Archives For *Brief Reviews*


Gandhi's Printing PressOn the anniversary of Gandhi’s death, I thought I would post my recent review of

Gandhi’s Printing Press: Experiments in Slow Reading
Isabel Hofmeyr

Hardback:  Oxford UP, 2013
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[ FREE Ebook of Gandhi's

This review originally appeared on the Books And Culture website, and was later shared on Andrew Sullivan’s The Dish.

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Maurice FriedmanI and Thou and Thou

A Review of

My Friendship with Martin Buber
Maurice Friedman

Hardback: Syracuse UP, 2013
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Review by Michial Farmer


All Americans who love the work of the great German-Jewish theologian and philosopher Martin Buber owe an immense debt of gratitude to Maurice Friedman, whose 1956 analysis of Buber’s work, Martin Buber: The Life of Dialogue, was the first book of its sort. Friedman was the first translator of many of Buber’s best-loved essays, including most of those published in 1952’s The Eclipse of God; these essays were read and loved by many of the most important theologians of mid-century America, including Paul Tillich, Reinhold Niebuhr, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Two Brief Reviews

by C. Christopher Smith, ERB editor.

Brief Reviews

Radical Jesus: A Graphic History of Faith
Paul Buhle, Editor.

Paperback:  Herald Press, 2013.
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It Was GoodExalting the Giver of Music

A Review of

It was Good: Making Music to the Glory of God
Ned Bustard ed.

Paperback: Square Halo Books, 2013.
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Reviewed by Erin M. Stephens


If the Church is the Body of Christ, then music is its heartbeat. Music reverberates in the spirit, draws individuals together into community, and guides them in the common desire to exalt their Savior. Through music, Christians experience an inexplicable link to their Creator. Though mysterious, this interaction is a central facet of Christianity that intimately informs your relationship with God. Each follower of Christ, regardless of personal musical ability, should cultivate a God-centered understanding of music. For such an endeavor, It was Good: Making Music to the Glory of God edited by Ned Bustard is an ideal resource. In its engaging pages, thirty devout music-professionals offer their unique perspectives on music-making. Its content is accessible, its contributors authoritative, and its captivating insights universally applicable, making this book a necessary pleasure for worship leader and worshiper alike.

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Sue Moore DonaldsonA Regular Part of our Everyday Lives


A Brief Review of

Come To My Table: God’s Hospitality and Yours

Sue Moore Donaldson

Paperback: CreateSpace, 2013
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Reviewed by Sara Sterley


Hospitality is a loaded issue in these days of Martha Stewart, Pinterest, and a whole host of other blogs, personalities, and magazines. I love to cook and host friends at our house, but I didn’t really connect those passions to hospitality until more recently and certainly until after reading Come To My Table. I’m coming to think of hospitality as a cornerstone of our faith, and I think we need to reclaim hospitality from the lofty Pinterest ideal.

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Dana TrentA Faith Identity Rooted in the Love and Example of Christ
A Review of

Saffron Cross: The Unlikely Story of How a Christian Minister Married a Hindu Monk
J. Dana Trent

Paperback: Fresh Air Books, 2013.
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Reviewed by John W. Morehead


Read the conversation that Rachel Held Evans hosted with Dana Trent and her husband Fred

According to recent research by Naomi Schaefer Riley, the number of interfaith marriages is increasing. 45% of all marriages in the last decade involved couples from differing religious traditions. Riley’s research also shows that these marriages are not easy. Although we live in an age that is calling for increasing religious tolerance, this does not make the daily struggles of interfaith marriage any easier to wrestle with.


These difficulties are illustrated in Saffron Cross, where Dana Trent, a Christian minister with connections to the Southern Baptist Convention, shares her experiences in an interfaith marriage with her husband Fred, a Hindu and former monk. This is an interesting volume that provides insights into what the partners in such marriages experience, and it includes lessons for those outside of such marriages. Their experiences navigating such relationships have much to teach us in navigating religious pluralism.
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Peter CelanoA Guided Tour Of Hell
A Brief Review of

Faces from Dante’s Inferno: Who They Are, What they Say, And What It All Means

Peter Celano

Paperback: Paraclete Press, 2013.
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Reviewed by Leslie Starasta

*** This book is a companion to Longfellow’s translation of Dante’s Inferno, which is available as a free ebook (in multiple formats) here.

Dante’s Inferno, the first part of his work The Divine Comedy, is a piece of literature which many people have heard referenced or have a passing familiarity with its content,  but a much smaller number of people have actually read.  This classic work of Italian poetry has served as an inspiration for numerous other works of literature, art, and even movies, yet no longer is a text read or studied by many individuals.  Many people feel intimidated to even begin such a book.  Fortunately, Peter Celano’s newest work Faces from Dante’s Inferno: Who They Are, What they Say, And What It All Means is available to help.
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Kate BowlerThe Growing Influence of the Prosperity Movement

A Review of

Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel

Kate Bowler


Hardback: Oxford UP, 2013
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Reviewed by Douglas Connelly.
If you are looking for a critique of the prosperity gospel or a biblical evaluation of its teaching, this is not the book for you.  In her first book – an adaptation of her doctoral dissertation – Kate Bowler tells the story of how the American prosperity gospel began and developed, and she introduces us to some of the main prosperity preachers.  But Bowler does not take a side in the debate over prosperity teaching.  Instead she tries (and largely succeeds) to give an even-handed account of how such teaching set its roots in American religious culture and how it grew into the mega-influence it is today.

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Laura Lapins WillisDeep into the Wilderness of Our Own Souls

A Review of

Finding God in a Bag of Groceries:
Sharing Food, Discovering Grace

Laura Lapins Willis

Paperback: Abingdon, 2013
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Reviewed by Denise Frame Harlan

After handing out a bag of groceries in the church food pantry, Laura Lapins Willis offers to show her church sanctuary to a client, and then Laura demonstrates how communion is served. The unchurched woman asks rapturously if Laura could please, please baptize her right there and then. But in Laura’s church, only ordained priests are allowed to baptize new believers. Witnesses are needed, a congregation is needed.


Laura herself is struggling: is handing out groceries in the name of Jesus enough? What is the difference between offering loaves of bread in paper bags, and offering wafers of bread at the kneeling rail? Both are callings—is one calling better than another?
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Karen BeattieThe Journey of Life
A Brief Review of

Rock-Bottom Blessings: Discovering God’s Abundance When All Seems Lost
Karen Beattie

Paperback: Loyola, 2013
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Reviewed by Leslie Starasta
Except among very close friends, people are often tempted to put on an “everything is going well” facade even when things are not going well at all. Karen Beattie pulls back the curtain and allows readers to enter into her life in her memoir Rock-Bottom Blessings: Discovering God’s Abundance When All Seems Lost. Beattie focuses on her life experiences when she, as the title suggests, hits “rock-bottom” by losing her job and the subsequent effects on her marriage and desire to adopt.
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