I largely agree with the author's conclusion when she says:
The main thesis that has been pursued in the book is the one that the Balkans suffered ethn
I largely agree with the author's conclusion when she says:
The main thesis that has been pursued in the book is the one that the Balkans suffered ethnic quakes, largely because of the impact of European ideas (initially nationalism, then fascism and communism) was so profound and clashed so indelibly with older 'autochtonous' ideas found in religious practice and traditional culture. Although the forms that violence took during ethnic cleansing were often 'traditional' in the sense that they had a large symbolic content and involved the honour of the individuals involved, the ideas that inspired this violence were modern and European in their origins.
While I largely agree with both the thesis and the conclusion (of which that paragraph forms part), I think the author has failed to support the conclusion with evidence in the body of the book.
There is plenty of evidence of ethnic cleansing in the body of the book. Horror stories abound, both of the ethnic cleansing, and the violence and cruelty that often accompanied it. It tends to leave one feeling depressed about the depths to which human nature can sink, and to want to conclude that the Calvinist theory of total depravity is the most apt description of the human race.
The author does manage to link the actions of ethnic cleansing with nationalist rhetoric fairly well, but the rest of the evidence for the conclusion, where it is present at all, is not coherently argued in such a way as to support the thesis.
There is virtually nothing about "the older 'autochtonous' ideas found in religious practice and traditional culture." They are occasionally mentioned in passing, not in such a way as to show how they clashed with the theory and practice of ethnic cleansing. I expected at least a paragraph or two in the introduction on the main religious and cultural ideas in the introduction, and on their relation to the nationalist ideas. But where they are present at all, they are scrappy and disconnected.
To give just one example (not mentioned at all in the book) there is the oft-repeated saying that "Hellenism is Orthodoxy and Orthodoxy is Hellenism" and in view of the main thesis of the book this deserves at least some analysis, and some estimate of how widely it is accepted.
At the end there is a rather telling paragraph that that shows the result of this kind of thinking. The author points out that until 1945 Salonika (now Thessaloniki) was a polyglot multiethnic community, of which the largest component was Sephardic Jews. They author goes on to say:
In July 1992, the ethnological museum in Salonika had no exhibit to commemorate the Sephardic Jewish element in the city's population, which was annihilated during the Nazi occupation. When the anthropologist Jonathan Schwartz 'asked a member of staff about this absence... they could not understand what the question was about. It was taken for granted that the Museum is Greek. Ethnology is apparently a scientific euphemism for Nationalism.'
Those who lived through the apartheid era in South Africa would understand the last sentence only too well.
When I was working on my doctoral thesis on "Orthodox mission methods" I had to pay quite a lot of attention to the question of religion and nationalism, especially as it manifested itself in the Balkans. It is closely related to mission, because, as one woman said at a church social gathering, "The Orthodox Church is not missionary, because its purpose is to preserve Greek culture."
One of the things that struck me was just how the ideas of nationalism affected the Balkans, and the uneasy relationship they had with Orthodox theology. There was a tendency for them to mingle (as in "Orthodoxy is Hellenism and Hellenism is Orthodoxy"), but there was also an awareness that they were separate, and not altogether compatible. Some spoke of "Romanity" in distinction to "Hellenism", harking back to a pre-Ottoman multiethnic empire. For more on this see Nationalism, violence and reconciliation
Carmichael's conclusion that the ideas that inspired the violence were modern and European in their origins, is very important, but again, she fails to draw the lines clearly enough. She occasionally refers to them as "Herderian", but that is about all.
One reason that I think it is important is that people of Western Europe and their offshoots often speak disparagingly of Africa and Africans as if Africans were somehow genetically predisposed to violence. They point to such things as the genocide in Rwanda in 1994-95 as if this were something peculiarly African, yet in that very period, similar events were taking place in Europe, in the Balkans.
Again, many Western Europeans tried to distance themselves from the Balkans, and tended to retard the region as not really European. Carmichael speaks of "a tendency to burden a large region with almost insurmountable legacies and an overarching reputation for pathological violence", but fails to note, except in passing, that Western Europe not only generated the nationalist ideas that led to the violence, but that the West by its own intervention, and for its own self-interest was just as much a participant in the violence. The Nato bombing of Yugoslavia was no less "pathological" than the violence of any of the parties fighting on the ground. Western Europe cannot disown the Balkans as something intrinsically "other" and non-European.
And the violence in the Balkans in the 1990s was little different from violence in Africa in the same period.
Generally, the case the author makes is a good one; it's just a pity that it wasn't better argued.
I'm writing a book, with John de Gruchy, on the rise and decline of the charismatic renewal movement in South Africa, and one of the influences on itI'm writing a book, with John de Gruchy, on the rise and decline of the charismatic renewal movement in South Africa, and one of the influences on it was what Andrew Walker in this book calls the Restoration Movement, and was at one time called, by some, the House Church Movement, but which now seems to be called The British New Church Movement.
The charismatic renewal was a worldwide movement that reached its peak in the 1970s, in which Pentecostal phenomena, such as speaking in tongues, appeared in non-Pentecostal churches, such as Anglicans, Presbyterians, Roman Catholics, Baptists and others.
I found this book particularly useful, as it provides a history of the movement including its relationship the the charismatic renewal in Britain, and to the "shepherding movement" in the United States. The main aim of the Restoration Movement was to prepare for God's coming Kingdom by restoring the New Testament Church and its ministries.
It could be said that the Restoration Movement is the result of the influence of the charismatic renewal movement on the Plymouth Brethren, though it generally appeared a few decadees before it appeared in other Christian groups. The Plymouth Brethren had been influenced from the start by the dispensationalist teaching of John Nelson Darby, which divided history into various periods, and asserted that things like speaking in tongues disappeared once the canon of scripture was complete, so that Pentecostal phenomena could not be attributed to the Holy Spirit. Thus many of the founders of the Restoration Movement were ex-members of the Plymouth Brethren.
The Restoration Movement retained some aspects of Brethren teaching, however, such as their opposition to what they called "denominationalism".
The path of the Restoration Movement briefly crossed that of the charismatic renewal in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but they parted ways when the Restoration leaders maintained that "denominations" could not be renewed, and that true Christians should "come out" of them, leading to accusations that they were "proselytising" and "sheep stealing".
