Archives For *Featured Reviews*

 

Disengaging in order to Flourish

 
A Feature Review of

The Joy of Missing Out: Finding Balance in a Wired World
Christina Crook

Paperback: New Society Publishers, 2015.
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Reviewed by Ryan Johnson.

 

The gentle sounds emanating from my smartphone alert me to the fact that it is time for me to wake up. I go ahead and disconnect it from its power source and crawl out of bed. Throughout the day my phone will serve to remind me what meetings I have, emails I need to respond to, and texts that are vying for my attention. On top of that, it will serve as an entertainment source for when I’m bored (or for when I want to procrastinate) and a way to keep in touch with friends through social media. For all of these services it demands only one thing… my unwavering fixation.
 
In her book, The Joy of Missing Out, Christina Crook explores this unwavering fixation that has grown out of the technology boom of the modern era. The compulsive checking of emails and the incessant check-ins on Facebook have become the norm for society. As Christina points out in her book, the very definition of compulsive behavior is an irresistible urge that is often against one’s own wishes. Our phones are within arm’s reach, our inbox remains open on our computers and our latest tweet was only a few minutes ago, yet we find ourselves drained with little desire or ability to interact with others face to face. Ultimately, it is us who have been disconnected from our power source.

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Meeting a Missionary for the First Time
 
A Review of

Running to the Fire:
An American Missionary Comes of Age in Ethiopia

Tim Bascom

Paperback: U of Iowa Press, 2015
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Reviewed by Sarah Lyons

 

I have grown up in an evangelical church. When I tell you this, it will automatically bring to mind a hundred different ideas of what I am like or what I have experienced, even though I have not told you how old I am or what denomination church I attend. Still, a lot of your assumptions will not necessarily be wrong.
 
For instance, there certainly was a great number of missionaries who passed in and out of my church’s doors. It was common for the sermon to open with a prayer over the next traveling family, often a young mother holding a baby while the father’s hand rested authoritatively on the shoulder of an older brother. I had casual knowledge of at least a dozen families who would later put their feet in places like Thailand or India. And yet, saying this implies that I actually knew a missionary, or at least had a conversation with one—which I didn’t.

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A Dream in your Mind or a Unrelenting Prayer in your Heart

A Feature Review of

Starting Something New: Spiritual Direction for Your God-Given Dream
Beth Booram

Paperback:IVP Books, 2015
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Reviewed by Tiffany Malloy
 
 
I remember the first time I made bread from scratch. I remember emptying the tablespoon of yeast granules into a cup of warm water, stirring it gently, and watching the water begin to fizz and bubble. Soon enough, my bare hands became caked with the sticky dough as I mixed the fizzing yeasty water into the dry ingredients. After much squashing and kneading, everything was good and thoroughly mixed so I covered the bowl with a kitchen towel and set the bowl atop a slightly warmed oven. The directions said I now needed to wait and let the yeast do its thing.

 

A few hours later I lifted up the towel, peeked my nose into the bowl and was delightfully surprised by the huge mound of fluffy dough that replaced the much smaller one that had been there just moments ago (okay, not really moments, but I was chasing 4 kids all morning. Time goes by quickly in my life). I laughed out loud and thought, Amazing.

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A Twenty-First Century Case for the Library
 
A Feature Review of
 

BiblioTech: Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google
John Palfrey

Hardback: Basic Books, 2015
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Andrew Stout
 

*** Watch a lecture by the author on this book! ***

 
As the digital age progresses and grows ever more complex, it is not always clear whether we should talk about the plight of libraries or of their growing importance. Do the continually diversifying channels through which we are permeated with information make libraries more or less relevant? John Palfrey, the former director of the Harvard Law School Library, perceives a definite crisis for libraries, but this crisis encompasses both challenges and opportunities. He calls for libraries to redefine themselves in a “digital-plus” era – an original and very descriptive term. Libraries must find new ways to function more effectively as a public option for knowledgeable and personal guidance to information. Finding new ways to promote democratic access to information becomes increasingly important as the privatized interests of Amazon and Google continue to dominate.

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Opening Doors for Conversation
 
A Review of
 

A Second Shot of Coffee With Jesus
David Wilkie

Paperback: IVP Books, 2015.
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Reviewed by Kevin Wildman.

 

In college I became acquainted with the writings of Henri Nouwen, who quickly became one of my favorite authors. The thing about Nouwen is the simplicity with which he writes. Much of Nouwen’s writings are quick to read, and easy to comprehend, yet at the same time he communicates deep truths that will keep one thinking for days.
 
Like Nouwen, Wilkie is gifted at causing me to think for days, even weeks with a few sort sentences. One can easily pick up A Second Shot of Coffee With Jesus and read through it rather quickly, and unlike more complicated works, reading through this quickly does not hinder comprehension and retention.

