The Christian Century

Founded on January 4, 1900, The Christian Century is a biweekly magazine published by The Christian Century. Its subject is religion. The Rev. John M. Buchanan is Editor and Publisher and David Heim is Executive Editor.

Articles from Vol. 131, No. 9, April 30

A Different Way to Pray
YOU'RE HAVING COFFEE after the worship service on a Sunday. You say "Hi!" to someone you know, ask how are you, what's up, and you catch up on this and that. And then, just as you're finishing, your conversation partner takes hold of your forearm,...
Apostles of Reason: The Crisis of Authority in American Evangelicalism
Apostles of Reason: The Crisis of Authority in American Evangelicalism By Molly Worthen Oxford University Press, 376 pp., $27-95 [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] In the spring of 1980 when I learned the improbable news that I had been accepted into...
Ask the Beasts: Darwin and the God of Love
Ask the Beasts: Darwin and the God of Love By Elizabeth A. Johnson Bloomsbury, 352 pp., $32.95 [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] Does science really matter to faith? The religious truths that Christians cherish came to expression long before Galileo,...
Belief without Borders: Inside the Minds of the Spiritual but Not Religious
Belief without Borders: Inside the Minds of the Spiritual but not Religious By Linda A. Mercadante Oxford University Press, 352 pp., $29.95 [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] The most striking current trend in American religions may also be the least...
Best Sellers
HARPERONE Making Sense of the Bible: Rediscovering the Power of Scripture Today, by Adam Hamilton Jesus: A Pilgrimage, by James Martin Learning to Walk in the Dark, by Barbara Brown Taylor The Artisan Soul: Crafting Your Life into a Work of...
Bible Society to Sell Its Longtime Quarters
The American Bible Society will sell its 12-story building on Broadway, vacating prime real estate in the heart of Manhattan that serves other evangelical ministries. The society provides space to several New York-based evangelical organizations,...
Clergy Residences under Scrutiny
Bye-bye, Bishop Bling. So long, Pastor Perks. The so-called Francis effect may be real, at least when it comes to clerical housing, and could be coming to a church near you. Pope Francis famously eschewed the trappings of the papal office, including...
Critics Find Noah Lacking in Ethnic Diversity
The new movie Noah has everything you'd expect in a biblical blockbuster: big Hollywood stars, extravagant special effects, an apocalyptic flood. There's even a few rock monsters for good measure. But Episcopal priest Wil Gafney sees something missing:...
Essential Books on Evolution and Human Origins
Neanderthal Man: In Search of Lost Genomes, by Svante Paabo (Basic Books). The world's foremost expert on recovering ancient DNA tells the inside story of what it took to reconstruct the Neanderthal genome. In 2010, his team used samples of bone fragments...
Essential Books on Jewish Thought
Contemporary Jewish Theology: A Reader, edited by Elliot N. Dorff and Louis E. Newman (Oxford University Press). Here is an introduction to Jewish thought in bite-size pieces. This fine collection offers good tastes of the writings of great Jewish...
Essential Books On: Religion in the American South
Religion in the Old South, by Donald G. Mathews (University of Chicago Press). Mathews's 1977 classic is a relatively short synthetic analysis that clearly, profoundly, and theologically explores the meaning of Christianity in the slave society of...
Ethics
Good Food: Grounded Practical Theology, by Jennifer R. Ayres (Baylor University Press, 248 pp., $34.95). Ayres presents good food as divine bounty and moral challenge. She rotates her crops, deftly weaving statistical analysis and moral frameworks...
Executing God: Rethinking Everything You've Been Taught about Salvation and the Cross
Executing God: Rethinking Everything You've Been Taught about Salvation and the Cross By Sharon L. Baker Westminster John Knox, 216 pp., $20.00 paperback [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] And what if Jesus said: A man had two sons. The younger ...
Fine Doorstops
I COULDN'T PUT DOWN Donna Tartt's book The Goldfinch. I found myself reading it late into the night and even structuring my day so that I could get back to reading. Stephen King wrote about its 700-page length: "Prospective buyers have every right...
Gay Bishops Urged to 'Come Out' in Church of England
A leading member of the Church of England has called on gay bishops to "come out" as England celebrated its first same-sex weddings in secular venues. Alan Wilson, bishop of Buckingham, said the time has come for gay bishops to make themselves known....
Gratitude: An Intellectual History
