Archives For Review

 

The Wonder of Love and
the Call of Justice

A Feature Review of 

Healing Spiritual Wounds: Reconnecting with a Loving God After Experiencing a Hurtful Church
Carol Howard Merritt

Hardback: HarperOne, 2017
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Reviewed by Phil Snider

 

Have you ever been afraid in the hallways of your high school because you couldn’t find any of your friends from church, and you thought the rapture had occurred and you were left behind?

Have you ever been inclined to “come forward” to the altar just one more time, to make sure your heart is sincere, even though you’ve already committed your life to Christ on multiple occasions yet somehow can still never feel secure in your salvation?

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Margaret Atwood’s classic dystopian novel has just been released as a TV series on HULU…

 

The Handmaid’s Tale: A Novel
Margaret Atwood

Buy Now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]
 
 

Watch the trailer for this series:

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Pilgrim in Pumps

 
A Review of 

Still Pilgrim: Poems
Angela Alaimo O’Donnell 

Paperback: Paraclete Press, 2017
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Reviewed by James Matichuk

Featured on our list of
Ten New Poetry Books
to Read in 2017!

 

This review originally appeared on the reviewer’s blog.
Reprinted with permission. 
*** Visit his blog for many other insightful reviews!

Angela Alaimo O’Donnell teaches English at Fordham University and is the associate director of Fordham’s Curran Center for American Catholic Studies. She has previously published seven poetry collections (in addition to publishing other books, articles, and essays). Her new collection of poems, Still Pilgrim showcases a steady faith and the journey of a woman through the seasons of life and liturgy.
The project was birthed after O’Donnell made a pilgrimage to Herman Melville’s grave, a few miles from her home in the New York. Melville had written of the passion of men going off to sea, but his grave plot in Woodlawn cemetery in the Bronx was in only one of ‘New York’s five boroughs not surrounded by water” (69).  O’Donnell composed a poem, St. Melville, with these words, “Is this what you were called to still pilgrim,/to sleep beneath six small feet of earth?” (70). An old sailor interred in the earth, still but his work still lives on.

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What has Bioregionalism
to Do with Discipleship?

 
A Feature Review of 

Watershed Discipleship: Reinhabiting Bioregional Faith and Practice
Ched Myers

Paperback: Cascade Books, 2016
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Reviewed by James Matichuk
 
 

This review originally appeared on the reviewer’s blog.
Reprinted with permission. 
*** Visit his blog for many other insightful reviews!

Early Christians asked themselves, “What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?” wondering about the relationship between the Christian faith and pagan philosophy. Today many Christians raise a similar question: “What does my faith have to do with the environment?” Western Christianity has imbibed a functional Docetism since Constantine, placing salvation outside of creation’s realm. We’ve also been bequeathed the medieval Doctrine of Discovery, and Industrialization’s anthropological assumption which has enabled colonization and the exploitation of our natural resources (5-6). We’ve commodified our land and resources and a major divide continually grows between our Christian faith and our lived environments. We are now at a critical juncture in which human persons are making a major impact on our world. It is time to re-place Christian discipleship within our ecosystems.

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What the Bible REALLY Says
about Science

 
A Review of 

Evolution: Scripture and Nature Say Yes!
Denis Lamoureux

Paperback: Zondervan, 2016
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Reviewed by Emily McGowin
 
 
Denis Lamoureux is Associate Professor of Science and Religion at St. Joseph’s College in the University of Alberta. He holds a Ph.D. in theology, a Ph.D. in biology, and a D.D.S., Doctor of Dental Surgery. Lamoureux is the author of Evolutionary Creation: A Christian Approach to Evolution; I Love Jesus and I Accept Evolution; and Darwinism Defeated? The Johnson-Lamoureux Debate on Biological Origins. At one time, Lamoureux was a passionate promoter of young earth creationism (YEC), eager to expose evolution as an elaborate deception. But, in the process of obtaining his Ph.D. in theology, Lamoureux found his assumptions about the Bible—especially what it does and doesn’t teach—challenged and ultimately up-ended. He embarked on a journey to figure out what the Bible really says about science. Evolution: Scripture and Nature Say Yes! is a distillation of Lamoureux’s conclusions and his attempt to help others along the same journey.

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Holy People

 
A Feature Review of 

The Saints:
A Short History

Simon Yarrow

Hardback: Oxford UP, 2016
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Reviewed by Nick Jordan
 
 
 
Simon Yarrow is a historian of medieval religion at the University of Birmingham. His first book, Saints and Their Communities: Miracle Stories in Twelfth-century England, was a reworking of his Oxford dissertation, and he continues to focus on related research areas. The Saints: A Short History is exactly what its title says it is, no dumbed-down version of the larger book, but a well-written and concise survey of the meaning of sainthood in Christian history.

