Archives For Review

 

An Earnestness and An Elegance
 
A Feature Review of 
 

The Wrong Way to Save Your Life: Essays
Megan Stielstra

 
Paperback: Harper Perennial, 2017
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Reviewed by Seth Vopat
 
 
We have learned a mere 140 characters is all that is needed to express much in our digital world. Twitter has become the ideal platform for those with a sharp whit who speak and connect with the emotional angst we all feel about current events in our world. For those who need more space the blog has become the preferred method to speak and analyze the present.

Some might say the essay format like Megan Stielstra’s new compilation of essays entitled, The Wrong Way to Save Your Life, is outdated and obsolete in our digital wrong. But, they would be wrong!

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Memory Carved Into the Land

A Review of 

Riverine: A Memoir
from Anywhere but Here
Angela Palm

Paperback: Graywolf Press, 2016
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Reviewed by Sarah Lyons

 

How is it possible to forget something that the land itself remembers?

When Angela Palm was in high school, her next-door neighbor and the boy she loved was sentenced to life in prison.  Corey, just coming off drugs and suffering from withdrawal—details Palm would not learn until much later in her life—murdered two of their elderly neighbors and then stole the couple’s car, lighting it on fire a few towns away in an attempt to erase what he’d done.  In the days that followed his arrest, Palm’s rural Indiana hometown would speculate as to what his motives were.  Her government class took the opportunity to talk about opposing views on the death penalty.  Coworkers whispered rumors until they noticed her listening, and then silenced themselves in a weak attempt to protect her.  No one asked Palm if she was okay, and so she buried the trauma silently inside her.

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Bringing the Seasons Ever Inward
 
A Review of 

Embracing The Seasons: Memories of a Country Garden
Gunilla Norris

Paperback: BlueBridge, 2017
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Reviewed by Michelle Wilbert
 
 
 
It is rare, in my experience, for the introduction to a book to include passages that inspire me to underline them and tuck them in my “Commonplace Book” for later reflection, but such was the case as I began to read this achingly compelling book by psychotherapist, meditation teacher and writer, Gunilla Norris.   The opening paragraphs do a typically admirable job of introducing  “a soulful journey through a country garden and the surrounding land with its stone walls, its brooks,  its hemlocks and maples, its flowers and shrubs and its various living beings…” but it does something more—it articulates why this journal of observation of natural phenomena is a portal to understanding self and others, our placement in the world of things and the importance of engaging our curiosity about the natural world as an essential—and readily available– spiritual discipline.  This is a book about human intimacy with creation focused on the intersection of the natural world with our human endeavors and relationships.  The author understands well the hard work of relationship and of intimacy in particular and begins her narrative by challenging our most human and persistent folly: that we are in control or should be in control or anything or anyone dovetailing with her observation that control and intimacy cannot coexist:

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Single And Married People Together
 
A Review of 
 

One by One: Welcoming the Singles in Your Church
Gina Dalfonzo

Paperback: Baker Books
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Reviewed by Catherine Guiles
 
 
As a never-married Christian woman in my mid-30s who’s been a part of fairly mainstream evangelical-ish churches my entire life, I was excited to read Gina Dalfonzo’s One by One: Welcoming the Singles in Your Church. Like a lot of single Christians, I’ve been the recipient of slights, misunderstandings, exclusions and insults from fellow believers, many unintentional, but all hurtful to one degree or another. But thankfully, I’ve also been the recipient of a great deal of love, community and opportunities to serve and lead — the kind of things Dalfonzo argues that churches need to give more of to their single members, whether never-married, divorced or widowed; male or female; or young or old. I wholeheartedly agree and appreciate the way she unpacks the issue and frames it within a larger, holistic context of how Christians should relate to one another and make their churches places where “if one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it” (1 Cor. 12:26). ­­­

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Here We Are, Slaves to This Day
 
A Feature Review of

Exile: A Conversation
with N.T. Wright

James M. Scott, Ed.

