have ever thought. Uncomfortable experience, yes, but who said that learning would be an easy process?
    We live in a world where everyone thinks it is their path the right and only one that is meant to exist, even I tend to think this would be a better planet if we all started learning about Paganism, but that exactly when Cudby comes: Nothing could be more wrong than thinking that.
    Is not like Christians and Pagan are two halves of a whole, or that where one fails, the other prevails, but about the fact that we can all learn from each other, that Christ can teach the pagans and that Nature can help the Christians. Seems we often forget this.
    Mr. Cudby goes to the most known branches and concepts related to nature-based religions, explaining them to a Christian reader, but even if that same reader is a Pagan or an interfaith, they can still discover a few interesting things just as I did.
    There’s no point in denying that sometimes we all wish to ‘transform’ the other person and make them part of our religion, I think humans need to feel safe in an environment they can identify with, but ‘The Shaken Path’ proves more than once that differences and challenges work way much better than comparing two things.
    However, I won’t lie telling that this an easy and light book, as it took me a long while to read it; the Animism and Shamanism sections were hard to swallow, each page a challenge, and I’m most likely to think that this is because of the amount of information and (shame on me) my lack of interest in those areas.
    I would only prevent a reader from taking this books if they want to see a religion being ‘better’ than the other, to be more ‘correct’ and more ‘true,’ as if there could be only one faith in the whole world. Such a closed minded creature would not enjoy to discover that those ideals should be dead by now.
    Thsi is a book for those who are interested in learning, exploring and discovering about different faiths, about that that coudl sound alien and supernatural, that that seems to be different and, therefore, dangerous.
    If this seems to be more an extensive praise than a review, it is only because Paul Cudby was brave enough to open his mind, and so should we. May Nature never turn their back on him now that he realized that the Divine is in all things and that we can live and let die in peace. ~ Alan D.D., GoodReads https://tintanocturna.blogspot.com/

  • Friday's Child
    Brian Mountford
    Brian Mountford has written a short reflection on each poem in this wonderful collection - insightful, often understated and spacious so as to encourage our own response. What a clever idea and so beautifully done. This is an anthology that will feed the soul throughout the year. ~ Nicholas Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury

  • Different Way, A
    Roger Payne
    There is an urgent need for more debate and discussion in our churches
    because the integrity and credibility of our faith is at risk [ ... ] We need to
    engage more actively at the intellectual level and to be willing to examine
    the fundamentals of our faith more critically. And such discussion must
    start with a human rather than a divine perspective.

    So states the back cover of this book, and the first few chapters make the case clearly and strongly. Churches often claim that certainty is a virtue and doubt is a sin. Instead, we need more debate. Too many church leaders stifle it. Few churches are intellectually stimulating. In approaching the divine, the starting-point must be the human because this is what we are.

    After these introductory chapters, the bulk of the book consists of short chapters on a variety of virtues, beginning with the seven traditional Christian ones and then adding others such as goodness, truth, beauty and mystery. Payne writes with an easy touch. There is no theological jargon. There are lots of fascinating short stories, and biblical stories woven in with them. The language is gender-exclusive.

    It is a book for Christians seeking to get away from negative and other- worldly versions of Christianity and instead integrate their faith with a positive approach to life. Given how successfully hard line dogmatists have dominated the airwaves in recent decades, we need more such books offering open and creative approaches to faith.

    Weaknesses? Most of the chapters describe their respective virtue attractively but, given the promise in the subtitle, say little or nothing about approaching the divine through it. A short section about God offers a good, though brief, account of what we can and cannot know of God, and the problem of holding together both transcendence and immanence (pp. 39-40). This is then followed by a brief resume of the theologies of John Robinson, Paul Tillich, Don Cupitt and Jack Spong, leaving the impression that they were all saying much the same thing. The common theme, we are told, is 'that we need to see God as a subjective not an objective reality' (p. 46). Yet Payne soon bounces back from the subjectivism, telling us, for example, that 'God does not invest in man for himself but to enable him to extend that investment to others. And so man is not only not man without God, but is not man without man' (p. 73).

    Readers of Modern Believing looking for a human approach to the divine may be disappointed. The book works better as a work of popular ethics for Christians who do not want to get into theological detail but who want an encouraging, non-dogmatic and readable account of what it means to live a Christian life. At a time when so many church leaders are agonising over declining numbers and wondering how to persuade more people to attend church services, here is someone who gets straight to the point and offers a more positive account of Christian living. ~ Jonathan Clatworthy, Modern Believing: The Journal of Theological Liberalism Volume 58 Issue 2 2017

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