Reviewed Elsewhere [Vol. 3, #35]

September 24, 2010 — Leave a comment

 

James K.A. Smith Summarizes and Critiques
James Davison Hunter’s TO CHANGE THE WORLD

http://www.theotherjournal.com/article.php?id=1021

Many of us are more indebted to James Davison Hunter than we might realize. His 1991 book, Culture Wars, has been a lens through which many have understood the dynamics of American politics, even if they have never read it. An astute and influential observer of American culture, particularly the role of (and transformation of) religion in the public sphere, Hunter is a sociologist without the usual allergy to normative language. And while he’s never taken sides in the culture wars (indeed, despite the way it is cited by both friends and detractors, Culture Wars was pointing out the futility of conducting such battles), Hunter has not shied away from prescription rooted in description and analysis. Thus, his later book The Death of Character unapologetically laments the loss of a unified moral ethos in American culture that undercuts the possibility of true character formation. Although Hunter’s writing can sometimes tend toward the curmudgeonly end of the jeremiad spectrum, he’s nonetheless an important cultural critic.

His latest offering is a logical trajectory from this earlier work. To Change the World is explicitly addressed to Christians in the United States and is his most unabashedly prescriptive and theological work to date. It is also one of the most important works on Christianity and culture since Nicholas Wolterstorff’s Until Justice and Peace Embrace. One could hope that To Change the World might finally displace the lazy hegemony of Richard Niebuhr’s Christ and Culture, even if I think Hunter’s book might have a couple of similar faults.

Read the full piece:
http://www.theotherjournal.com/article.php?id=1021

To Change the World:
The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World.

James Davison Hunter.
Hardback: Oxford University Press, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]


Lauren Winner reviews Ernesto Cardenal’s
THE GOSPEL IN SOLENTINAME for
BOOKS AND CULTURE

http://booksandculture.com/articles/webexclusives/2010/september/winner091510.html

In the 1960s and 1970s, Catholic priest and poet Ernesto Cardenal lived and worked among the campesinos of Solentiname, a 36-island archipelago in Lake Nicaragua. On Sundays, the community gathered for worship. In lieu of a sermon, Cardenal led the men and women in a conversation about the gospel passage. Cardenal recorded many of those conversations and published them as The Gospel in Solentiname. In a 1998 essay, Timothy Gorringe points to these dialogues as a good example of a more widespread phenomenon: “Cardenal’s Bible studies are the products of a community,” writes Gorringe, “which believes that Jesus is the incarnate, risen and ascended Lord, who encounters us both in the Eucharist and in the struggle for justice. Whilst recognizing that everything is political, the members of the community do not think politics is everything.”

Read the full piece:
http://booksandculture.com/articles/webexclusives/2010/september/winner091510.html

The Gospel in Solentiname.
Ernesto Cardenal
Paperback (Reissue Edition): Orbis Books, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]