Some of their teaching was also linked with that of the "shepherding movement" in the USA, especially the teaching on the restoration of the ministry of apostles as describerd in Ephesians chapter 4, and their doctrine of "covering", in which each Christian had to be accountable to someone who was over them in the Lord, so children were accountable to parents, wives to husbands, husbands to their local elders and the elders to the apostles. The apostles covered each other. This was taught by people like Ern Baxter, Derek Prince and Bob Mumford in the USA, and they also visited the UK and influenced the Restoration Movement there with this teaching.
This approach tended to be very authoritarian, though, as Walker notes, in 1976 the Restoration Movement split into two branches, which he called R1 and R2, and the R1 tended to be more authoritarian than R2. The authoritarianism was well expressed by Derek Prince when he said "We do not obey those in authority because they are right, we obey them because they are in authority."
In South Africa the Restoration Movement did not appear in the same form as it had in Britain, but it did have considerable influence on the charismatic renewal movement. Leaders from the Restoration Movement in the UK and the "shepeherding movement" in the USA visited South Africa and spoke at charismatic renewal conferences, and tapes with their teaching circulated more widely. One result was the formation of several new Neopentecostal denominations, often caused by groups breaking away from other denominations. Many of these new denominations were also influenced by things other than the Restoration Movement, such as prosperity teaching, and so the Restoration teaching was mostly present in diluted form.
One of the things that the Restoration Movement claimed to be opposed to was "denominationalism" and so its leaders insisted that it was not a new denomination, but was simply the Kingdom of God. Some of the Neopentecostal churches that had been influenced by its teaching claimed to be "nondenominational". This was regarded as disingenuous by those in other denominations.
Walker tries to deal with this in his book in a chapter headed "Is the Restoration Movement a denomination?"
In a way this is the least satisfactory part of the book, because the word "denomination" has several different meanings. Walker uses it in the sociological sense, where sociologists of religion classify religious bodies as "churches", "denominations" or "sects" according to various criteria. The problem is that the sociological classification does not match the ecclesiological classification, and the differing ecclesiologies of different groups classify them differently. So the denominations that the Restoration Movement distinguishes itself from would probably regard the Restoration Movement as yet another denomination, or series of denominations, having its own recognised leaders, its own distincive teachings, and regarding themselves as distinct from other Christian groups.
I suspect that most "denominational" Christians would think of a "sect" as a smaller group that splits from one denomination, either because of a quarrel, a personality clash, or a doctrinal or policy disagreement, and continues to define itself largely in contrast to the body it broke away from. This differs from the sociological understanding.
Like me, Andrew Walker is a member of the Orthodox Church, and in many ways Orthodox ecclesiology is closer to that of the Restoration Movement than to that of the "denominations", in the sense that the Orthodox Church does not regard itself as a denomination, but as the "One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church". The Orthodox Church too rejects denominationalism, though possibly for different reasons than those of the Restoration Movement. From the Orthodox point of view, "denominationalism" is the understanding that Christianity is one entity of the large class "religion" and that Christianity is a religion composed of smaller units called denominations. The sociological categories are not the same as the ecclesiological categories, and there are several ecclesiological categories that differ from one another.
Another similarity that Walker does not mention, but which strikes me as quite interesting, is that the Restoration Movement is trying to restore some things that have been lost or neglected in Western Christianity, but have continued in Orthodoxy. The "shepherding" relationship seems to have some relationship with the Orthodox notion of having a "spiritual father" (or in some cases, mother, though the Restoration Movement or at least the R1 version of it, seems to insist on male leadership in this).
Yet another is that the Restorationist doctrine of "covering" seems to have some parallels with the Orthodox understanding of "jurisdiction" referring to the spiritual authority of a bishop or patriarch. In some parts of the world, where there are overlapping episcopal jurisdictions, Orthodox Christians might ask "What is your jurisdiction?" in almost exactly the same way as a Restorationist might ask "Who is covering you?"
Walker also notes that the Restoration Movement is sometimes called the "House Church Movement", and that this is a misnomer for two reasons: firstly, though house churches were quite common in the early days of the Restoration Movement, they are now the exception rather than the rule, and secondly because house churches were far wider than the Restoration Movement.
One example of the latter might be the house churches in Anglican parishes in England and elsewhere. This "house church movement" grew in the 1940s and 1950s, and was not linked either to the Restoration Movement or to the charismatic renewal, at least not in its beginnings. There was a similar movement in the Roman Catholic Church called "Basic Christian Communities".
But there were also some unattached house groups in the UK, or some that were loosely attached to Baptist, Evangelical or Pentecostal churches. Walker explains that some of these house churches got involved in the charismatic renewal, and that when, through that, they were exposed to Restorationist teaching, some of them asked one or other Restorationist apostles for "covering".
All this makes the book very useful to me. Though it doesn't mention South Africa more than twice, and then only in passing, it does help to make some aspects of the charismatic renewal in South Africa much clearer....more
I quite enjoy reading whodunits, and when I saw this volume of short stories about Sherlock Holmes, I thought it might be interesting to read some earI quite enjoy reading whodunits, and when I saw this volume of short stories about Sherlock Holmes, I thought it might be interesting to read some early examples of the genre.
The narrator is Holmes's friend Dr Watson, who says he is telling the stories to record the remarkable powers and abilities of his friend Sherlock Holmes, and I didn't really enjoy the first couple of stories very much, as the adulation of the sycophantic Watson was jusdt too much. After that, however, it settled down, and by the end Watson was becoming more critical of Holmes. And as Holmes became more human, the stories seemed to become more interesting.
It is interesting to compare 21st century detective stories with those of 130 years ago, Most of the modern protagonists of detective fiction are part of what Holmes called "the official police". He, however, was a private detective, working for a fee, and often solving mysteries and crimes that the police were too unobservant to see. The amateur detective, and the "private eye" seem to have faded from detective fiction after about 1960. Sherlock Holmes was followed by Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot, Dorothy Sayers's Lord Peter Wimsey, G.K. Chesterton's Father Brown and juvenile equivalents like Nancy Drew and the Hardy boys. But since the 1960s most fictional detectives have been part of the official police.
Another difference is that, for the protagonists of current detective fiction, the only crime they have to deal with is murder. No detective mystery story is complete without a corpse, and preferably two or three, or even more. Sherlock Holmes, however, seems to deal with a much wider variety of crimes, including solving mysteries that aren't really crimes at all.
Another, and more obvious difference is that Sherlock Holmes doesn't have high-tech methods at his disposal. There are no DNA samples, not even fingerprints. Though Holmes is something of an amateur chemist, he doesn't seem to spend any time examining blood or tissue or soil samples from the scene of the crime. His method is to make "deductions" from data.
