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Book Reviews

Remembering Jesus, Not Ourselves

Accompany Them with Singing: The Christian Funeral ACCOMPANY THEM WITH SINGING: THE CHRISTIAN FUNERAL THOMAS G. LONG WESTMINSTER JOHN KNOX PRESS, 2013 242 PAGES (PAPERBACK) $15 In many contexts today, funerals have become a show to feature the distinctive loves and interests of the deceased. Pastors and laypeople tailor funerals to the exact specifications and desires of the deceased or their grieving loved ones. According to Thomas Long, this move has “ended up allowing them to become more individualistic and…
October 31, 2017
Book Reviews

Man versus Man, Woman versus Woman: Mixed Martial Arts and Gender Identity

Beast: Blood, Struggle, and Dreams at the Heart of Mixed Martial Arts BEAST: BLOOD, STRUGGLE, AND DREAMS AT THE HEART OF MIXED MARTIAL ARTS DOUG MERLINO BLOOMSBURY, 2015 $26 272 PAGES THE PROFESSOR IN THE CAGE: WHY MEN FIGHT AND WHY WE LIKE TO WATCH JONATHAN GOTTSCHALL PENGUIN BOOKS, 2015 $26.95 304 PAGES During my graduate-school years, two massive forces collided in my life. First, the Ultimate Fighting Championship took a gamble on a television show called “The Ultimate Fighter”…
August 31, 2017
Book Reviews

Probing America’s Premiere Youth Ministry

Making Jesus Attractive: The Ministry and Message of Young Life MAKING JESUS ATTRACTIVE: THE MINISTRY AND MESSAGE OF YOUNG LIFE GRETCHEN SCHOON TANIS PICKWICK PUBLICATIONS, 2016 178 PAGES $23 A friend who is a senior ministry leader with Young Life tells the story of the reaction he received at a high school reunion from a former classmate after they swapped details of what they were up to now. “You work for Young Life?” the classmate asked. “Hey, I liked marching…
June 30, 2017
Book Reviews

Turning from Shame to Wholeness

Wholeheartedness: Busyness, Exhaustion, and Healing the Divided Self WHOLEHEARTEDNESS: BUSYNESS, EXHAUSTION, AND HEALING THE DIVIDED SELF CHUCK DEGROAT WM. B. EERDMANS PUBLISHING, 2016 208 PAGES $15 We are guilty as charged. In Wholeheartedness: busyness, exhaustion, and healing the divided self, Chuck DeGroat aptly describes our destructive internal hunger for self-perfection and personal achievement: “Ashamed of our humanness, we’re constantly aspiring to become gods. The relentless drive to perfect ourselves leads to feats of extraordinary achievement. And utter exhaustion.” He writes …
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

Patterns of Living that Lead Us into Love

You Are What You Love, by James K.A. Smith YOU ARE WHAT YOU LOVE JAMES K. A. SMITH BAKER PUBLISHING GROUP, 2016 $19.99 224 PAGES In You Are What You Love, James K.A. Smith redirects us to think of our lives as shaped not so much by the mind as by the heart. It is not learning right theology, ahem, that moves us closer to God, but right habits. And habits are learned processes. We are invited, in this text,…
February 28, 2017
Book Reviews

Good Company in the Valley

Rejoicing in Lament, by J. Todd Billings REJOICING IN LAMENT: WRESTLING WITH INCURABLE CANCER & LIFE IN CHRIST J. TODD BILLINGS BRAZOS PRESS, 2015 $19.99 224 PAGES I’ll confess: I was fully prepared to wince at the contents of this book. The lovely review editor who suggested it had no idea I had been going through “one of those times” until after it arrived on my porch, a mysterious gift from God that showed up on a particularly bad day…
February 28, 2017
Book Reviews

John Updike as Evangelist

Myth and Gospel in the Fiction of John Updike, by John McTavish MYTH AND GOSPEL IN THE FICTION OF JOHN UPDIKE JOHN MCTAVISH CASCADE BOOKS, 2016 $25 183 PAGES Readers looking for the latest cutting-edge scholarship on John Updike (1932-2009) might be disappointed in John McTavish’s Myth and Gospel in the Fiction of John Updike. McTavish, an ordained minister in the United Church of Canada, offers us instead a kind of bricolage: revisions and expansions of essays and reviews McTavish…
January 4, 2017
Book Reviews

Learning to Be, Not Do, in Youth Ministry

Poetic Youth Ministry, by Jason Lief POETIC YOUTH MINISTRY: LEARNING TO LOVE YOUNG PEOPLE BY LETTING THEM GO JASON LIEF CASCADE BOOKS, 2015 $21 160 PAGES Poetic Youth Ministry, by Jason Lief, is a disruptive book on youth ministry. Opening with the Disney film WALL•E as an analogy for the challenging identity-formation journey young people face, Lief examines why the “faith scripts” taught in many of our churches often end in tragedy, with our young people choosing a different faith…
Darwin K. Glassford
January 4, 2017