Book reviews

Published on: 11 March 2020

A selection of books on the theme of sport and outdoor spirituality, reviewed by Steve Foyster.

The Way Under Our Feet: A Spirituality of Walking
Graham Usher
SPCK (Pub date 16/04/2020, can be pre-ordered) £12.99
Revelation price £10.00

Walking is one of the simplest things we do as humans. It’s a basic way by which most of us experience life. Walking gives us innumerable benefits to mind, body and spirit when we take time to stroll at three miles an hour. We think better; we observe more deeply; we tune into the rhythm of the soul.

In his new book The Way Under Our Feet, Bishop Graham Usher vividly conveys how exhilarating it is to walk into the depths of our humanity. We can become more ready to recognise the needs as well as the joys of others; we might seek to heal our battered world, even as we glory in the beauty of nature; we may experience Jesus walking alongside us, listening, teaching, challenging, loving us into the people he wants us to be.

Soulful Nature; A spiritual field guide
Brian Draper
Canterbury Press (2020) £14.99
Revelation price £12.00

In our busy and often pressured world, the natural world can be a powerful counterbalance, offering wisdom for the challenges, pain and dislocations of life, as well as for the beauty, wonder and healing. Brian Draper and Howard Green encourage the reader to get outside to make deeper connections with creation and its Creator.

Over the course of a year, they chart walking journeys through both rural landscapes and town streets, showing how the natural cycle of the changing seasons can awaken us to the rhythms of our own lives. Each chapter explores a different landscape, focussing in on the small details of the natural world as well as panning out to the wide-screen beauties of time and space. Simple and practical exercises are provided throughout.

Creative Ideas for Wild Church: Taking all-age worship and learning outdoors
Mary Jackson and Juno Hollyhock
Canterbury Press (2016) £19.99
Revelation price £17.00

This innovative and imaginative resource offers learning and worship activities as well as whole service outlines, to help church members engage with the outside world and keep connected with their local communities whether rural or urban. We are being encouraged to reconnect with nature; schools are building outdoor classrooms, while Forest Church, the Eco-congregation and the rewilding spirituality movements reflect this trend in churches.

This resource is definitely not just for the energetic outdoor types, the authors creatively blending the Christian year with the natural seasons; such as an all-age Advent outdoor adventure, creating an Easter garden outside, kite flying at Ascension, building life-size David and Goliath, going on a prayer pilgrimage, collecting autumn leaves and using tree ribbons for remembrance.

Practical advice on making the most of the outside space available, inclusiveness, health & safety and safeguarding included.

Hebrews; Race to Glory
James Reapsome
IVP revised edition 2018 £4.99
Revelation price £4.00

At times we can all be tempted to ask, “What’s the use?” We work and try to live as Christians and sometimes feel that we are getting nowhere. Indeed, that’s exactly how the original readers of the letter to the Hebrews felt! Yet the author of the letter encourages the readers to stay on track and never quit, to reach the finish line by the power of Jesus Christ. Through this revised Lifebuilder Study in Hebrews, readers will also hopefully find the encouragement needed to stay in the right lane.

It features questions for starting group discussions and for meeting God in personal reflection, as well as the “Now or Later” section within each study.

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Articles in this issue...

Pilgrimage in Lapland

Last August, as part of the "sharing of experiences", six people were invited to join in a pilgrimage along the Dag Hammarskjold Way which lies 250 km within the Arctic Circle, further cementing the link between the Diocese of Norwich and the Diocese of Luleå in the far north of Sweden. Steve Williamson shares their journey.


Active learning: Bible, sports, action!

Headteacher Helen Watson describes how Lyng Church of England Primary School has been engaging in Active RE.


Encountering God on the Broads

The Revd Graham Kirk-Spriggs explains how a local sailing holiday transformed his faith journey.


Worship on the wild side

Charlie Houlder-Moat, Trainee Reader, describes how her passion for the outdoors has combined with facilitating families to worship outdoors.


And I would walk 500 miles

On 12 September 2019, Amanda Maundrell set out to walk the 500 miles of the ancient pilgrimage route of “El Camino Frances” across northern Spain, alone. Here she shares her story of why she undertook this challenge and the impact it had upon her.


Bringing my faith to parkrun

Roy Roberts shares his love of the organised free, weekly, 5km timed running phenomenon that is parkrun.


Walsingham Way pilgrimage path

Previous articles for The Magazine on the Norwich to Walsingham route of the Walsingham Way have presented it as an aspiration, a project for which there was much local interest and support but still no wherewithal to make it a physical reality. That situation has changed, and 2020 will see the Way as a signposted path on the ground. Canon Librarian at Norwich Cathedral, Peter Doll, gives an update.


Learning from GoodGym

An article in The Big Issue headed ‘Changemakers’ caught Susanna Gunner’s eye. It described a venture called GoodGym which, inspiringly, links exercise with social action. It doesn’t have a specifically Christian foundation, yet it resonates in powerful ways with gospel language, kingdom concepts. She was intrigued and wanted to know more.


Holiday clubs – building faith through fun

For the past 10 years, Matt Beckett has worked for the Fountain of Life Church and Kidz Klub Mid Norfolk, in Ashill and has been involved in running their annual summertime holiday club. He shares his and others' experience of organising these fun faith-filled events.


Game-changing: sports ministry

As the 2020 Olympics looms in Japan, Ruth Anderson urges us to consider the mission opportunities offered through sport and fitness.


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