Archives For Christianity

 

Working Alongside Christ All the Way

A Feature Review of

Ordinary Miracles: Awakening to the Holy Work of Parenting

Rachel Gerber

Paperback: Herald Press, 2014
Buy now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Ellen Painter Dollar.

 

I belonged to a church of overcommitted world-changers when I first realized that God was calling me to have a baby, or as it turned out, several babies. God, it seems, was calling my fellow church members to start medical clinics and supportive housing for Washington, D.C.’s homeless population, or to give up comfortable suburban lives and move their families to violence-ridden urban neighborhoods. And here I was, called to wipe noses and bottoms, launder tiny outfits stained by blow-outs and spit-up, and figure out how to get adequate plant-based foods into growing bodies. This did not seem right, and I struggled for many years to understand how God might be present, and how I might connect with God, while caring for small children instead of doing Big Things for Jesus.

 

Rachel Gerber’s Ordinary Miracles: Awakening to the Holy Work of Parenting is a gentle invitation to mothers like me—firm in our faith but unsure how to nurture that faith while navigating the tedious, exhausting terrain of life with little ones—to notice and celebrate “the sacred mundane.” Her most natural audience is parents in progressive Christian traditions (Gerber is an ordained Mennonite pastor) that, like my D.C.-based church, more readily celebrate outward justice-oriented and pastoral work than domestic duties. Her message may also appeal to mothers in more conservative traditions, where a perception of motherhood as a woman’s highest calling can make it hard for women to confess that their days are more marked by fatigue, boredom, and even rage than joy and spiritual fulfillment.

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After perusing our print magazine and all the online reviews, etc. that we have published this year, here are our picks for the 25 best books from the first half of 2014, divided into four broad categories.

NOTE: Some of these books may have been released in late 2013, but weren’t covered by us until 2014.

ALSO, Watch for our list of 25 books to watch for in the latter half of 2014, coming tomorrow!

Fiction | General Non-Fiction | Poetry | Christian Theology/Praxis

Fiction Books:

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January 15 marks the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Mainstream American culture tends to have a narrow view of King’s work, limited primarily to his leadership in the Civil Rights movement. However, King’s vision was rooted in the desire for a beloved community in which not only were all people equal, but in which all violence, poverty and injustice were abolished — a vision that flowed from King’s deep faith in the life and teachings of Jesus.  In the following slideshow, we introduce the breadth of King’s prophetic faith, by means of 15 memorable quotes.

Please download and share these slides on Facebook, Pinterest, etc. as you see fit…

[ The Essential Box Set of King’s Speeches and Sermons ]

Martin Luther King

 

NEXT – QUOTE #2   >>>>>>

Which of these quotes from Martin Luther King
speaks to you most powerfully?

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Marked by Redemptive Suffering, Nonviolence, and Shalom

Review of

Fight: A Christian Case for Nonviolence

Preston Sprinkle

Paperback: David C. Cook, 2013.
Buy now: [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Wes Magruder

 

It’s astounding how eagerly North American evangelicals have supported military operations in the recent past. Polls suggest that as many as 79% of evangelicals supported the Iraq invasion in 2003. That’s why Preston Sprinkle’s new book, Fight: A Christian Case for Nonviolence, seems so overdue. It’s astounding that it took this long for a book aimed at the popular evangelical Christian audience to hit the market.  Sprinkle became converted to nonviolence only recently; in 2009, as he claims, based on his own careful study of Scripture, he decided that “Christians shouldn’t kill or use violence — not even in war.”

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Consuming, Creating and Critiquing

A Feature Review of

PopCultured: Thinking Christianly about Style, Media and Entertainment
Steve Turner

Paperback: IVP Books, 2013.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]
 
Reviewed by Matt Miles
 
You don’t have to watch television or movies or listen to the radio to be exposed to popular culture. If you wear clothes, use social media or ever set foot outside your door you are, like the rest of us, immersed in it. For Christians, there are usually two choices: avoid as much of popular culture as possible since it is worldly and a waste of sacred time, or partake indiscriminately and categorize “good” and “bad” entertainment the same way non Christians do.  Steve Turner, a journalist, author, and poet argues that for Christians, neither of these approaches are acceptable. If Christ is Lord of the Christian’s life, He should be Lord of all of it, including recreational time. On the other hand, being unaware of pop culture can deprive the Christian of a common language many people share and the ability to connect with people who don’t share the same belief or background. More than this, as a journalist who had many a discussion on popular culture, he believes Christians can and should create within the culture, because we have something to say. He contends we should consume discerningly, critique faithfully, and create wisely.  The author’s insurmountable task in PopCultured: Thinking Christianly about Style, Media and Entertainment is to spark the Christian imagination on what engagement with pop culture could look like. At his best, Steve Turner does exactly that.

