Archives For Social Criticism

 

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

Southernmost:
A Novel

Silas House

Hardback: Algonquin Books, 2018
Buy Now:
Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]  [ Audible  ]

 
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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Standing up for Ourselves
 
A Feature Review of
 

Resist and Persist: Faith and the Fight for Equality
Erin Wathen

Paperback: WJK Books, 2018
Buy Now: [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]
 
Reviewed by D. S. Leiter

 

I’m not sure Erin Wathen would expect or approve of my reaction when I finished reading her book, but here it is: I wanted to take my car on a roadtrip to her home state, find the church she pastors, and give her a big hug, then sit down and have a long conversation with her to find out more about her views on how the church should be working to be on the forefront of feminism.

Whether or not she would approve of my action, however, there it is. (Erin, if you’re reading this, please know that I would be doing so not as a creepy stalker, but because it frankly feels like you could use a hug, and because I’d like to dialogue with you more. I won’t actually do it.)

A variety of things in the book evoked this response in me.

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June 24 marks the birthday of renowned American social critic Rebecca Solnit. 

In honor of the occasion, we offer this introductory reading guide to her work.

 

Rebecca Solnit has been featured on our list of
10 Social Critics that Christians Should Read

 

We’ve ordered this list in the order that we think the books should be read, and we offer a brief explanation of why each book was included. We’ve included excerpts of most the books via Google Books.
 

1)   The Faraway Nearby

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One of this week’s best new book releases is…
 

Natural Causes:
An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer

Barbara Ehrenreich

Hardback: Twelve, 2018
Buy Now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]
 
 
Listen to this public radio interview from WNYC 
with the author about this provocative new book:
 
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Accessible Silence
 
A Review of
 

Silence: In the Age of Noise
Erling Kagge

Hardcover: Pantheon, 2017.
Buy Now: [  Amazon ] [ Kindle ]
 
Reviewed by Bailey Shannon
 
Erling Kagge is a man of many talents. As an explorer, lawyer, art collector, publisher, and author, Kagge possesses rich knowledge that touches all parts of the human experience. In his most recent book Silence: In the Age of Noise , Kagge reflects on some his life experiences in an attempt to answer the following questions: What is silence? Where is it? Why is it more important now than ever?

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“Get Proximate to Suffering”
 
A Feature Review of

White Awake:
An Honest Look at What It Means to Be White

Daniel Hill

Paperback: IVP Books, 2017
Buy Now: [ Amazon ] [  Kindle ]
 
 
Reviewed by Justin Cober-Lake
 
 
CNN showed the terror happening in the park where I used to eat my lunch. It showed a man being beaten in the garage where I used to park for church. It showed a car attack on the street where I used to go for Chinese food and used books. My town Charlottesville turned into a danger zone before my eyes, and – while I was safely away on vacation – I tried to account for my friends who were downtown.

The events that happened last summer connect to public arguments over Confederate statues, similar to the debates taking place across the US South. The conversations after the tragedy of August 12 (and before that, during the previous election cycle) became more urgent, whether in home groups, bars, or Girl Scout meetings, or on social media. The urgency hasn’t helped the clarity; the same miscommunication continues, and the weight of the same conversations and same experience of talking past each other still lies heavy.

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The Present, Shameful Debacle.

A Review of

No One Cares About Crazy People:
The Chaos and Heartbreak of Mental Health in America
.
Ron Powers

Hardback: Hachette Books, 2017
Buy Now: [ Amazon ]  [  Kindle  ]

 

Reviewed by Ben Brazil

 

*** LISTEN to an NPR interview
     with the author of this book… 

 

When Scott Walker was in the midst of his successful run for Wisconsin’s governorship, Milwaukee County Hospital faced allegations that its mentally ill patients had suffered vicious abuse. As Walker’s team worried about political fall-out – he was Milwaukee County executive at the time – an aid’s email offered reassurance.  “No one,” she explained, “cares about crazy people.”

Ron Powers’ new book, which draws its title from that callous phrase, provides infuriating proof that it is entirely accurate, as well as heartbreaking evidence that it is not.  On the infuriating side, Powers provides a nuanced, multi-layered history of the callousness, ignorance, greed, and ideological rigidities that have left the nation’s mentally ill in “conditions of atrocity” (xix).

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Today (October 5th) marks the anniversary of the death of one of the most important social critics of the past 50 years, Neil Postman.  In honor of the occasion, we offer this introductory reading guide to his work.

We’ve ordered this list in the order that we think the books should be read, and we offer a brief explanation of why each book was included. We’ve included excerpts of most the books via Google Books.

1)  Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business

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The World As a Waiting Room

A Review of

Be Still!: Departure from Collective Madness
Gordon Stewart

Paperback: Wipf & Stock, 2017
Buy Now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Madeline Cramer

“For a split second, I imagine the world
as a waiting room.”

 

“Strange as it may seem, I often feel the way John Lennon did. I dream of a different kind of world…” the Presbyterian minister and social commentator Gordon Stewart says in “Creating Hell in the Name of Heaven”—one of a collection of brief essays in his book Be Still: Departure from Collective Madness. And, considering the timeless popularity of John Lennon’s song “Imagine,” don’t we all long for something more than what we see in front of us? Don’t we all envision a better world? If not, what would motivate us? Who would want to raise children in a world doomed to fail? Who would go to church believing that God’s kingdom would never come? But, of course, as his essay notes, that’s the Catch-22. As humans, we continue to imagine because we want a better world, but our desire for “better” also breeds anxiety. Why aren’t things already better? Who stands against us? Against our children? Is it ISIS? Is it the Republicans? Is it you?

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One of this week’s best new book releases is …
 

Vanishing New York:
How a Great City Lost Its Soul
Jeremiah Moss

Hardback: Dey Street Books, 2017
Buy Now:  [  Amazon ]  [ Kindle  ]
 
 
This is an insightful and provocative book on the future of cities by the creator of the Vanishing New York blog
 

Listen to a great interview that the author did with public radio station WNYC…

(If the embedded player below doesn’t work, CLICK HERE to listen…)
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