Archives For VOLUME 3


Christine Valters Paintner - Desert Fathers and MothersThe Act of Slowing Down.

A Feature Review of

Desert Fathers and Mothers: Early Christian Wisdom Sayings, Annotated and Explained,

Christine Valters Paintner

Paperback: SkyLight Paths, 2012.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Craig D. Katzenmiller

Often the very act of slowing down becomes countercultural. In today’s world, we find ourselves in a race to “hurry up and matter.”[i] Every now and then, however, we need to be reminded that life is not about accruing goods, but rather, life is about emptying ourselves in order to love. We need to hear again and again the radical call of the gospel: namely, to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves.


Thus, reading Christine Valters Paintner’s recent book about desert spirituality reminds us of what life is about. I read this book over the course of a weekend, but even my hasty reading pricked me and told me to slow down, to reorient my focus. Nevertheless, speedy reading for the purpose of reviewing the book does miss the point. As Paintner writes, “This is not a book to sit down and read cover to cover. . . . A more effective approach is to allow some time each day to read one section at a time twice through slowly” (xxxii). The desert mothers and fathers leave us with a legacy for transformation. Transformation, as Paintner says, is a long process (see e.g., 106).


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An excerpt from

Migrations of the Holy:
God, State and the Political Meaning of the Church
William Cavanaugh.
Paperback: Eerdmans, 2011.
Buy now: [ ]

Read our review of this book


Best Book of 2010

2010 Englewood Book of the Year!

The Wisdom of Stability - Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove

The Wisdom of Stability.
Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove.
Paperback: Paraclete, April 2010.
Buy now: [ ]

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove has offered us, in The Wisdom of Stability, a challenging and yet very readable argument for stability in our local church communities. Although Wilson-Hartgrove has written a number of other excellent works to date (His book God’s Economy was on our Best Books of 2009 list and his Free To Be Bound was one of the Best Books of 2008.), TWOS is undoubtedly his finest work to date.

“Stability is essential to our faithfulness as we share life together in our church communities, and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove’s The Wisdom of Stability is the finest reflection on stability in the contemporary world. Through stability, we learn to mature together in a place toward the fullness of Christ (Eph. 4), becoming, by the grace of God, a vibrant contrast to the madness of our hypermobile culture. In The Wisdom of Stability, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove orchestrates the voices of those before us who have set out to cultivate the practice of stability and poignantly calls us to the threshold of this journey of growing into stability. May we have the courage to heed his call and set out together on this journey and the even greater courage needed to weather the many demons that will assail us as we continue to be faithful in our place, day by day and year by year.” (from our review)

The Wisdom of Stability poignantly reminds us that community and place are essential elements in our following in the way of Jesus. It should be read and discussed in all churches!


Best Books of 2010

At the close of another year, we thank God for allowing us another year of reading and reviewing books, and for all of you who have continued on this journey with us — reading our reviews or even writing reviews for us. 2010, of course, saw the launch of our print edition, about which we are really excited, and we are grateful for all who have been among our earliest subscribers. We have read (or excerpted) several hundred books this year, most of which have been very good – we try not to waste our time or anyone else’s with bad or even mediocre books – but we offer to you here the best of the best, our honor books for 2010.

As in past years, our primary criterion both for selecting books to review and for honoring the year’s best books is to choose books that are “for the life of the Church” – i.e., books that energize us to be the community of God’s people that God has called us to be and that nurture our mission of following in the way of God’s reconciliation of all things (in all its broadness!).

[ Read the full list of award-winning books here … ]


In order to help us maintain our sanity and focus some more energy on making some of our other projects more sustainable, we will be making some changes to the online edition of The Englewood Review of Books for 2011:

  • Our issues of the online edition, which have been weekly thus far, will now become bi-weekly.
  • On the in-between weeks, we will post a brief update, which will feature videos, excerpts, poems, links, etc.
  • Readers who receive our email updates about new issues will still receive a weekly notice of the new issue or off-week update.
  • We will be starting a new, blog-like page where we will frequently post book-related news that will be of interest to our readers.  These posts will generally not be included in our weekly emails, and the best way to keep up with these posts will be through following us on Twitter or Facebook.
  • Our first issue of 2011, will be released this Friday January 7th.


Cover - ERB Print Issue No. 1Subscribe now to the new quarterly, print edition of THE ENGLEWOOD REVIEW OF BOOKS!

Subscriptions are available for $19.95 (1 year) or $36.95 (2 year)

Go here now to subscribe today:

If you are outside North America, you can get this new print edition for FREE as a PDF file. More info and signup here:

[CLICK HERE to read the Table of Contents in PDF format…]

[ CLICK HERE to read our review of Shane Claiborne and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove’s COMMON PRAYER from this first issue… ]

Three bloggers have recently reflected on Issue #1 of the ERB. Check out what they have to say:



As a follow-up to our Manifesto for a New Food Art (Click link to read), The Englewood Review is sponsoring FOOD ART MANIFESTO, an art and writing contest to encourage reflections by artists related to current conversations on food, place and the new agrarianism.

