NEW IN THE LIBRARY JULY 2015
David L. Holmes, A Brief History of the Episcopal Church, Call Number 283.73 Hol 1993, is a readable history of the Episcopal Church USA from its origins in the seventeenth century Church of England and its colonial missions, through the founding of an American-governed Protestant Episcopal church in1789, the schisms of the nineteenth century and the issues facing twentieth century Episcopalians. Holmes is helpful in sorting out “high church,” “low church” and evangelical divisions which continue to perplex contemporary members. He also explains the Oxford Movement, the American development of “ritualism,” Anglo-Catholicism, late twentieth century liturgical reforms, and preoccupation with social issues. Unfortunately, Holmes’ history stops in 1990, leaving the reader in the dark about twenty-first century developments, such as the contemplative movement and the search for the historical Jesus. Knowledge of where we came from is helpful in facing issues of the future. Can anyone recommend a history which continues the story of the Episcopal Church to the twenty-first century?
Kevin M. Kruse, One Nation Under God : How Corporate America Invented Christian America, Call Number 322.10973 Kru 2015, argues that the use of religious symbols to promote political positions was invented by corporations opposed to Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal social legislation in the 1930s. The corporate leaders supposedly plotted to convince religious leaders that big government and social legislation were enemies to Christianity, in order to promote unregulated capitalism. Kruse argues that Christian clergymen bought into the corporate argument without considering its source. While it is true that the reference to “under God” was put into the flag pledge in the 1950s and that Presidential religious practices have become more public in the last sixty years, Kruse completely ignores the colonial sectarian religious groups of the seventeenth century, the Great Awakening religious movements of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and religious-driven causes such as abolitionism and prohibition in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Even if corporate America did revive the political use of religion in the mid twentieth century (a questionable proposition), it was only possible because of America’s long history of mixing religion and politics. Professor Kruse needs to look at the “whole story” before attributing the rise of conservative Christianity solely to the influence of the moneyed classes.
Remember, it was Republican Dwight Eisenhower, in his farewell address as President, who first warned us about the “military industrial complex.”
Keith H. Thomson, Private Doubt, Public Dilemma : Religion and Science since Jefferson and Darwin, Call Number 201.65 Tho 2015 represents an English scholar’s reflections on the conflict between religion and science. It is published as part of the Terry Lectures Series from Yale University and was probably written some years ago. The continuing debate over creation and evolution in England has apparently produced a sharper division between religious “believers” and atheists than in the United States. The author is concerned that “92 percent of the population” of the United States “professes to believe in God.” He seems to assume that all of this 92 percent are anti-intellectual fundamentalists, who reject modern science in its totality. In fact, many American scientists are loyal church members, as well as advanced scientific researchers. The author further believes that religious objections to family planning represents a rejection of the scientific method, rather than a dispute over “family values.” Professor Thomson notes that non-scientific religious positions can be used for political purposes in order to obtain governmental authority and funds. He might apply this insight to American religious adherents. Ann Bowler
New Zealand Prayer Book, by the Anglican Church of New Zealand, Call Number 264.03 NEW 1997
In its pastoral and congregational praying, the NZ Prayer Book uses more inclusive and straightforward language than the BCP does. In its strictly liturgical text, the NZ has the same wordings as the BCP, “Father, Son, Holy Spirit, sin, our father in heaven,” the creeds, et al. Those of us who want more contemporary expressions are of course free to reword these terms in our private worship. God after all, hears what is in our hearts, not what words we use per se.
The interspersing of Maori can be distracting if one is not use to bilingual texts. The use of pointing (‘) in the Psalms can also be distracting, although it is helpful for doing Anglican chanting.
On the whole, I found the NZ to be interesting, and recommend it to people who want a change from our BCP. If anyone wants to buy it the NZ is available from Amazon and Episcopal Book Store, though at twice the price of the BCP.
Inclusive Language New Testament, by Priests for Equality, a Roman Catholic group, Call Number 225.52 INC 1994.
This translation, made from the original Greek, goes further than any other in using inclusive language for God (“Abba God”) and humanity (“kingdom”). The translators could have done still better if they had used “Father-Mother” for God (Abba being masculine) and “dominion” for kingdom (again, a masculine term).
Priests for Equality have also done translations of the Psalms, the Hebrew Scriptures and the entire Bible. They have changed not only sexist language, but other wordings as well to improve one that may have created other kinds of barriers for people. All these translations are from the original languages and are available from Amazon.
Incidentally, Priests for Equality is a group of women as well as men. God is doing a new thing, and some of us look for the day when Roman Catholic Women can also be Priests
By Kirby Lewis
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.