Gratitude: An Intellectual History By Peter J. Leithart Baylor University Press, 350 pp., $49 95 [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] Jesus was an ingrate," Peter Leithart writes, and he thinks we should be thankful that he was. So were the Protestant...
Harriet Beecher Stowe: A Spiritual Life
Harriet Beecher Stowe: A Spiritual Life By Nancy Koester Eerdmans, 384 pp., $24.00 paperback [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] I am sick of the smell of sour milk, and sour meat, and sour everything, and then the clothes will not dry, and no wet thing...
In WikiWorship, Lay Folks Create the Sermon
TURNING PART of the message over to church members is the concept behind a new worship model called WikiWorship--wiki as in Wikipedia. It was developed by Philip Chryst, pastor of a United Methodist mission in Wilmington, North Carolina, as part...
Journey toward Justice: Personal Encounters in the Global South
Journey toward Justice: Personal Encounters in the Global South By Nicholas P. Wolterstorff Baker Academic, 272 pp., $21.99 paperback [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] Nicholas Wolterstorff is one of the great thinkers of our time. As the Noah Porter...
Keeping the Church Weird
When we imagine what a church can become, there is one thing that can be a great liability or a considerable asset: the church building itself. It can be difficult to know what to do with the stained glass and soaring ceilings, especially when a congregation...
Money Talks
One person, one vote: this principle is the bedrock of American democracy. The intent is to ensure that each citizen has as much say as any other, regardless of social or economic status. Consistent with that aim, campaign finance laws have sought...
Old Testament
Rediscovering Eve: Ancient Israelite Women in Context, by Carol Meyers (Oxford University Press, 312 pp., $24.95 paperback). A distinguished archaeologist, Meyers first published Discovering Eve in 1988, using cultural anthropology, ethnography, and...
Papal Indulgence
Alexander VI was the worst of the Borgia popes, against whom the Reformation was right to protest. He's the subject of the Showtime series The Borgias. There were three popes from the Borgia family from the 15th to the 17th centuries, and, of the three,...
Read This First: What One Book Do Pastors Need?
"If you had to choose one book to help a person embarking on pastoral ministry, what would it be?" We posed that question to some pastors and professors. Here are their choices. Christianity Rediscovered, by Vincent J. Donovan (Orbis). I return...
Redeeming Our Sacred Story: The Death of Jesus and Relations between Jews and Christians
Redeeming Our Sacred Story: The Death of Jesus and Relations between Jews and Christians By Mary C. Boys Paulist, 400 pp., $29.95 paperback [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] Mary Boys of Union Seminary in New York, a longtime participant and advocate...
Reflections on the Lectionary
Sunday, May 4 Luke 24:13-35 LATELY, I HAVE spent hours each day surveying my newborn son's face. While he sleeps I examine his fine eyelashes, note the flush of his cheek, and watch as his expressions swiftly shift. When he's awake, I covet the...
Sephardic Jews Eager for Spanish Citizenship
After the Spanish government recently announced it would grant citizenship to the descendants of Sephardic Jews expelled from Spain five centuries ago, Amit Winder of Tel Aviv began dreaming of a bright future on the Costa del Sol. Winder, a 36-year-old...
Stay: A History of Suicide and the Philosophies against It
Stay: A History of Suicide and the Philosophies Against It By Jennifer Michael Hecht Yale University Press, 280 pp., $26.00 [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] The philosopher Spren Kierkegaard was a kind of poet. The distinguished poet Jennifer Hecht...
Theology
Resisting Structural Evil: Love as Ecological-Economic Vocation, by Cynthia D. Moe-Lobeda (Fortress, 309 pp., $22.00 paperback). Moe-Lobeda's Lutheran acknowledgment of the moral ambiguity of all human action does not deter her from calling for an...
The Pastor and Other Sinners
Pastoral Work: Engagements with the Vision of Eugene Peterson Edited by Jason Byassee and L. Roger Owens Cascade, 222 pp., $24.00 paperback [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] ON A RECENT VISIT with Eugene Peterson, I asked him, "What was the turning point?...
The Twilight of the American Enlightenment: The 1950s and the Crisis of Liberal Belief
The Twilight of the American Enlightenment: The 1950s and the Crisis of Liberal Belief By George M. Marsden Basic Books, 264 pp., $26.99 [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] Among those historians who openly identify as believing Christians, George...
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