On October 11th – 15th, James Clarke & Co./Lutterworth Press had a wonderful time attending the Frankfurt Book Fair, the world’s largest trade fair for books. Nearly 300,000 people were in attendance, and we were delighted to strike up conversations with visitors about our book titles, as well as meeting fellow publishing companies.
1. As your new book will not be your first book with us, please could you detail your previous work and inspirations from 2015.
My first book, published by James Clarke & Co., Purification of Memory, is an exploration, from a Catholic and ecumenical perspective, of the theological thoughts of eight distinguished Orthodox theologians. It attempts to demonstrate that, in spite of the mistrust and conflict between the Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Churches, they actually share a common heritage, which can be a basis for reunification. This work provides an insightful study of eight Orthodox theological movers-and-shakers and compares and contrasts them with their Roman Catholic counterparts. Interestingly, I find that some Catholic theologians are closer to the Orthodox theologians than to their own confessional colleagues and vice versa.
The second book, Accommodation and Acceptance, investigates the works of some prominent Christian missionaries and thinkers regarding non-Christian religions. By their innovations, these pioneers in interfaith relations have blazed new paths for better understanding between people of diverse beliefs in a world torn by conflicts and violence.
My aim in writing this volume is to promote interreligious dialogue and greater understanding among various religions. Through their innovation and creativity, the pioneers in inter-religious relations discussed in this work have blazed new paths for better understanding between people of diverse beliefs. As religion has played an important role in politics and international relations, dialogue between different religions has become urgent in the face of globalization and divisiveness and confrontation between the East and the West.
2. Likewise, how have writing these books led you to your forthcoming title, Guns and Gospel: Imperialism and Evangelicalism in China?
The first book is on Orthodox theology and the second on Roman Catholic thought.
I wanted to be ecumenical in my theological outlook and thus, I decided to focus on Protestant missionaries in China during the Qing dynasty (19th century). China is now playing a prominent role in global politics and economics. It is important to understand why the Communist government in China is wary of religious influence from outside and why it seeks to control the churches that are flourishing in spite of years of persecutions.
Guns and Gospel attempts to explain why in spite of so much toil and sacrifices undertaken by foreign missionaries in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Christianity is still a minority faith in China. The book aims at a critical examination of missionary activities taking place under the auspices of gunboat diplomacy and unequal treaties, which eventually increased hostilities of the natives towards Christianity. “One more Christian, one less Chinese,” has long been a popular cliché in China.
Although it failed to win many adherents, in terms of modernization of China, Christian influence was significant. Christian missionaries addressed the issues of education, health care, women’s rights and agriculture. Critical of polygamy, infanticide and foot binding, they fought for the rights of women for equal opportunities. Christian missionaries anticipated the Communist effort in adapting western science and knowledge to reform Chinese society.
3. What does your writing typical process consist of?
I read as much as possible regarding the topic, from journal articles, books, newspapers, and magazines. Then I start summarising key ideas from relevant texts and attempt some kind of analysis by way of comparison or critique. It is a strange process how I start putting the various ideas and views together to construct coherent arguments. Physical exercises like swimming and jogging are very useful for me to have a clear mind to craft my chapter.
Reading as much and as wide as possible on a topic is necessary to provide a good and comprehensive argument. I normally write a chapter that can stand on its own – that it can be published in an abridged version as an article. Thus when I write a chapter I look upon it as an extended essay. My focus is on one chapter at a time. In many ways, writing a book is like running a marathon. I try not to look at the entire distance, but concentrate on running from one point to another, one kilometre at a time.
4. In layman’s terms, what are the main ideas that Guns and Gospel explores?
Going beyond generalizations, the issue I want to raise here is to what extent the missionaries had become lackeys of imperialism. In this work I propose to study individual missionaries in order to examine their positions regarding western military aggression, the opium trade, and the unequal treaties. It is a critical review of Christian missions against the backdrop of the Opium Wars (1839 – 1860), Treaty of Nanking (1842), Gunboat Diplomacy, Taiping Rebellion (1850 – 1864) and Boxer Rebellion (1899 – 1901).
5. Which writers or academics do you think have had the greatest impact on you and why?
Professor Peter C. Phan, who holds the Ignacio Ellacuría Chair of Catholic Social Thought, Georgetown University. I am inspired by his dedication in exploring ways to make Christianity relevant to modern times. He is very knowledgeable not just in Catholic theology, but in Orthodox and Protestant thoughts as well. In spite of his great achievements as a theologian, he remains a very humble and down-to-earth person.
Professor Lai Pan-Chiu, a Lutheran pastor, from The Chinese University of Hong Kong. He was the supervisor and mentor for my doctoral dissertation. Besides being a good scholar, Prof Lai is a very conscientious teacher. He looks after his students very well, directs their thesis with great dedication and care. After graduation, he tries to find suitable teaching and research positions for them. He is a great influence on my theological outlook. Knowing Professor P.C. Lai has been one of the great blessings in my life.
6. Who do you think the book will appeal most to?
The general public, those who are interested in history, East-West relations, post-colonial and religious studies. This can include undergraduates, theology students, seminarians, priests, religious and lay people, who are interested in broadening their understanding of Christianity as a minority religion in Asia, especially in China.