Hardback: IVP Academic, 2017
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Reviewed by Joseph Johnson

 

At their best, good conversations are lively, wide-ranging, and sometimes even surprising. They push us to consider ideas from new angles and hammer out with fresh clarity why we see things the way we do. It’s not always easy to find these kinds of discussions, but the essays that make up Exile: A Conversation with N.T. Wright demonstrate for the most part what thoughtful scholarly discussion is meant to look like. The contributors are generally successful at avoiding the twin pitfalls of uncritical acceptance and blunt rejection in their responses to N.T. Wright’s influential (and controversial) proposal regarding the notion of ongoing exile as an influential “controlling narrative” for many Second Temple Jews and early Jesus followers (8).

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Interpreting a Violent World.

A Review of

Mimetic Theory and Biblical Interpretation: Reclaiming the Good News of the Gospel.
Michael Hardin

Paperback: Cascade Books, 2017.
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Reviewed by Mark Wendland

 

Rene Girard, a French thinker who wrote most of his important works in the 1970s and early 1980s, has become an important guide to issues of violence and religion, whether that takes the form of religion-inspired violence, the violence of God in the text of the Bible, or interpretations of atonement and afterlife that emphasize the wrath of God. Violence is a topic of broad and current interest among Christians today.

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A Good and Useful Guide to Kierkegaard

A Review of

Existing Before God: Søren Kierkegaard and the Human Venture
Paul Sponheim

Paperback: Fortress Press, 2017
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Reviewed by Brandon Pierce
 

Kierkegaard is one of those figures with a certain amount of theological sex appeal. Perhaps it is on account of his “existential” approach to faith or his almost prophetic invective against Christendom that still resonates today. The problem is that he’s a writer that takes a long time to really get to know. It is easier to know a few things about his work than to have actually read any of it. There are reasons for this.

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The Topography of Cancer
 
 A Review of 
 

The Absolute, Relatively Inaccessible
Walter Wangerin Jr.

Paperback: Cascade Books, 2017
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Review by Cynthia Beach

 

He is the type to excavate words long buried beneath century-old grit and neglect—important words, vital words like scop, the word he once handed me that was important enough to shape only my entire life purpose. Scop, the one in ancient Greece who crossed the battlefield and recorded its story. The one who shaped, the one who told the story.

This weathered scop, Walter Wangerin Jr, known for Miz Lil, The Book of the Dun Cow and other marrow-of-the-bone works, has written again. The battlefield he’s crossing has been the field of prolonged cancer and pain and impending death.

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Sitting and Being Still Before God
 
A Feature Review of  

Imaginative Prayer: A Yearlong Guide for Your Child’s Spiritual Formation
Jared Patrick Boyd 

Paperback: InterVarsity Press, 2017
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Review by Erin F. Wasinger

 

The first session, we were flying.

After welcoming the Holy Spirit into our prayer time together, my three elementary-aged daughters and I sat on the living room floor and imagined ourselves in the air.

Reading from the guidebook in my lap, Imaginative Prayer: A Yearlong Guide for Your Child’s Spiritual Formation(InterVarsity Press), I led us from the ocean floor to outer space, each time pausing to admire the beauty of God’s creation.

“There is so much here that God loves,” I read to my girls, then paused. The pattern of reading aloud and silence, of being guided and then left free to wonder for a few moments, is the masterpiece to the imaginative prayer sessions written by author Jared Patrick Boyd, a Vineyard USA pastor, father of four, and spiritual director.

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A Model of Passionate
and Detailed Conversation
 
A Review of 

Old-Earth or Evolutionary Creation?
Kenneth Keathley, J. B. Stump, and Joe Aguirre, Eds.

Paperback: IVP Academic, 2017
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Reviewed by Justin Cober-Lake

 

Religious faith and scientific study haven’t always been at odds, but over the last few decades, few interdisciplinary conversations have been as publicly contentious. Between the rise of New Atheism and the speed of scientific discovery, the culture wars have persisted when it comes to issues like evolution/creation, the age of the earth, and more. These debates haven’t always been amicable, even within Christian circles, but two organizations committed to looking at these fields of study look for healthy ways to advance conversation. BioLogs and Reasons to Believe (RTB) have turned a decade’s worth of interaction into Old-Earth or Evolutionary Creation?, a work designed  to present not only views of the two groups, but also the charitable attitude that informs their ongoing discussions.

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