And this is where things begin to be confusing, because Sherlock Holmes's method is clearly inductive reasoning rather than deductive, yet Conan Doyle persistently refers to it as "deduction".
I wonder how many philosophy students were confused as a result. ...more
For most of my lifetime obsession with whiteness has dominated South African politics, society, economy and even the landscape. When I heard quite recFor most of my lifetime obsession with whiteness has dominated South African politics, society, economy and even the landscape. When I heard quite recently that there was an academic discipline called "Whiteness Studies" my immediate reaction was negative. Some of my blogging friends assured me that they had found it useful, and this was one of the books they recommended, and since it was based on stories told by people I found it in the library and began reading it.
Melissa Steyn collected stories from 59 white people in South Africa and divided the narratives into different categories, and commented on the various approaches. This book is the result.
The first chapter is a kind of potted history of "Whiteness Studies" and the various view its practitioners have taken to the phenomenon of "whiteness" in a global sense. In part it deals with the fairly well-known phenomenon of Western modernity, where Westerners (mainly from Western Europe and North America) thought that their society was central and normative, and others quaint and peculiar and exotic. So, for example, Western anthropologists confined their studies to non-Western cultures (and often did so in the service of colonial rulers). The proponents of Whiteness Studies call this kind of cultural chauvinism "whiteness". But even after reading Steyn's book, I am not convinced of the adequacy of the description, and I find that Steyn herself falls into the same cultural chauvinist trap by not disclosing where she is coming from, and pretending to be "objective", even when she is aware of the dangers of that approach.
The main manifestation of this in the book is that, while the bulk of the book is devoted to the the analysis of people's responses to Steyn's questionnaire, the questions that elicited those responses are not revealed to the reader. If this forms the bulk of the book, then surely the questions themselves could have been put in an appendix. Apart from anything else, that might give readera a chance to try to answer the questions too, and try to analyse their own responses.
In addition, while Steyn collected 59 narratives, these narrators are not really allowed to tell their own story. Steyn is the only narrator, setting the scene, telling the story, and pulling a quotation, sometimes as short as a single sentence, to illustrate the point in her story. So I get the impression of a stage magician, displaying tricks to an audience, with the quotations from the stories being pulled out like a rabbit from a hat or a coin from the sleeve at the appropriate moment, with only Steyn really knowing what is going on behind the scenes.
For instance, there is this:
Such is the fear of being perceived to be aligned with what is morally reproachable that even to talk about "race" could implicate one in racism. The topic is a no-no:
"Whites can never know how blacks were affected by Apartheid. [computer analyst] "
At first sight, this seems to be a complete non-sequitur. It certainly doesn't seem to be an instance of race being a "no--no", because it mentions race ("whites", "blacks") and the relations between them ("Apartheid"). Either Steyn is misrepresenting the narrator, or she is interpreting it in the light of its context, which she has failed to quote, and this is withheld from the reader.
Taken on its own, the sentence can be interpreted in a variety of ways, of which the most likely (it seems to me), is that since, because of Apartheid, whites were separated from blacks, they could not know how blacks were affected by apartheid because they were kept isolated, and whites could not see what was happening, and their was little comparable in their experience. For instance, if a black man died in town, his wife and children, if they were allowed to live in the town at all, would be endorsed out to a "homeland" because they became surplus to the labour requirements of white society. Much of this was invisible to most whites, and so they did not know and could not know the extent to which this took place, nor what it was like do be endorsed out and forced to go and live in a rural area where you knew no one.
Maybe the context shows that the narrator meant something different, but Steyn does not show us the context.
Similarly, Steyn castigates those she regards as adopting a liberal "colourblind" approach, saying that they are "in denial", yet when, in another section of the book, she cites an example of that approach, she praises it.
The Apartheid system tried to make me think about "white" in a certain way and about "black" in another way. I strive to define my own reality and I try to avoid being hamstrung by other people's projections. [lecturer]
Steyn says "Whatever whiteness may have meant in the past, this narrative perks up in tone when it considers what may develop now that whiteness has lost its power to dominate."
Yet elsewhere she says that to claim that whiteness has lost its power to dominate is to be in denial. The difference, if any, isd hidden behind the stage magician's black cloth that she pulls away to reveal the rabbit in the hat.
One of the narratives, however, I could identify with:
I have discovered that, despite apartheid, I have more in common with black South Africans than with other whites, be they British, Dutch, French or American... When I first went overseas in 1986 I thought because of my colonial British background I would find Britain home. Instead I became increasingly aware that I was not British, and that I was African. This is how I came to see myself as a white African. [lecturer]
Steyn summarises the argument of the Introduction in her conclusion
In the Introduction, whiteness has been theorized as the racial norm, the invisible center that deflects attention from itself by racializing the margins, and constructing them as the problem. Whiteness then believes in its own homogeneous neutrality. Whites are then described [in the Introduction - STH] as generally unaware of their own racialization, unconscious of their privilege, or of how their implicit assumptions of white entitlement are a consequence of certain historical relations, not something essential about whiteness itself.
I'd go along with that, especially where North America is concerned (and Steyn wrote the book while living in North America). South Africa, however, is somewhat different. Whiteness was anything but unconscious.
But it appears that Steyn was also suffering from the same disease.
On page 26, writing of English-speaking South Africans' attitudes towards poor rural Afrikaners, she writes, "Like ethnic working class whites and partially racialized groups in America, Afrikaners had to 'fight' for the status of first class citizens."
"Ethnic working class" what are they? Just as "whiteness" is invisible to the dominant white group in America, so is ethnicity. "Ethnic" whites are the "other", the "them". And Steyn uses that terminology without batting an eyelid, withouit scare quotes, without even the almost obligatory [sic] used in some academic writing when politically incorrect language comes up. But Steyn is not quoting, she is using the terminology herself, thus identifying with those who believe they have no ethnicity, and manifesting "ethnic blindness".
And one of the biggest problems I have with this book is that it seems to be saying that even if we have deconstructed whiteness, and dumped it, we must now reconstruct it in order to deconstruct it again, like Sisyphus. It's a bit like a child being told by its mother, "You must have a bath tonight, whether you need it or not." And the proponents of whiteness studies seem to be saying "You must have an identity crisis, whether you need one or not."
