A Room with a View
By Nicholas Holtam
If you are at all interested in what our new Bishop of Salisbury is like, then this book is a very good place to start. These chapters come out of 11 years of ministry at St. Martins in the Field which has included a major building development costing £36m.
The first chapter sets out a vision for any local church which needs to be rooted in context; inclusive and welcoming beyond any imagining; Eucharistic; prayerful; a community of service and learning; and a place for the creative arts. As St Martin’s is a church that with a very successful crypt restaurant as well as a bookshop, there is a short section justifying commercial endeavour.
Next comes a chapter based on the work for which St. Martin’s is famous; its work among the homeless and the poor. The thinking here is politically alert, well researched, passionate.
There follow two chapters about the nature of good religion and its place among the other religions of the world. Later on there is a chapter on sin, coming from days of teaching ethics at Lincoln Theological College. Here we find an intelligent narrative for truthful humane and liberal discipleship, all of which is enriched in a later chapter enriched by evotions for Holy Week, and a sermon.
In this book Nicholas Holtam reveals his love of art, living as he does so close to the National Gallery, music, which is so much part of the tradition of St Martin’s, and literature. It is said that a priest shapes the place and the place shapes the priest in equal measure – from the introduction comes these words which sum up all we need to know: ‘St Martin’s values standing in that historical tradition (the Church of England) and we try to do so creatively. It is a courageous church capable of exercising leadership and breaking new ground’.
Reviewed by Keith Lamdin, Principal of Sarum College