Book review: God, Church, etc


God, church, etc: What you need to know
Jane Maycock

ISBN 9780281070213
SPCK Publishing

Gladly, our friend the cross-eyed bear, and Our Saviour’s tortoise both feature in this book (thanks, Peter God). Jane starts with a couple of funny, common misunderstandings to explain why a book that talks about the words we use is so important. There is, it seems, a tension between people who want to ban ‘church’ words, and people who want to ensure that ‘church’ words are understood – and people who are so steeped in ‘church language’ that it would never occur to them to explain what ‘incarnation’ meant or that ‘Aumbry’ was not, in fact, the name of the very posh kid in the corner. I think this book will help the first two groups (the latter lot won’t even read it… they already know everything).

This book is real. This book relates the things in and about church to actual real, contemporary life. And any book that talks about Gladly gets my vote. 

Three sections – the God stuff, the church stuff and the etc – list a whole range of ideas, concepts and technical terms. They’re explained in plain English, and sometimes with the Latin, Greek or Hebrew origins so we can really see where our words come from. And as well as the where, the why: as Jane Maycock points out, understanding the reasons a thing is important can ensure that we are putting the emphasis on the right part of the proceedings, and we are able to change our words or actions knowing what it is we are dealing with.

This is a basic primer (although your idea of basic might vary: there was more than one ‘aha!’ moment in there for me) and is good for teenagers as intended. Jane uses examples that relate to young people’s experience – but not exclusively so, and she does not try to be overly ‘down with the kids’ and use wacky (and therefore embarrassing) language. Lol. It’s easy to dip into and find what you need. My only two criticisms would be that more Dave Walker cartoons would have been nice to have. Also, that I couldn’t quite at first see how the cross references worked, I flicked through book looking for one that was in same section and it took a little while to find.

Who would I pass this on to? I will give a copy to Mia, our German youthworker volunteer. I think it will help her understanding of English church-related words but more importantly be a way for her to understand more about our faith.

And I will also take it to our housegroup with me – we have a lot of ‘why?’ questions that I think this book will help answer (and we are not teenagers).

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