Books for Giving and Receiving

The season of giving approaches, and in that spirit we offer words and images we've found meaningful and helpful—books for making the earth greener, for managing the "deadly" sin of anger, and for talking with your Jewish and Muslim neighbors. We've looked at devotionals on "the duet of love" (as the Glenstal monks describe prayer), depictions of Jesus and Mary by artists throughout the years, and reminders to appreciate the sweetness of simple things like laundry on the line and soft dry towels. We've even added some appallingly bad limericks for impressing your holiday guests, alongside inspirational stories about Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the American Indians on Alcatraz Island. In short, it's a collection of words and images to carry with you, or to share with others, in this rich, mysterious season of waiting, anticipation, and celebration.

Icons or Portraits? Images of Jesus and Mary from the Collection of Michael Hall

This is a stunning collection—originally an exhibit at the Gallery at the American Bible Society in New York but displayed here in book form, with full color illustrations of sculptures, paintings, and other depictions of Mary and Jesus that range from the 12th through the 20th centuries. The book's five chapters cover images of the Madonna and Child, illustrations from Mary and Jesus' lives, narratives of the Passion, and images of the body of Christ. The fifth chapter looks at representations of Jesus and Mary considered to be miraculous.

Each illustration includes descriptive information as well as details about its style, the culture from which it originated, and the artist. Starting in September, the exhibit "Icons or Portraits?" will travel to Mobile, Alabama; Evansville, Indiana; and Sacramento, California. (American Bible Society)

Greening Congregations Handbook: Stories, Ideas, and Resources for Cultivating Creation Awareness and Care in Your Congregation, compiled and edited by Tanya Marcovna Barnett

‘Iam the breeze that nurtures all things green," said Hildegard of Bingen, speaking in the voice of God. It is a voice we don't always heed—or understand—when it comes to caring for the earth. Greening Congregations is a "how-to" manual for cultivating an awareness in ourselves and in our congregations of caring for God's creation. It's also highly practical and useable, with readings, worksheets churches can use to develop a "greening" mission, questions for reflection, educational resources, and more. (Earth Ministry)

Rethinking Globalization: Teaching for Justice in an Unjust World, edited by Bill Bigelow and Bob Peterson

If you've wondered how to communicate tough concepts like child labor, global sweatshops, and wealth inequality to your students, here's your book. Geared toward educators (Bigelow and Peterson teach high school and elementary school, respectively), Rethinking Globalization is chock-full of ideas for helping students understand the many layers of globalization. It includes readings, lesson plans, role plays, handouts, interviews, poems, cartoons, and teaching ideas—all of which can be adapted for varying levels (including college and adult education courses). Lists of resources are extensive. (Rethinking Schools Press)

For a more detailed look at globalization's effect in particular regions—and what people are doing in response—check out Surviving Globalization in Three Latin American Communities, by Denis Lynn Daly Heyck (Broadview Press) and Living in Hope: People Challenging Globalization, edited by John Feffer. (American Friends Service Committee)

Abraham: A Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths, by Bruce Feiler

What is it about Abraham? Why did God choose him? Feiler visits Christians, Jews, and Muslims and travels through the Middle East to determine why Abraham remains a key figure for half the world's believers. Great armchair traveling for the religiously inclined. The book's publishers are sponsoring "Abraham Summits" (www.—in which religious, political, and academic folks meet to conduct interfaith dialogues—and organizing two weeks of national interfaith dialogue (Nov. 8 to 24) during which "Abraham Salons" will run simultaneously across the country. (William Morrow)

Living on Purpose, by Tom and Christine Sine

The premise of Tom and Christine Sine's new book is that you want to live a less stressful and more satisfying life—a way of life "that counts for something." Don't we all? Designed to be used by small groups or Sunday school classes, the Sines direct you through various activities, including developing your own mission statement, to help you refocus your life—not on what you want, but on what God wants. (Baker Books)

The Enigma of Anger: Essays on a Sometimes Deadly Sin, by Garret Keizer

When is it okay to be angry, especially in a religion that glorifies meekness?, Keizer asks. He rejects the idea that anger has no place in the life of a Christian, saying, "I am unable to commit to any messiah who doesn't knock over tables." This accomplished essayist writes about anger in the church, in ourselves, in the house, in God, and in the world. Now's a perfect time to reflect on this "sometimes deadly sin." (Jossey-Bass)

Sanctuary, by Thomas Roma

From shabby storefronts to soaring cathedrals, from Iglesia Pentecostal Apocalipsis to St. Joseph's Roman Catholic, this photo book documents the churches of Brooklyn. In gentle black-and-white, against the trash and light of the city, Roma's pictures capture all the ways immigrants and citizens, rich and poor have made homes for God in the harsh urban landscape. (Johns Hopkins University Press)

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