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Book Reviews

Wading through Modern Ennui

The Oxford Book of American Short Stories THE OXFORD BOOK OF AMERICAN SHORT STORIES, SECOND EDITION JOYCE CAROL OATES, EDITOR OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2013 $21.95 808 PAGES A review of a book of short stories should tell the reader some of the stories. Let’s start with Charles Chesnutt’s “The Sheriff’s Children,” which was originally published in 1889. In it, a biracial man, referred to in the story as “the mulatto,” is jailed for a crime he did not commit. The…
Book Reviews

A Peek into the Mind of Marilynne Robinson

The Givenness of Things, by Marilynne Robinson THE GIVENNESS OF THINGS: ESSAYS MARILYNNE ROBINSON FARRAR, STRAUS AND GIROUX, 2015. $26 286 PAGES Marilynne Robinson, best known for her four novels, Housekeeping, Gilead, Home and Lila, is a prolific essayist. The Givenness of Things represents her most recent compilation of essays. A self-described theist, Robinson identifies as a Protestant and makes no apologies for assigning priority to the Christian faith. The 17 pieces in the Givenness of Things derive from talks…
Steven J. Van Der Weele
September 1, 2016
Book Reviews

God as the ‘Principal Clerk’ of the Market

Stories Economists Tell STORIES ECONOMISTS TELL: STUDIES IN CHRISTIANITY AND ECONOMICS JOHN P. TIEMSTRA WIPF AND STOCK $18 191 PAGES In his essay describing the good merchant, Thomas Fuller says, “For God is the principal clerk of the market.” That is, there are three people involved in every commercial transaction. His definition reflects the ethos of an earlier world view, one pervaded by Christian thought patterns. Much has changed, especially because of the Enlightenment, but has Fuller’s formula changed? Even…
Book Reviews

Stories that Bring Sermons Home

Actuality: Real Life Stories for Sermons That Matter ACTUALITY: REAL LIFE STORIES FOR SERMONS THAT MATTER SCOTT HOEZEE ABINGDON PRESS, 2014 176 PAGES $14.24 (PAPER) Scott Hoezee launched this book at a festive gathering of friends and colleagues in the seminary where he teaches. Though he is a teacher of preachers and the readership for his book is pastors, the guests were not limited to them. The book assumes a lively relationship between the pastor and his congregation, and thus…
Steven J. Van Der Weele
October 31, 2015
Book Reviews

A Kindly Ballet of Serious Questions

Lila, by Marilynne Robinson LILA MARILYNNE ROBINSON FARRAR, STRAUS AND GIROUX, 2014 $15.60 (HARDCOVER) 261 PAGES Marriage counselors would certainly have discouraged talk of a marriage between an aging Presbyterian pastor in Gilead, a small Iowa town, and an orphan 40 years younger who had only years of wandering with an itinerant group to show for her life. This novel, the third in a trilogy that includes Gilead and Home, builds on the lives of ministers Ames and Boughton –…
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A Calvinian Curmudgeon

NOVEMBER 2012: REVIEW by Steve Van der Weele When I was a Child I Read Books: Essays Marilynne Robinson Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012. $24.00. 202 pages. Marilynne Robinson has become a heavy hitter on the American religious scene. In her lectures, writings, and teaching she soldiers prophetically against the mischief spread by an assortment of today's errant ideologies. She is making it more acceptable for even secular journals to publish discourse about religious and philosophical issues—The New York Times,…
Steven J. Van Der Weele
November 1, 2012
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Validating the Faith: The Poetry of Rod Jellema

Rod Jellema, professor of English emertius at the University of Maryland, has been writing poetry for forty years. This new volume constitutes a selective harvest of his effort. Forty-nine of the poems are new. Also new is a section consisting of translations from modern Hebrew by Moshe Dor and Jellema. The task of choosing could not have been easy. Jellema has left the foothills of his poetic energy behind as he wended his way up and through the trails of…