Archives For *Featured Reviews*

 

An Immersive Chronicle
of Ungentlemanly Warfare

A review of

D-Day Girls: The Spies Who Armed the Resistance, Sabotaged the Nazis, and Helped Win World War II

Sarah Rose

Hardback: Crown, 2019
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Reviewed by Emily Joy Stroble
 
 
“Dear Madam,” begins the letter received by Mrs. Odette Sansom in Sarah Rose’s thrilling and detailed account of female spies who laid the groundwork for the allied invasion of France in World War II.

The letter continues: “your name has been passed to me with the suggestion that you have qualifications and information which may be of value in this stage of the war effort.” In other words, Odette Sansom, the French wife of a British soldier and mother of two had what might be called, “a particular skill set.”

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A Lifelong Patience and Courage

A Feature Review of

The Time Is Now:
A Call to Uncommon Courage

Joan Chittister

Hardcover: Convergent Books, 2019
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Reviewed by Erin F. Wasinger

Joan Chittister is en fuego.

The Benedictine sister and social justice advocate has just released The Time Is Now: A Call to Uncommon Courage—and it’s what the impatient among us need right now. We’re living in the days when “dumpster fire” has been used so often in the media that Oxford added it to its dictionary. Government’s broken; violence at schools is terrifying. Wars, famine, border controversies … on and on. Everything seems to be toxic. Everything.

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Masterfully Elucidating
the Context of Torah

 
A Feature Review of
 

The Lost World of the Torah:
Law as Covenant and Wisdom in Ancient Context
John H. Walton, J. Harvey Walton

 
Paperback: IVP Books, 2019
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Hearts & Minds Books ]  
 
Reviewed by Joel Wentz
 
I have vivid memories of devouring The Lost World of Genesis One, a slim paperback from an Old Testament scholar I had no previous exposure to. It felt like every page packed major insight into the nuances of Hebrew language and literary genres, the cultural context of the ancient world, and comparisons to other religious literature of the Near East. I remember repeatedly thinking, “Why hasn’t anyone ever explained this to me before?!”

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A Flourishing Tree
 
A Feature Review of

Placemaker:
Cultivating Places of Comfort, Beauty, and Peace
Christie Purifoy

Paperback: Zondervan, 2019.
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Reviewed by Tamara Hill Murphy
 
 
Annie Dillard, in The Writing Life, encourages writers to remember Thoreau’s salient recommendation: “Circle round and round your life… Know your own bone; gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, and gnaw it still.” If it’s possible to gnaw a bone elegantly, Christie Purifoy does just that in her newly-released second book, Placemaker: Cultivating Places of Comfort, Beauty, and Peace. Like her debut, Roots & Sky, Purifoy continues to circle round and round the subject of finding, losing, and making home.

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From Mountain to the Ocean:
The Flow of Awareness

 
A Feature Review of
 

An Ocean of Light:
Contemplation, Transformation, Liberation
Martin Laird

 
Hardback: Oxford UP, 2018.
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Hearts & Minds Books ]  

 
Reviewed by Christopher Brown
 
 
The town where I live in Colorado sits on the edge of the plains at the foot of the mountains. To the west of us, Longs Peak and Mt. Meeker rise to elevations of 14,259’ and 13,911’ respectively. They are immense, immovable mountains that have given me new perspective on Psalm 125:1: “Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved but abides forever.” Some days the view is crystal clear, free of any haze and without even a cloud touching the mountains. On other days I watch as storms encircle the peaks, covering them in snow and blotting out my view of them. These constantly changing scenes often remind me of Martin Laird’s words in Into the Silent Land, “The marvelous world of thoughts, sensation, emotions, and inspiration, the spectacular world of creation around us, are all patterns of stunning weather on the holy mountain of God. But we are not the weather. We are the mountain. . . . When the mind is brought to stillness we see that we are the mountain and not the changing patterns of weather appearing on the mountain. We are the awareness in which thoughts and feelings (what we take to be ourselves) appear like so much weather on Mount Zion” (16).

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Thin Places
 
A Review of 

Dreaming of Stones: Poems
Christine Valters Paintner

Paperback: Paraclete Press, 2019
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Hearts & Minds Books ]

 
Reviewed by Michial Farmer
 
 
Midway through Dreaming of Stones, her new collection of poems, Christine Valters Paintner writes that her mission as a writer and a human being is to remember “the wonder that there is anything, / much less bluebells and fresh bread, / the way world are encapsulated / in drops of dew” (“In Praise of Forgetting,” ll. 23-26). As far as aesthetic mission statements go, you could do a lot worse—especially for a poet like Paintner, whose poems skate the line between physical and metaphysical, between ordinary and sacramental. Though she doesn’t say so directly, Paintner’s poetics demonstrate Simone Weil’s famous observation that attention is a form of prayer. Perhaps all good poetry does that, but Paintner seems particularly cognizant of it.

