Featuring interviews with Dorothy Day’s granddaughter Kate Hennessy and author Tish Harrison Warren, reviews and articles by Andy Whitman, C. Christopher Smith, David Wright, and Elizabeth Dark, two new poems by Marci Rae Johnson, reviews of new books by Makoto Fujimura, George Saunders, Roxane Gay, and MORE.
Click the cover image above to view a larger version.
I’ve had several people go out of their way to say that they appreciated my editorial for this issue, so I thought I’d reprint it here…
I write this editorial mere days before the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States. I’m less than excited about the prospect of a president so impetuous and unprepared to take the helm of our nation. Who knows what will happen? Will the Trump presidency rapidly implode from one of the many scandals that seem to follow in his wake? Will he finish off the American nation that is already deeply fragmented and on the verge of collapse? And, of course, there are many other, less dramatic, ways in which this presidency might play out.
What I am more certain of, however, is that regardless of the trajectory taken by this new administration, we as followers of Jesus are called to something deeper than the ideologies of the Right and the Left. We are called to embody the virtues that Jesus himself embodied: truth, compassion, courage, for instance, and above all, a deep love for others.
The Englewood Review of Books was founded on the conviction that reading, and especially reading in community with others, plays a crucial role in reminding us of our calling, and in training us in many of the virtues that we will need on this journey: patience, listening, critical thinking, to name a few.
A brand new book (so new that we weren’t able to cover it in this issue) entitled Praying for Justice (Barclay Press, Anderson Campbell and Steve Sherwood, Editors), invites us to pray daily through all four years of the Trump presidency, and helps us focus our attention on scriptural passages that emphasize God’s desire for justice for those on the margins of society (Many of these marginalized groups, I might add, have been scorned and mocked by Donald Trump on the campaign trail). I have no doubt that faithfully praying these prayers and meditating on them throughout our days will orient us toward faithful action in the present age as disciples of Jesus.
In addition to praying and following these prayers into friendship with those on the margins of American society—people of color, the poor, the mentally ill, the refugees—I believe that reading together in our local church communities will orient us toward the virtues we need to survive the coming presidency, and beyond that, all the sorts of speed and fragmentation that plague us in the twenty-first century. Let’s take our reading of scripture seriously, wrestling with it and asking difficult questions of one another and of the biblical texts. Our scripture reading will inevitably lead to reflection on what it means to live the scriptural story faithfully and well in our particular place, and this reflection will likely lead us to read other books alongside the Bible, theology, history, literature, sociology perhaps. In our reading and conversation together, we will inevitably encounter people whose convictions differ in some way or another from our own. Learning to be together and to stay in conversation together in spite of our differences will form us to be communities that stand in contrast to the prevailing animosity and fragmentation of our age.
We hope that our work as The Englewood Review of Books is fostering these sorts of careful reading and conversation, in this issue, and in all that we do. I am confident that these practices will sustain us regardless of the failure or success of the Trump presidency, or even that of the American empire.
Here’s to reading in community, and to reading well…