Archives For Review

 

Letting Go of Old Taboos

A Review of 

PURE: Inside the Evangelical Movement that Shamed a Generation of Young Women and How I Broke Free
Linda Kay Klein

Hardback: Touchstone, 2018.
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Reviewed by Bob Cornwall
 

*** This review originally appeared
on the reviewer’s website.
It is reprinted here with permission.
Browse his website for other excellent reviews!

 
When I finished reading Pure, the U.S. Senate had only hours before concluded its day-long hearing that pitted the memories/claims of a previously obscure woman and the nominee for a life-time appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court that she believed had sexually assaulted her when both were in high school. These two people are both highly educated and at least outwardly successful people. But there may be more to the story than appeared on the surface. The question raised in the hearing was who should be believed. In the past a man’s word would have been taken over that of a woman, unless there was corroborating evidence (see the deuterocanonical story of Susannah). At the heart of such questions is a long-standing belief that a woman should keep herself pure until marriage. In fact, until that point she should be a nonsexual being, lest she begin a slippery slope into sin. The call for purity/virginity is combined with a warning about being a stumbling block to men. And if something untoward happens, like sexual assault, then she must be at fault. Was she drinking? Was she wearing revealing clothing? Was she flirting? If any or all these factors are in play, then she must have been asking for it. That is the line that has bandied about by politicians and from pulpits from time immemorial. In the age of #MeToo and #ChurchToo such beliefs are being challenged, and rightly so.

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Tinker, Tailor, Poet, Spy
 
A Review of
 

Priest Turned Therapist
Treats Fear of God: Poems

Tony Hoagland

 
Paperback: Graywolf Press, 2018
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Reviewed by Aarik Danielsen
 
 
Some children, it seems, belong to secret societies. Their approaches to life suggest membership in good standing with the Future Tinkerers of America, Mini-Mechanics Guild or Tiny Troubleshooters Union. Curiosity leads these children into taking action, and taking apart perfectly good appliances to find the secret buttons or where the wires connect.

Not me. As a child, I assumed every gear and gadget had its right place and right to be undisturbed. Who was I to strip away all the magic and see how one thing led to another?

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What it Means to be a Person
(Rather than an Individual)

 
A Feature Review of

Being Human:
Bodies, Minds, Persons
Rowan Williams

Paperback: Eerdmans, 2018.
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Reviewed by Rob O’Lynn
 
 

*** Our Video Intro to 
Rowan Williams’ work

 

Being Human is a collection of five essays that focus on various aspects of theological anthropology that were given over a period of four years.  A brief introduction begins the volume, in which Williams notes that this “unintended trilogy” has been “less about the basics of Christian belief and behaviour and more about the sort of questions in our culture that make us wonder what ‘real’ humanity is like and whether our most central ideas about what is human are under threat in this environment” (vii).  Williams’ argument specifically in Being Human is that answering the question of what defines a human is now more complicated than ever.  “No need to panic,” Williams notes, because “we do need more clarity than our culture usually gives us as to what we think is ‘more’ human” (vii).  The volume seeks to be somewhat apologetic, although in a more philosophical sense, in that “sources of contemporary confusion” regarding what it means to be human will be addressed so that the reader can find herself more “in alignment with the grace and joy of what is ultimately true—with God and with the will of God, as Christians would say” (vii).  In short, Williams seeks to examine some of the different pressures that are pressed upon the human in order to determine how these pressures shape us into or distort us out of the will of God.

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What it was designed to do.
 
A Review of 

Anti-social Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy
Siva Vaidhyanathan

Hardback: Oxford UP, 2018
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Reviewed by Jeff Nelson
 
 
“The problem with Facebook is Facebook.” That is the title of the introduction to Siva Vaidhyanathan’s extensive writing on the effects that social media has had on the world, on individual cultures, and on individual people. And yet, positioning Facebook as a problem rather than an aid or benefit to social interaction, personal connection, gathering around mutual interests, and political activism might be a hard sell for the millions of people who use it around the world every day. As you might imagine, Vaidyanathan is up to that task, and presents his case in methodical fashion.

