Archives For *Brief Reviews*


Flourishing in Conversation
A Review of

I Think You’re Wrong
(But I’m Listening):
A Guide to Grace-Filled
Political Conversations

Sarah Stewart Holland /
Beth Silvers

Hardback: Thomas Nelson, 2019
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Reviewed by C. Christopher Smith
Sarah Stewart Holland and Beth Silvers are long-time friends and co-hosts of the Pantsuit Politics podcast. More significantly though, they sit on opposite sides of the political spectrum: Sarah is a Democrat (a former Hillary Clinton campaign worker) and Beth is a Republican. Together they have written an important new book, I Think You’re Wrong (But I’m Listening), that guides us toward “grace-filled political conversations.” Sarah and Beth invite us into the joys and vulnerability of a conversational life:

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The Capacity to Change
A Brief Review of

The King and the Catholics:
England, Ireland, and the Fight for Religious Freedom, 1780–1829
Antonia Fraser

Hardback: Doubleday, 2018
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Reviewed by David E. Anderson
Fans of Antonia Fraser, the well-regarded surveyor of the British (The Wives of Henry VIII) and French monarchies (Marie Antoinette: The Journey) as well as a popular novelist (the “Jemima Shore” novels), will find much to enjoy in this history of Catholic emancipation in Great Britain in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

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Who is the Holy Spirit?
A Brief Review of

Here In Spirit:
Knowing the Spirit Who Creates, Sustains, and Transforms Everything
Jonathan Dodson

Paperback: IVP Books, 2018
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Reviewed by Alisa Williams
In this brief book, author Jonathan K. Dodson invites the reader to discover who the Holy Spirit is and to come to know Him better. “The most meaningful, creative, satisfying life possible is one lived here in Spirit,” writes Dodson in the introduction (5).

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Struggling to Figure out
What Following Jesus Means

A Brief Review of

Phoebe: A Story
Paula Gooder

Paperback: IVP Academic, 2018
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Reviewed by Leslie Starasta
As 21st century readers, we are far removed from the life and times of early Christians. Sitting down to read the Bible, we consider it an ancient text to be studied and the inspired scripture that is central to our faith. Our ability to interact with the text by reading it in the privacy of our own homes or on a mobile device is vastly different from the first believers who heard the letters read while gathered in house churches.

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Why You Need to Own a Copy of
Madeleine L’Engle’s The Kairos Novels (box-set).


Madeleine L’Engle:
The Kairos Novels:
The Wrinkle in Time and
Polly O’Keefe Quartets

2 Hardbacks:
Library of America, 2018.

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By C. Christopher Smith
The Library of America has recently released a gorgeous hardback box-set of Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time and its seven subsequent novels, a collection they have dubbed The Kairos Novels. The eight novels are presented in two volumes that contain four novels each: The Wrinkle in Time Quartet (Wrinkle, A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Many Waters) and The Polly O’Keefe Quartet (The Arm of the Starfish, Dragons in the Waters, A House Like a Lotus, An Acceptable Time). The novels in the first four volumes trace the adventures of Meg Murry and Calvin O’Keefe, to whom we are introduced in Wrinkle. The second volume follows Polly O’Keefe, the daughter of Meg and Calvin.

Many L’Engle fans will already have copies of most, if not all, of these novels, so why recommend the box set?

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Healthy Acts of Resistance
A Review of

Sacred Signposts:
Words, Water, and Other Acts of Resistance

Benjamin Dueholm

Paperback: Eerdmans, 2018.
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Reviewed by D.S. Leiter
Sacred Signposts is by a minister in the mainline Lutheran tradition. As such, the book is organized according to the “sacred possessions” of the church offered by reformer Martin Luther: words; water; a meal of bread and wine; confession and forgiveness; ministry; prayer, praise, and worship; and the cross and suffering.

Dueholm seeks to make an argument that these traditions are worth continuing. At times he makes a good case. For instance, I dearly loved that the author pointed out that the biblical creation story is the only known creation narrative that creates the world through speech. And I really loved some of the ways he talked about the need for repentance, especially by the white church.

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To A Church Gone Astray
A Review of 

Not Your White Jesus:
Following a Radical, Refugee Messiah

Sheri Faye Rosendahl

Paperback: WJK Books, 2018
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Reviewed by Justin Cober-Lake
The American church has rarely been so much its own branch of Christianity as it has become recently. In her debut book Not Your White Jesus, Sheri Faye Rosendahl addresses where it has gone wrong and how we can emphasize the teachings of Jesus to return to a faith that, in practice, looks more like him. To be clear, she goes after not all Americans, but the visible white, conservative version that makes political noise and votes as a block. We need her message now, and her anger and frustration brings a needed spark to a conversation that too often turns toward either anonymous internet shouting or dry contemplation. Unfortunately, the book contains a mix of necessary insight and unhelpful wandering.

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The Unique Expression of God 
A Brief Review of 

Unforced Rhythms:
Why Daily Devotions Aren’t for All of Us

Gwen Jackson

Paperback: Wesleyan Publishing, 2017.
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Reviewed by Pam Kittredge
Ordained Wesleyan minister, Gwen Jackson, believes that there are a variety of ways people can relate to God. While acknowledging the importance placed by many Evangelicals on daily devotions, Jackson explains and explores other paths to formation. Along the way, she counsels self acceptance and understanding of our own particular needs as related to the formation process.

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Celebrating Incarnation

A Review of

Somethin’ Special:  
A Noel Paul Stookey Holiday Recollection

Neworld Media, 2018  
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Reviewed by Jeanne Torrence Finley

Our Top 10 Favorite Christmas Albums

Very few pop Christmas albums help us to celebrate incarnation, the central affirmation of Christianity, but I find in Somethin’ Special:  A Noel Paul Stookey Holiday Recollection many songs that point in that direction and offer a most moving encouragement to reclaim that connection.  This new full-length holiday CD released in early November presents the new, the traditional, and the disquietingly ordinary and says “Look in these stories and in these places. God is right before your eyes.”

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Changing Our Perception of Our Bodies
A Review of 

Fat and Faithful: Learning to Love
Our Bodies, Our Neighbors, and Ourselves
J. Nicole Morgan

Paperback: Fortress Press, 2018
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Reviewed by C.S. Boyll


Bam! A book gets my attention whenever a writer shows how American culture influences the church more than the church influences culture. J. Nicole Morgan hits this mark in Fat and Faithful: Learning to Love Our Bodies, Our Neighbors, and Ourselves.

Morgan, in her thirties, declares she finally accepts her lifelong fat body as Christ accepts her–totally, all XXXX size of her. She wants the Body of Christ to accept her and others like her at the Table of Grace without body judgment and shaming.

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