ARCHBISHOP of York Stephen Cottrell has spoken about the ideas and challenges behind his new book.

P is for Pilgrim: A Journey from A to Z, was released last week (February 15) and Archbishop Stephen said the idea of the formatting came some years ago whilst in a book shop.

Almost 80 key Christian terms, ideas, concepts, people, events and occasions are said to be explored in the work.

Archbishop Stephen said: “I saw something like ‘An A-to-Z of communism’, you know, ‘A is for Anarchist, B is for Bolshevism.’

“I was amazed at this book and looked at it with real interest, because it was the format of those books for very small children, you know, ‘A is for Apple, B is for Boat’.

“It was that format, but it was dealing with really very complex ideas.

“I thought, is it for children, is it for adults? I didn’t know.

“I went home on the train that day thinking, I wonder if anyone’s done that for the Christian faith?”

Archbishop Stephen said he wrote in his notebook what that A to Z of might be and then over the next few years puzzled away at it, along with publishers who loved the idea but couldn’t themselves work out who the book was for.

York Press: Archbishop of York Stephen CottrellArchbishop of York Stephen Cottrell (Image: Duncan Lomax, Ravage Productions)

Archbishop Stephen said: “And I said, I think it’s a book for everybody.

“The publishers have done a great job and illustrator Jack Seymour has been a gift because I look at it and think, it is a children’s book, but it’s so beautifully illustrated an adult wouldn’t feel embarrassed looking at this because the illustrations are so lovely.

“What the book is really trying to do is say ‘if you go to church, if you’re a Christian, sooner or later you’re going to bump into some really big words, behind which are big ideas.

“You can’t dodge them, and I don’t want to dumb down the Christian faith, but I know, as a dad, that sometimes, you’ve got to learn ‘what does this word mean?’”

Using the A-to-Z format, Archbishop Stephen said he provides a paragraph for each about these big words and ideas, in a friendly and accessible way, but said that was for others to judge.

Archbishop Stephen said: “It was a writing challenge.

“First of all, could I do justice to what are some big and complex ideas.

“Could I write it in such a way that anybody could read it, get something ftom it, not feel patronised by it, but also not feel daunted by it.

“I’ve done my best to make it accessible, but other people will say if I’ve succeeded.

“The book is really for the person who’s already taking the first steps or somebody who’s been going to church all their life but when they bump into a word, you’ll find a paragraph beginning to explain what that word means.”

William Burnham, learning and participation manager at York Minster, explained that a half-term trail had been laid inside the Minster for school children to get to grips with the book.

He said: “The aim was to make the words of the book manifest, so you could actually physically see the things that are in the book.

“It’s part of the learning programme that we offer here at the Minster, which is brand-new for school kids, offered from Key Stage One through Five, and for families, where we get people hands on with history and faith.”