Mark and Empire: Feminist Reflections, by Laurel K. Cobb. Laurel Cobb interprets the Gospel of Mark from the perspective of three decades of work in international public health and social welfare programs. Weaving themes of poverty, health, and justice work through recent scholarship on Mark and empire, she offers a moving and challenging practical theology of discipleship.
New students’ approaches to religious texts exhibit scant sensitivity to the complex recipes by which hearers and readers construct meaning. Yet interpretive skills are useful for making sense not only of sacred texts but of all texts, and of other communication tools as well.
One of my grad school teachers said that anyone teaching bioethics should adopt Anne Fadiman’s The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down. Upon arriving at Baylor I took up her suggestion, and I have taught the National Book Critics Circle Award winner twice a year for nearly a decade.
The 12th-century Muslim mystic Ibn Tufayl relates the story of a spontaneously generated child raised by a gazelle on a desert island, and the process by which he attains union with God through the naturally acquired art of mystic contemplation.
Plant a garden. Listen to birdsong. Sit quietly in a park without checking your phone. These activities are examples of ecotherapy, a form of mental health treatment based on the idea that nature has healing powers. “If you hold moist soil for 20 minutes, the soil bacteria begin elevating your mood,” says Craig Chalquist, an innovator in this new field. “You have all the antidepressant you need in the ground.” Chalquist maintains that it helps even more to give something back to nature—not just looking at trees, but caring for them (Atlantic, October).