Archives For *Brief Reviews*

 

A Voice Crying in the Wilderness. 
 
A review of

I Pledge Allegiance:
A Believer’s Guide to Citizenship in 21st-Century America
David Crump

Paperback: Eerdmans, 2018
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Reviewed by Trudy Smith

 

I grew up Southern Baptist in a small town in Texas. I still remember singing the fight songs of each branch of the military during patriotic worship services celebrating the Fourth of July or Veterans’ Day, and pledging allegiance to both the Christian and American flags that hung in the sanctuary. According to David Crump, this display of Christian nationalism demonstrates that rather than being immersed in the gospel Jesus preached, I was instead awash in the kind of dangerous “civil religion” that characterizes much of the American church today.

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Breaking and Making Images
 
A Review of 
 

Image and Presence: A Christological Reflection on Iconoclasm and Iconophilia
Natalie Carnes

Paperback: Stanford UP, 2018
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Reviewed by C. Christopher Smith
 
 
To write words on a page, or to draw an image, is to restrict and confine. The full presence of a person, creature, or object can never be confined in this representation, and yet they are present in powerful ways in the representation. These dynamics of the specific limits of an image, and the presence that is contained in the same image, are central to Natalie Carnes’s insightful new book Image and Presence: A Christological Reflection on Iconoclasm and Iconophilia.

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Wonder, Whimsy,
and Mystical Love

 
A Review of
 

The Canticle of the Creatures for Saint Francis of Assisi
Luigi Santucci

Paperback: Paraclete Press, 2017.
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Reviewed by Bailey Shannon

 

The Canticle of the Creatures for Saint Francis of Assisi entered my life in the most appropriate and timely way. I recently started an internship at a wilderness academy where I instruct children in nature connection and (hopefully) instill in them a love and passion for the natural world. Whenever we walk down to the river, we pass a house with a yard full of herbs and perennials, trees and trinkets, and beautiful garden decor. One of the decorations is a four-foot-tall statue of Saint Francis. The children greet him as we pass by; I like to think he is giving us his blessing.

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This is a fascinating new book
that released last week…

 

The Art of the Wasted Day
Patricia Hampl

Hardback: Viking, 2018
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Listen to Maureen Corrigan’s review
from NPR’S Fresh Air:

 
(Anyone here reading or finished this book?
I appreciate the Sabbath-like dimensions of this idea,
but do wonder the degree of privilege it takes to waste a day — or substantial portion of it?)

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Accessible Silence
 
A Review of
 

Silence: In the Age of Noise
Erling Kagge

Hardcover: Pantheon, 2017.
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Reviewed by Bailey Shannon
 
Erling Kagge is a man of many talents. As an explorer, lawyer, art collector, publisher, and author, Kagge possesses rich knowledge that touches all parts of the human experience. In his most recent book Silence: In the Age of Noise , Kagge reflects on some his life experiences in an attempt to answer the following questions: What is silence? Where is it? Why is it more important now than ever?

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“What We Need Is Here”

A Review of

At Home in this Life:
Finding Peace at the Crossroads of Unraveled Dreams and Beautiful Surprises

Jerusalem Jackson Greer

Paperback: Paraclete Press, 2017
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Reviewed by Sara Sterley

My husband and I lived in “little boxes suburbia” (a la the intro song to the television show Weeds) for ten years, spending countless hours scouring real estate listings for some property that we could turn into a small farm that was within our price range, expending plenty of angry energy toward the neighbors that complained about us not using chemicals on our lawn and turning over much of it to gardens, repeatedly trying to tell ourselves to be happy where we were planted. And then, one day, we found the home and land, if not of our dreams, at least about at that intersection of where our price range, desired location, and dreams met. There might have been lightning and trumpets sounding in the way we have told the story since. But At Home in this Life: Finding Peace at the Crossroads of Unraveled Dreams and Beautiful Surprises is not one of those stories, and I found it all the more refreshing because it wasn’t.

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How Do We Imagine the Resurrection?

A Brief Review of 

Resurrecting Easter: How the West Lost and the East Kept the Original Easter Vision
John Dominic Crossan / Sarah Sexton Crossan

Hardback: HarperOne, 2018
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Reviewed by C. Christopher Smith

I have spent a fair bit of time over the last year, reflecting on the differences between the way that the Trinity has been imagined in the Eastern and Western traditions of Christianity (and the ways the Eastern tradition of social trinitarianism might orient us toward a deeper, conversational life together). I was therefore curious when I heard the premise of Dom and Sarah Crossan’s new book Resurrecting Easter, which explores a different issue of theological representation that distinguishes the East from the West, namely the depiction of Jesus’s resurrection.

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Being Rather Than Doing
 
A Brief Review of 
 

Mindfulness and
Christian Spirituality:
Making Space for God
.

Tim Stead

Paperback: WJK Books, 2017.
Buy Now: [ Amazon ]  
 
Reviewed by Leslie Starasta
 
 
 
Recently the topic of mindfulness is heralded on magazine covers, news sources, social media and may even be present in your local school classrooms.  All of this talk about mindfulness may leave a Christian wondering what is this and is this something that I can practice as a Christian? Tim Stead, Vicar of Holy Trinity in Headington Quarry, Oxford and a mindfulness instructor with the Oxford Mindfulness Center, answers these questions and others in his 2017 book Mindfulness and Christian Spirituality: Making Space for God.

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The Soul Damage of 
Fundamentalist Culture
 
A Review of
 

I Will Shout Your Name
John Matthew Fox

Paperback: Press 53, 2017
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Reviewed by C.S. Boyll

 

Using humor and tragedy, John Matthew Fox has published his first short story collection that inspects the foibles of fundamentalist culture and its soul damage.

 Fox is gentle with his characters’ psyches, although he doesn’t offer much, if any, spiritual power and solace. These believers make decisions with little awareness that Jesus will and does stick closer than a brother. I can’t deny that such outliers are among the Bride of Christ. Many readers have known at least one irritating person like “God’s Guerrilla” Randolf Hamilton. A retired missionary, Randolf still gives hellfire-infused speeches to youth groups, hooking their attention with stories about Bible-smuggling and snakebite survival.  Unfortunately, Randolf suffers from early onset Alzheimer’s. Ironically, losing his memories makes Randolf a better father and grandfather.

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The Genesis of a Hymnal
 
A Review of 
 

Auden, the Psalms, and Me
J. Chester Johnson

Paperback: Church Publishing, 2017
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Reviewed by David E. Anderson

 
 

Choosing a new hymnal is controversial enough for many congregations, so consider the emotions that surround revising a centuries-old Psalter. In the late 1960s the Episcopal Church (the U.S. member of the Anglican Communion) undertook a revision of their Psalter in parallel with revising their Book of Common Prayer. Work on the Psalter, which had been used with minor tweaks since the 1500s, began around 1968 and was completed in 1971, and work on the BCP concluded in 1979.

One of the original members of the committee charged with revising the Psalter was the English poet W. H. Auden (1907–1973), whose winter home was New York City in the late 1960s. Auden was intimately familiar with the Psalms from his childhood in the north of England, but as importantly (and not noted in the book reviewed here), he had written librettos, with his partner Chester Kallman, to be set to music for composers including Benjamin Britten, Igor Stravinsky, and Hans Werner Henze.

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