It’s been a while since I’ve put a post together, but I haven’t stopped reading… recent books:
Movies are Prayers: How Films Voice Our Deepest Longings by Josh Larsen
Larsen is the co-host of the essential Filmspotting podcast, as well as being an editor at Think Christian. Larsen explores the overlap of his two interests with an insightful look at how movies can be expressions of prayer. Larsen goes deeper into the theology of prayer than I expected, with insightful results. As also happens when I listen to Filmspotting, I came away from Movies are Prayers with a bunch of movies to add to my to-watch list.
Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony by Richard Bauckham
Bauckham explores the Gospels and makes the case that their content was primarily from eyewitness testimony. He spends quite a bit of time exploring how oral histories were passed down through various cultures, and how the gospels bear many of the hallmarks of such oral tradition based on eyewitness information. He also suggests that part of the reason some characters (including some very minor characters) are explicitly named in the Gospels is because they were known living people who could be referenced as eyewitnesses. (What a fascinating thought!) This definitely gives me a new perspective when reading the Gospels.
The Unwomanly Face of War: An Oral History of Women in World War II by Svetlana Alexievich
A winner of the Nobel Prize for literature, Alexievich interviewed hundreds of Soviet women who fought (often as teenage girls) in the Soviet army during WWII. The details are made even more horrific by the narrative telling. War is hell. Terrible, real, and heartbreaking.
A Colony in A Nation by Chris Hayes
A short volume documenting the discrepancy in policing and justice between blacks and whites in America. Not exceptionally surprising after all that I’ve read the past couple years, but tragic and infuriating none the less.
Getting Religion: Faith, Culture, & Politics from the Age of Eisenhower to the Era of Obama by Kenneth L. Woodward
Woodward was the religion editor of Newsweek for decades, in which role he had opportunity to interview many of the major religious figures of the 20th century. A devout Catholic, Woodward provides a measured view of Billy Graham and other early evangelists, the rise of Evangelicalism and its political efforts, the changes in the Catholic church after Vatican II, and the evolution of the Protestant mainline. Woodward’s easy prose felt familiar in some way; finally I realized it must be the deft touch of a newsman similar to that of the late Steve Buttry who I read regularly for nearly a decade until his untimely death last year. All told, a good history of religion in America.