One thing I will say, though. I didn't find it boring. It was a page-turner. ...more
I've read a couple of Quintin Jardine's books before -- whodunits featuring Edinburgh detective Robert Skinner. This one, though still a whodunit, isI've read a couple of Quintin Jardine's books before -- whodunits featuring Edinburgh detective Robert Skinner. This one, though still a whodunit, is quite different in characters and setting. Instead of the capital of Scotland, it is set in a small village in Spain. The protagonist is not a policeman but a single mother expatriate who gets caught up in events surrounding a murder, and finds herself a suspect.
It is obviously part of a series featuring some of the same characters, and perhaps if I read the others, I might know more about them, and I found this one sufficiently readable to want to read one or two of the others, if I see them.
And on second thoughts iot has more connections with Scotland than appear at first sight, because it set in Catalonia, which probably has a similar relation to the rest of Spain as Scotland does to the rest of the UK. ...more
Father Luke Veronis, from Pennsylvania in the USA, was a missionary in Albania for a little over ten years, from 1994-2004, and this is the story of hFather Luke Veronis, from Pennsylvania in the USA, was a missionary in Albania for a little over ten years, from 1994-2004, and this is the story of his experience in that time. He was married to Faith, who joined him there and their three older children also lived there.
Since the Second World War Albania had been ruled by the communist dictator Enver Hoxha (pronounced Hodja), who in 1967 decided that Albania was to the the world's first officially atheist country, with no religion at all being allowed. So for 24 years, until 1991, no religion was allowed. Every church, jammi and tekke was closed, and either demolished or converted to secular uses.
In 1991 religious freedom was restored, but the Orthodox Church was in a bad way. Most of the clergy had been killed or imprisoned. Bishop Anastasios Yannoulatos was sent there to try to reestablish the life of the church. There could not have been a better choice; he was the most outstanding Orthodox missiologist of the 20th century.
Luke Veronis met Bishop Anastasios when on a short-term mission trip to Kenya, and this sparked his missionary vocation. He returned to America, where he studied missiology, and then returned a second time to East Africa for a longer stint. Over the next few years he led several short-term mission teams to East Africa while studying theology at Holy Chross Seminary in Brookline, Massachusetts.
After he had been in Albania for a while, Luke Veronis returned to America, where he married Faith and was ordained as a deacon, and together they returned to Albania, where he was later ordained priest by Archbishop Anastasios.
During their time in Albania there were two huge upheavals. The first was in 1997, when most of the people in the country lost all their savings in the collapse of a pyramid scheme, in which many, unused to the capitalist system, had unwisely invested their life saivings. The scheme was publicly endorsed by some prominent government leaders. When the scheme collapsed there was widespread chaos and looting, and people broke into military arsenals and stole guns. Hundreds were killed in the enusing fighting, not a few by bullets fired into the air by exuberant rioters.
The second upheaval was the influx of over a million refugees from Kosovo, who fled after the Nato bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999. Father Luke describes the church's ministry to the refugees, and how some close personal relationships were forged with them, which continued even after they had returned, or had moved on to other countries.
This book is is not a formal treatise on mission or mission history, but a kind of expanded missionary journal, with a description of Fr Luke's work, and impressions of it, and reflection on the nature of mission and the motivation of missionaries. In that sense it is more inspirational than informational, and more missional than missiological. That also, in a sense, makes me the wrong person to review the book, because part of Father Luke's story is also part of my story, since he arranged for me to go to Albania to lecture on missiology to students of the seminary at Shen Vlash, where he was the Dean, and I also met Archbishop Anastasios, and several of the people he mentions in the book.
The book also gives some personal glimpses of Archbishop Anastasios, which are also very useful, and one can see something of what drives him. The outstanding thing seems to be the heart of the Gospel, the good newsd of the love of God, and Archbishop Anastasios himself comes across as someone filled with the love of God and the desire to share that love with others.
Many know Archbishop Anastasios as a missiologist, but his writings and actions are filled with a missional spirit. Father Luke gives an example from a conference of Orthodox theological schools in 2001:
When one theologian tried to say that the authentic type of Orthodox missions was simply to stay where we are and shine a light so that others come to us, Archbishop Anastasios warned him that "we are in danger of creating spiritual ghettos only for ourselves and no one else. This has nothing to do with the 'apostolic, catholic' spirit of our forebears. If our theology is authentic and sincere, then it must spur us on toward missions. Orthodox theology and missiology are not separate. Our theology motivates us for mission."
Father Luke also describes some of the difficulties and personal opposition faced by Archbishop Anastasios, and in some ways they are obstacles to Orthodox mission everywhere. When Archbishop Athanasios first went to Albania in 1991 he was regarded with hostility by the Albanian government, because he was Greek. Albanian nationalists in America spoke against him at every opportunity. On the other hand, Greek nationalists criticised him for not being Greek enough, and for re-establishing an Albanian Church rather than a Greek one.
A Romanian metropolitan tried to establish a diocese for the Vlach-speaking people, and a Greek metropolitan claimed that parts of southern Albania fell under his jurisdiction.
But Archbishop Anastasios said that where people spoke Greek (as they did in the south of Albania) they could have Greek services, where they spoke Albanian, they would have Albanian services, and where the people were Vlach, they too could have services in their own language. He inisted that there was only one Orthodox Church in Albania:
Do you think the forest is more beautiful if there is only one kind of tree? All the various trees must grow freely under the rays of the sun. The key to proper development is love and freedom...
This object appears to be a book of some sort. A fat book. With letters printed in groups that seem to be words of some sort. English words. Words inThis object appears to be a book of some sort. A fat book. With letters printed in groups that seem to be words of some sort. English words. Words in groups that appear to be sentences of some sort. Verbless sentences. Mostly.
There is a banal theme that seems to be a plot of some sort. A bad plot. A recycled plot. A plot about an idol of some sort. An evil idol. An idol that bad men want to use to destroy the world. There are several groups of bad men of some sort. They all want the idol. They all get the idol. They all die. The good guy gets the idol.
Then the bad guys get it. They die. Then the good guy gets it Then the bad guys get it. The good guy gets the girl in the end. There is a happy ending of some sort. For the survivors.
And it is undoubtedly the worst book I have ever read. It sets a new standard in badness. ...more
I was looking for some light bedtime reading, and looked through our bookshelves and picked up some books that I wasn't sure if I had read or not, andI was looking for some light bedtime reading, and looked through our bookshelves and picked up some books that I wasn't sure if I had read or not, and then checked on my computer and found that I had read them, but they had proved to be rather forgettable. Then I picked up this book, which has been lying around for ages, but I hadn't read it.