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An Immense Pride in American Food
 
A Feature Review of 
 

Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine
Sarah Lohman

Hardback: Simon and Schuster, 2016
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Reviewed by Andrew Camp
 
 
American cuisine and eating habits are a fascinating subject to me, having worked as a professional chef. We are a nation of immigrants and transplants. Our economic class structure also plays a role in American cuisine. Food deserts in lower income areas have been lamented by many, while middle and upper class people enjoy the bounty of beautiful farmer’s markets year-round.

Because of this, there are widely disparate views on eating and food habits. It seems that every week the newest and surely the greatest diet is being sold on the evening news, which many of us watch while eating a highly-processed dinner. Michael Pollan voiced this very concern in his seminal book The Omnivore’s Dilemma:

Consuming these neo-pseudo-foods alone in our cars, we have become a nation of antinomian eaters, each of us struggling to work out our dietary salvation on our own. Is it any wonder Americans suffer from so many eating disorders? In the absence of any lasting consensus about what and how and where and when to eat, the omnivore’s dilemma has returned to America with an almost atavistic force (301).

While this seems to be the case, is there anything that unites American cuisine? Sarah Lohman, author of the new book, Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine, wondered the same thing. She recognized the extremely diverse culinary traditions of America, but then pondered, “If I look past these differences, I wondered what united America’s culinary culture?” (xv).

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Creative Experimentation
 
A Review of 
 

Sacred Habits: The Rise of the Creative Clergy
Chad Abbott

Paperback: Davies Group, 2016
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Reviewed by Jon Moore.
 
 
Reading Chad Abbott’s Sacred Habits: The Rise of the Creative Clergy reminded me of the deep and wondrous gatherings I was privileged to participate in during the time I was involved in campus ministry or attending seminary. Abbott invited a host of friends to each contribute one thematic chapter to Sacred Habits, and reading one voice after another, shifting from one topic to another, took me right back to those old Spirit-infused encounters with groups of old and new friends always ready to take even a casual conversation to deep and important places.

I am somewhat sad “writing a book review” wasn’t included in the list of Sacred Habits, but thankfully I can still be “a clergy rising from the ashes” (the title of Rev. Abbot’s concluding chapter).

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Men of Their Times and Places
 
A Feature Review of
 

Empire Baptized:
How the Church Embraced What Jesus Rejected
Wes Howard-Brook

Paperback: Orbis, 2016.
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Reviewed by Alden Bass
 
 
In his 1988 Louis H. Jordan Lectures, later published as Drudgery Divine, Jonathan Z. Smith argued that studies of early Christianity were hopelessly mired in confessional apologetics. Narrowing in on the study of Hellenistic Mystery Religions, he observed that Protestants were eager to critique the pagan rites, believing the “pure” religion of Paul to have been corrupted by Romish pomp and ritual. Likewise, Unitarian and Rationalist scholars, in an attempt to get at the Protestants, fingered Paul for introducing “Hellenism” into the rustic parables of Jesus. The Catholics defended all of it.

To Smith’s account we could add “radical” Christian treatments of early Christianity which have multiplied in recent years. Alistair Sykes, Andy Alexis-Baker, Alan Kreider, Everett Ferguson (to name a few) have described an early Christianity which looks an awfully lot like ana/baptist communities: nonviolent ethic, gathered-church ecclesiology, believers’ baptism, and (for Ferguson) acapella congregational singing. These scholars are not inventing things, but they are calling attention to areas neglected by earlier scholars, in the process revising the story of the earliest Christians to embrace their own traditions.

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New, Peaceful Models of Understanding
 
A Review of 
 

God Without Violence: Following A Nonviolent God in a Violent World
J. Denny Weaver

Paperback: Cascade Books, 2016
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Reviewed by: Michelle Wilbert
 
 
In the wake of the recent election, the topics of nonviolence and nonviolent direct action have seen renewed interest in the liberal Christian community—and for good reason as divisions deepen and rage and rancor dominate our civil discourse. What is also occurring is a broader conversation about systemic violence, verbal and emotional abuse and coercion and a long overdue examination of the violence inherent in our religious historical narrative and its impact on culture and society.  Religious violence is on the upswing and a new ways of understanding and living out our inherited religious and theological story is necessary.

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