Author Topic: Books getting a buzz: And they are about religion!  (Read 2413 times)

Charles Austin

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Books getting a buzz: And they are about religion!
« on: November 03, 2019, 11:04:18 AM »
Several books about religion are popping up on lists of "books to watch" or getting reviewed in major publications. I often buy books for Christmas presents. Some of these might do. See my list in the next posting.
« Last Edit: November 03, 2019, 11:42:43 AM by Charles Austin »
Retired ELCA Pastor. Parishes in Iowa, Nw York and New Jersey. LCA and LWF staff. Former journalist. Now retired, living in Minneapolis.

Charles Austin

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Re: Books getting a buzz: And they are about religion!
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2019, 11:08:46 AM »
I’ll cite first a book where I have a slight personal connection.
Double Crossed: The Missionaries Who Spied for The United States During the Second World War, by Matthew Avery Sutton.
   According to a review in the Washington Post, Sutton chronicles four missionaries or clergy who were in the OSS. One was John Birch, Baptist missionary in China, who gave his name to the John Birch Society.
   But one was Stewart Herman, “a Lutheran minister based in Berlin.” When I was a student at the Maywood Campus of the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, Stewart Herman was president of the seminary. I interviewed him several times about his work as a pastor in Berlin before the war and (I think) after the war. Funny he never mentioned being a spy.  ;)
   I’ll mention second an author I like.
The Lost Art of Scripture: Rescuing the Sacred Texts by Karen Armstrong. The noted historian of religion and culture writes about the role sacred texts have played in history and how they are being used today. Apparently, according to comments on the book, 20th century fundamentalism has imposed a structure on the texts that was not known in earlier times
   The third is a book by the guy who wrote God’s biography.
Religion As We Know It: An Origin Story by Jack Miles. The author is a Pulitzer prize-winner who looks at how our ancestors thought about religion, how Christianity got tied to western thought and how things may be changing today.
   The fourth and fifth are two  books reviewed in today’s New York Times.
Who is an Evangelical: The History of a Movement in Crisis by Thomas Kidd; and The Immoral Majority: Why Evangelicals Chose Political Power Over Christian Values by Ben Howe.
   The titles tell me these should be good reading.
« Last Edit: November 03, 2019, 11:42:10 AM by Charles Austin »
Retired ELCA Pastor. Parishes in Iowa, Nw York and New Jersey. LCA and LWF staff. Former journalist. Now retired, living in Minneapolis.

Dave Benke

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Re: Books getting a buzz: And they are about religion!
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2019, 02:57:36 PM »
I would think as Election Year comes upon us that there will be a river of religious-themed books on one side or the other of the evangelical spectrum dealing with what is perceived as the sellout by the moral majority or contrarily the hewing to authentic conservative values through the ideals promoted by Trump.    As noted by others, this is part and parcel of what the preacher takes into his/her bloodstream and then into the pulpit, or checks at the door depending on point of view. 

I'm going to take a look at some of these books, or at least longer reviews of them, as we slouch toward Bethlehem.

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Rev. Edward Engelbrecht

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Re: Books getting a buzz: And they are about religion!
« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2019, 05:28:07 PM »
I’ll cite first a book where I have a slight personal connection.
Double Crossed: The Missionaries Who Spied for The United States During the Second World War, by Matthew Avery Sutton.
   According to a review in the Washington Post, Sutton chronicles four missionaries or clergy who were in the OSS. One was John Birch, Baptist missionary in China, who gave his name to the John Birch Society.
   But one was Stewart Herman, “a Lutheran minister based in Berlin.” When I was a student at the Maywood Campus of the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, Stewart Herman was president of the seminary. I interviewed him several times about his work as a pastor in Berlin before the war and (I think) after the war. Funny he never mentioned being a spy.  ;)
   I’ll mention second an author I like.
The Lost Art of Scripture: Rescuing the Sacred Texts by Karen Armstrong. The noted historian of religion and culture writes about the role sacred texts have played in history and how they are being used today. Apparently, according to comments on the book, 20th century fundamentalism has imposed a structure on the texts that was not known in earlier times
   The third is a book by the guy who wrote God’s biography.
Religion As We Know It: An Origin Story by Jack Miles. The author is a Pulitzer prize-winner who looks at how our ancestors thought about religion, how Christianity got tied to western thought and how things may be changing today.
   The fourth and fifth are two  books reviewed in today’s New York Times.
Who is an Evangelical: The History of a Movement in Crisis by Thomas Kidd; and The Immoral Majority: Why Evangelicals Chose Political Power Over Christian Values by Ben Howe.
   The titles tell me these should be good reading.

Double Crossed sounds interesting.
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mj4

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Re: Books getting a buzz: And they are about religion!
« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2019, 06:45:16 PM »
Thanks for the suggestions, Pr. Austin. Forgive me if I skip The Lost Art though. Nothing against Karen Armstrong. I would probably benefit from reading her work. I’m just not sold on the whole Jesus Seminar thing. Let us know what you think after you’ve read it. Maybe I’ll change my mind.

Dave Likeness

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Re: Books getting a buzz: And they are about religion!
« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2019, 07:05:41 PM »
Karen Armstrong is a former conservative Roman Catholic who has become a liberal
New Age mystic. 