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Nicole Baker Fulgham discusses her new book:

Educating All God’s Children: What Christians Can – and Should – Do to Improve Public Education for Low-Income Kids
Nicole Baker Fulgham

Paperback: Brazos Press, 2013
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

*** Watch for this book in the CCDA Bookstore in New Orleans Sept 11-14!

[ Read our review… ]






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The Only Really Honest Ones?

A Feature Review of

Sober Mercies: How Love Caught Up with a Christian Drunk
Heather Kopp

Hardback: Jericho Books, 2013
Buy now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Ellen Painter Dollar.
 
In a recent interview, popular blogger, author, and recovering alcoholic and bulimic Glennon Melton said this:

I think addicts are the only really honest ones. Life is hard, and everyone thinks so, but we’re the ones who say we will not pretend…Through our recovery, we also tend to end up much more self-aware and grateful than the general population. We believe in miracles, because we are one. We tend to be compassionate to others’ suffering because we’ve suffered. I really like us.

While Heather Kopp, author of Sober Mercies: How Love Caught Up with a Christian Drunk, has a gentler, more nuanced style than the über-intense Melton, I think she would agree with this assessment wholeheartedly. While Kopp was a Christian long before she got sober, the honest self-examination required by recovery gave her faith a gritty depth and necessity it lacked before. We Christians talk a good game about how badly we screw up and need God’s grace, while indulging in surreptitious self-congratulatory back pats. We still believe on some level that we are saved by our wit and our wisdom, our commitment to prayer or stocking the church food pantry, and our Christmas tradition of giving gifts to the poor instead of each other. We can go on like this, awash in self-deception, for years—perhaps our whole lives—if we are lucky enough to live a life with few crises.

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Beyond Narnia and Mere Christianity

A Guide to Seven Lesser Known Books by C.S. Lewis

2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the death of C.S. Lewis.

Now would be a good time to revisit Lewis’s work; re-read the Chronicles of Narnia certainly, share them with your kids or grandkids, but also dig deeper into his work, you might be surprised by what you find.  We offer here a guide to seven of our favorite lesser-known books by C.S. Lewis.  We hope that you will find this guide helpful as you revisit his work over the coming months and years.

Also of interest for this C.S. Lewis anniversary year:

What other books would you include here? What are your favorite C.S. Lewis books?

 

> > > >
Next Book

Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life

If you haven’t read this already, I would definitely start here, with this autobiographical narrative of the first half (or so) of Lewis’s life. Surprised by Joy tells of the story of Lewis’s youth and the staunch atheism he developed, as well as his eventual conversion to Christianity.  This book tells the story of the experiences that would set the stage for the breadth and depth of his writing, and in that way this memoir is helpful in understanding the rest of Lewis’s work.  Borrowing its title from a Wordsworth poem, this book is arranged around the theme of joy and the role that it played in guiding Lewis to faith and guiding his work for the balance of his life. 

 

Addressing Educational Disparities.

 A Feature Review of

Educating All God’s Children: What Christians Can – and Should – Do to Improve Public Education for Low-Income Kids
Nicole Baker Fulgham

Paperback: Brazos Press, 2013
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by David Swanson.

 

There will be forty-nine fewer public schools in Chicago when fall rolls around in a few months. These shuttered neighborhood schools were casualties in the ongoing war of education reform. Pensions, property taxes, charter schools, teachers unions, segregated neighborhoods, and city government all have their places in this complicated war. The children have a place too; more often than not, they are the victims.

 

As a Christian I watched the back and forth leading up to the school closings with one specific question in mind: How do individual Christians and local congregations respond to the education crisis in my city and around the country? If there is any doubt that public education is in crisis then Nicole Baker Fulgham’s book, Educating All God’s Children, should convince the most dubious skeptic.  Early on she outlines the inequities most of us have become accustomed to: far greater percentages of Asian American and White students gradate high school in four years than do African American and Hispanic/Latino students; noticeably fewer African American forth-graders preform basic math skills compared with White students.  Many of us have heard these sorts of statics often enough that we no longer really hear them; Educating All God’s Children makes sure we listen closely while beginning to imagine a different future.

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The Hard Work of Living in the Here and Now

A Review of

And the Criminals With Him: Essays in Honor of Will D. Campbell and All the Reconciled.

Will Campbell and Richard C. Goode, eds.

Paperback: Cascade Books, 2012.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Chris Enstad

 

Will Campbell has been a Baptist preacher, campus pastor, and worked in the National Council of Churches during the height of the civil rights era.  His work in the field of reconciliation has earned him accolades and rebukes by liberal and conservative alike.  During the 60’s and 70’s Campbell’s work with the Committee of Southeran Churchmen confounded liberals who wished to damn racists to hell.  Campbell’s endearing message can be found in the now-closed journal Kattalegete, named for the Greek word for “Be Reconciled.”  In Scripture, Campbell discovered, Paul wrote to all sides of the Christian argument as though they were already reconciled to each other through Christ’s blood, the work had been done, now it was just up to us to realize it!

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