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> English Churches
Date: 16 February, 2003
Click on the book cover above to purchase it and raise money
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'It is this pace though that keeps the
book alive, continually moving to the next occurrence or key
person with a lightness of touch unusual in church history.'
Charlotte Haines Lyon
is surprised by Doreen Rosman's book about the evolution of the
Church over the last 500 years
I have to say I wasnt overly excited when
our esteemed editor asked me to review a book on church history.
I mean there must be easier and more exciting tomes for me to wade
through for surefish - The complete works of Shakespeare, Ulysses
etc. Just do it, he ordered and, grudgingly, I did.
(Since when have I ever been able to order you about?!! - Ed)
But I am grateful to him for I would never have otherwise read what
is actually a fascinating book.
The title, which would put off all but in the
most ardent of readers, belies the fact that it is really a biography
of Christianity in England in the last 500 years.
As Rosman takes us through the development of different churches
and theologies alongside the political machinations of the day,
she doesnt hang around.
Blink and you might miss Henry VIIIs involvement in the reformation.
It is this pace though that keeps the book alive, continually moving
to the next occurrence or key person with a lightness of touch unusual
in church history.
What becomes increasingly obvious through the
book, is how culture and politics shape faith and churches, regardless
of how much different groups profess to be going back to original
Christianity whatever that means.
The dominance of death in the 16th century, due to the severity
of diseases, led to the development of purgatory and praying for
However by the First World War, when so many young men died for
their country, the concept of hell came under suspicion and was
very much weakened.
Politics dictated the dogma of even the most zealous puritans; tithing
was seen a Catholic practice, thus abhorrent to many in the 17th
Century but Cromwell allowed it to ensure the coffers were healthy.
As well as a myriad of other such examples of pragmatism, Rosman
provides insight to the fluctuating role of women through the ages
up until our current battles in the Church of England.
But aside from general interest, the book manages to provide it
also offers a more useful service: with Rosmans easy reading
brevity, there are vignettes of many key thinkers and movements
The book therefore provides a great bluffers guide for those of
us who want to know more about our history but not enough time to
study in depth.
Evolution of the English Churches 1500 2000, by Doreen Rosman,
Cambridge University Press, 399 pages.
to buy the book and raise money for Christian Aid projects.