Archives For United States


[easyazon_image align=”left” height=”333″ identifier=”0691182728″ locale=”US” src=”” tag=”douloschristo-20″ width=”216″]Can the United States thrive in a
diverse, multifaith social environment?
A Feature Review of

Out of Many Faiths:
Religious Diversity and the American Promise.

Eboo Patel

Hardback: Princeton UP, 2018.
Buy Now:  [ [easyazon_link identifier=”0691182728″ locale=”US” tag=”douloschristo-20″]Amazon[/easyazon_link] ] [easyazon_link identifier=”B07DZQMRS9″ locale=”US” tag=”douloschristo-20″]Kindle[/easyazon_link] ]

Reviewed by Barton Price
The question that pervades the volume Out of Many Faiths is how the United States can thrive in a diverse, multifaith social environment that finds common ground among all religious faiths for the betterment of society. This has been the chief question that has captured Eboo Patel’s career and rise in popularity. At the heart of Patel’s essays is the core American faith, a civil religion that transcends religious identity. Patel asserts that civil religion “hold[s] a diverse society together, to provide us with a narrative that allows people from a range of backgrounds to not only feel American but also feel that there is something sacred in that” (23). His definition of civil religion is informed by Philip Gorski’s American Covenant—a book that I reviewed for ERB in 2017. Yet he departs quite drastically from Gorski’s and Robert Bellah’s understanding of American civil religion as rooted in a Judeo-Christian tradition and its sacred texts of the Hebrew Bible and Christian New Testament.

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Today is the first day of Black History Month… 

Although we should be reading more books by black authors, and about black history, throughout the year, February is a good reminder of this, and an opportunity to be more intentional in our efforts to read diversely.

Looking for a book on black history to read this month?

Here are 15 important ones that might be of interest. Although not all of these would be categorized by libraries / bookstores as history books, they are all saturated with the history of the black experience in the United States. All of these (with one noted exception) were written by black authors. We’ve tried to focus on stories from black history that may not be as familiar as the MLK and Malcolm X ones from the civil rights era.


  [easyazon_image align=”center” height=”500″ identifier=”0307476855″ locale=”US” src=”” tag=”douloschristo-20″ width=”421″]

[easyazon_link identifier=”0307476855″ locale=”US” tag=”douloschristo-20″]Life Upon These Shores: Looking at African American History, 1513-2008[/easyazon_link]

Henry Louis Gates

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Praying for Justice

This extraordinary new book guides through daily prayer for the marginalized in U.S. society (and the world) through all four years of the Trump presidency…


Praying for Justice: A Lectionary of Christian Concern
Anderson Campbell and Steve Sherwood

Paperback: Barclay Press, 2017
Buy Now:  [ [easyazon_link identifier=”1594980381″ locale=”US” tag=”douloschristo-20″]Amazon[/easyazon_link] ]


From the introduction:

“It’s easy to look at the campaign rhetoric during the previous eighteen months and conclude that the next four years are going to be profoundly difficult for the vulnerable in our society. The reality is that, for them, every year is difficult. Most of the Founding Fathers were slaveholders. Franklin Delano Roosevelt interred more than one hundred thousand Japanese American citizens. Liberal and conservative presidents led a country that for decades allowed Jim Crow laws to remain in place and denied women the right to vote. John Fitzgerald “Jack” Kennedy dragged his feet on civil rights reform. Ronald Reagan’s policies on mental health led to an explosion in the number of homeless in our country. Bill Clinton ushered in the mass incarceration of young African Americans. Barack Obama has deported more undocumented immigrants than any president before him. If one is convinced, as we are, that God’s heart is uniquely for those without power, without recourse to justice, then there has never been a time in our nation’s history when the powers that be have been in alignment with this passion of God’s.”


My endorsement for this book:

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[easyazon_image align=”left” height=”333″ identifier=”B016JPTQ9U” locale=”US” src=”” tag=”douloschristo-20″ width=”221″]The most important new book release of this week was most likely:

White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America
Nancy Isenberg

Hardback: Viking Books, 2016
Buy now:  [ [easyazon_link identifier=”B016JPTQ9U” locale=”US” tag=”douloschristo-20″]Amazon[/easyazon_link] ]  [ [easyazon_link identifier=”B016JPTQ9U” locale=”US” tag=”douloschristo-20″]Kindle[/easyazon_link] ]
Here is a great video of a talk in which she overviews the argument of the book…
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[easyazon_image add_to_cart=”default” align=”left” asin=”B00VK5HN3G” cloaking=”default” height=”333″ localization=”default” locale=”US” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” src=”” tag=”douloschristo-20″ width=”222″]A Window into Baptist life

A Review of

Baptists in America: A History
Thomas Kidd and Barry Hankins

Hardback: Oxford UP, 2015
Buy now: [ [easyazon_link asin=”0199977534″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”douloschristo-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”default”]Amazon[/easyazon_link] ]  [ [easyazon_link asin=”B00VK5HN3G” locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”douloschristo-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”default”]Kindle[/easyazon_link] ]


Reviewed by Theron St. John

Geroge Santayana is credited with saying, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” In other words, learning from history is not simply recollecting what has happened in the past; learning from history also gives consideration to the present and future. This pertains to not only American history or history of civilizations, but it involves church history, specifically Baptist history. Indeed Thomas S. Kidd and Barry Hankins have compiled such a work, Baptists in America: A History. They understand the importance of history for the church. In the book, they take the reader on a tour, sharing how Baptists were outsiders who became insiders to only become outsiders again. Their work on Baptist history in American can be summarized as extensive within the Baptist denomination and faithful to the events in the history of the denomination.

