Books

Duane Shank 03-02-2012
Photo by Tischenko Irina/Shutterstock.com.

Photo by Tischenko Irina/Shutterstock.com.

One of my must reads is the Sunday New York Times Book Review. There are too many books being published that I would love to read, but don’t have the time. So, I rely on reading book reviews as one way of keeping in touch with what’s being written.

Last Sunday, the Review ran an essay on how books affect Washington policy makers. Lawrence Summers, former director of the National Economic Council, says that a good review can often summarize what’s necessary for a policy maker to learn. He was quoted as saying, “If you tell me that the policy makers are reading the reviews, not the books, I don’t take that as evidence that the books aren’t influential.”

While I don’t fancy myself as a policy maker, the sentiment is also true for the rest of us.

Learn about two such new titles that may have an impact on public policy inside the blog...

Andrew Wilkes 03-01-2012

The Cross and the Lynching Tree, by James H. Cone.

Stacia M. Brown 03-01-2012

Excerpt from Accidents and Providence by Stacia M. Brown, 2012.

Jack Palmer 02-07-2012
Google's Dickens doodle.

Google's Dickens doodle.

“Come in, and know me better man”
~ Ghost of Christmas Present, A Christmas Carol

As the 200th birthday of Charles Dickens is celebrated around the world today, it seems like a great opportunity to get to know the author a little better.

And where else would a tech-minded person like myself head first? Why the Google Doodle of course!

Joshua Witchger 02-01-2012

Groundhog's Day 101, five-year-old on advertising logos, more on the Puppy Bowl, and dogs delivering receipts to customers at a veterinary clinic. Plus several posts on books, including Jonathan Franzen's thoughts on eBooks, and a look at 2012 Oscar nominee The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmorin. Click to see more.

http://youtu.be/7-Nl4JFDLOU

Brittany Shoot 02-01-2012

No Sympathy for the Devil: Christian Pop Music and the Transformation of American Evangelicalism, by David W. Stowe.

Tim Kumfer 02-01-2012

Liberating Biblcal Study: Scholarship, Art, and Action in Honor of the Center and Library for the Bible and Social Justice, edited by Laura Dykstra and Ched Myers.

Alisa Harris 02-01-2012

In a country where parents lit their wounded daughters on fire, women lit themselves on fire to escape. I couldn’t shake the image of a young girl stepping into flames with a despair so profound that she would rather scorch her own flesh than face her own future.

Real Marriage by Mark and Grace Driscoll

Real Marriage by Mark and Grace Driscoll

HE SAID: David Vanderveen

Real marriages develop from two people who are committed to making them work. The specifics of how two real people make one real marriage work is largely irrelevant given the freedom we have in Christ. Marriage is supposed to be a symbol of our relationship with God on earth.

We don’t need more multiple choice tests and true-and-false quizzes with black-and-white answers to bring heaven to earth; we need to put the love of the other first — with God at the core — to make our marriages work.

SHE SAID: Sarah Vanderveen

Real Marriage is a poorly written, poorly researched book by a well-meaning pastor who I believe is struggling with his own sexuality and sense of self-worth. I don’t know how else to explain his weirdly inappropriate fixation on masculinity and specific sexual practices, and his failure to address the complexity of human sexuality and relationships.

It feels to me like he doesn’t really want to understand the whole person, rather he just wants to cut straight to the salacious tidbits. I realize that’s how you sell a lot of books, but still. I get the distinct impression that Driscoll is not a man at peace.

Steve Stockman 01-10-2012
Kicking at the Darkness by Brian Walsh

Kicking at the Darkness by Brian Walsh

When a friend told me about this book late last year, I thought that all my Christmas had come early.

A theological treatise on Bruce Cockburn has been very necessary for years, but surely he was such a cult artist that no publisher would ever see a book on him as profitable. So fair play to Brazos Press for the courage and vision. And the author might have swayed the deal.

Walsh does a good few things in Kicking At The Darkness; Bruce Cockburn and the Christian Imagination. He confirms all your thoughts on your favorite Cockburn lyrics. (They were as theologically potent as you always thought!) He also reminds you how many great lines Cockburn has written, causing you to scuttle back to re-listen to every album right back to the first.

