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Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
ISBN 978-0-374-15389-2. 247 pages. $23.00. 


Gilead, the 2005 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, is a quiet book. The rhythm is slow, the thought deep, the language reserved, and the action understated. A reader looking for lurid sex, violence, or dramatic action scenes, will be disappointed.

God’s Politics

by Jim Wallis. (Amazon Link)

Though I am not a big fan of bumper sticker theology, during the 2004 presidential elections, I did find one bumper sticker that I strongly felt should have a place on my car. I ordered the bumper sticker from the Sojourners community in Washington D.C. The sticker reads, “God is not a Republican or a Democrat.” Amen!

Making Disciples, Making Leaders: A Manual for Developing Church Officers

by Steven P. Eason. Louisville: Geneva Press, 2004. ISBN 0-664-50263-6. $19.95.
(Amazon Link)


The Book of Order states that “The minutes of session shall record the completion of a period of study and preparation” for newly- elected officers in the church. After that time of preparation, “the session shall examine them as to their personal faith; knowledge of the doctrine, government, and discipline contained in the Constitution of the church; and the duties of the office.

Reconstructing Pastoral Theology: A Christological Foundation

by Andrew Purves. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press. 2004. pp. ixxxv, 236.

Pastors ought to read this book. It concerns the very important foundations that underlie much that we do as pastors. Its title, Reconstructing Pastoral Theology: A Christological Foundation, indicates the combination that makes this book so valuable—pastoral care with Christology.

The Apocalyptic Resurrection of Jesus

By Ernest Lee Stoffel
Smythe & Helwys. 1999. 104 pp. ISBN 1-57312-261-0

— Review by Robert V. Sturdivant, Cary, N.C.

In The Apocalyptic Resurrection of Jesus, Ernest Lee Stoffel offers a refreshing account of Jesus' resurrection.

Reacting against interpretations of the resurrection as mere myth, legend or symbol, and likewise that of literal persuasion, Stoffel prefers an alternative he identifies as embodying apocalyptic language, imagery and thought. Apocalyptic language, he notes, was known and in use at the time of Jesus.

Because of Winn-Dixie

For a good, old-fashioned family movie, this one has it all: a timeless small town, a cute little girl, a well-meaning but distracted Dad, a few colorful secondary characters, and a dog who has an amazing capacity for bringing the humans closer together.

Annasophia Robb plays Opal, the pig-tailed 10-year old with the skinny legs and the big, blue innocent eyes and a wise-beyond-her-years outlook. She moves to this small town because her Dad (Jeff Daniels) is the new preacher. The church is just forming, and is meeting in a convenience store.

Opal describes her Dad, whom she also calls "Preacher", as a tortoise always going back inside its shell. He seems to spend a lot of time in their mobile home reading the Bible, but not much time going out and seeing people. He's sad because his wife, Opal's Mom, left him several years ago, he says, because she couldn't stand being a preacher's wife. So his resentment of his profession hangs with him along with his gritty determination to keep doing it, because he's already paid too high a price not to continue.

Coach Carter


I liked it better than "Hoosiers."

In "Hoosiers," the new high school coach in a small Indiana town in the '50's preached teamwork, teamwork, teamwork, pass the ball, set picks, four passes before every shot, and then when the star shooter arrived, all that went out the window.

His big motivational ploy was to get them to measure the hoop when they went to the State tournament. They reported it as ten feet from the floor, the same height as every basketball hoop. It was his way of demonstrating to them that they didn't need to be intimidated. And in the end, they go all the way to the State Finals.

Now it's the '90's. Coach Carter (Samuel L. Jackson) arrives at Richmond High in California, a school that graduates only 50% of its students; a school where only 6% go to college. When he preaches "teamwork, teamwork, teamwork," he means more than passing the ball to the best shooter, or running a trap play to force a turnover. He means taking responsibility for yourself, and for everyone else on the team.

William Sloane Coffin Jr.: A Holy Impatience

by Warren Goldstein (New Haven: Yale University, 2004)

In his biography entitled, William Sloane Coffin Jr.: A Holy Impatience, Warren Goldstein reminds us of a person who made a deep impression on may of us during the last four decades of our lives.

The Chorus (Les Choristes)


It's not a new plot idea. Kids languish in an orphanage. New teacher comes and gets them energized. There's no real plot surprise here, it's all in how it's done. And 'The Chorus' is done in such a way that makes it seem real and heart-warming at the same time.There's precious little sugarcoating. It's mostly struggle, and conflict, with just a few moments of tenderness to make it even bearable.

The music teacher Clement Mathieu (Gerard Tugnot) is admittedly depressed as he shuffles into the dilapidated-looking French boys' orphanage in 1949. He's failed at being a professional musician. It seems that nobody really wants to pay to listen to his music. He's put his compositions away, in a leather satchel, and hidden them in the closet of his bare room at the orphanage. Metal bunk bed, wooden dresser, straight chair. The only woman around is the maid, who is seen little and heard from even less.