Archives For *Featured Reviews*


Looking for God’s Fingerprint

A Feature Review of

Burning Bush 2.0: How Pop Culture Replaced the Prophet
Paul Asay

Paperback: Abingdon Press, 2015
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Reviewed by Danny Wright


In Burning Bush 2.0: How Pop Culture Replaced the Prophet, Paul Asay, from the often-visited website, takes the reader on a journey through pop culture’s music, movies, television shows and video games in order to experience God’s message that extends to each of us through those various forms of communication. Asay knows that we search for God in all of our stories and that we need to make sure we do not miss his revelations as we live in this storied existence. He wants to help us hone our ability to be sensitive to the Spirit’s guidance as we live, move and have our being in God and shuffle through this God-created, God-soaked and God-sustained world in which He is not very far from any one of us. Each chapter begins with a quote that focuses the reader and prepares them for the journey of the following pages as he begins to bounce back and forth through a variety of references to well-known media.

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Come Listen. Come Learn.

A Review of 

A Faithful Farewell: Living Your Last Chapter With Love
Marilyn Chandler McEntyre

Paperback: Eerdmans, 2015
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Reviewed by Brandon Waite


My first night as an on-call chaplain, I came to know how little I know.

I’m a seminary grad, so it’s not as if I know nothing about matters of ultimate concern. I can speak of pain and suffering, death and dying, theodicy and providence as ancillary pieces of the grander theological project. I can define the terms and review the books. I can document sources and fill up pages, if that’s what it takes to make the grade.

But as my body lay taught and shivering under the cheap hospital blankets my first night in the chaplains’ on-call room—praying for a night of silence and peace—I realized how little those words have to do with the work of this place. When I of speak of death and dying here, amidst the acrid mix of sanitized countertops overfull bedpans, I speak in abstraction and jargon, the foreign tongue of a distant land.
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Beauty, Lament, Hope, Justice

A Feature Review of 

Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God
Kelly Douglas Brown

Paperback: Orbis Books, 2015
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Reviewed by Josiah Daniels

If the cover art of Kelly Brown Douglas’s most recent book doesn’t compel you, what’s inside surely will. Douglas’s Stand Your Ground is a challenging and timely commentary on America’s original sin: the plunder of the black body. What makes this book unique is Douglas’s awareness of contemporary events along with a keen ability to parse out the ways in which the past is connected to contemporary situations.

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The Redemption of Desire

A Feature Review of

Spiritual Friendship: Finding Love in the Church as a Celibate Gay Christian
Wesley Hill

Paperback: Brazos Press, 2015.
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Reviewed by Tim Otto.


*** This review first appeared in our print edition (Summer 2015)
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Wesley Hill’s spectacular new book, Spiritual Friendship, explores one way gay Christians—especially those who embrace the traditional teaching of the church—are a gift to the church. As friendship has been eclipsed in western culture by romantic love, perhaps in God’s surprising and beautiful design, queer Christians might perhaps be the ones who help the church revive Christ’s commandment: that Christians love their friends sacrificially.  Spiritual Friendship displays Hill’s considerable intellect, pulls from an astonishing variety of sources, and inspires with its beautiful prose.

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Apologetics for the Twenty-first Century
A Review of 

Fool’s Talk: Recovering the Art of Christian Persuasion
Os Guinness

Paperback: InterVarsity Press, 2015
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Reviewed by Rob O’Lynn
The opening line of Os Guinness’ new book Fool’s Talk is meant to be startling: “We are all apologists now” (15).  In this weighty volume, Guinness offers the reader a sort of one-stop shop in apologetics.  Throughout the volume, Guinness aims to help the reader develop solid rhetorical skills that can help the reader engage non-believers intelligently and articulately.  Although, as a whole, the book lacks the contemporary cultural connection points that one would find in the writings of Timothy Keller, John Ortberg or Philip Yancey  and lacks the literary charm of C. S. Lewis and the research of David Kinnaman, things that become standard to apologetic texts in a post-Christian culture, the book is more than a collection of static lectures.

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The Book of Memories


A Feature Review of 

Everlasting is the Past: A Memoir
Walter Wangerin, Jr.

Paperback: Rabbit Room, 2015
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Reviewed by Joe Krall
*** Read our interview with
Walter Wangerin, about this book


A lonely, despairing graduate student walks and walks out into the countryside till he finds himself before a flock of sheep grazing, placid and content. He is filled with rage, wanting nothing more than to run at them, scare them into stumbling – until a farmer steps out of the woods, makes a “nickering sound in his throat,” and leads the sheep away. The student is alone once more.


“The sight of the sheep had broken my soul. I said, ‘I want to be a sheep.’”


So prays Walter Wangerin, Jr., in his memoir Everlasting is the Past (Rabbit Room, 2015).  There are many beautiful passages in this book, but as for me, this short passage, in its lyricism, in its precision (“nickering” – what a fine adjective!), in its poignancy and spiritual power, is by far my favorite. In our recent interview with him, Wangerin mentioned that he had been thinking about “the episode with the sheep” for a long time. His thoughtfulness shows: the passage, jewel-like in its beauty, caught me on first reading, and reflected its light on what comes before and comes after.

