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Love Songs & Reproaches: Passionate Conversations with God

Author: L William Countryman
Published By: SPCK (London and New York)
Price: £9.99
ISBN: 978 0 281 06359 8

Reviewed by Luke Penkett.

You will either love or detest this little book. One thing is for certain: the poems are sure to provoke a response in you. Bill Countryman offers us fifty ‘conversations’ - or, rather, monologues - virtually all based on biblical passages (taking liberties with many of them) in which he explores his reactions and, like the best love or lament poetry, the writing reveals more about the writer than about his subject.

Bill is a priest in the Episcopal Church and professor of Biblical Studies at The Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, California. He is the author of Gifted by Otherness and other books on gay spirituality and sexual ethics and he is a gifted poet.

There is a vast range of subject matter here: from joy to complaint, from love to anger, from hope to loss. And if the book convinces you that it is all right to express your inmost feelings to God then, at least in this, its writing will have succeeded.

I find the presentation of the book sloppy. For instance, acknowledgement is made to Pene Brook, “for permission to place her work Wisdom at the Creation of the World on the cover”. An amazing picture (see it on the internet), but not on the cover of the UK edition.

Frankly, I wouldn’t buy a copy of this for myself. The book is on Google, so you might wish to look at it there before deciding to buy a copy. Although the writing is well done, cleverly done, beautifully done, I prefer to allow the scriptures themselves to stir me, than to depend on second-hand emotive writing.

Luke Penkett

Monk and Priest working with L'Arche Community

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You are reading Issue 50 of Ministry Today, published in November 2010.

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