Julie Polter 03-06-2014

Creating a Scene in Corinth: A Simulation. Herald Press.

Rose Marie Berger 03-06-2014

This Day: New & Collected Sabbath Poems. Counterpoint.

Claudia Puig 02-28-2014

Diogo Morgado plays Jesus in “Son of God.” Photo courtesy of Lightworkers Media / RNS

The first half of “Son of God” features an upbeat and kindly Jesus spreading the good word in familiar, if occasionally over-simplified, biblical phraseology.

Then things get bloody — thought not quite as graphic as in 2004′s “The Passion of the Christ” — when Jesus is seized, beaten, and crucified. The production values are modest and the special effects uneven in this PG-13 repurposed and condensed version of the History Channel’s miniseries The Bible.  (That series drew flack for casting an actor who resembled President Obama in the role of Satan. The film sidesteps any hint of controversy by keeping the devil out of this story.)

Son of God, which opens Friday, takes no real chances, opting for a moderately involving re-telling of an oft-told story.

Robert Hirschfield 02-04-2014

Marking the centennial of pacifist poet William Stafford

Birmingham Revolution: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Epic Challenge to the Church. IVP Books.

Melanie Mullen 02-04-2014

City of God: Faith in the Streets. Jericho Books.

Patrick O'Neill 01-05-2014

Crossing the Line: Nonviolent Resisters Speak Out for Peace. Cascade Books

Rebecca Kraybill 01-05-2014

Talking Taboo: American Christian Women Get Frank About Faith. White Cloud Press

Gareth Higgins 01-05-2014

The 10 best U.S. films of 2013.

Margaret Atwood 01-05-2014

A hopeful encounter with real-life "God's Gardeners."

Tom Getman 12-12-2013

Embracing Israel/Palestine: A Strategy to Heal and Transform the Middle East. North Atlantic Books.

Anne Colamosca 12-12-2013

No Ordinary Men: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Hans von Dohnanyi, Resisters Against Hitler in Church and State. New York Review Books.

Buffalo Shout, Salmon Cry: Conversations on Creation, Land Justice, and Life Together. Herald Press

Gareth Higgins 12-12-2013

Fifty years ago, a kind of innocence was taken, and a kind of brokenness remains unrepaired.

Debbie McLeod 11-05-2013

Moonlight Sonata at the Mayo Clinic. Knopf.

Elizabeth Palmberg 11-05-2013

The Fatherless series (book one and two). FaithWords.

Tobias Winright 11-05-2013

Where Justice and Mercy Meet: Catholic Opposition to the Death Penalty. Liturgical Press.

Gareth Higgins 11-05-2013

About Time is funny, beguiling, and even profound.

Brandon Hook 10-31-2013
Photo by Peter Larson

Lucius' debut album, Wildewoman, was released earlier this month. Photo by Peter Larson

It seems rare these days to find an album where each song is valuable both individually and as part of the collective whole that makes up the record. Musicians are always telling us that they “don’t want to make just a few good singles with filler,” but few are able to fulfill those lofty intentions. Wilco did it on Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, where the songs were different from themselves and anything Wilco had ever done in the past, and Animal Collective did it more recently on the 2009 album Merriweather Post Pavilion with the opposite approach: each song was unified by a cohesive and consistent sonic palette. Many point to Fleetwood Mac’s 11th studio album Rumours as another example, and there are surely others depending on one’s musical tastes.

But I think a newer, much lesser known group has entered that conversation, and they’ve done it on their first studio release, nonetheless. Brooklyn-based Lucius have managed to craft an album with diverse songs, catchy hooks, and really powerful vocals and harmonies stick in your head for days. There isn’t a song on their debut, Wildewoman, I want to skip through. Bob Boilen of NPR’s ‘All Songs Considered’ perhaps says it best when describing their EP: “If it were possible to wear out a digital file, then my copy of Lucius' self-titled 2012 EP would now be scattered digital bits.”

Brandon Hook 10-28-2013
Photo Courtesy of Noah and the Whale

Check out Noah and the Whale's latest album, 'Heart of Nowhere.' Photo Courtesy of Noah and the Whale

 “I’ve always believed that there’s an amazing number of things you can do through a rock ‘n’ roll song,” Lou Reed, who just this past week passed away, once told the journalist Kristine McKenna.

English band Noah and the Whale take that observation and run with it. I had the opportunity of seeing the band live last week, and the show — and their sound — was simple, as nearly every rock song is, yet cathartic and delightful. It mixes elements of Reed and his sixties and seventies peers with Springsteen and sprinkles on touches of indie-folk that’s flourished over the last decade. And the results are marvelous.