Care for Creation by Pope Francis (Orbis/Alban Books, £12.99). This collection of the writings, speeches and homilies of Pope Francis spells out the vision behind his encyclical Laudato Si’. In the Pope’s view, concern for the earth demands a profound conversion of values. Subtitled “A Call for Ecological Conversion”, this slim book is deliberately provocative, with its appeal to care for “our common home” and warnings about “an economy that kills”, “the globalisation of indifference” and what it means to construct a “culture of integral ecology”. Essentially, the Pope asks us to reflect on the meaning of our stewardship.

Solidarity With the World by Carolyn Chau (Cascade Books, £25). How is the Christian to sustain his sense of mission in a secular world? Chau deploys the writings of Charles Taylor to help define and diagnose modern society, then recruits the theology of Hans Urs von Balthasar to develop a vision of mission and ecclesiology that has the best chance of prospering in the contemporary world. This is a thoughtful book about how Christians should articulate their beliefs and refine their notions of evangelisation. Above all, it’s a book about not giving up.

The Naked God by Vincent Strudwick and Jane Shaw (DLT, £12.99). With an endorsement by Rowan Williams, the author, an Anglican theologian, has taken on the task of “wrestling for a grace-ful humanity” in the light of falling numbers in the Cof E. In his view, “If we go on clothing God only with garments that are suitable for medieval Christendom, or any other age, we can hardly expect that God will be understood in the 21st century.” He believes that Vatican II “made sense to many Anglicans, even while the papacy itself ignored the results” – an interesting point of view.

Europa Reformata: European Reformation Cities and their Reformers edited by Michael Welker et al (Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, £30). Amid this year’s blizzard of Reformation books something a little different would doubtless be welcome. Here it is. Events in 48 cities across Europe are explored, with a focus on the lives of leading reformers and a wealth of excellent images. Grand Reformation narratives are all well and good, but local idiosyncrasies provide a special fascination. This would be an excellent volume to pack if you’re planning a Reformation-based summer holiday. And don’t worry about the German publishing house – the book is in English. 

Christo-Fiction by François Laruelle (Columbia University Press, £22). Laruelle has never been a fan of philosophical rigidity, so metaphysics derived from the Judeo-Christian tradition were unlikely to hold much appeal. Instead, he calls for an “insurrection” which, as best as I can tell, involves throwing out all existing Christologies, re-inventing the word “gnostic” and making Christ “the exit from Christianity itself”. The best and worst of so-called continental philosophy are on display here: the sentences that don’t make much sense even after you’ve read them five times, but also the fizz of intellectual mischief.

​How to continue reading…

This article appears in the Catholic Herald magazine - to read it in full subscribe to our digital edition from just 30p a week

The Catholic Herald is your essential weekly guide to the Catholic world; latest news, incisive opinion, expert analysis and spiritual reflection