Nick’s picks of the year’s books

Regular Crosslight reviewer Nick Mattiske chooses five of his best reads of 2018.

In Paul: A Biography (SPCK) Tom Wright shows how Paul’s letters were not just abstract theology, but were part of how Paul individually, and the newly sprouting church collectively, worked out the implications of preaching that an executed, vagabond teacher and healer is the Messiah who ...

Abridged history

Review by Nick Mattiske

Book | Blue Lake: Finding Dudley Flats and the West Melbourne Swamp | David Sornig

Dudley Flats was a Depression-era shanty town in West Melbourne, on the site of today’s vast container terminal. Originally a bountiful wetland, as the city grew it became a marginal area of reviled swamp and a tip, ...

Live cross

Review by Alan Ray

Book | But what if she’d said ‘No’? | Catherine E. Laufer

Are you looking for a Christmas present for a slightly religious relative that they could read without embarrassment on the tram?   

The coquettish cover photo and tantalising title give no hint that this is a collection of creative ...

Faithful responses

Review by Alan Ray

Book | A faith to live by (Volume 2) | Roland Ashby

Is Christianity a quaint, harmless hobby like quilting or trainspotting? Or should it permeate all aspects of our life? This volume provides a smorgasbord of topical theological and social justice issues from leading thinkers. It follows the highly acclaimed first ...

Brief encounters

Review by Alan Ray

Book | And He Talks with Me | Al Mewett

What an unusual publication. The title gives us a clue. Readers of a certain age, including this reviewer, may recognise the lyrics crooned by Elvis Presley: “And he walks with me and he talks with me/and he tells me I am his own/and ...

Object lessons

Review by Nick Mattiske

Book | Royal Books and Holy Bones: Essays in Medieval Christianity | Eamon Duffy

Eamon Duffy writes that Christianity is a material religion, and it’s this theme that connects this collection of assorted essays and reviews.

Christ was made man, and Christians believe in the resurrection of the body. In ...

Place setter

Review by Alan Ray

Book | To be a Pilgrim: a reflective guide to the Holy Land | Bradly Billings

The stony plateau of Bethlehem, the calm expanse of Galilee and the smells and bustle of Jerusalem are all evoked in this book.

Reading it we can either be an armchair pilgrim or use it ...

First impressions

Review by Nick Mattiske

Book | Rattling Spears: A History of Indigenous Australian Art | Ian McLean

Contemporary Indigenous art is one of the great modern art movements. Central and northern Australian Indigenous art in particular has mesmerised art buyers and gallery goers with its colour, rhythm, freshness and closeness to country.

But it ...

Memoir from Manus

Book | No Friend But the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison| Behrouz Boochani

Review by TIM LAM

This haunting memoir from Kurdish journalist Behrouz Boochani is an act of resistance against Australia’s ruthless offshore detention regime.

Written via WhatsApp text messages sent from a smuggled mobile phone, and translated from Farsi by University of Sydney researcher Dr Omid ...

Faith no more

Review by Nick Mattiske

Book | Seven Types of Atheism |John Gray

The cover of John Gray’s Seven Types of Atheism features seven highlighted gumnuts.

Is Gray suggesting atheism is a form of nuttiness? Sort of, as even though Gray is an atheist himself, he thinks that only a minority of the wide variety of ...

Deep thinking

Review by Nick Mattiske

Book | Wild Sea: A History of the Southern Ocean | Joy McCann

We Australians are beach lovers. But in winter there is a stark difference between our idyllic, northern, Pacific beaches and the southern coastline pounded by icy waters travelling unhindered from Antarctica.

The Southern Ocean is an example ...

Graphic Gospel

Review by TIM LAM

Graphic novel | The Reign of God: Book One | Issey Fujishima

This debut graphic novel from Melbourne-based artist Issey Fujishima blends Western-style comics with Japanese manga to create a fresh take on the Gospel.

The Reign of God is set in 70CE, a period of conflict and bloodshed in the ...