Archives For Alan Jacobs

 

One of this fall’s best new books is:
 

How to Think: A Survival Guide for a World at Odds
Alan Jacobs

Hardback: Currency, 2017
Buy Now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]
 
 
 

*** Watch for our review of this book
     in our Advent 2017 magazine issue.
    SUBSCRIBE NOW, and make sure you receive this issue…

 
 

LISTEN to a brief radio interview
that Alan Jacobs did with Brandon Vogt:

Continue Reading…

 

Spiritual Nourishment
 
A Feature Review of

THE BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER:  A Biography

Alan Jacobs

Hardback:  Princeton University Press, 2013.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]
 
Reviewed by Bob Cornwall.
 
I was born, baptized, and confirmed in the Episcopal Church (though today I am a Disciples of Christ minister).  When I was confirmed at the age of twelve at St. Paul’s in Klamath Falls, I received my own copy of the Book of Common Prayer (1928), which I still have with me.  This Prayer Book would be supplanted in 1979, but by then I had departed for other parts of the body of Christ.  Although it has been many years since I was last a member of the Episcopal Church, my own spiritual life has been indelibly influenced by the liturgy I grew up with, a liturgy that was bound up in this venerable book.  I should note, however, that even prior to my departure, St. Paul’s was making use of alternative Eucharistic liturgies that were more in tune with the times.  That is, less beholden to traditional forms of language.
 
Continue Reading…

 

An Essay by Alan Jacobs on Book Culture
Written for (not surprisingly… ) BOOKS AND CULTURE

http://booksandculture.com/articles/2010/julaug/bookcultures.html

It wasn’t until after I read Ted Striphas’ book The Late Age of Print: Everyday Book Culture from Consumerism to Control that I realized that its title and subtitle are somewhat at odds with each other. As I began reading, it was the title that governed my expectations: coined by Jay David Bolter, the phrase “late age of print” is meant to be analogous to the Marxist concept of “late capitalism.” “Late” in this case suggests a highly developed, sophisticated set of structures that are beginning to fall into decadence—structures that have lost their essential motive energy and are living off capital generated long ago. With these thoughts in mind, I was expecting and hoping that Striphas would provide a kind of critical ethnography, and perhaps a diagnosis, of print culture in the past hundred years or so.

But no: the book really isn’t about print culture at all; it is rather, as the subtitle more reliably informs us, about book culture.

Read the full essay:
http://booksandculture.com/articles/2010/julaug/bookcultures.html


Greg Boyd Reviews Scott Boren’s new book
MISSIONAL SMALL GROUPS

http://www.gregboyd.org/blog/missional-small-groups-a-book-review/

After 18 years of pastoring a rather large American church, I would have to say that the second hardest challenge our leadership team has faced as we have labored to make disciples of weekend church attenders is getting people to commit to sharing life with others in a small group context. The hardest challenge, however, has been to get small groups to view themselves as distinctly kingdom communities who come together not simply to hang out or engage in an occasional Bible study, but to carry out the mission God has given us.

My friend Scott Boren, who is also the “Connecting Pastor” at Woodland Hills Church, has just published a book on this topic called Missional Small Groups: Becoming a Community That Makes a Difference in the World (Baker). Scott artfully places his assessment of the challenges facing small groups as well as his proposed solutions to these challenges in a narrative framework.

Read the full review:
http://www.gregboyd.org/blog/missional-small-groups-a-book-review/

Missional Small Groups:
Becoming a Community That Makes a Difference in the World
.
Scott Boren.
Paperback: Baker Books, 2010.
Buy now:  [ ChristianBooks.com ]

 

In our continuing effort to fund the publication and free distribution of The Englewood Review, we are going to be collaborating more intentionally with Christian Book Distributors.  Primarily, we will be offering you the opportunity to buy bargain books from CBD that we think of are interest.  Buying books this way is a win / win / win proposition.  You get great books for a great price,  CBD gets the sale and we get an excellent referral fee from CBD.  These books make great gifts!

 

This week’s bargain books (Click to learn more/purchase):

  • A History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus.
    by Emil Schurer
    (Hardback, 5 volumes.) $29.99 !!!
  • A Visit to Vanity Fair.
    by Alan Jacobs
    (Hardback)  $0.99!!!
  •  The Story of the Christ.
    By Scot McKnight (Paperback)   $1.99 !!!
  •  


    ERB Editor Chris Smith reviews
    Diana Butler Bass’s  A PEOPLE’S HISTORY
    OF CHRISTIANITY for SOJOURNERS

    http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action=magazine.article&issue=soj0904&article=the-unusual-suspects

    When I was a child my mom used to read me stories of Christian martyrs from an Anabaptist history book called Martyrs Mirror. As I have returned to these often gruesome stories at various stages of my life, I find in them an alternate version of church history that contrasts with the history taught in many churches and schools.

    Similarly, in A People’s History of Christianity, Diana Butler Bass has spun another alternate history of the church. Taking inspiration from Howard Zinn’s book A People’s History of the United States, which offers a new slant on U.S. history, Bass presents here a fresh version of church history that stands in contrast to the militant Christianity she calls “Big C” Christianity, in reference to the key elements of that history: Christ, Constantine, Christendom, Calvin, and Christian America.

