One of the best things about William Willimon's new book is that he introduces us to serious, spiritually significant works of fiction and makes us want to read them. One of the worst is that we might be tempted to take Willimon's book as a shortcut, using his summaries of great novels as a substitute for reading them.
Everyone seems to agree that America's moral fabric is being undermined by the unwise proliferation of consumer credit. We readily believe those who claim that easy credit fuels rampant hedonism and leads many to bankruptcy. Wistfully, we compare ourselves to ancestors who supposedly controlled their spending and never went into debt. We believe that our present affluence is a bubble that will surely burst.
Living Jesus: Learning the Heart of the Gospel. By Luke Timothy Johnson. Harper SanFrancisco, 210 pp.
In an earlier book, The Real Jesus (1996), Luke Timothy Johnson criticized the style and self-promotion of the Jesus Seminar and questioned the methods and motives, if not the faith, of some of its members.