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All-Abiding Love for the Religious Stranger

A Feature Review of
 

Holy Envy:
Finding God
in the Faith of Others

 
Barbara Brown Taylor

 
Hardback: HarperOne, 2019
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[ Hearts & Minds Books ]

Reviewed by Alisa Williams
 


*** This review originally appeared 
on the Spectrum Magazine website.
It is reprinted here with permission.
 
“The only clear line I draw these days is this: when my religion tries to come between me and my neighbor, I will choose my neighbor… Jesus never commanded me to love my religion.” —Barbara Brown Taylor

 
Sitting on my desk as I write, right next to a copy of Barbara Brown Taylor’s latest book Holy Envy, is my Worldviews and Religion textbook from high school. I remember sitting in that sunlit classroom of Andrews Academy my senior year, learning about all of the world’s major religions from this slim textbook, produced by the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Office of Education. Wrong, wrong, wrong the book seemed to intone, as it laid out these other religions, their flaws exposed to the light while Christianity’s remained in shadow.

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[easyazon_image align=”left” height=”333″ identifier=”0802876889″ locale=”US” src=”http://englewoodreview.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/5177FvIYVCL.jpg” tag=”douloschristo-20″ width=”236″]Reading the Signs of the Times
 
A Feature Review of
 

Burying White Privilege:
Resurrecting a Badass Christianity

 
Hardback: Eerdmans, 2018
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[ Hearts & Minds Books ]

Reviewed by Sr Rhonda Miska
 
Christian social ethicist-activist Miguel De La Torre’s dust jacket bio describes him as “a modern Amos-like prophet.”  Burying White Privilege is a powerful tour de force which indeed echoes the social critique and righteous indignation of Old Testament prophets, offering a raw and unflinching analysis of Trump’s presidency and the religious leaders who distort the Gospel to support Trump’s political agenda.  The book is an expansion of De La Torre’s November 2017 essay “The Death of Christianity in the US,” published on the Baptist News Global website, which went viral on social media.  That essay opens with the provocative line, “Christianity has died in the hands of Evangelicals.” He goes on to write that “Evangelicalism ceased being a religious faith tradition following Jesus’ teachings concerning justice for the betterment of humanity when it made a Faustian bargain for the sake of political influence.”   

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[easyazon_image align=”left” height=”333″ identifier=”1611803373″ locale=”US” src=”http://englewoodreview.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/41MYIGo7FL.jpg” tag=”douloschristo-20″ width=”216″]An Old Friend Newly Met
 
A Feature Review of
 

On Thomas Merton
Mary Gordon

 
Hardback: Shambhala, 2019
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Reviewed by Mark Jenkins
 
 
 
The New York Times has called Mary Gordon “the bard of the American Catholic experience.” I suspect she isn’t comfortable with that title. On more than one occasion she has paraphrased Flannery O’Connor saying that, in our time, one has to “suffer because of the church and not for the church.” Gordon’s approach/avoidance response to the church—any church—particularly in its more dogmatic and sexist iterations is healthy.

Such attitudes uniquely qualify her perspective on Thomas Merton, his life, and his writing. Like Merton, she is keenly aware of the ambiguities and tensions of being labeled a “Catholic writer.” She can be fiercely loyal to Roman Catholicism, but never unquestioningly so. Not unlike Merton in his final years of life.

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[easyazon_image align=”left” height=”333″ identifier=”080287567X” locale=”US” src=”http://englewoodreview.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/511idvAbE6L.jpg” tag=”douloschristo-20″ width=”222″]Discerning Wisdom
Beyond the Good Life

A Feature Review of

A Life that is Good:
The Message of Proverbs in a World Wanting Wisdom
Glenn Pemberton

Paperback: Eerdmans, 2018
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Reviewed by Bob Cornwall
 

*** This review originally appeared 
on the reviewer’s website.
It is reprinted here with permission.
Browse his website for other excellent reviews!

 

In his first letter to the Corinthian church, Paul told his readers the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom. It is easy to mistake Paul as an advocate of Christian anti-intellectualism, but that would not be true. He values wisdom, just not the kind that devalues the power of the cross. His comments about wisdom, however, do raise questions of the purpose and value of wisdom, especially words of wisdom that are found in Scripture. It’s interesting that the Letter of James, which is often contrasted with the words of Paul, is understood by many to be a book of wisdom. No biblical book is linked to wisdom than the Book of Proverbs. If you’ve spent time with this biblical wisdom book, you will know that it can give you pause. There are sayings found within its pages that seem harsh and judgmental. There are words that connect wealth and goodness that also seem out of place in the real world. Then there are the words directed at women, which are often unflattering (to put it mildly). The question for us then is whether it offers a word of wisdom for today.

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