    Read the full review:
    http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action=magazine.article&issue=soj0904&article=the-unusual-suspects

    A PEOPLE’S HISTORY OF CHRISTIANITY
    Diana Butler Bass.

    Hardcover: HarperOne, 2009.
    Buy now: [ Doulos Christou Books $21 ]  [ Amazon ]


    Alan Jacobs reviews   The Arcadian Friends:
    Inventing the English Landscape Garden

    For Books and Culture

    http://www.christianitytoday.com/bc/2009/marapr/14.18.html

    Gardening marks, as clearly as any activity, the joining of nature and culture. The gardener makes nothing, but rather gathers what God has made and shapes it into new and pleasing forms. The well-designed garden shows nature more clearly and beautifully than nature can show itself. And this can be a model of politics: people left to their own devices can run riot, make themselves and their environment “ruin’d” and “disorder’d”; properly governed, though, they can flourish, they can become their best selves and make the most of their environment.

    But the governor’s hand, like the gardener’s, can fall too heavy. If we grant that Richard has been careless and thoughtless, has failed to govern, has allowed weeds to overwhelm “our sea-walled garden,” we may also suspect this gardener, who is quick to appoint an “executioner” and is perhaps overly enamored with “evenness” in his realm. We need governors as we need gardeners; but not all forms of government are equally wise or equally beautiful.

    These are among the themes of Tim Richardson’s delightfully expansive book The Arcadian Friends: Inventing the English Landscape Garden. Richardson explores in apt detail the most eventful and meaning-rich period of English landscape gardening, from the Glorious Revolution of 1688—during which the English and the Dutch collaborated in governing and gardening alike—to the middle of the next century, when Lancelot “Capability” Brown strode onto the scene and made an impression that still dominates our sense of the English made landscape.

    Read the full review:
    http://www.christianitytoday.com/bc/2009/marapr/14.18.html

    The Arcadian Friends:
    Inventing the English Landscape Garden

    Tim Richardson.
    Paperback: Bantam Press, 2008
    Buy now: [ Amazon ]


    The NY TIMES of William Julius Wilson’s
    MORE THAN JUST RACE

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/08/books/review/Ford-t.html?_r=1

    When the nation’s first black president took the oath of office, surrounded by the grandeur of the National Mall, it was easy to forget that one of the country’s most isolated and impoverished black ghettos was a few short blocks away. The poverty, violence and hopelessness in America’s inner cities have become increasingly dire in the four decades since the height of the civil rights movement. But as Barack Obama’s victory suggests, racial prejudice is less severe today than ever before. Why haven’t the problems of the ghettos improved along with race relations generally?

    Conservatives have a ready answer. Racism is not the problem; instead, a pervasive culture of instant gratification, violence and loose morals — think gangsta rap — keeps poor blacks from enjoying the American dream, not white racists. Liberals have a more charitable, but unfortunately more obscure, rejoinder. Poor blacks today suffer from covert racism, unconscious racism, institutional racism, environmental racism and a host of other theoretically abstruse “racisms” that don’t involve cross-burning white supremacists or crude Archie Bunker-style bigots — and may not even involve racial animus or discrimination. Each side has little patience for the claims of the other. Conservatives reject the idea of structural and institutional racism as an intellectual’s way of playing the race card. Liberals attack any emphasis on the dysfunctional culture of the poor as “blaming the victim.”

    In “More Than Just Race,” the Harvard sociologist William Julius Wilson recaps his own important research over the past 20 years as well as some of the best urban sociology of his peers to make a convincing case that both institutional and systemic impediments and cultural deficiencies keep poor blacks from escaping poverty and the ghetto.

    Read the full review:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/08/books/review/Ford-t.html?_r=1

    MORE THAN JUST RACE:
    Being Black and Poor in the Inner City

    William Julius Wilson

    Hardcover: Norton, 2009.
    Buy now: [ Doulos Christou Books $20 ]  [ Amazon ]

     

    John Roth’s Essay “Polls Apart” from
    Electing Not to Vote is featured in Catapult magazine
    .

    http://www.catapultmagazine.com/election/feature/polls-apart

    “… Not surprisingly, the chasm dividing our country—along with the simmering tensions evident in offhand comments, eye-catching billboards, or partisan bumper stickers—became increasingly visible in our congregations as well. For the past two years I had been traveling widely in the Mennonite church, visiting dozens of congregations, staying in homes, talking with young people and engaging in conversations with all kinds of people on topics related to “the gospel of peace.” The impressions I gleaned during that period—which happened to coincide with the long presidential campaign—are admittedly anecdotal; but in most of the congregations, I found people keenly aware of national politics and deeply interested in making a link between their Christian convictions and the outcome of the elections. At the same time, however, the nature of the conversation in most Mennonite churches seemed to reflect the tone and substance of the political discourse that was dividing the nation as a whole.