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Binding Wounds

A Review of 

All I Once Held: A Novel
Gaylynne Sword

Paperback: Quoir Books, 2015
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Reviewed by Amber Peace


In the current media, it’s difficult to not see stories and opinions of families falling apart. It’s almost with a sick glee the Duggars have been set upon by all walks of people on social media. Scores of church leaders will be admitting to having accounts on the adultery-focused website Ashley Madison in coming weeks. Finally, one of the last Christian communes from the Jesus Movement is facing accusations of cult-like behavior and abuse. In a sickeningly fast amount of time, the news and most people will forget these stories. There will be more scandal to keep the 24-hour reels going. The people and families involved will not forget. They will still be grieving and picking up pieces.
Regardless of if you believe in chance, fate, or a combination them, Gaylynne Sword’s All I Once Held has come out at good time. It is so easy to dehumanize the people we see on television and in other media outlets. While there is nothing inherently wrong with being disgusted with sin, what is sorrow and a broken heart for everyone involved. Perpetrators need the healing love of Christ and we are those hands and feet that give body to redemption. Further, it is the fear of shame and the need of pride that keeps the problems growing. When an affair happens, it needs to be addressed. The spouse doesn’t need to put on a happy face and take the blame. When depression hits at 10am, those who love them need to recognize medical intervention is necessary. Having joy in the Lord may not be all the medication a person needs.
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The Various Disciplines
of a Well-Ordered Life

A Feature Review of 

Acedia and its Discontents: Metaphysical Boredom in an Empire of Desire
R.J. Snell

Paperback: Angelico Press, 2015
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Reviewed by Tyler Campbell
No shortage of ink has been spilled surrounding the spiritual ramifications of our culture’s need for constant entertainment. Often times these didactic moments begin by addressing the material things that we spend considerable amounts of time with, and conclude with a call to disregard this type of lifestyle and return to a more disciplined religious life. But what of our metaphysical makeup implies the tension between discipline and lethargy? In his latest book, Acedia and its Discontents: Metaphysical Boredom in an Empire of Desire, R.J. Snell uses a variety of sources to create a modern definition of the Latin word acedia, which is generally translated as the noun sloth. Through his investigation Snell establishes that defining acedia as mere laziness misses out on the true character of the term, as seen within historical theology and scripture. By looking at acedia through a metaphysical lens and applying examples of contemporary distraction, Snell shows that the antithesis of acedia is found in a deeper understanding of the ways in which the Divine’s self-communicative love permeates into the mundane work of our life, making all that we do beautiful and important.

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Bringing Coherence to
our Scattered Spiritual Lives.

A Review of 

Lectio Divina: From God’s Word to Our Lives
Enzo Bianchi

Paperback: Paraclete Press, 2015
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Reviewed by Andrew Stout


Theological interpretations of Scripture are very much in fashion. These methods emphasize the Church’s interpretive role through typology, creeds, and liturgical use. Plenty of good books are available that call for reappropriations of premodern and precritical interpretive methods (in addition to a host of individual authors, book series like the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible, Intervarsity Press’ Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, and Baker Academic’s Foundations of Theological Exegesis and Christian Spirituality could be mentioned). However, as Rowan Williams notes in the Foreword to Lectio Divina, “We have plenty of good scholarship and plenty of good popular summaries of that scholarship – but very little on the actual theology of reading the Bible, very little on reading the Bible as a central form of our discipleship” (vii). Enzo Bianchi understands the scholarship, and he provides a helpful orientation for the layperson. More than this, however, Bianchi shows that proper interpretation requires the faithful entrance into an active dialogue with the Word.

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A Parable of Authenticity and Hope
A Feature Review of 

Jesus, Bread, and Chocolate: Crafting a Handmade Faith in a Mass-Market World
John J. Thompson

Paperback: Zondervan, 2015
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Reviewed by Jennifer Burns Lewis


John J. Thompson’s Twitter profile describes him as a “music lifer from the faith-fueled underground to Capitol CMG publishing in 20 short years.”  Thompson’s first book, Jesus, Bread, and Chocolate is part autobiography, part Christian living, part cultural commentary. It is a thoughtful and reflective parable of authenticity and hope.
Conversational in style, Jesus, Bread, and Chocolate reviews Thompson’s personal journey as a son, a spouse, a parent and a follower of Jesus. A musician by background and vocation, Thompson has found both meaning and delight in so much of what adds zest and a holistic appeal to the organic, “homemade” movement. With chapters that compare homemade bread, small batch chocolate, home-roasted coffee, craft beer, gardening and artisanal music with faith and American trends in worship.  Rooted in his own experience as a child and young person healing from the hurt of domestic violence in his family of origin, Thompson recalls the role of the Church and the faith of his mother and step-father in moving him towards music, and a faith he could claim as his own.  We journey with Thompson from a difficult childhood toward a fulfilling and challenging career in the music industry, a personal relationship with the God he meets in Jesus Christ, and the family he creates with his spouse and children.

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