It was quite an interesting read.
Russian investigator Arkady Renko goes to Cuba to find out what had happened to a dead Russian, a sugar attache at the Russian Embassy in Cuba, who was found dead after he had been missing for several days. Renko wants the Cuban authorities to investigate his death, but finds that they are reluctant to do so. Since the fall of the Bosheviks from power the Russians have downsized their embassy in Cuba and the remaining Russians are not very popular, and Russians investigating possible crimes on Cuban soil are even less so.
Renko soon finds that something big is going on, something bigger than he first suspected, and the more he discovers, the bigger it gets.
To say motre would reveal too much of the plot, but there is also lots of local colour, and some interesting sidelights on Afro-Caribbean religion, and the role that semi-religious secret societies like Abakua play in Cuban society. ...more
The protagonist of this book is Moscow homicide detective Leo Demidov, who also featured in Tom Rob Smith's earlier book, Child 44. But though there iThe protagonist of this book is Moscow homicide detective Leo Demidov, who also featured in Tom Rob Smith's earlier book, Child 44. But though there is plenty of homicide in this book, there is little detecting. This is not a whodunit.
The bulk of the book is set in the period of the "Khrushchev thaw" in the Soviet Union, when, in his eponymous secret speech to the 20th Communist Party Congress, Nikita Khrushchev denounced Stalin's dictatorship, the police state, and the Stalinist policy of arbitrary detention and sometimes liquidation of political dissenters.
During this period millions of political prisoners were released, and the liberalisation policy did not meet with the approval of hard-line conservatives. It was opposed particularly by some factions in the KGB, the secret police, and led to power struggles, with some trying to promote and some trying to hinder liberalisation. It is around this that the plot of the novel is built, and particulalry the fear of some KGB members that the newly-released political prisoners might seek vengeance on those who denounced and arrested them.
In the beginning the description of the setting is fairly convincing, and in many ways it reminded me of the atmosphere in South Africa 21 years ago, after F.W. de Klerk's speech of 2 February 1990. De Klerk's speech was not secret, but it had a similar effect on society. To some it gave hope of freedom, to others fear of vengeance.
But after the promising beginning beginning the book becomes less convincing as the author tries to move the main characters to every scene of action in the period, from the Gulag to the Hungarian Uprising. He propagates the view that the Hungarian Uprising was not spontaneous, but that it was stage-managed by a Stalinist clique in Russia to try to check Khrushchev's reform process. I'm not sufficiently clued up on history of the period to know if this was actually the case, and perhaps some historians have propounded such a view or have found evidence for such things, but it was not something I had heard of before.
Of course that would not make Smith the first novelist to manipulate history in favour of plot, and to paint "what if?" scenarios. It's just that in this case the main purpose seems to be to get the characters to the scene of the action, and it doesn't come off very well.
Another bit of historical revisionism, which is even less convincing, is Smith's use and portrayal of the Orthodox Church. The book opens with a scene clearly based on the actual demolition of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in central Moscow. Thereafter the Orthodox crucifix reappears in the book as a symbol of the search for revenge -- revenge on those who denounced, arrested and sent people to the prison camps. A priest in one of the prison camps apparently acquiesces in this search for revenge and seems to believe that it is quite justified and only to be expected.
Far be it from me to suggest that Orthodox Christians are such super saints as to never have any thoughts of taking revenge on those who have harmed them. But Orthodox spirituality is such that to entertain such thoughts is a sin to be confessed, the encouragement of an evil passion. In all Orthodox manuals of devotion, in all Orthodox spiritual teaching, the most serious obstacle to receiving Holy Communion is enmity with others and the desire for revenge. This is an absolute incompatibility. The fact that the priest character has no qualms of conscience about this, and sees no need to excuse his behaviour, even to himself, makes him altogether unconvincing. And making the Orthodox crucifix a symbol of vengeance and the overriding desire for revenge seems utterly incongruous.
The Orthodox approach to the exaction of vengeance for past wrongs can perhaps be symbolised by what actually happened in the case of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, demolished in the Bolshevik era. It was rebuilt in the form of a replica of the original, and so perhaps stands as a symbol, not of vengeance, but of restorative justice. ...more
I can't really write a review of this book, since I am one of the authors, and also edited the whole text to prepare it for publication. So here's theI can't really write a review of this book, since I am one of the authors, and also edited the whole text to prepare it for publication. So here's the blurb that says what it's about
Healing ministry is becoming more prominent in many different Christian traditions in Southern Africa. In the past, it was largely confined to the 'Spirit-type' African Independent Churches (AICs), where it was (and still is) a recruitment technique par excellence. For these denominations, healing is central to the mission, and the church is primarily seen as a healing institution. In the Western Initiated Churches (WICs), healing was earlier seen as peripheral, but has become more central in recent years.
This book focuses on churches' healing ministries in Zimbabwe, looking at the historical setting and the background to Christianity. The book examines the traditional religion among the Shona people of Zimbabwe, as well as the healing traditions in African independent churches in general. It consists of four case studies of healing in different Christian denominations in Zimbabwe: two African independent churches and two Western-initiated churches (Roman Catholic and Anglican). The book also looks at the wider application of the case studies, and the general implications for Christianity in Africa.
This book certainly isn't the last word on the topic, but Christian healing ministry in Africa has taken many forms, from church-sponsored clinics and hospitals practising Western medicine to travelling tent evangelists conducting healing "crusades" and Zionist prophets giving purgatives and emetics and a whole lot more besides. One can make lots of generalisations and talk in generalities, but where this book starts is with the concrete practice of four different groups, each with its own approach to healing ministry. While they are all located in Zimbabwe, one can find similar examples in other parts of the continent.
Lilian Dube looks at the Zvikomborera Apostolic Faith Church, whose prophet/healer, Agnes Majecha, is known to specialise in neutralising zvikwambo, magical objects that have got out of control. People might buy a chikwambo from a traditional healier as a talisman to ensure health and prosperity, but it tends to become a burden, and then people find it is hard to get rid of it.
Lilian Dube also compares the role of women in healing ministry in traditional African religion and Christianity, using Agnes Majecha as an example of the latter.
Tabona Shoko looks at healing ministry in the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches, and especially the ministry of Fr Lazarus Muyambi in the Anglican Church, and Fr Augustine Urayai in the Roman Catholic Church. One of the things I fund quite interesting here was that the Anglican healing ministry was linked to a community of nuns, and that something similar had happened about 1500 kilometres away in Zululand. Tabona Shoko also examines the role of the St Elijah Church, an African Independent Church that broke away from the Lutheran Church.
