The reviewer considers Percy’s published writings both prodigious in volume as well as impressive due to the thorough manner in which he engages with other disciplines. The reviewer observes that the span of Percy’s scholarship and its depth probably have not been fully appreciated in the United Kingdom. The essays in this book began as a collection of papers given at a conference on his work organized by the editors, Ian Markham, and Joshua Daniel, in September 2016, at Virginia Theological Seminary, where Markham is the President and Dean. The mostly positive tone of the essays is connected to the fact that they are primarily written by North Americans; Percy’s work is probably both better-known and appreciated in America as opposed to his home country and The Church of England.
This book is an introduction to Percy and a critical engagement with his work. Percy has been described as a contextual or practical theologian. At first glance, these descriptors appear to be curious (because of Percy’s substantial multi-discipline scholarship) as they typically describe theologians nearer the bottom of the academic hierarchy (in the view of the traditional academy). Percy is unique in that he is both well-versed in the academic tradition but can also connect with the local church as it is.
My particular reading of choice came from his essay entitled “On Ministry.” In this essay, Percy describes the unique role of clergy attending “the marginality of life and death” in “expressing the correspondence between Creator and created.” Percy certainly has a way of expressing his amazing scholarship uniquely and yet connecting us with the mystery of our distinctive, set-apart vocation as called clergy. I found myself almost holding my breath as I read this essay.
I found his examples of funerals compelling as these were examples of “tough” funerals; the town indigent, a young mother whose baby had died, and the son who had significantly departed from the faith of his youth. Funerals have always seemed to be the ripest opportunities to love, nurture, and minister to hurting and grieving people. The “easier” funerals have family well connected to the local church who are congenial to each other (even in grief) and have collaborated how they want to honor their departed loved one. More challenging funerals are when the family is nominally connected to the local church (therefore very little is known of the extended family and how to serve them best) or cultural expectations of the family make the attending minister (in this case, me) wonder why in the world he was called.
I smiled and shook my head as I recalled some of the odd and peculiar funerals I have been called to plan and preside over. My priorities have always been to honor the grieving family’s wishes, celebrate the life (regardless of the circumstances) of their departed loved one, and always extend the promise of the Scriptures to look to Jesus for hope and comfort. However, there are several times I wondered if the funeral and graveside or (more recently mostly) memorial services were effective at all in accomplishing my desired outcomes. At the time, I simply wished for it to be over and allow me to go home.
Percy reminds us, utilizing his rich and robust communication style that we, the clergy are simply, “an extension of God’s love that must surpass any interest in the protection or the interests of the (clergy) species itself. It is inherently costly and sacrificial in its orientation, seeking not its own security (or comfort), but rather expressing the continual risk of incarnation.”  In our myriad mundane tasks of mothering (per Emma Percy) those we are called to care for, Martyn Percy gives us poetic and compelling language that we are uniquely called and positioned to “express the continual risk of incarnation.” That is, it is not about us, but how we are called to “occupy that strange hinterland between the secular and the sacred, the temporal and the eternal, acting as interpreters and mediators, embodying and signifying faith, hope and love.” Sounds a bit like communication and cultural translation from the Twilight Zone!
Since beginning my seminary journey at the age of 61, I have always considered myself as a pastoral or practical theologian because while it is all I have ever known, it is also my passion. My practical theologian inclination is why I feel compelled to pursue a DMin as opposed to a Ph.D. and why I am so appreciative to our program for affording me this cohort opportunity. Martyn Percy has inspired and affirmed my self-assessment as a practical or contextual theologian.
I understand Martyn Percy is in a bit of trouble with the Church of England. I will be praying for this amazing church leader who has renowned scholarship skills as well as an obvious deep connection to the local church. I am so looking forward to meeting and learning from the Percys in Oxford!
 Inge, John, “Reasonable Radical? Reading the writings of Martyn Percy, edited by Ian S. Markham and Joshua Daniel”, Church Times, 21 September 2018 https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2018/21-september/books-arts/book-reviews/reasonable-radical-reading-the-writings-of-martyn-percy-ian-s-markham-and-joshua-daniel-editors Accessed 06/06/2019.
 Markham, Ian S. and Joshua Daniel, eds., Reasonable Radical?: Reading the Writings of Martyn Percy (Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2018) xv-xvi.
 Markham and Daniel, eds., Reasonable Radical?, 208.
 Markham and Daniel, eds., Reasonable Radical?, 209.
 Markham and Daniel, eds., Reasonable Radical?, 210.