Recovering the Human in an Ideological Age
ISI Books, Wilmington, Del. 278 pages
Wolfe is the editor of Image, a journal Annie Dillard described as the “best on the planet.” In this collection of essays he displays how the Christian humanist tradition can still be a way of enriching our common discourse and an alternative to the current cultural shouting match.
The Science of Evil: On Empathy
and the Origins of Cruelty
Basic Books, New York. 240 pages
What happens when a person is unable to care how others feel? This is an important addition to the surge of interest in brain research relating to a variety of conditions that exhibit lack of empathy. The author acknowledges the biological and social roots of these disorders and recommends significant changes to the way we consider them.
1861 — The Civil War Awakening
Alfred A. Knopf, New York. 461 pages
This book takes an original angle of historical analysis, avoiding the familiar battle scenarios. Instead, Goodheart focuses on the social and political landscape that gave rise to the war and the people who figured prominently in the early years. An extraordinarily well-written and insightful book.
A State of Wonder
Harper. New York. 368 pages
Patchett is a brilliant storyteller who sets this novel in the Amazon jungle among the Lakashi people. She brings a moral vision to her imaginative construction of the jungle and the characters, though one wishes she had given the indigenous a stronger voice. Watch how death and resurrection are woven into the story.
Walter Brueggemann — Disruptive Grace: Reflections
on God, Scripture, and the Church
Edited and introduced by Carolyn J. Sharp
Fortress Press. Minneapolis. 378 pages
Few scholars have had such widespread influence on pastors, teachers and church leaders as Walter Brueggemann. He continues to provide trenchant biblical commentary for the church to recover an alternative voice. This collection covers the years 2002-2009. Brueggemann finds myriad ways to disturb his readers and provoke insights into the biblical text.
Jesus — A Very Short Introduction
Oxford Univ. Press, London. 125 pages
A concise introduction to Jesus by a first-rate New Testament scholar filled with historical, biblical and theological insight. Don’t let the length fool you.
The Sacraments in Biblical Perspective
Ronald P. Byars
Westminster John Knox Press. Louisville, Ky. 350 pages
Few books combine such exegetical clarity with historical knowledge, theological insight, ecumenical breadth and liturgical sensibilities as this one. Pastors and scholars will delight in the clarity of writing and learn from Byars’ insights.
Revelation for Everyone
N. T. Wright
Westminster John Knox Press. Louisville, Ky. 227 pages
N.T. Wright is a reliable guide to the rich and often confusing Revelation. This commentary will serve well as a solid resource for individual and group study.
The Journey and Promise
of African American Preaching
Kenyatta R. Gilbert
Fortress Press. Minneapolis. 170 pages
Gilbert is a preacher and scholar who brings a new voice to the African American preaching tradition that makes it a valuable source for all preachers, within and outside that tradition. Especially compelling is his notion of “tri-vocal” preaching.
40 Treasured Bible Verses — A Devotional
James C. Howell
Westminster John Knox Press. Louisville, Ky. 125 pages
The title may be misleading; this is a devotional without any sentimentality. These selected verses come alive in startling ways through the skill of a preacher, pastor, poet and theologian. One who sits with James Howell’s commentary will be better for it.
The Lessons: A Half Century of Ministry
— From the Outside In
Independent publisher. Birmingham, Ala. 222 pages
A retrospective look over 50 years of ministry by a wise pastor and church leader. The reflections are honest, humble and humorous.
Preaching and Stewardship
Craig A. Satterlee
Alban Institute. Herndon, Va. 177 pages.
The strength of this book is the theology that undergirds a practical look at money and how preachers can lead congregations toward greater faithfulness and generosity.
Preaching God’s Transforming Justice
— Lectionary Commentary, Year B
Ronald J. Allen, Dale P. Andrews and Dawn Ottoni-Wilhelm, Editors
Westminster John Knox Press. Louisville, Ky.