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There is no scarcity. There is no shortage.

A Feature Review of

Remnants: A Memoir of Spirit, Activism, and Mothering
Rosemarie Freeney Harding with Rachel Elizabeth Harding

Paperback: Duke University Press, 2015
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Reviewed by Ric Hudgens

Near the end of this utterly unique mother-daughter memoir Rosemarie Freeney Harding (1930-2004) writes: “Grandma Rye and those old Africans put something in the ground. When they got here, they stepped off those boats, chained up and weary. They looked around at this new land and they could see the heartbreak and suffering that were waiting for them and their generation. They saw these traumas waiting for us here. And they knew we were going to need something strong. Some medicine. Some spirit medicine to carry us through these storms.”
 
Remnants: A Memoir of Spirit, Activism, and Mothering is a record of Harding’s journey, the journey of a generation, in drawing upon that spirit medicine as a resource for healing and transformation. Harding is perhaps not as well known as her husband Dr Vincent Harding (1931-2014) and yet this volume is a testament to the individuality of her creative imagination, her deep mystical spirit, and the core of her sacred activism. She was an organizer, teacher, social worker, and co-founder of the Veterans of Hope Project at the Iliff School of Theology.
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A Call to the Table.

 
A Review of

Whole: A Call to Unity in Our Fragmented World
Sharon Watkins.

Paperback:Chalice Press, 2014.
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Review by David Lemley.

 
Sharon Watkins’ Whole is, on one hand, a stirring vision for the life, worship and witness of the local church at the intersection of historic Christian faith and contemporary cultural contexts. On the other, this is a charge delivered by the head of an American-born denomination in decline, developed from a sermon at the National Cathedral and an exposition of recent ecclesial vision statements. The book offers a glimpse into how a radical nineteenth century vision echoes in a twenty-first century context.

 

The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is often identified by its primary visual symbol, the chalice, standing for communion with God around an open table. It is (with self-aware irony) a denomination surviving since the early 1800s, founded on the principle of ending denominational distinctions for the sake of Christian unity. The American Restoration Movement forged various denominational streams along a spectrum of purity and unity, with the Disciples holding fast to the latter. Like many American mainline denominations, to whom contemporary Disciples bear liturgical and demographic resemblance, they perhaps experience decline not so much as a result of sectarianism, but appearing missionally indistinct from other progressive political and social impulses.

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Deeper into the the Way of Jesus

A Feature Review of

The Story of King Jesus

Ben Irwin
Hardback: David C. Cook, 2014
Buy now: [ Amazon ]
*** Kindle ebook Only $1.99!
(through July 7, 2015)

 

A Wolf At the Gate

Mark Van Steenwyk
Paperback: Mennonite Worker Press, 2014
Buy now: Amazon ]

 
 
 
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Biblicism After Blomberg

A Feature Review of
 

Can We Still Believe the Bible?
An Evangelical Engagement with Contemporary Questions
Craig L. Blomberg.

Paperback: Brazos Press, 2014
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Reviewed by Michael Kallenberg

 

The questions Blomberg addresses in Can We Still Believe the Bible? arise from six areas of study that are frequently fraught with misconceptions and distortions from a cacophony of both liberal and conservative voices. To this grating mix, he offers a gracious response. The book consists of candid examinations of the following controversial issues that surround the reliability of the Bible: the results of textual criticism, the selection of books for the canon, the recent proliferation of English translations, the definition and application of inerrancy, the recognition of literary genres that are not straightforward history, and the centrality of miraculous accounts.

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The Curving, Twisting, Intertwining Nature of Reality

A Feature Review of

Traces of the Trinity: Signs of God in Creation and Human Experience
Peter Leithart                                  

Paperback: Brazos Press, 2015
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Reviewed by Andrew Stout

 

Trinitarian theology can often seem more confounding than illuminating, a matter simply of creedal affirmation rather than practical living. In Traces of the Trinity, Peter Leithart, president of the Theopolis Institute in Birmingham, Alabama, upends this impression by examining the world through a trinitarian lens. The goal of the book is “to point to the traces of what theologians call ‘perichoresis’ in creation and in human experience” (vii). He defines perichoresis as the “mutual indwelling,” or “reciprocal penetration,” of the three persons of the Trinity. The term originates in patristic theology and has seen a revival among contemporary theologians. Leithart characterizes his task as “an exercise in trinitarian ‘worldview’” (viii), working from the assumption that “Christians believe that the Triune God created the world, and that should have some implications for the kind of world that it is” (ix). This is Trinitarian theology that goes all the way down.
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