    Now the fact of diversity within the Anabaptist family of churches regarding political engagement is not a new thing. The sixteenth-century Anabaptists were far from unified in regard to their understanding of the sword or how Christians should relate to government; and those in the believers church tradition* have held a wide variety of positions on voting, political activism and office-holding. There is no well-established believers church “orthodoxy” on these questions. Indeed, it should be clear from the outset that the argument I wish to make regarding conscientious abstention from voting should not be understood as a standard of Christian integrity or faithfulness to Anabaptist principles. To be sure, our general commitment to pacifism and the voluntary church have always raised questions about the limits of our allegiance to the state; nonetheless, our traditions have also been characterized by a spectrum of political attitudes, ranging from vigorous engagement to a strict separatism.

    What seemed new in the fall of 2004, however, was not the mere fact of diverse political attitudes but rather the growing “fundamentalism” evident among both the Christian Left and the Christian Right within our congregations, along with the sense that political involvement has now become a Christian imperative. I think we would all agree that the issues facing our country—issues of poverty and health care, housing, care for children and the unborn, security, relations with other countries—are all moral issues about which Christians might have something distinctive to say. But as I traveled in various Mennonite congregations, it became increasingly clear that the nature of the conversation about values and moral choices has been almost completely co-opted by the polarized rhetoric of the media: radio talk show hosts, direct mail campaigns, polemical ads and bloggers. In short, our congregations do not seem to be ready or able to engage the substantive questions of this presidential election in a framework other than that of the Red/Blue divide in our national culture.  …”

    Read the full essay:
    http://www.catapultmagazine.com/election/feature/polls-apart

    Electing Not to Vote:
    Christian Reflections on Reasons for Not Voting.
    Ted Lewis, Editor.
    Paperback. Cascade Books. 2008.
    Buy now from: [ Doulos Christou Books $15 ]


    Books and Culture reviews
    Original Sin: A Cultural History
    by Alan Jacobs.http://www.christianitytoday.com/bc/2008/004/10.36.html 

    “It’s a funny thing when an idea becomes at once singularly despised and surprisingly fascinating, simultaneously passé and sexy. Take the doctrine of original sin—that complex of theological and biological commitments developed and coordinated to make sense of our sense (and Scripture’s) that we are dead ends, all of us. One wonders, though, whether it is our sense these days. Fifty years ago, evangelistic tracts did their Lutheran thing to great effect: Law, then Gospel. Evangelists established points of contact by reminding listeners that they were all sinners—who could deny it?—then moved from problem to solution and invitation. And it worked, more or less.

    But things are different now. The contemporary American landscape features a striking coincidence of blatant brokenness and robust self-esteem. We know we’re broke, but we don’t think we need any fixin’. In fact, we resent the suggestion. We chafe at the occasional attempt to rehabilitate notions of innate sinfulness as world-denying, repressive, and death-dealing.

    Whence, then, the recent rash of books on sin? We might expect that from academic monographs. After all, sin used to matter. Its historical fascination is patent, not least because we delight in figuring out what was wrong with our parents. But a series of wryly written and deftly marketed books on the seven deadly sins, selling for $9.95 a pop? I suspect that sin’s reemergence into the limelight is directly, if inversely, related to its perceived claim on our lives. Now that we can breezily laugh it off, sin has become interesting (if only quaintly so).  … “

    Read the full review:
    http://www.christianitytoday.com/bc/2008/004/10.36.html 

    Original Sin: A Cultural History.
    Alan Jacobs.

    Hardcover. HarperOne. 2008.
    Buy now from: [ Doulos Christou Books $20 ] [ Amazon ]



    The Sustainablog reviews Keith Farnish’s
    e-book A Matter of Scale.

    Review: http://sustainablog.org/2008/07/27/layers-of-ecology-book-
    review-for-a-matter-of-scale-by-keith-farnish/

    E-book: http://www.amatterofscale.com/

    “I can only imagine that Keith Farnish’s comprehensive A Matter of Scale was a similar labor of love.  One can sense the author’s own expressive burst in the feverish love with which he forms his ideas.

    A Matter of Scale is an e-Book only; not yet a typical “print” book.  This could be for a number of reasons.  It could be the author’s environmental concerns of tree-felling for books.  Then, it could be the crux of his whole philosophy of taking personal responsibility for the actions affecting our global ecosystem.  But one thing is certain–A Matter of Scale is unpublished certainly NOT due to its lack of quality insight and urgent information.  For its own modest scale and scope, it packs a wallop.

    A Matter of Scale is a powerful read.  Farnish is a long-time environmental writer, and his experience shows.  Farnish implores us to expand our narrow perspectives about what’s going on with our planet by examining issues that often slip by the naked eye: issues of scale.   …”

    Read the full review:
    Review: http://sustainablog.org/2008/07/27/layers-of-ecology-book-
    review-for-a-matter-of-scale-by-keith-farnish/

    E-book: http://www.amatterofscale.com/

    Keith Farnish.  A Matter of Scale.
    (A Free E-book.)
    http://www.amatterofscale.com/