This commentary is the first of three in a new series. It helps the preacher identify and reflect upon the social implications of the Revised Common Lectionary readings.
Grace For the Journey
— Practices and Possibilities for In-Between Times
Beverly A. Thompson and George B. Thompson Jr.
Alban Institute. Herndon, Va. 122 pages
With engaging images and metaphors, the authors provide practice guidance and spiritual practices for congregations living through transitions.
The Collected Sermons of Walter Brueggemann
(Foreword by Samuel Wells)
Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, Ky. 366 pages
These 67 sermons from the entire Bible canon from one of our finest biblical scholars, teachers and preachers provide a feast for mind and heart.
Upside — Surprising Good News
About the State of Our World
Bradley R.E. Wright (Forward by John Ortberg)
Bethany House, Bloomington, Minn. 255 pages
A sociologist of American Christianity argues that things are improving in the world and gives the data to prove such good news exists in a world filled with bad news.
The Melody of Faith
— Theology in an Orthodox Key
Wm. B. Eerdmans Press. Grand Rapids, Mich. 158 pages
Few are as capable as Vigen Guroian in describing the rich beauty of Orthodox Christianity. The metaphor of music presents the essential themes of Orthodoxy in a compelling manner.
Stone and Dung, Oil and Spit
— Jewish Daily Life in the Time of Jesus
Wm. B. Eerdmans Press. Grand Rapids, Mich. 335 pages
A fascinating study of the archeological findings and literary texts that shed light on Jewish daily life from the mid-century b.c.e to 70 c.e., encompassing Jesus’ life and ministry.
Work — A Kingdom Perspective on Labor
Ben Witherington III
Wm. B. Eerdmans Press. Grand Rapids, Mich. 166 pages
A primer on the theology and ethics of work for those seeking to make God-sense of how their daily labor is integrated into their whole lives. A section exploring the meaning of retirement is helpful.
The Kingdom of God is like … Baseball
— A Metaphor for Jesus’s Kingdom Parables
James S. Currie
Cascade Books. Eugene, Ore. 114 pages
Imagine Jesus’ parables in a new idiom, the language of baseball. Currie is a pastor-theologian who mines the colorful characters, lore, history and statistics of baseball to find intriguing insights into the parables. This is a provocative and fun book for fans of the game who love theology, too.
Baseball in the Garden of Eden
— The Secret History of the Early Game
Simon & Shuster. New York. 367 pages
There are many who believe baseball and Christian theology have a lot in common. This is a history of the 19th century seen through the lens of baseball’s narrative of good and evil. The author, a premier historian of baseball, offers a new perspective on the origins of the game, dispelling many myths along the way.
A Faith of Your Own
— Naming What You Really Believe
Ronald J. Allen
Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, Ky. 144 pages
An excellent book for those seeking to name and articulate what they really believe. Each chapter contains a study guide, making it valuable for group study.
Worshipping With the Church Fathers
Christopher A. Hall
InterVarsity Press. Downers Grove, Ill. 280 pages
This is a great introduction to the worship and prayers of the early Church Fathers who formed their spirituality in the desert. The rich insights of Antony and Augustine, Tertullian and Cassian are brought to bear on the contemporary quest for a new monasticism that will sustain a counter-cultural way of living.
Jossey-Bass, San Francisco. 193 pages
The “missional church” has a lot of buzz around it and little understanding. McNeal explains why missional is a way of life, not merely a program or church activity.
The Church and the Crisis of Community
— A Practical Theology of Small-Group Ministry
Theresa F. Latini
Wm. B. Eerdmans Press. Grand Rapids, Mich. 243 pages
Small-group ministry is nothing new, nor is the need for real community. Latini has done a rare thing with this book: She lays out a compelling practical theology for the development of small-group ministries, along with practical guidelines to sustain them. Here is a serious theological vision, complete with sociological insight and concrete suggestions for the church to become koinonia. O