Archives For *Brief Reviews*

 

Single And Married People Together
 
A Review of 
 

One by One: Welcoming the Singles in Your Church
Gina Dalfonzo

Paperback: Baker Books
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Reviewed by Catherine Guiles
 
 
As a never-married Christian woman in my mid-30s who’s been a part of fairly mainstream evangelical-ish churches my entire life, I was excited to read Gina Dalfonzo’s One by One: Welcoming the Singles in Your Church. Like a lot of single Christians, I’ve been the recipient of slights, misunderstandings, exclusions and insults from fellow believers, many unintentional, but all hurtful to one degree or another. But thankfully, I’ve also been the recipient of a great deal of love, community and opportunities to serve and lead — the kind of things Dalfonzo argues that churches need to give more of to their single members, whether never-married, divorced or widowed; male or female; or young or old. I wholeheartedly agree and appreciate the way she unpacks the issue and frames it within a larger, holistic context of how Christians should relate to one another and make their churches places where “if one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it” (1 Cor. 12:26). ­­­

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Interpreting a Violent World.

A Review of

Mimetic Theory and Biblical Interpretation: Reclaiming the Good News of the Gospel.
Michael Hardin

Paperback: Cascade Books, 2017.
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Reviewed by Mark Wendland

 

Rene Girard, a French thinker who wrote most of his important works in the 1970s and early 1980s, has become an important guide to issues of violence and religion, whether that takes the form of religion-inspired violence, the violence of God in the text of the Bible, or interpretations of atonement and afterlife that emphasize the wrath of God. Violence is a topic of broad and current interest among Christians today.

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A Good and Useful Guide to Kierkegaard

A Review of

Existing Before God: Søren Kierkegaard and the Human Venture
Paul Sponheim

Paperback: Fortress Press, 2017
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Reviewed by Brandon Pierce
 

Kierkegaard is one of those figures with a certain amount of theological sex appeal. Perhaps it is on account of his “existential” approach to faith or his almost prophetic invective against Christendom that still resonates today. The problem is that he’s a writer that takes a long time to really get to know. It is easier to know a few things about his work than to have actually read any of it. There are reasons for this.

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The Topography of Cancer
 
 A Review of 
 

The Absolute, Relatively Inaccessible
Walter Wangerin Jr.

Paperback: Cascade Books, 2017
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Review by Cynthia Beach

 

He is the type to excavate words long buried beneath century-old grit and neglect—important words, vital words like scop, the word he once handed me that was important enough to shape only my entire life purpose. Scop, the one in ancient Greece who crossed the battlefield and recorded its story. The one who shaped, the one who told the story.

This weathered scop, Walter Wangerin Jr, known for Miz Lil, The Book of the Dun Cow and other marrow-of-the-bone works, has written again. The battlefield he’s crossing has been the field of prolonged cancer and pain and impending death.

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The Chronic Ache of Injustice
 
A Review of 
 

Love in a Time of Climate Change:
Honoring Creation, Establishing Justice
Sharon Delgado

Paperback: Fortress Press, 2017
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Reviewed by Teresa Langness
 
 
Hurricane Harvey jolted Houstonites out of their homes and armchair television viewers out of their comfort zones, especially in light of rapid increase of “500-year hurricanes” devastating the region in the past five years. A month earlier, a newly released book had asked readers to hear not only the cries of their countrymen and women but the chronic ache of injustice among climate change victims around the world.

The title of Sharon Delgado’s new book shifts the topic of climate change out of its usual dimensions, which too often buck wildly from well-corralled layers of scientific research into the muddier bog of political rhetoric.

Through crisp storytelling, personal experience and articulate up-to-the-minute research, Love in the Time of Climate Change posits a theory that we must deeply understand but look beyond both. We must act not only with our minds but with our hearts and our feet to safeguard all members of our human family during the current age and stage of climate change.

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Prophetic in Reconciliation
 

Intercultural Ministry:
Hope for a Changing World
.

 
Grace Ji-Sun Kim /
Jann Aldredge-Clanton, Eds.

Paperback: Judson Press. 2017
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Reviewed by Kevin Book-Satterlee
 
 
One of the most important starting points for bringing differing people together is being open with one’s own story and understanding of their story. The act of being self-reflective auto-locates a person within their social imaginary. If anything is taken from Kim and Aldredge-Clanton’s book, Intercultural Ministry: Hope for a Changing World, it is the persistence of self-reflexivity as a foundation for bringing people together. Nearly every case study in the book begins their success and recovers from their failures by fostering a place of telling and admitting their story; an open space for people to participate, dialogue, and forge paths of coming together where they might not have before. Each and every author demonstrate a commitment to forming an intercultural, inclusive faith community, and the case studies within this book can serve as encouraging examples for both the novice and the experienced embarking upon this path. The book is as confessional as it is encouraging.