My task was to try to draw these different strands together and to compare them with healing ministries in other parts of Africa and the world.
The retail price of the book in South Africa is R170.00, and it may be ordered from Unisa Press or its overseas agencies. ...more
The first thjing I noticed about this book was the sticker placed on the cover, presumabl;y by the booksellers, saying "If you like Jo Nesbo you'll loThe first thjing I noticed about this book was the sticker placed on the cover, presumabl;y by the booksellers, saying "If you like Jo Nesbo you'll love this." And the books by Jo Nesbo have stickers saying "The next Stieg L:arsson". I'm not sure what these cvomparisons are supposed to achieve, except that Jo Nesbo's writing has recently come to look like a rather ineffectual attempt to imitate Stieg Larsson. But Lackberg has so far not tried to imitate either. Other than being crime fiction, and thus in the same broad genre, Lackberg is Lackberg, and there is little resemblance to Nesbo.
But the claim made me think of the differences between male and female crime writers, and this one is obviously written from a feminine perspective. For the first hundred pages or so I thought the protagonist was post-natal depression. And it got me thinking about differences between male and female crime writers.
One of the most notable ones is that the detective heroes of the male writers tend to be heavy drinkers, if not actual alcoholics, and are divorced or about to be. Alan Banks, Kurt Wasllander, Harry Hole and several other fictional detectives invented by male writers seem to fall into this category. Even Morse, though though unmarried, was unlucky in love, and tended to booze a lot. But the fictional detectives of female crime writers, though they may have faults, seem to be able to stay off the booze and avoid divorce -- Rex Wexford, Lindley, Adam Dalgleish and, in this book, Patrik Hedstrom.
In this book the murder of a child baffles the police, and when it is followed by apparently similar non-fatal attacks on young children the police find that find most of their suspects appear to have alibis for one or more of the attacks. In addition, many of the families involved in the investigation have secrets that they want to keep hidden. There is a kind of parallel story set in the past, which show that the roots of the crimes lie in an earlier generation, and in the upbringing of chiuldren in the past. Some of the police officers involved in the investigation have difficulties in bringing up their own children.
So the book turns out to be more than a simple whodunit, but is also an exploration of the ways in which dysfunctional families can produce criminals.If you love this book, you might not necessarily like Jo Nesbo. ...more
I read this book. I find it difficult to say much more about it. It's crime fiction of a sort. The protagonist is a middle-aged courtesan who plays amI read this book. I find it difficult to say much more about it. It's crime fiction of a sort. The protagonist is a middle-aged courtesan who plays amateur detective, but Miss Marples or Hercule Poirot she is not. There's a murder, but it's not a murder mystery in the sense that the author leaves clues lying around for the reader to pick up. The protagonist solves the crimes by her brilliant intuition by a process that is opaque to the reader, and left me feeling "So that's whodunit. So what?"
I wonder if this is really an example of the genre known as "chicklit". When I look at Good Reads's "compare books" function I can see that I score pretty low on appreciation of chicklit. So I think I'll steer clear of Fyfield in future, unless I'm really desperate.
**spoiler alert** Though this is a whodunit, the thing that stands out about it for me is the way it reflects the inconsistent and ever-changing moral**spoiler alert** Though this is a whodunit, the thing that stands out about it for me is the way it reflects the inconsistent and ever-changing moral values of society. And that makes it indeed a strange affair.
Writers of whodunits like to involve their fictional detectives in current crimes in the news, and so Peter Robinson involves Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks in human trafficking and related crimes. It is hard to imagine such things happening in North Yorkshire, where Banks is based, so the story begins with a mysterious phone call from Banks's brother Roy, who lives in London. Banks, who is on leave, travels to see his brother, who is not at home, and appears to be missing. His brother's disappearance also seems to be linked to a murder victim in North Yorkshire, whose death is being investigated by Detective Inspector Annie Cabbot, who is in charge while Banks is on leave.
It transpires that Roy Banks hsd been murdered too, in a similar fashion to the Yorkshire victim, who turns out to be Roy's latest girlfriend, whom he had sent to his brother to report their suspicions about human trafficking and prostitution. The girlfriend, Jennifer Clewes, worked in the management side of a chain of abortion clinics, and Roy Banks had met her when he took his previous girlfriend, Corinne, there for an abortion. There are several "late girls", who come to the clinic after hours when they are pregnant. They are prostitutes, many of whom have been abducted in Eastern Europe and the Balkans, brought there by their pimps, and too afraid to speak of their sexual slavery. An exception is Carmen Petri, who does not want an abortion, and is older and more sophisticated than the other girls. She agrees to have her baby adopted by Gareth Lambert, a wealthy businessman who has invested in the human trafficking and other schemes of dubious legality.
The moral cognitive dissonanance comes up when Banks discovers that Gareth Lambert does not intend to adopt Carmen's child and bring her up as his own. He rather wants to use the child as the source of a heart for his own ailing daughter. Banks shows extreme moral revulsion towards this idea, as well as to Gareth's role in the betrayal and murder of his brother.
The moral inconsistency lies in the fact that what Gareth proposes to do with the baby is not all that different from embryonic stem cell research, which many people find morally acceptable. In Britain, according to the novel, abortion is legal up to the age of 24 weeks. So in the book there is no there is no great moral revulsion about killing a child up to that age. But if it happens at 40 weeks, and for the purpose of harvesting organs for a heart transplant, then it suddenly becomes morally repuslive. And I want to ask why?
Surely the same arguments that are used in favour of embryonic stem cell research can equally be used for harvesting organs from unwanted children who are only a few weeks older?
Moral relativism is nothing new, of course, and one can expect detecive novels to reflect the current mores of the society in which they are written. Perhaps a detective novel written 50 or more years ago would reflect the same moral revulsion in the protagonist when confronted with any form of abortion, and those running the abortion clinics might be seen as the villains of the piece.
What stands out in this book, however, is the enormous difference that 16 weeks makes. An act that would be acceptable when the child is 24 weeks old becomes morally reprehensible when it is 40 weeks old. Perhaps in another 50 years, in a more enlightened age, people will see the inconsistency and shift the boundary to allow organs to be harvested from unwanted children up to school age, puberty, or even later, and, if anyone questions it, will say that "this is, after all, the 21st century", and will look down on the quaint ideas expressed by Alan Banks as "so 20th century".
