The Library added two more books from Bishop Vono’s “bookshelf” list.
Henri J.M. Nouwen, Discernment : Reading the Signs of Daily Life, Call Number 248.4 Nou 2013
Jonathan Rieder, Gospel of Freedom : Martin Luther King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail and the Struggle that Changed a Nation, Call Number 232.092 Rie 2013.
Nouwen will interest contemplative parishioners, and Rieder will interest social activists.
The Library tries to appeal to a variety of parish interests.
If you have suggestions for new book purchases, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Note, purchases must be affordable (that is, within the Library’s small budget) and have some religious connection.
The Library has acquired twelve books in Mark Schweizer’s “liturgical mystery” series, Call Number FIC 808.83 Sch. Check out a book and join in the fun.
Thomas E. Breidenthal, Christian Households : The Sanctification of Nearness, Call Number 241.676 Bre 1997, 2004, is a book from Bishop Vono’s “bookshelf” list. The author, an Episcopal priest, attempts to make a purely theological argument which is broad enough to include non-traditional households, including gay unions. In this reviewer’s opinion, Breidenthal’s refusal to sanction contracts, that is human agreements based on mutuality and reciprocity, makes the notion of Christian households too restrictive to deal with the practical problems of contemporary families. Others may disagree.
The church library is open weekdays during office hours for parish members who wish to browse or check out books. The library is also open on Sunday after services. We especially encourage members to stop by at this time. Please defer to previously scheduled ministry meetings in the library, when necessary.
Spencer Reece, The Road to Emmaus
This book is a collection of narrative and prose poems written by a gay Episcopal priest. Although Reece’s poems are studded with beautiful nature and religious metaphors, he writes about people - family, friends, lovers and strangers, whom he has befriended. Reece’s poetic vision brings the reader out of the world of self-centered meditation into the real world around us, with its many personalities, and with love.
Peter Heather’s history, The Restoration of Rome : Barbarian Popes and Imperial Pretenders
This book attempts to fill in the historical gap between the demise of the last Roman Emperor in 476 and the assertion of papal control over all of Europe in 1215. That is, the transition between Ancient Times and the High Middle Ages. Heather argues that during this period of time, political control in Europe shifted from a military Roman Emperor, designated by a pagan or Christian God, to a religious bureaucracy run directly by the Christian Pope in Rome. From the perspective of the common people, the Roman system simply meant taxation of their agricultural and mercantile pursuits. Papal control, on the other hand, continued the taxation, but added theological/ideological intervention into everyday life. For the Episcopal reader, Heather’s well documented account of the ninth century (i.e., post-Charlemagne) reworking of Christian theology and liturgy raises a legitimate question about whether “High Church” traditions are really traditional practices of the early church or whether our modern liturgy was created by Charlemagne’s very literate churchmen in order to enhance papal authority and enforce uniformity in the medieval church. Heather is quick to add, that despite its dubious origins and moral lapses, the medieval Christian church, overall, provided a powerful cultural anchor during a time when political government was virtually absent in Europe. Its Christian culture has endured even longer than that of the original Roman Empire.
James Turner, Philology : The Forgotten Origins of the Modern Humanities
This book reviews in detail how ancient techniques of interpreting classical Greek and Roman texts were applied to the Christian Scriptures in order to reconcile them with the classical pagan writings of Greece and Rome. Turner argues that these techniques led to the development of the modern “humanities” which are still studied in secular liberal arts colleges. He suggests that philology continues to be the intellectual basis of theological studies in seminaries and divinity schools. Turner’s attention to details make this book difficult for the general reader. However, serious students of religion should take a look at Chapter 13, “Biblical Philology and the Rise of Religious Studies after 1860.” Unfortunately, Turner stops at 1920, when intellectual studies of the Scriptures started to become interesting, i.e., the discovery of the Nag Hammadi gospels, the search for the historical Jesus and the rise of popular fundamentalism are not discussed in this book.
steven P. Miller, the Age of Evangelicalism : American’s Born-Again Years
Steven P. Miller, The Age of Evangelicalism : American’s Born-Again Years, Call Number 277.3082 Mil 2014, is a political and cultural history of Evangelical Christianity between 1960 and 2012. Unlike Europe, which has become increasingly secularized, radical American Protestants (and Catholics) exercised a surge of influence over political leaders and “pop” culture during the last decades of the 20th century and the first decade of the 21st century. The political influence of “born-again” Christians started with the civil rights crusade and the social liberalism of Jimmy Carter. The evangelicals then shifted to the political right with Ronald Reagan, to the center with the “compassionate conservativism” of George W. Bush, and back to the political left with Barak Obama. Miller believes religious-based policies are endemic to American politics. (Remember the New England puritans, the abolitionists and prohibition). However, he believes that the most recent merger of religion and politics has run its course and secularism will return to national politics in the near future.