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A Life Whose Very Breath
Depended on Prayer
 
A Review of 

Motherprayer:
Lessons in Loving

Barbara Mahany

Hardback: Abingdon Press, 2017
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Reviewed by Janna Lynas
 
 
 
I shift my weight on hard wood floors, beneath middle aged knees, offering pleas to the air, because he’s in the air, God is, for my children. There are a whole litany of requests and generalities, but sometimes things specific and so guttural I can barely get the words to pass over dry lips. There are prayers of thankfulness and scripture that are repeated because it is truth and is as much a prayer over my babies as it is story from long ago. And it’s in these moments I find myself, as Barbara Mahany suggests in her most recent book, Motherprayer, wrapped in the “shawl of prayer… with utterances that come from our most stripped-down essence.” (4)

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Christian Faith Worth Imitating
 
A Review of 
 

Everbloom:
Stories of Deeply Rooted
and Transformed Lives

Redbud Writers’ Guild

Paperback: Paraclete Press, 2017
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Reviewed by Kathleen O’Malley.
 
 
A few weeks ago, I asked God to bring a mentor into my life. Whether that meant a new relationship or the deepening of one I already had, I didn’t know. The next day, I began reading Everbloom, and by the time I was twenty pages in, I realized that I held part of God’s answer in my hands.

Books can’t substitute for the intimacy of a friendship. But Spirit-filled stories can change and enrich my perspective—just like a mentor might. There is something about peoples’ life stories that is tough to ignore; their memoirs nestle into my memories until they become part of my worldview. That’s one reason that books like Everbloom are so powerful. Such books let me be touched by the lives of men, women, and children whom I won’t meet in person.

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A Basic Building Block of
Real Community

A Review of 

Praise the Lard: Recipes and Revelations from a Legendary life in Barbecue
Mike Mills / Amy Mills

Hardback: Rux Martin / HMH Books, 2017
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Reviewed by Andy May

 

Legendary barbecue pitmaster Mike Mills and daughter Amy Mills team up to deliver unto us a heavenly smoker’s cookbook revealing some of the best kept secret recipes in barbecue.  But more than that, peppered between the detailed recipes, Mike and Amy’s stories unveil the best of what small town America has to offer: the values of community, family, work, and faith. Amy and Mike share generations worth of wisdom, experience, and a gold mine of creative recipes.  As the original “slow food” movement, Mike and Amy emphasize that barbecue is more than just producing delicious and creatively crafted food, it’s also a basic building block of real community.  As friends and family gather, for whatever occasion, the sights, smells, and slow pace of smoking meat provide an opportunity be reminded of the important things in life. Barbecue is sharing, barbecue is hospitality, barbecue is risk, barbecue is hard work, barbecue is love.

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What We Talk About When
We Talk About Family Values

 
Review of

More Than Words: 10 Values for the Modern Family
Erin Wathen

Paperback: WJK Books, 2017
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Reviewed by Emily Zimbrick-Rogers

 

I began reading Erin Wathen’s family spirituality book, More Than Words, on a plane flight across the country, overhearing a conservative Christian college student try to evangelize her seatmate. She talked a lot about “proof” for God, Truth and right and wrong, why post-modernism was bad, going on mission trips, and her large family. I then finished the book while parked next to a car with a pro-life bumper sticker.

More Than Words, a short but illuminating book, prompted me to think about what “family values” are and what they should be, in dialogue with Scripture, experience, and community. Wathen, author of the popular blog Irreverin on the Patheos Progressive network, and senior pastor of Saint Andrew Christian Church in Kansas City, enters the current discussion on “family values” from a particularly progressive, or Christian left, angle. Wathen proposes that progressive churches and individuals do have family values, which she names as compassion, abundance, Sabbath, nonviolence, joy, justice, community, forgiveness, equality, and authenticity. Wathen elevates values based in inclusive love and hope that enable deepened connections with family, faith communities, and our neighbors. She contrasts these values with what she names as conservative “family values”—exclusion/racism, bigotry, homophobia, misogyny, and violence (2).

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