This issue’s emphasis on books exemplifies one of the things I have most liked about the Christian Century over the years: it has helped me to decide what books to purchase and read. I’m still relying on it to do that. For example, I’d like to read all eight recommendations in the field of New Testament.
In the previous issue, Mark Noll, a distinguished church historian, indicated his intention to sit out the upcoming presidential election because no candidate or national party reflects his sense of the pressing issues of the day (None of the above, September 21).
How are we doing? The editors and staff of this magazine periodically ask themselves that question. Are we succeeding? Is the magazine meeting or at least approaching the goal we have set for ourselves of helping Christians think critically and live faithfully? Are we engaging people with lively articles, timely reports, thoughtful reflections?
In his compact book Before God, George Stroup observes that we live in a time when many people no longer understand that their lives are lived coram Deo, before God. Stroup is particularly good in talking about gratitude as the essence of Christian practice. On that topic he quotes Karl Barth: “Gratitude is the precise creaturely counterpart to the grace of God.
James Fenimore Cooper Jr. and Margaret Bendroth are rummaging through church attics and basements in the New England states, especially Massachusetts, looking for records of early American life. Some churches are reticent to part with old documents, but the two historians point out how vulnerable the documents are and offer to keep them in a climate-controlled rare book room at the Congregational Library in Boston. Among their findings: a church in Middleboro possessed an application for membership submitted in 1773 by a slave (New York Times, July 29).