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Author: host Created: 11/27/2009 12:40 PM
On Thursdays, we'll share a review of a recent book, resource, movie, or other tool for your ministry.
By host on 10/29/2009 7:00 AM

book coverAt some time, each one of us has encountered someone that is a bit scary. We may not have used the word scary, but for one reason or another, we are reluctant to interact with this person. Doing so would require stepping outside of our comfort zone. Emily Jenkins has written a children’s book that addresses this topic.

the little bit SCARY people is a reminder not to judge people based on their looks, or on the brief glimpse of themselves that you may see. A young girl describes the “little bit SCARY people” that she encounters. Following a description of each person, she imagines another side of his or her personality.

By host on 10/22/2009 7:00 AM

Twenty-one years ago, I picked up a little book at my local Christian bookstore that was selling like crazy. It was called, 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will be in 1988. When that didn't happen, the author came out with a revision called The Final Shout: Rapture Report 1989, promising - you guessed it - a really big event that year. As I recall (yes, sadly I bought that one too), he had made a calculation error that had something to do with the year zero. Even though I was pretty firmly planted in the world of liberal theology and biblical interpretation by that point, I have to admit I was just a bit shaken by these two books. Call it the "What if" factor. What if he's right? What if I've been misled by all of my study of the New Testament? And, of course, What if he's just a crackpot milking the fundamentalist faithful for money?

Those books come to mind whenever I teach Bible studies on Revelation, as well as when I read books about contemporary apocalyptic movements. One of the latest of these books to catch my attention is by Michael Baigent, a historian known for some pretty radical religious theories, called Racing Toward Armageddon: The Three Great Religions and the Plot to End the World (HarperOne, 2009, 304 pp.) I was expecting something a little wild and sensational, given the title; instead, I found myself engaged by a well-researched account of the apocalyptic movements within Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, as well by his very good summary of the historical themes of the book of Revelation.

By host on 10/15/2009 7:00 AM

Peaceful Heroes book coverWe live in a world where wars and acts of violence seem to be ever present in the news. The discovery of the children’s book, Peaceful Heroes by Jonah Winter and illustrated by Sean Addy is a breath of fresh air in such a world. The heroes whose stories are told here provide hope that there are peaceful alternatives; violence does not have to be the way to change the world.

Peaceful Heroes introduces fourteen individuals who have changed the world. Each tale is unique. The lives of these persons have impacted the world in different ways. The common denominator among these people is their commitment to helping others through peace and not violence.

By host on 10/8/2009 7:00 AM

The arrival of a new book by Bishop John Shelby Spong brings about rejoicing in certain circles, and no doubt dismay in others. This time, there may be at least some rejoicing even by those who are not at all his fans, as he has declared this will be his final book. Of course, he has written that in previous books, but both his age and the fact that he sees this as his culminating work make that a believable statement.

I tend to be in the "love him" category, though I definitely have found some books to be far better than others. His book The Sins of Scripture, for example, would likely make my list of 25 books every progressive educator should read (were I to have such a compiled list!) In Eternal LIfe: A New Vision of Eternity: Beyond Religion, Beyond Theism, Beyond Heaven and Hell (Harper One, 2009, 268 pp.), Spong turns his attention to all things ultimate. The result is a book which -- while mildly disappointing -- is still a worthwhile addition to a topic many of us just don't know how to talk about very well.

By host on 10/1/2009 7:00 AM

Listen to the WindListen to the Wind is the story of Greg Mortenson, who set out to climb a mountain in Asia. Mortenson failed in his attempt. The book would not be very interesting if it ended there; fortunately, it doesn’t. Listen to the Wind by Greg Mortenson and Susan L. Roth tells how Mortenson turned that failure into success in another area.

By host on 9/24/2009 7:00 AM

A confession: History has always been my least favorite subject. In college, for example, I took, "Religion in the U.S." and "History of Psychology" -- two classes connected with my majors -- so that I wouldn't have to take general world history survey courses. When I think back on my seminary courses on Christian history, I'm embarrassed to say that I mostly just remember snoozing through lectures about popes, power struggles, and profoundly uninteresting (to me, at least) theological disputes.

By host on 9/17/2009 7:00 AM

Every so often I come across a gem of a series or book I wish I had discovered sooner. My latest find is the "Conversations with Scripture" series, published by Morehouse Publishing (an Episcopal church imprint.) The most recent (sixth) book in the series, which came out in July, is Conversations with Scripture: The Gospel of Mark, by Marcus Borg. 

Each book in the series contains an in-depth but accessible study of a biblical text, with an emphasis on the historical and critical background. Borg's 140-page book (each book in the series has a slightly different length) contains 5 chapters plus a series introduction, an autobiographical note, and an introduction to the book -- all of which are worth reading. The biblical text itself is not included, so the presumption is that the reader will first read that text, and then read and discuss the chapter's text. Extensive study questions are found at the back of the book for each chapter, along with various notes and recommendations for further reading. 

By host on 9/10/2009 7:00 AM

EVERYTHING MUST CHANGE: JESUS, GLOBAL CRISES, AND A REVOLUTION OF HOPE. By Brian McLaren, Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2007, 301 pp.


Book CoverI suppose if the books on emergent/emerging church were compared to “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” then Brian McLaren’s text would be the “just right” version. Not too simple, not too complicated. The essential via media book on this era. But in light of some of the other texts reviewed, this one might need to be re-titled “Everything has changed” or “Everything is changing.”

By host on 9/3/2009 7:00 AM

Adult education classes have started up in many churches and will start up soon in thousands more. And, undoubtedly, many of them have not yet chosen their curriculum - or will change their plans in a few weeks. Downloadable curricula can be a great last-minute option for a class to consider as a regular or occasional option.

Two options I think are worth considering are The Thoughtful Christian and Infusion. Let's do a comparison, shall we, and see the benefits of each!

Click the Read More link for the comparison chart - and details of how to pick up a special free bonus worth $8!

By host on 8/27/2009 7:00 AM

Why War is Never a Good IdeaIf you have ever given a children’s sermon (or listened to one) you realize that although the children’s message is addressed to children, the adults listen in. Children’s messages, with their (hopefully) simplified language, short duration, and (usually) fun approach, appeal to all ages. (This is not to say that adults should have a steady diet of children’s messages only, but rather that they can be a beneficial supplement to sermons.)

The same argument can be made for many children’s books. Fewer (and simpler) words and the addition of pictures make children’s books easier for adults to read than books that are written for adults. (Again, this does not mean that children’s books should be the only literature ready by adults…) Some children’s books even seem to be written more for adults than for children. Why War is Never a Good Idea is a book that falls into this category.

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