Review-The Men in the Window, by Judith Amey

As she sat in the pews at St Aidan’s Uniting Church in Claremont, Judith Amey’s gaze would often fall on the stained glass window on the eastern wall during Sunday service.

At the base of the window were 16 names inscribed in the stained glass, men who had died in the First World War. It was an honour roll of men from the Claremont district, many of them with families connected to the church.

Amey began to wonder who they were; what was their background, who were their families, when and how had they died in the war?

Amey decided to investigate further. Her research has resulted in a slim, but evocative book, The Men in the Window.

Typical of the 16 men was Lieutenant Gordon Gemmell, whose Irish family moved from Melbourne to Perth in 1900. Gemmell trained as a teacher at Claremont Teacher’s College and was among the first intake of students at the University of WA. Gemmell saw action at Yypres in 1917, and in 1918 was leading a charge of his men in the final assault against the Germans when he was killed by machine
gun fire.

Coincidentally, Gemmell’s 15-year-old great great niece in Queensland, Meg Gemmell, won the 2015 Premier’s Anzac Prize for high school students for her essay on her relative, which won her a trip to Gallipoli.Continue Reading

Thinking the Faith, Living the Faith: An introduction to Christian Theology, by Chris Walker

A ministry colleague and friend tells me that only theologians are interested in theology, and many of the introductory books are heavy in both weight and terminology. By contrast, this very readable book is relatively short, conversational and reliable. Perhaps just as significantly, it makes clear the relationship between theology as thinking about faith, and theology as living out that faith in everyday ways.

As an experienced disciple, minister, teacher and leader, Chris Walker is well placed to write this introduction to theology from the context and perspective of the Uniting Church.

The book enables conversations by providing questions for personal reflection and group discussion. Instead of seeing such questions as a test, view them as an invitation into the conversation with Chris, and with the Christian faith. Chris writes with confident hope in the good news that Jesus Christ still offers – afresh in each context and time – to a desperate, broken and hurting world. Living out this good news is the task of every disciple, and of faithful communities together, and this introduction to theology helps us navigate the challenges of the contemporary world in thoughtful ways.

Rohan Pryor

Cards, Carols and Claus: Christmas in popular culture and progressive Christianity, by Rex A E Hunt

Cards, Carols and ClausIn his latest book, (released in time for Christmas) Rex A E Hunt, a retired Uniting Church minister suggests the festival called Christmas is a celebration still “under construction”. He describes it as “a weaving of story, myth, customs and ritual, which since its inception has been debated, ignored, celebrated, banned and from the mid 1800s, reinvented”. Continue Reading

The Good Life: What makes a life worth living? by Hugh Mackay

The Good LifeIn his introductory chapter Hugh Mackay looks at the Utopia complex being sold to us by business, the media and general societal pressure. He suggests that the pursuit of  happiness can actually make you miserable. We seem to think that happiness is our default position whereas often we grow through pain. Wholeness can involve the whole range of emotions and  experiences. Continue Reading