The deadline for entries in both the visual arts and writing categories is Saturday January 8th at 12:00AM.

CLICK HERE for complete details and entry information.


“Toward a Thriving Human Culture

A review of
A Lan
dscape Manifesto
by Diana Balmori.

Reviewed by Brent Aldrich.

A Landscape Manifesto
Diana Balmori.
Hardback: Yale UP, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

LANDSCAPE MANIFESTO - Diana BalmoriEcological sustainability needs cities. Not only that, it needs dense, well-designed, diversified cities where human intentionality can place itself within the functionality of the larger climate, watershed and ecosystem.

For many of us, this will require a fundamental paradigm shift about where and how we locate nature – and cities. First of all, human culture must enter the realm of ecology, keeping an eye toward the health of air, water, soils. Diana Balmori’s A Landscape Manifesto moves us in this direction in significant ways, locating cities (human culture) in nature, shifting representations of land to more accurately represent a new ecological conscience, and revisiting old landscape forms, equipping them with new functions. While all of this might sound like too huge of a task to find a place to begin, that is not the case, as Balmori introduces all of these basic ideas first through the lens of The Lawn.

In an earlier book, Redesigning the American Lawn, Balmori writes (along with her co-authors), “Understanding the dynamics of lawn ecology may bring to a human scale the meaning of ecological sustainability.” She picks up this theme in A Landscape Manifesto, reviewing characteristics of the old model, the Industrial Lawn: in the US, it covers 31 million acres, “the nation’s largest single crop;” it is dependent on fossil energy, water, and chemicals to survive; “yard waste is the second-largest component of the waste stream.” The familiarity of practices of maintaining a lawn situate it on a scale in which action is possible; in Redesigning the American Lawn, the authors introduce the Freedom Lawn, which keeps much of the lawn form, but introduces species diversity, composting in-place, using available water and solar resources; yet another approach is exemplified in Fritz Haeg’s Edible Estates project, replacing front lawns completely with edible landscapes.

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“Toward the Life and Health
of All Creation”

A review of
Food Justice.
Robert Gottlieb and Anupama Joshi

Reviewed by Chris Smith.

Food Justice.
Robert Gottlieb and Anupama Joshi
Hardback: MIT Press, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

FOOD JUSTICE - Gottlieb and JoshiIn recent years, there has been growing popular interest in reflecting on where our food comes from, how it is produced and how it progresses from the farm to our kitchens.   Many writers have explored various facets of this system, but few have provided the broad sort of overview of food-related issues that we find in the new book Food Justice by Robert Gottlieb and Anupama Joshi.  Near the beginning of the book, the authors provide the following definition of food justice:

Food justice, like environmental justice, is a powerful idea.  It resonates with many groups and can be invoked to expand the support base for bringing about community change and a different kind of food system.  It has the potential to link different kinds of advocates, including those concerned with health, the environment, food quality, globalization, workers’ rights and working conditions, access to fresh and affordable food, and more sustainable land use (5).

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“Man WITH Food

A review of
America the Edible:

A Hungry History, from Sea to Shining Sea
by Adam Richman.

Reviewed by John Pattison.

America the Edible:
A Hungry History, from Sea to Shining Sea
by Adam Richman.

Hardback: Rodale Press, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

AMERICA THE EDIBLE - Adam RichmanRegular viewers of Adam Richman’s Travel Channel series, Man vs. Food, know that most episodes follow a predictable pattern. Richman rolls into a new city (about 50 so far, from Amarillo, Texas to Washington, D.C.), explores a couple of the best “pig out” spots, and caps off his visit by taking on a gnarly eating challenge: in Boston, a ten-patty burger, with twenty slices of cheese and twenty pieces of bacon; in Atlanta, an 11-pound pizza; in Pittsburgh, six hot wings, each one 40 times hotter than a jalapeño.

The show is like pork rinds: equal parts revolting and addictive. Don’t ask questions, just pass the bag. It’s also a useful metaphor. What Richman does to amuse an audience is not so different than what many Americans do for dinner. Eating is a cultural act, and a television series whose central premises are that gluttony is entertaining, and that food is something to be conquered – a show that had the network’s highest-ever debut – suggests just how warped our culture may have become.

What gets lost in the challenge portions of Man vs. Food, when Richman is downing a gallon of milkshake or five pounds of nachos, and yet is so clear in America the Edible, Richman’s new book, is the tender devotion he has for good food and the good people and places that produce it.

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