Bill Bendyshe Burnett (1917-1994) was an Anglican bishop in South Africa, and was Archbishop of Cape Town from 1974-1981. He was also Bishop of BloemfBill Bendyshe Burnett (1917-1994) was an Anglican bishop in South Africa, and was Archbishop of Cape Town from 1974-1981. He was also Bishop of Bloemfontein and of Grahamstown, and General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches (SACC). After his experience of "baptism in the Holy Spirit" he became influential in charismatic renewal circles, not only among other denominations in South Africa, but all over the world. Yet the nearest we have to a biographical source is his autobiography, The Rock that is higher than I, edited privately and published after his death by his wife Sheila.
After reading it, I doubt that he intended to have it published in its present form. It reads like a very rough first draft, which seems to indicate that he was still working on it when he died, and his family had to publish it in an unfinished form.
Fully half the book is taken up with Burnett's early life, and his experiences in the Second World War, especially as a prisoner of war in Italy. This is generally well written, and forms a coherent narrative. It looks as though it may have originally been written for his family, for children who asked him "Daddy, what did you do in the War?" I wish my father-in-law had written such an account -- he too was captured at Tobruk, and escaped from an Italian POW camp.
The second half of the book, which covers his time at St Paul's Theological College in Grahamstown and his ministry as an Anglican priest and bishop, is much more sketchy, consisting of a series of disconnected anecdotes, many of which raise more questions than they answer. This is a pity, since this is the part of the book that would be of most interest to most readers.
I first met Bill Burnett in 1960, when he was Bishop of Bloemfonein. It was the inaugural conference of the Anglican Students Federation (ASF), held at Modderpoort in the Free State snd I attended as a student. Since the conference was being held in his diocese, Bishop Burnett was the celebrant at the first Mass of the conference, in the priory of the Society of the Sacred Mission (an Anglican religious order), and he also read the first paper, on "The theological roots of Anglicanism".
In the afternoon he read a second paper, on "The Church of the Future". He said that people are generally unsuccessful in relating the rapid advance in technical knowledge to what really matters. The Church must bring a theological basis back to the centre of our lives. Intellectuals are out of touch with modern theologians. People must become more aware of the theological purpose of what they do in everyday life. Many church buildings in this country are mock-Gothic and out of touch with reality. This could be rectified if architects knew what a church is for. The church should use modern skill, knowledge and materials to build more functional buildings. In music we wallow in Victorian slush -- as far as art is concerned, the church is wearing clothes which are out of date. Modern art is symbolic, and ideally adapted to the use of the church. In the experimental liturgy there is no blessing -- the congregation is told to go out into the world and "be the church." The Church of the future must be reunited, and the Ceylon scheme of reunion is a good pointer in this direction. Denominational apartheid is an evil which must be remedied. The Ceylon scheme will keep the ancient scheme of Bishops, Priests and Deacons. The Church must become indigenous in each locality, but this must not be paramount, as the word "Anglican" seems to suggest. The emphasis is often too much on "Anglican" and too little on "Communion". The church over the whole world is too "Anglican" -- too "English". How can we be indigenous and yet remain Catholic? Nationalism must not cause us to lose our Catholic principles. We must really BE the people of God. The Church must be built around the altar, font and pulpit as the buildings are. We must live as if we really are in the dying and rising community which is the Church. You do not become a Christian and then join the Church. We are baptised into a body, a community - the Church, which is the Body of Christ. We must become what we are by virtue of our baptism. The altar and pulpit enable us to do this. We are Christians, and we must become what we are. We neglect the Holy Spirit too much. One cannot see God and live - our preaching must say this, but because we are dying with Christ, we must also rise with him. Worship is not merely one of the things the Church does - the Church is a worshipping community. We place our lives and all that we have on the altar, and receive all this back to become the Body of Christ. The perfect union with Christ will come at the Last Day - at the consummation. At every Mass we are waiting for the bridegroom.
As an impressionable teenager this made a great impression on me, which is why I made extensive notes, and included them in my diary. I also later discovered that much of what he described and was advocating as part of Anglican faith and practice was already there in the Orthodox Church, and had been all along, but that is part of my story, not his.
One thing that has puzzled me a little was that when they prayed for the bishop in the Diocese of Bloemfontein, they used his middle name, and prayed for "Bendyshe our Bishop", yet in Grahamstown and Cape Town it was his first name that was used, "Bill our Bishop". A minor point, perhaps, but one that one hopes to find explained in an autobiography, and it is things like this that make the book seem like a published first draft rather than a finished work.
In the chapter dealing with his time at St Paul's Theological College in Grahamstown, in the immediate postwar period, Burnett notes that he and the other students were influenced by the theology that had begun to emerge from the resistance to Nazism in Germany, and says that he was more impressed with Paul Schneider than with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, though he does not compare their theology or give reasons for his preference.
Perhaps he intended to expand on this later, and this too gives the impression of a rough draft. But then he says (p. 123), "If I were to write about every parish or diocese in which I have ministered I would have to write many books. I give notice that I have no intention of doing so."
And so his ministry as assistant curate at St Thomas's Church in Durban and as school chaplain at Michaelhouse is covered in less than a page, which contrasts sharply with the amount of detail in his account of his life as an escaped POW. His time as Vicar of Ladysmith is similarly sketchy, dealing only with a description of some of the tramps who came to the vicarage asking for help. This is supplemented by a letter in an appendix; the letter, from John Henderson, a parishioner in Ladysmith, describes how Bill Burnett influenced him and others to train to become Anglican priests. The sketchiness, however, leaves one with the impression that Bill Burnett did not value parish ministry very highly.
The same applies to his description of his ministry as Bishop of Bloemfontein. There are a few disconnected anecdotes, but nothing of substance. When Burnett was nominated as a possible candidate for Archbishop of Cape Town one priest in the Diocese of Bloemfontein commented, "Very few of the people here with whom I have discussed the matter want Bishop Burnett. As you know he was bishop here and I have yet to find any clergy or laity who look back with much pleasure to the time of his episcopate. The CSM and AA sisters found it a traumatic experience to coin an Americanism. No doubt he has gained in maturity and judgement since then: but his present ? enthusiasm for Pentecostalism continues to make him a dubious character in the eyes of some."
In the light of that, it is interesting that Burnett has only positive things to say about the Community of St Michael and All Angels -- that they ran "a splendid little school" and made a great contribution to the development of the nursing profession in South Africa. So one is left wondering what the "traumatic experience" could have been.
