Challenge 14 ~ “A non-fiction book.”
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I approached this book. It was the Lent Book for 2015, which meant that it was intended to be accessible to all – Christian or not – but at the same time it was written by the Archbishop of Canterbury, which suggested there was going to be a more obvious theological discussion than in previous lent books. I was therefore surprised when it managed to achieve both – not only was it accessible, but it also had a strong theological debate that was comprehensible to anyone at any stage of life’s journey, with a faith or none.
The book was split into six chapters, each with a given theme, which made it easy to focus debates and thoughts. These also included references back to previous chapters, helping to form a complete view, but also encouraging the reader to look on their previous ideas and consider them in the light of the new themes introduced. This division also meant it was easy to pick up and put down the book when things were too busy, or when a pause was required to digest the complex ideas – a novelty not usually granted in thought-provoking books.
Whilst the books was theologically-accessible, it wasn’t particularly accessible on a linguistic front. I found that whilst reading the book I had to keep a dictionary on hand as the level of language varied. At times it was completely comprehensible, but at other times there would be several words in one paragraph that required looking up. I have no qualms with expanding a vocabulary, but the purpose of the book was to be completely accessible, and this language barrier is likely to have deterred or troubled many a reader – it certainly raised several issues in our university study group.
For a non-fiction reader, particularly on a topic I don’t actively search for literature on, I found the book an easy and eye-opening read. The well-explained theological backgrounds gave the reader a sense of familiarity, comfort and knowledge, although this was shaken by abrupt changes in the level of language used. I would recommend it to all looking to think more widely about “right and wrong” in relation to the apartheid in South Africa or theological issues, although I would certainly say to keep a dictionary on hand! As an introductory book to such ideas it stands in good stead, and I would not be deterred from reading another by Tutu tackling more controversial theological topics