Miller’s description of the wild religious expressions in pop culture during the seventies further reminds the reader that superstitious excesses were not unique to the Middle Ages, but continue to fester in the most scientifically advanced societies on earth. This reviewer lived though the 1970s as a young adult. I didn’t remember we were that crazy!
Sharan Newman, Defending the City of God : a medieval queen, the first Crusades, and the quest for peace in Jerusalem
Sharan Newman, Defending the City of God : a medieval queen, the first Crusades, and the quest for peace in Jerusalem, Call Number 956.9442 New 2014, is a contemporary historian’s view of the 12th century Crusaders’ kingdom in Jerusalem. The author sets out to examine the political power of aristocratic women in the early medieval world, which had not begun to exclude women rulers under the laws of primogeniture. What Newman found was a contentious Middle East society made of Greeks, Jews and Syrians who had inhabited the area for four hundred years (since 700). They lived side by side with newly arrived Egyptians, Arabs, Armenians, Jews, Syrians, Georgians, Persians and Turks. These settlers were joined by nomadic Bedouins and even the mercenary soldiers, the Batini, known in the West as the Assassins. The local population, governed by a few French Catholics, practiced Sunni and Shi’a Islam, Orthodox and Latin Christianity, and Judaism. As she completed her book during the 2012-2014 Syrian civil war, the author discovered that the descendants of these ethnic and cultural groups were still intact after nine hundred years and were still waging war against each other. Sadly, not Islam, Christianity nor Judaism have made any progress in bringing peace to the Middle East.
J. Clif Christopher, Not Your Parents' Offering Plate
J. Clif Christopher, Not Your Parents’ Offering Plate : A New Vision for Financial Stewardship, Call Number 254.8 Chr 2005, offers some practical tips for church fund raising. Christopher emphasizes that people give to non-profit organizations because of “(1) belief in the mission of the institution, (2) a high regard for staff leadership, and (3) the fiscal responsibility of the institution.” Christopher at p.13. The author then applies these principles specifically to church fund-raising. Not all of Christopher’s ideas are applicable to an Episcopal congregation, but he offers some perceptive insights into the pastor/rector’s role as a fund raiser.
Neal McBride, How to Lead Small Groups
Another practical book on church administration is Neal McBride, How to lead small groups, Call Number 254 Mcb 1990. McBride begins with the Scriptural authority for small groups, which goes back to both Jesus and the Old Testament. Thus, small groups are not exclusively a corporate management tool. Having established a long tradition of small groups, McBride offers some advice on how to manage and lead small groups for church activities in the modern world.
Sally K. Severino, Becoming Fire: A Freudian Psychoanalyst's Spiritual Journey
We have acquired an autographed copy of Sally K. Severino’s book, Becoming Fire : A Freudian Psychoanalyst’s Spiritual Journey, Call Number 242 Sev 2009. Written in the form of a memoir, Becoming Fire is an account of Dr. Severino’s personal spiritual journey, beginning as a child in Kansas and concluding with her experiences with structured spiritual meditation at St. Michael’s. Besides providing a moving account of her personal spiritual journey, Dr. Severino provides an introduction to the type of ministry practiced in the Contemplative Center at our own parish.
Conrad Hyers, The Comic Vision and the Christian Faith: A Celebration of Light and Laughter
Conrad Hyers, The Comic Vision and the Christian Faith : A Celebration of Light and Laughter, Call Number 248.4 Hye 1981, is addressed to the 1980s when people’s inflexible political ideologies and religious doctrines discouraged them from laughing together and sharing jokes. Hyers sees comedy as a powerful tool which expands our understanding by revealing the failings of the powerful and mixing the sacred and the profane. Maybe, the twenty first century is a good time to revisit some of Hyers’ ideas.
A number of new books are in the collection, especially regarding Navajo and Native American spirituality.
We have also received some generous donations of works in theology and church history from retired clergy.