Christopher Smith 01-01-2012

War and the American Difference: Theological Reflections on Violence and National Identity, by Stanley Hauerwas.

Robert Hirschfield 01-01-2012

Orange Alert: Essays on Poetry, Art, and the Architecture of Silence. And, Fasting For Ramadan: Notes from a Spiritual Practice.

Timothy King 12-28-2011
Illustration from Dickens' "Christmas Carol." Image by Tim King

Illustration from Dickens' "Christmas Carol." Image by Tim King

“Marley was dead, to begin with.”

So begins the classic tale of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. It is a story that has been told and re-told through various mediums since the novella was published December 19, 1843.

I sat down recently to watch the new Disney version of the tale. It features a CGI rendition of Scrooge with the voice of Jim Carrey.

After 15 minutes I shut it off.

It wasn’t that it was particularly bad. I didn’t give the movie enough of a chance even to figure whether it was worth watching. What I realized is that I wasn’t much interested in hearing the same story again from a secular perspective.

A Christmas Carol, I would argue, is not ultimately about Christmas, but conversion.

Christmas is the stage and the catalyst through which transformation occurs. It is a leading character to be sure. But, it is the radical change that occurs in Ebenezer Scrooge that most compels me.

Janis Adams 12-19-2011
Václav Havel  Prague 2009. Via Via http://bit.ly/tTEMqp

Václav Havel during his speech at the Freedom and its adversaries conference held in Prague 2009. Via http://bit.ly/tTEMqp

Dissident has been defined as “one who challenges the established doctrine, a person who openly defies what has been set as standard or defined policy.”

Many would say that a dissident is the one who is the loudly clanging gong in a world already clamoring with dissonance, another voice we would simply like to be rid of or ignore.

For Vaclav Havel, it most certainly was not this way.

Yes, his words marked the world by challenging its mores. Moving people. Altering lives. Changing the world's map. All this was done with the engaging smoothness of a velvet approach. And this, among a host of many other attributes, will be why he will be so deeply missed and the loss of his life so greatly mourned.

The nation of Czechoslovakia has instated three days of national mourning for the man with the engaging smile. This time of imposed sadness – while a fitting tribute – does not seem nearly enough for a man who made it his purpose to reform hearts.

Rosalie Riegle 12-01-2011

Dorothy Day's deep love of God and her unwavering ability to see God in those the world shuns.

Christopher Smith 11-16-2011

A Time to Plant: Life Lessons in Work, Prayer, and Dirt by Kyle T. Kramer.

Mike Morrell 11-16-2011

Unlike the earlier turn-of-the-20th-century Pentecostal movement, which created a plethora of new denominations, the Charismatic Movement  — with its emphasis on the felt-presence of the Holy Spirit, intimate worship, healings, and spiritual gifts as written about in the New Testament — united Lutherans and Catholics, East Orthodox and Episcopalians, promising in its early years to utterly remake ecumenical dialogues into a fully-felt move of the Spirit.

These heady early days inspired everyone from the Jesus Movement to Richard Rohr and many believed that a new fullness of Christian faith was being formed.

Then, as often happens as new movements grow and spread, things got messy. Denominational officials became suspicious; new denominations like the Vineyard were born, attracting new Christians such as Bob Dylan.

Sarah Vanderveen 10-31-2011

gatsby
With her teenage son reading The Great Gatsby for school, poet Sarah Vanderveen revisits Fitzgerald's masterpiece, this time as an audio experience.

Cathleen Falsani 10-17-2011

Sunday afternoon in Lower Manhattan, I ran into Salman Rushdie, who was walking nonchalantly through Zuccotti Park with his son. The renowned author's presence went largely unnoticed by the thousands of protesters, media and tourists crowding the park observing the Occupation demonstration.

On his way out of the park, Rushdie graciously took a few moments to talk with me about what he'd just witnessed. It was his first visit to the demonstrations and he was clearly moved by what he saw.

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