This month, I went to war with Old Testament Israel and World War 2 soldiers and their books. I went questing for unicorns and explored life in the Cleveland Zoo and on to nearby Newark, Ohio for an up-close look at Ohio’s addiction crisis. I went to Princeton to listen to a professor from the late nineteenth century as he engaged the then-new theory of evolution and listened to seventeen biblical scholars talk about their work and how it has affected their faith. I followed the career of John Jay. I traveled to idyllic Three Pines, and to dystopian southern California in a not-too-distant future. I did all this and more while staying at home.
Still Life (Chief Inspector Gamache #1), Louise Penny. New York: Minotaur Books, 2005. The suspicious death of Jane Neal a day after her painting is accepted into an art show brings Gamache and his team to Three Pines, and to the grim conclusion that someone in this small community is a murderer. Review
Parable of the Sower (Earthseed #1), Octavia E. Butler. New York: Open Road Media, 2012 (first published 1993). Lauren Olamina, whose life has been spent in a guarded enclave from a violent society, flees with two other survivors when it is destroyed, the core of an Earthseed community, the outgrowth of a religious vision. Review
When Books Went to War, Molly Guptill Manning. New York: Mariner Books, 2014. This history of efforts to supply American servicemen in World War 2 with books. Review
Philippians (Kerux Commentaries), Thomas Moore and Timothy D. Sprankle. Grand Rapids, Kregel Ministry, 2019. A biblical commentary on Paul’s letter to the Philippians combining exegetical and preaching resources for each passage. Review
Evolution, Scripture, and Science, B. B. Warfield (Edited by Mark A. Noll & David N. Livingstone). Eugene, Wipf & Stock, 2019 (originally published in 2000). A collection of the writings of B.B. Warfield consisting of lectures, articles, and reviews showing his engagement with evolutionary writers and his conviction that scripture and science need not be in conflict. Review
This Is Ohio, Jack Shuler. Berkeley: Counterpoint, (forthcoming August) 2020. A narrative account of the overdose crisis in the United States, focusing on Newark, Ohio, a former industrial center, advocating for harm reduction and the involvement of drug users in policy decisions. Review
The Last Unicorn, Peter S. Beagle. New York: Roc, 1968. A quest in which the last unicorn embarks on a quest to find her lost kin, eventually join by Schmendrick the Magician, and Molly Grue, a quest involving a confrontation with the Red Bull, and a grim king. Review
The Seamless Life, Steven Garber. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2020. A collection of short reflections around the integral relationship between our daily life and work and the love of God, accompanied by the author’s photography. Review
Bloody, Brutal, and Barbaric?, William J. Webb and Gordon K. Oeste. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2019. Using an incremental, redemptive ethic approach, and careful textual study, the authors argue for assessing the Old Testament warfare and war rape narratives against the Ancient Near East cultural context, the constraints on warfare for Israel, and evidence in the arc of biblical narrative that God both grieves warfare and redemptively works for the end of it. Review
Experiencing God (Inner Land – Volume 3), Eberhard Arnold. Walden, NY: Plough Publishing, 2020. What it means for us to truly experience the greatness of God and the peace of God. Review
I (Still) Believe, John Byron and Joel N. Lohr, editors. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2015. Seventeen narratives of scholars who address the question of whether academic study of the Bible is a threat to one’s faith. Review
My Life in the Cleveland Zoo, Adam A. Smith with Rob Smith. Huron, OH: Drinian Press, 2014. A memoir recounting numerous stories from the author’s years of working at the Cleveland Zoo as a tour train driver, a night watchmen, and a animal keeper with pachyderms. Review
John Jay: Founding Father, Walter Stahr. New York: Diversion Books, 2012. A full-length biography of this lesser-known founder, drawing on new material tracing his numerous contributions to the beginnings of the United States. Review
Best Book of the Month. I loved Steve Garber’s new book, The Seamless Life. He takes us on a journey across the country, complete with gorgeous photographs, describing people and organizations living a seamless life of faith and practice.
Quote of the Month. This is a short one that might well appear not only on a mirror in Louise Penny’s Three Pines, but on each of our mirrors:
“You’re looking at the problem.”
What I’m Reading. I’ve just begun Hilary Mantel’s latest and last installment in her account of the life of Thomas Cromwell, The Mirror and the Light. I’ve just begun a new book by Muriel and Duane Elmer, The Learning Cycle, on how we learn and how learning may transform us. Kenneth Boa’s Shaped by Suffering is a study of 1 Peter and how suffering may transform our character. Vincent L. Bantu’s A Multitude of All Peoples gives the lie to the idea that Christianity is the white man’s religion, showing the ancient global spread of Christianity. I expect to follow these by Scot McKnight’s The Jesus Creed, and a graphic non-fiction account of the Kent State shootings. This year marks 50 years since that tragic event that shattered the spring of my sophomore year in high school.
I hope in this time of stay at home orders, your books take you many places, help you reflect on things that matter, and remember.