Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Reviewing of Books -- there is no End!

As anyone who reads this blog with regularity can attest, I review a considerable number of books.  I'll confess, I'm addicted to reading books, and reviewing forces me to complete the books I'm reading, well sort of -- I've got such a stack right now that I'm way behind!  Briefer versions will sometimes appear elsewhere, at places like the Christian Century blog (formerly Theolog), Progressive Christian Magazine, and at the Englewood Review of Books, among other places.  Chris Smith, editor of the Englewood Review of Books asked me to blog the newly published print edition of the Review, which I'm pleased to do.  And no, none of my reviews appear in this first edition of the Review, nor is there any quid pro quo for future inclusions (though who knows!).  

The print edition of the Englewood Review of Books, to which you may subscribe here,  is an extension of an online presence that began in January 2008.  The online review appears weekly and covers a wide range of books, from serious theology to books of poetry.  What is true of the online presence, is true of the new print review.  It covers a wide range of books under review, that include a book of poetry by Seamus Heaney to a review of Amy Hungerford's Postmodern Belief:  American Literature and Religion Since 1960 (Princeton University Press, 2010).  There is original poetry and interviews with authors.  

Something should be said about the ethos of the editorial team.  This review is a ministry of Englewood Christian Church of Indianapolis.  Englewood is rooted in the same Stone-Campbell tradition as the Disciples (my community).  This branch is generally more conservative and tied into evangelicalism than is true of the Disciples.  But, it is also a congregation that, due to changing neighborhood demographics, had to reinvent itself.  Instead of moving to the suburbs it chose to minister to the community, and created a Community Development organization to facilitate this.  Thus, it shouldn't surprise readers to find a preponderance of books published by IVP, Baker, or Brazos.   But it also means that you'll find them focusing on works by people like Shane Claiborne and the New Monastic Movement.  The evangelical orientation that undergirds the ministry doesn't keep Chris from using my reviews or including books and publishers from the more liberal end of the spectrum (I'm reading through John Dominic Crossan's The Greatest Prayer for the Review at this moment in time).   

Hundreds of books get published every year.  Some are wonderful and others are pure duds.  It's helpful to have guides that can help us ferret through the good, the bad, and the ugly!  One of those key contributors to this cause can be found both online and in the pages of this newly published print review!  It has my recommendation!

I will be attending in short order to the interview with Willie James Jennings of Duke Divinity School, for it deals with something close to my heart, and that is the engagement with the city.  It is entitled "Thinking Theologically About Space."  So, stay tuned.

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