The Common Good

JFK, Resurrection, and Post-Modern Christianity: Books for a New Year

As you've probably surmised over the last few weeks, we asked God's Politics contributors to send us some of their favorite books of 2008. Here are a few more to add to your list:

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For Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, director of the School of Conversion in Durham, North Carolina, JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters, by James Douglass, was his top pick. "Everyone I know who has read this book says it's the most incredible story they've read in years," he writes. "With great care, Douglass has retold the story of JFK's life and death through the lens of Thomas Merton. In the end, though, it is a book about God -- a God whom we can thank for interrupting us with mercy." (Editor's note: Look for a review of this book in the March issue of Sojourners.)

Phyllis Tickle, religion writer extraordinaire, chose N.T. Wright's Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church as her number one candidate, for its "superb, unapologetic re-consideration of resurrection and the kingdom of heaven." She also was charmed and informed by C.J. Sansom's work, especially Dissolution, and says The Lost History of Christianity, by Philip Jenkins, should be a "must read" for everybody. Finally, she writes, Fidelity of Betrayal, by Pete Rollins, "is beyond doubt the clearest and most succinct explication of the basic sensibilities and principles of post-modern Christianity that I have found to date."

Tony Campolo, professor emeritus of sociology at Eastern University, liked Jesus for President: Politics for Ordinary Radicals, by Shane Claiborne, and Soong-Chan Rah, assistant professor at North Park Theological Seminary, had two recommendations: True Story: A Christianity Worth Believing In, by James Choung, and unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity... and Why It Matters, by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons.

Ron Sider, president of Evangelicals for Social Action, also liked Wright's Surprised by Hope, calling it a "simply superb presentation of how Jesus' resurrection and his gospel of the kingdom should shape the totality of our theology and activity." He also calls William Young's The Shack "a moving, powerful picture of God's transforming love," and cites Michael Gerson's Heroic Conservatism: Why Republicans Need to Embrace America's Ideals (And Why They Deserve to Fail If They Don't). "I don't agree with significant parts of this book by President Bush's former speechwriter," Sider writes, "but it represents 'compassionate conservatism' at its best."

Molly Marsh is an associate editor at Sojourners.

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