She asserts "that God is merely a symbol that points beyond itself to an indescribable
transcendence."

DCharlton

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Re: Books getting a buzz: And they are about religion!
« Reply #6 on: November 03, 2019, 07:57:25 PM »
She asserts "that God is merely a symbol that points beyond itself to an indescribable
transcendence."

Sounds like a good book for those who want to understand mainline Christianity.
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Charles Austin

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Re: Books getting a buzz: And they are about religion!
« Reply #7 on: November 03, 2019, 08:55:39 PM »
Can anything happen here without some snark directed at the presumed “liberals.”?
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loschwitz

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Re: Books getting a buzz: And they are about religion!
« Reply #8 on: November 03, 2019, 08:58:04 PM »
Dominion:  how the Christian Revolution Remade the World by Tom Holland got a good review in the WSJ this weekend.

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Re: Books getting a buzz: And they are about religion!
« Reply #9 on: November 04, 2019, 12:35:48 AM »
I just finished Malcolm Gladwell’s recent book called Talking to Strangers. Fascinating read, and as a Christmas gift has the added bonus of being on sale at Costco.

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Re: Books getting a buzz: And they are about religion!
« Reply #10 on: November 04, 2019, 09:53:50 AM »
...

   The fourth and fifth are two  books reviewed in today’s New York Times.
Who is an Evangelical: The History of a Movement in Crisis by Thomas Kidd; and The Immoral Majority: Why Evangelicals Chose Political Power Over Christian Values by Ben Howe.
   The titles tell me these should be good reading.

Charles:

The interviews with Thomas Kidd and Ben Howe over the past few months have piqued my interest in those two titles. Poking around the Internet, you can find podcasts led by Matt Lewis and Jonah Goldberg where the two authors were guests. I think those two books might get added to the Christmas shopping list.
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Charles Austin

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Re: Books getting a buzz: And they are about religion!
« Reply #11 on: November 04, 2019, 11:06:07 AM »
And now that the president has brought a “prosperity gospel preacher” into his White House staff, we will see how the evangelicals respond to that. Apparently this woman has already had her difficulties with the evangelicals because of her theology and personal life.
I think the books will be useful in trying to narrow down or understand the definition of “evangelical.”
Retired ELCA Pastor. Parishes in Iowa, Nw York and New Jersey. LCA and LWF staff. Former journalist. Now retired, living in Minneapolis.

DCharlton

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Re: Books getting a buzz: And they are about religion!
« Reply #12 on: November 04, 2019, 01:38:39 PM »
Can anything happen here without some snark directed at the presumed “liberals.”?

What snark?  Karen Armstrong is quoted as saying, "God is merely a symbol that points beyond itself to an indescribable
transcendence."  If that quote is correct, she is a proponent of the kind of metaphorical theology that our good friend from Arizona advocates and in which I was trained 30 years ago.  It is the kind of metaphorical theology that is expressed in ELW.  Why is pointing this out snark?
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mj4

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Re: Books getting a buzz: And they are about religion!
« Reply #13 on: November 04, 2019, 01:42:16 PM »
I think the books will be useful in trying to narrow down or understand the definition of “evangelical.”

Maybe, but if the term can be used for everything from the ELCA to Paula White, good luck. Thomas Kidd's book looks the most promising as he is a well informed insider to the movement, as is George Marsden with whom Kidd studied at Notre Dame.

http://www.baylorisr.org/about-isr/distinguished-professors/thomas-kidd/

Dan Fienen

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Re: Books getting a buzz: And they are about religion!
« Reply #14 on: November 18, 2019, 02:32:05 PM »
This book is not about religion but I found it a fascinating read and with a fair amount applicability to the current political and social scene. I heartily recommend it. The War Before the War: Fugitive Slaves and the Struggle for America's Soul from the Revolution to the Civil War, by Andrew Delbanco, Penguin Press, 2018.


The online Goodreads blurb:
Quote
The devastating story of how fugitive slaves drove the nation to Civil War

For decades after its founding, America was really two nations--one slave, one free. There were many reasons why this composite nation ultimately broke apart, but the fact that enslaved black people repeatedly risked their lives to flee their masters in the South in search of freedom in the North proved that the "united" states was actually a lie. Fugitive slaves exposed the contradiction between the myth that slavery was a benign institution and the reality that a nation based on the principle of human equality was in fact a prison-house in which millions of Americans had no rights at all. By awakening northerners to the true nature of slavery, and by enraging southerners who demanded the return of their human "property," fugitive slaves forced the nation to confront the truth about itself.

By 1850, with America on the verge of collapse, Congress reached what it hoped was a solution-- the notorious Compromise of 1850, which required that fugitive slaves be returned to their masters. Like so many political compromises before and since, it was a deal by which white Americans tried to advance their interests at the expense of black Americans. Yet the Fugitive Slave Act, intended to preserve the Union, in fact set the nation on the path to civil war. It divided not only the American nation, but also the hearts and minds of Americans who struggled with the timeless problem of when to submit to an unjust law and when to resist.

The fugitive slave story illuminates what brought us to war with ourselves and the terrible legacies of slavery that are with us still.
« Last Edit: November 18, 2019, 02:39:05 PM by Dan Fienen »
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