In this chapter, too, however, an element of bitchiness appears, which grows stronger as the book proceeds. He describes the way in which English-spealing Anglicans and some Afrikaners distanced themselves from the policy of apartheid, and says "These people and their friends of whom Miss Louisa Marquard was one, distanced themselves completely from the apartheid philosophy and practice, and, in some cases, this meant leaving the Church as well. Their predicament and sufferings were unknown to people such as Archbishop Joost de Blank, and Bishops Trevor Huddleston and Ambrose Reeves, who did not have the opportunity given to us and for which we thank God as we remember the courage and integrity of these friends."
This again raises more questions than it answers. Why did their distancing themselves from the apartheid philosophy and practice mean "leaving the Church"? And what is the significance of their predicament and sufferings being unknown to the bishops mentioned, none of whom was ever Bishop of Bloemfontein, nor did they ever have any pastoral ministry there? It just comes across as a very nasty piece of innuendo. Trevor Huddleston (who was not a bishop during Bendyshe Burnett's time as Bishop of Bloemfontein, but was responsible for training the novices at the Community of the Resurrection's mother house in Mirfield, England), wrote a book, Naught for your comfort, in which he criticised the philosophy and practice of apartheid, and described the effects of the practice as he observed them as a pastor in Sophiatown, and the ethnic cleansing which took place there in the mid-1950s. The implication seems to be that if he had known of the way in which Burnett's Free State friends had distanced themselves from apartheid, Huddleston would not himself have criticised it. That doesn't make any sense, so why mention Huddleston's name at all at this point? This kind of bitchiness does not seem to be evidence of the fruit of the Spirit, but rather of the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:16-23). I know this because I myself have often fallen into the same temptation.
At this point Burnett owes it to his readers to say what it is that these bishops said or did to cause him to mention their names here. Perhaps he might have done so if he had lived long enough to prepare the book for publication, but as it is the reader is left hanging, wondering what is going on.
The following chapter deals with Burnett's time as General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches, which is again marred by bitchiness, as he describes the arrest and trial of Dean ffrench-Beytagh, and concludes by saying that he went to England "where he was able to bask in the glory of his anti-apartheid stance".
It was when Bill Burnett was at the South African Council of Churches that it collaborated with the Christian Institute in drafting the "Message to the people of South Africa", which was a theological critique of the ideology of apartheid, and described it not merely as a heresy, but as a pseudogospel. He quotes part of a summary of it in his book, and says, "This is simply a small taste of our 'Barmen Declaration'. It angered the National Party Government and, I suspect, bored the English-speaking people, and it changed nothing."
I don't think the last statement is true. Black Christians who read it said it was nothing new, it was something that most black Christians knew. It was the whites who needed to read it, they said. And for whites who read it seriously, it posed a choice: choose this day whom you will serve, the false god of apartheid, or the Lord. Even those who denied that there was such a choice did not remain unaffected. For some, even some in high positions in the National Party, a seed of doubt was planted.
Bill Burnett was elected Bishop of Grahamstown, and in 1972, soon after he moved there, he experienced "baptism in the Holy Spirit", which revitalised his ministry. While in Grahamstown he introduced the Human Relations and Reconciliation Programme, to challenge racism in the church, and this involved setting up "challenge groups" that would challenge instances of racism.
The charismatic renewal movement in the Anglican Diocese of Grahamstown started with a priest in Queenstown, Peter Campbell, and once the bishop himself had been "zapped" it spread rapidly in the diocese, and Burnett tells of instances where clergy who were initially sceptical were drawn in. He was asked to give a testimony at the South African Congress on Mission and Evangelism in Durban in 1973. The Congress, organised by the South African Council of Churches and African Enterprise, an interdenominational evangelistic organisation, marked the first large meeting of "evangelical" and "ecumenical" Christian bodies in South Africa, but the Pentecostals and Roman Catholics were not really included. Bill Burnett and David du Plessis, however, introduced a Pentecostal element.
Bill Burnett was elected Archbishop of Cape Town in 1974, and clergy from Grahamstown who were asked about it were generally more positive than those of Bloemfontein, cited earlier. They thought his pentecostal experience had made him a better pastor.
In Cape Town the Archbishop's residence, Bishopscourt, became a centre of renewal, and developed a community. Several young men who thought they might be called to ordained ministry went to stay there to test their vocations. Burnett describes how dying parishes were revitalised, and people were healed. But when the synod of the big and unwieldy Diocese of Cape Town refused to divide it into smaller and more easily manageable ones, Bill Burnett resigned, and devoted himself to the Support Ministries Trust, which he founded to promote charismatic renewal in parishes, and internationally in a simialr organisation called Sharing of Ministries Abroad (SOMA). In some places the book appears to muddle these two. He travelled widely, attending renewal conferences, and conducting retreats and seminars. Much of this part of the story is told in short pericopes, lacking details, especially of dates and people involved. Even where people's names are mentioned, we are told little about them or their background.
The book ends with a kind of polemic against "liberation theology", which Burnett seems to have equated with the "Kairos Document", which was produced in late 1985, and signed by a number of clergy and lay leaders of various denominations, and then circulated. Burnett does not quote from the "Kairos Document", nor does he even describe its content, but criticise it, leaving the reader to guess what exactly he is criticising. I would say that many of his criticisms are valid, but what he is criticising is not "liberation theology", and so his criticisms in effect create a caricature of liberation theology. He is doing, by implication, what he implies that Bishops de Blank, Huddleston and Reeves were implying against his friends in the Free State. This implied cricisms of implied views for implied criticisms of other views becomes far too nebulous, and by the end of the book it appears that Bill Burnett had lost the plot, and so the charismatic renewal ends, not with a bang, but with a whimper, running into the sand and leaving little to show for itself.
I don't think this book does justice to Bill Burnett, or to his role in South African Christianity. The first part is well told, but, apart from some formative experiences, does not relate to the second. The second, describing his ministry as a priest and bishop, is scrappy and badly told, though it is evident that his ministry had three phases: the first, developing theological convictions expressed in the "Message to the people of South Africa"; the second, receiving the power of the Holy Spirit to live according to those convictions in joyful freedom; and the third, a kind of withdrawal into embitterment and carping criticism, with the joy apparently dissipated, which also seems to affect the way the rest of the story is told.
There really needs to be a full biography that will look at both the good and the bad points to do justice to Bill Burnett and his ministry, and the way it influenced the church and society or failed to do so.