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[easyazon_image add_to_cart=”default” align=”left” asin=”0190230975″ cloaking=”default” height=”333″ localization=”default” locale=”US” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” src=”” tag=”douloschristo-20″ width=”221″]From Myth to History

Inventing a Christian America: The Myth of the Religious Founding
Steven K. Green

Hardcover: Oxford UP, 2015
Buy now:  [ [easyazon_link asin=”0190230975″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”douloschristo-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”default”]Amazon[/easyazon_link] ]  [ [easyazon_link asin=”B00W5XWB4S” locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”douloschristo-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”default”]Kindle[/easyazon_link] ]

Reviewed by Michial Farmer

In March 2010, the Texas Board of Education found itself embroiled in a national controversy when it debated, and ultimately approved, a textbook that put a social-conservative spin on American history. (The national scope of the controversy was justified because Texas is one of the country’s largest purchasers of textbooks; what is held true in Dallas therefore is made truth a lot of other places.) Among the distinctive features of the new textbooks was the removal of Thomas Jefferson from a list of thinkers who inspired eighteenth- and nineteenth-century revolutions. He was replaced by Moses, Thomas Aquinas, and John Calvin.

This decision makes more sense in the broader context of American social conservatism, a branch of which has focused for several decades on proving that the Founding Fathers were devoted to orthodox Christianity, or at least not as committed to secular government as the liberal consensus would have it. Jefferson—as a demonstrably unorthodox religious thinker who literally cut the miracles out of his copy of the New Testament—does not fit into this narrative. And since he coined the phrase “a wall of separation between church and state,” the proponents of the new curriculum thought it wiser to downplay his undeniable influence on republican politics.

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Looking back, perhaps with an eye to the future, Galambos believes “that America needed leaders who could manage the experts and do so in ways that served our national interests and were still consistent with American democratic values.” (219). While he found that “in business, as in government and the nonprofit sector, it took a combination of good leaders and professional expertise to keep an organization efficient as well as innovative” (238), in the end that is not enough. A society does need good leadership, but Galambos would do well to pay more attention to the issue of the character that a society’s narratives produce. The problem and the challenge is not leaders to manage the experts, but the ethos out of which the leaders and their experts operate. The innovative efficiency of experts needs more than a sprinkling of equity, it needs to be shaped by a story that attends to the top and the bottom as well as the middle–it needs community.

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I, too, sing America.
Langston Hughes

[ In remembrance of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday ]

Langston Hughes [1902-1967] was one of the prominent American poets of the Harlem Renaissance.

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

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Cross and Lynching TreeImmersing ourselves Deeper
into God’s Mission of
Reconciling Creation

A Review of

The Cross and the Lynching Tree.
James Cone.
Hardback: Orbis Books, 2011.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Chris Smith.

I have long had a deep respect for the work of James Cone.  I don’t always agree with him, but even when I don’t I find his work compelling and engaging.  Although I am sympathetic to his emphasis on liberation theology, I don’t agree with the way in which he leaves the door open for the use of violent means in pursuit of liberation. Similarly, I’ve never been able to accept his embrace of both Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X, as “advocating different methods that corrected and complemented each other, as they worked for the same goal – the liberation of black people from white supremacy.”  Despite my disagreements with other parts of his work, I am convinced that in his newest book The Cross and the Lynching Tree, he is spot on.

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“Conversation Places

A Review of
Main Street Public Library:
Community Places and Reading Spaces
in the Rural Heartland, 1876-1956

by Wayne Wiegand

Reviewed by Sam Edgin.

Mian Street Public Library - WayneWiegandMain Street Public Library:
Community Places and Reading Spaces
in the Rural Heartland, 1876-1956

Wayne Wiegand.
Paperback: U of Iowa Press, 2011.
Buy now: [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

Childhood memories may often fail me, but often those that endure often involve the public library in the town where I grew up. They are fit into my past like so many complex puzzle pieces; the ones your aunt would superglue to a sheet of cardboard so her hard work would never be dismissed. Perhaps it is that homeschooling tends to create a great affinity with libraries and the array of knowledge held within, or maybe some ancient magic surrounds the art of reading books to groups of children; but I sit here, twenty-odd years later, and one of my favorite places is the public library.

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