The Sacred Wilderness
of Pastoral Ministry
by David Rohrer
IVP Books, Downers Grove, Ill. 174 pages
A creative look at pastoral ministry through the lens of John the Baptist, who called people to “prepare the way of the Lord.” An honest pastor with much experience offers a fine guide for pastors who want to stay close to the heart of the vocation exemplified by John the Baptist. This is the real deal.
Faces by the Wayside —
Persons Who Encountered
Jesus on the Road
A month of daily meditations for Advent, Lent, and other seasons of the soul
by J. Barrie Shepherd
Cascade Books, Eugene, Ore. 138 pages
This is the third of a trilogy of poetic reflections focused on the persons found “by the wayside” along the road Jesus walked. The premise is that these people bear remarkable resemblance to contemporary pilgrims. These 30 days of Scripture, prayer and meditation are designed to help the reader get close to Jesus.
The Ethical Vision of Clint Eastwood
by Sara Anson Vaux
Wm. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Mich. 259 pages
With a body of work exploring forgiveness, sin, redemption, reconciliation, violence, racism and mercy, Clint Eastwood is the sharpest (non) theologian working in film today (or ever.) The author brings erudition to this wonderful exploration of Eastwood’s journey as a filmmaker. This is the definitive book that illuminates the ethical vision that radiates from nearly all of Eastwood’s films. Read this book and watch the films with your congregation.
The Wonder of the Universe: Hints of God in our Fine-Tuned World
by Karl W. Giberson
IVP Books, Downers Grove, Ill. 212 pages
The author is a scientist who believes we live in “a world of wonder where only the flattest of lukewarm souls is not moved by the grandeur of our universe.” We must follow the evidence where it leads.
The Best of The Reformed Journal
Edited by James D. Bratt and Ronald A. Wells
Wm. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Mich. 325 pages
Spanning 40 years, this is a treasure-trove of essays of the best theological engagement with contemporary culture. Here Reformed theology is brilliantly displayed with humor, critical insight, humility and a precise cultural critique that remains valuable for those navigating the waters of theology and culture.
The New Testament for Everyone
The Early Christian Letters
Revelation for Everyone
by N.T. Wright
The Old Testament for Everyone
1 & 2 Kings for Everyone
by John Goldingay
Westminster/John Knox Press, Louisville, Ky.
The new volumes by well-known scholars N.T. Wright and John Goldingay continue the series designed to make Scripture accessible to everyone. The series bridges keen scholarship with contemporary life for home study and small groups.
Mark — The Gospel of Passion
by Michael Card
IVP Books, Downers Grove, Ill. 206 pages
The popular musician continues the series he began with Luke, recovering the role of imagination in biblical interpretation and the practice of discipleship.
Becoming the Pastor You Hope to Be — Four Practices for Improving Your Ministry
by Barbara J. Blodgett
Alban Institute, Herndon, Va. 181 pages.
This book by a veteran educator now responsible for pastoral formation deserves a wide reading by clergy who want to be excellent pastors. Seriously. Lay leaders overseeing their pastors will also find wise guidance here. Arguing against grandiose attempts at leadership, Blodgett urges pastors to focus on what matters most and lays out the practical skills that are required for excellent ministry. This belongs on the essential list.
The Power of the Parable — How Fiction by Jesus became Fiction About Jesus
by John Dominic Crossan
Harper One, San Francisco. 252 pages.
The well-known provocative New Testament scholar returns to his original work with this exploration of the parables of Jesus. The parables of Jesus in the Gospels, argues the author, are about far more important matters than a historical account of Jesus’ teachings. They reveal Jesus through the eyes of the Gospel writers and so reveal something of the life, death and resurrection of the figure who has transformed history. Always provocative, Crossan stirs up challenging and imaginative readings of every subject he touches.
Religion, Terror and Error — U.S. Foreign Policy and the Challenge of Spiritual Engagement
by Douglas M. Johnston Jr.
Preager, Santa Barbara, Calif. 283 pages
The author is the president of the Washington-based International Center for Religion and Democracy. He has written extensively on the need for diplomats and politicians to give close attention the deeper aspects of religion and culture and their powerful effect on U.S. foreign policy. This new book addresses the causal factors that lie at the heart of worldwide religious extremism and offers a new paradigm for U.S. foreign policy. One wishes this were on the reading list of all foreign policy leaders.
Islam in the Modern World
by Seyyed Hossein Nasr
HarperOne, San Francisco. 472 pages
Islam is in tension with itself; the author explains why. Most in the West have little understanding of Islam and yet we know it is the one of the fastest-growing religions in the world. The author acknowledges the threats of Islamic fundamentalism while claiming the virtues of the tradition.
Crafting A Rule of Life — An Invitation to a Well-Ordered Way
by Stephen A. Macchia
IVP Books, Downers Grove, Ill. 187 pages
In the sixth century, Benedict composed a rule for his disordered community of monks. That rule still remains and is increasingly being recovered by people who want a spiritual discipline to focus their scattered life. This is one more valuable edition that provides a contemporary approach to Benedict’s rule, including 12 sessions for individual and small-group study. There is guidance here for writing your own rule of life.
Path of the Purified Heart — The Spiritual Journey as Transformation
by Laura Dunham
Cascade Books, Eugene, Ore. 196 pages
A beautifully written book by a pastor in the Reformed tradition that combines exploration of the liturgical year with the experience of the ancient practice of walking the labyrinth. She draws upon the wide span of Christian spirituality, as well as her own walk, to offer a way toward deeper union with God.
The Practice of Prophetic Preaching — Preaching an Emancipating Word
by Walter Brueggemann
Fortress Press, Minneapolis. 158 pages
Once more Brueggemann brings his deep passion, scholarship and knowledge of the intersection of church and society to the art of preaching. There is no better teacher. This volume focuses attention on the skills that will evoke the imagination required for such preaching to be real and fruitful.
Roy W. Howard is pastor of Saint Mark Presbyterian Church in Rockville, Md., and Outlook book editor.