7. What are the most obscure notions the book explores?
This work examines the precarious and ambivalent relationship between the missionaries and the British colonial government that controlled the territories in which they attempted to propagate the faith.
8. Who are your favourite authors to read?
William Shakespeare, James Joyce, W.B. Yeats, John Keats, George Eliot, and Leo Tolstoy.
9. From your author questionnaire, you detail being educated all around the world; how do you think this has influenced your writing?
My early years in India have deeply influenced my writings. I realize the importance of culture, religious belief or unbelief, and language that conditions our perception of reality and life in general. I am also more conscious of the gap between the rich and the poor, and thus in my writings, I attempt to give voice to the voiceless, the marginalized and downtrodden. I also attempt to provide philosophical and historical backgrounds in my theological reflections. I seek to be open-minded and to understand the thoughts of “others.” At the moment, my research is on liberation theology, migration, religion and the diaspora.
10. Alongside having taking a diverse interest in the world of academia, we would be delighted to learn about any additional projects or hobbies!
I work as an assistant parish priest in the Church of St Theresa, Kowloon. It is one of the oldest churches in Hong Kong. This gives me chance to interact with people from all walks of life. I swim and cycle regularly and enjoy hikes along many of the spectacular trails here. Like many people in Hong Kong, I enjoy dining out. We take eating very seriously here!
Any additional information you would like our readers to know?
I am very grateful to the editors and the staff in the sales and marketing department at James Clarke & Co. for their great help and support. It is a blessing for an author to have such friendly, competent, and dedicated staff behind him.
Ambrose Mong was born in Singapore and earned degrees in English from the Universities of Calgary and British Columbia. He went on to enter the Dominican Novitiate in Seville and completed his philosophical and theological studies at the University of St Thomas Aquinas in Rome. Ordained as a priest in Hong Kong in 2008, he continued to study at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, completing his M.Phil. and Ph.D. in Religious Studies.
At present he is assistant parish priest at St Theresa’s Church, Kowloon, HK, and teaching part-time at The Caritas Institute of Higher Education and at The Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Guns and Gospel: Imperialism and Evangelicalism in China is due for publication 29th November, 2016. For more on Ambrose Mong’s previous titles, extracts and reviews, click to see our author page here.
Accommodation and Acceptance shows us a ‘gentle way’ for dialogue, mutual respect and even the ‘holy envy’ of admiration which should be ours in the interreligious encounter of the twenty-first century. Mong’s is an authentic voice and merits great attention.”
Rev James F. Loughran, SA, Director of the Graymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute, New York
‘Mong masterfully shows how Christian faith needs to be reconceptualized in its encounter with Asian religions, from Christology to ecclesiology to Trinitarian theology. This book is a must-read not only for Asian Christians but also, and one may argue especially, for Western Christians.’
Professor Peter C. Phan, Ellacuria Chair of Catholic Social Thought, Georgetown University
Accommodation and Acceptance: An Exploration in Interfaith Relations is available to purchase now! For more reviews, extracts and to get your copy, go to: http://tinyurl.com/zlq9o36
In spite of the centrality of the threefold orders of bishop, priest and deacon to Anglicanism, deacons have been virtually invisible in the contemporary Church of England. Inferior Office? is the first complete history of this neglected portion of the clergy, tracing the church’s changing theology of the diaconate from the Ordinal of 1550 to the present day.
Francis Young skilfully overturns the widely held belief that before the twentieth century, the diaconate was merely a brief and nominal period of probation for priests, revealing how it became an integral part of the Elizabethan defence of conformity and exploring the diverse range of ministries assumed by lifelong deacons in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Lifelong deacons often belonged to a marginalised ‘lower class’ of the clergy that has since been forgotten, an oversight of considerable importance to the wider social history of the clergy that is corrected in this volume.
Inferior Office? tells the story of persistent calls for the revival of a distinctive diaconate within the Victorian Church of England and situates the institution of deaconesses and later revival of the distinctive diaconate for women, as well as subsequent developments, within their wider historical context.
Set against this backdrop, Young presents a balanced case both for and against the further development of a distinctive diaconate today, offering much for further discussion and debate amongst clergy of the Church of England and all those with an interest in the rich tapestry of its history.
“Francis Young’s book is a welcome antidote to the generally impoverished view of the diaconate that has prevailed in the Church of England in recent years. It is a timely and significant contribution to the Church of England’s understanding of the order of deacons within her threefold ministry, and will be a valuable and informative tool for those charged with the restructuring of the allocation of church resources in the 21st century.” Dr Serenhedd James, Hon Research Fellow of St Stephen’s House, Oxford
“Young’s scholarship adds much to our understanding of the diaconate within the threefold ministry in the Church of England.” Stephen Platten, in Theology, Vol 119 (2)
“This erudite book makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of the history of the diaconate in the Church of England from the Reformation to the present day.” Gloria Cadman, in The Reader, Vol 115, No 2
Dr Young’s book is available to purchase here now!