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NPR’s book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews this excellent new book…

Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke
in the Richest Country on Earth
Sarah Smarsh

Hardback: Scribner, 2018
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Listen to this review… 

 
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Bringing Passion to
Questions about Missions

 
A Review of 

From the Inside Out:
Reimagining Mission, Recreating the World
Ryan Kuja

Paperback: Cascade Books, 2018
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Reviewed by Allen Stanton
 
 
When I was a child, my father ran a homeless ministry in a deeply impoverished part of North Carolina. When a new family shelter and community development center opened in a former school building several miles from the original shelter and soup kitchen, my father recognized that he needed to visit with the members of his new community. My dad, who is white, asked several of his close partners, mostly African American pastors, to introduce him to voices that he would not hear on his own. They decided to take him to a crack house, just a few doors down from the family shelter.

“What is it you want to see in the community?” my dad asked the drug dealers.

“Honestly, we want a safer place for our kids,” they said with earnestness.
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Nods toward Transcendence 
 
A Feature Review of
 

Ball Lightning:
A Novel
Cixin Liu

Hardback: TOR, 2018
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Reviewed by Jacob Reynold Jones
 
 
It is only the most accomplished science fiction author who successfully networks theory and praxis, weaving a compelling narrative out of the process of science itself.

Cixin Liu’s Ball Lightning is, like much good sci-fi, a discussion of technology’s implications in war and the broader culture, as well as a reflection on the culture of science and its effects in our everyday lives. What sets this novel apart is that it is also the the story of an engineering problem and its solution–a solution that ultimately results in radical applications, with more than a smattering of theological undertones that may interest religious readers in both pantheistic and Abrahamic traditions.

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Honest, Knowledgeable Answers
to Pressing Science Queries
 
A Brief Review of 

Exploding Stars, Dead Dinosaurs,
and Zombies: Youth Ministry
in the Age of Science
Andrew Root

Paperback: Fortress Press, 2018
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Reviewed by Leslie Starasta
 
 
Many individuals inside and outside of the church feel that science and faith are incompatible.  An oft-repeated story is that of the active youth group member who heads off to the state university only to have their Christian faith shredded by a professor.  However, these questions are bubbling to the surface at an earlier age as high school and even junior high students, particularly in our STEM-obsessed society, are faced with these issues.  Church members, parents, and church staff, particularly youth ministers, are often unprepared to face the questions young people raise and can easily fumble the question.  Exploding Stars, Dead Dinosaurs, and Zombies: Youth Ministry in the Age of Science provides a much needed and engaging resource to help with these questions.

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A Nerdy Faith
 
 
A Brief Review of
 

Faith Across the Multiverse:
Parables from Modern Science

Andy Walsh 

Paperback: Hendrickson, 2018.
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Reviewed by Fred Redekop
 
 
Andy Walsh writes his new book Faith Across the Multiverse: Parables from Modern Science, for an audience to which I do not belong (at least in this present universe). Walsh has a PhD in microbiology and has done postdoctoral work in computational biology. Suffice it to say that he is a scientist, and also a deep thinker about the intersections of both science and faith.

I had trouble getting through much of the science that Walsh offers, and admit to having skimmed many parts of the book, particularly the four chapters: “The Language of Mathematics,” “The Language of Physics,” “The Language of Biology,” and “The Language of Computer Science.” I took my last science or math course in Grade 12, so I am not well-versed in this kind of language at all. I have a great interest in science questions, and I do not think that science and faith are opposites. They should be able to be discussed as ways to understand God, but I know that many people see them as archenemies of theological conversation.

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The Healing Balm
Our Wounded Souls Require.
 
A Feature Review of 

Southernmost:
A Novel

Silas House

Hardback: Algonquin Books, 2018
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Reviewed by Daniel Ogle

 

It just makes sense that a book about a Pentecostal preacher begins with a flood. Since the days of Noah, floods, storms and rain that just won’t quit have served as the backdrop for all kinds of sermons from all kinds of preachers.

In Southernmost, the hauntingly beautiful and urgently necessary novel from Silas House, Asher Sharp’s life is upended by a flood, of well, Biblical proportions. The waters rage as a storm turns the river near his Tennessee home into a destructive force. In the search for a beloved dog, Asher and his son, Justin, encounter two gay men.

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