Make sure you get your copy to unlock the secrets of the often most overlooked section of the Anglican clergy. Follow Dr Young’s journey in tracing the role of the diaconate from the Reformation through to the present day; clarifying the debate about its future.
At James Clarke & Co. we are saddened to hear of the recent passing of Sir Geoffrey Hill yesterday evening. The British Poet, best known for Mercian Hymns in 1971, published over twenty volumes in his lifetime and was Professor of Poetry at Oxford University from 2010-2015.
We have had the pleasure of working with the award winning writer’s work in discussing the invaluable nature of poetry in developing and communicating theological insights. Within David C. Mahan’s book, An Unexpected Light: Theology and Witness in the Poetry and Thought of Charles Williams, Micheal O’Siadhail and GeoffreyHill the writer explores favourites such as “Pitch of Attention” and “Poetic Kenosis” in The Triumph of Love; drawing together notions of poetry and theology into their own combined discourse.
“This book shows how poetry and theology can come together to light up the great questions of human life today. Above all, his profound engagement with three fascinating poets – O’Siadhail, Williams, and Hill – will expand the circle of those who recognize their great significance for the twenty-first century” David F. Ford, Regius Professor of Divinity, University of Cambridge
“An Unexpected Light comes highly commended by prominent scholars in the literature and theology field. … we have cause to celebrate the remarkable explicatory gifts on display here, and to thank the author for inspiring us to discover or to appreciate anew three poets of rare significance.” Robert Rhys, in The Glass, No 23
“Margaret Sim shows how one of the leading theories of pragmatics – Relevance Theory – provides a comprehensive and enlightening account of how we communicate, and applies this rigorously to the New Testament. Her exposition shows how focusing on the communicative functions of words sheds light on many exegetical controversies involving issues such as how to identify irony, the flexibility of connectives, and the various uses of conditional sentences. The book is written in a clear and jargon-free manner that will make it accessible to advanced students of biblical studies and established biblical scholars with little or no prior exposure to linguistics and pragmatics.” Steve Nicolle, Assistant Professor, Canada Institute of Linguistics,
Trinity Western University, Canada
A Relevant Way to Read, is one of our newer titles, a rigourously developed exegesis of the Gospels and Paul’s letters. Margaret G. Sim utlisises her indepth knowledge of New Testament Greek to bring us this inciteful and enlightening book. The book provides a clear and straightforward exploration of Relevance Theory in relation to an exegesis of the New Testament creating an new and deeper interpretation of the text.
For extracts, reviews and to order the book check our website here.
Margaret G. Sim works as a translation consultant for Wycliffe Bible Translators and is a learned academic who has lectured for many years in Biblical Studies and Translation at the Africa International University. She has also written another work, drawing on her extensive knowledge: Marking Thought and Talk in New Testament Greek is a focused linguistics study of the particle in New Testament Greek. It is also available on our website here.
Bodies, Borders, Believers is a new title from James Clarke & Co. this June honouring Turid Karlsen Seim, the first woman to achieve a doctoral degree in theology from a Norwegian university. It presents a collection of essays that adhere to her academic interests, exploring themes such as gender analysis, bodily practises and ecumenical dialogue. To give you a clear idea of the range of topics explored in the book, Professor Bernadette J. Brooten of Brandeis University Scholars puts it best when she states that the book’s ‘scholars explore the borders between life and death, women and men, and Christians and Muslims; and discuss how belief can unite, not just divide’.
These very themes build Kurbain Said’s tale of Ali and Nino. The book is about a Muslim boy from the East and a Christian girl from the West – individuals from opposite sides of a border raised by differing beliefs – who are able to grasp a notion that the world of contradiction around them cannot; their understanding that differences should be respected as much as similarities draw the two together through love. After numerous conflicting events, the couple come to marry and have a child; however, their story is based within the time period just prior to Soviet rule and Ali is intent on defending his homeland of Azerbaijan. He meets death just before the Bolsheviks take his country, and Nino leaves the reader in Georgia with their daughter. While labeled a romance, the book throws the notion of love into a time defined by conflict, and it is this backdrop of a negative against a positive that enhances the significance of the romance within readers’ minds; the novel was such a success that it was translated, from its original German tongue, into over thirty languages.
So powerful did Tamara Kvesitadze find the tale of the two lovers that she created a towering metal sculpture depicting the affair. Built in 2007 after being inspired by the novel, the sculpture was renamed from “Man and Woman” to “Ali and Nino” in 2010 to dedicate itself completely to Said’s lovers. Located in Georgia, the sculpture towers twenty-six feet tall; a man and woman stand at some distance from one another until the seventh hour of each afternoon, when they move towards each other. The sculptures are designed in such a way that the two bodies slot perfectly into one another; after embracing and merging into one, the two bodies are moved onwards, through and away from one another, separating just as they did in the novel. However, the way in which the two unite to form something stronger than what they are individually represents the significance of the unity between Ali and Nino who, on paper, would have appeared as two astonishingly separate ends of a spectrum due to their differing backgrounds and upbringing. Said, however, took the differences as strengths, just as the scholars of Bodies, Borders, Believers explore differing genders, forces and religions and consider that the differences have the power to create strength by uniting.