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Practical theology

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Soul Repair: Recovering from Moral Injury after War, by Rita Nakashima Brock and Gabriella Lettini. After more than a decade of war in the Middle East, veterans are returning to civilian life with the hidden anguish of moral wounds. Brock and Lettini point out that moral injuries are not the same as posttraumatic stress disorder and require more than psychological and individualistic approaches for healing. They challenge religious communities to receive returning veterans, honor them and support them by engaging the deeper moral issues that affect us all.

Fulfilled: Living and Leading with Unusual Wisdom, Peace, and Joy, by Kirk Byron Jones. A onetime “boy preacher” from New Orleans, Jones encourages readers to go the distance in their vocations, with a sense of purpose and satisfaction. Jones’s poetry and prose are drawn from a deep well of experience, struggle and wisdom and can speak to deep longings in the reader. The book offers practical and inspirational resources for leading and living with a deep sense of joy.

Tall Poppy: How to Lead without Losing Your Head, by Holly McKissick. “Tall poppies” are leaders who can see an alternative vision to the unquestioned and often stunted reality directly facing them and who have enough confidence to participate in new possibilities, all the while knowing that they can and surely will fail. Drawing on her years of creative and successful ministry and the devastating shock of losing a ministry of two decades, McKissick offers stories, biblical references and practical examples as markers for those who are hungry for ways to navigate the increasingly complex and conflicted nature of contemporary ministry. She brings a light touch to her message and offers authentic hope.

Caring Liturgies: The Pastoral Power of Christian Ritual, by Susan Marie Smith. Smith offers a thorough review of the healing and restorative functions of rituals for people of faith facing times of trial and transition. Drawing on pastoral examples, which are not always present in denominational resources for worship, Smith offers a theologically grounded and ecclesially based road map to healthy religious rituals for personal and communal renewal. Of particular value are her interpretations of ritual practices as a means for fulfilling baptismal promises and exploring the paschal mystery.

Dorothee Soelle—Mystic and Rebel: The Biography, by Renate Wind. This original and captivating biography of Dorothee Soelle, one of the 20th century’s most thoughtful and provocative theologians and activists, provides fresh insights into her life, work and times. A poet and a prophet, Soelle always considered theology to be practical and political, and she still speaks to people today who seek ways of living that allow peace and justice to unite for the full flourishing of all.

Moving Miss Peggy: A Story of Dementia, Courage and Consolation, by Robert Benson. Through exquisite descriptions and tender dialogue, Benson paints a vivid portrait of his mother’s move to assisted living and of how each of her children found a place in the journey. With humor, grief, attention and careful planning, Miss Peggy’s family faced difficult answers and asked poignant questions as they considered possible ways of dealing with her worsening dementia. Benson offers a valuable testimony of hope for readers faced with comparable situations.

The Elephant in the Church: What You Don’t See Can Kill Your Ministry, by Jeanne Stevenson-Moessner and Mary Lynn Dell. Both new and seasoned pastors need to watch for those hidden-in-plain-sight issues and situations that can derail a ministry. The Elephant in the Church is packed with stories of potential pitfalls, and the authors address the importance of self-care for people in a profession overcrowded with elephants.

#OccupyTheBible: What Jesus Really Said (and Did) about Money and Power, by Susan B. Thistlethwaite. Thistlethwaite issues a scripturally based call to churches to become more visible witnesses for peace, justice and economic equality. Offering a street-level theology from the perspective of a person whose stomach is empty, she compellingly argues that the church should uncouple itself from neoliberal economics and instead position itself as an alternative moral institution that is capable of influencing the current dynamics of money and power toward a more just society.

Hope Sings, So Beautiful: Graced Encounters across the Color Line, by Christopher Pramuk. As race relations again become a focus of tension and unrest in the United States, Pramuk offers wisdom and practical direction for maintaining dialogue, critical engagement and a vision of hope. This fresh, theologically grounded approach to race relations moves beyond reactivity and oppositional thinking. Drawing on actual experiences and the works of poets and artists, theologians and critical race theorists, Pramuk presents an elegant read in which hope stings pointedly, rings defiantly and finally sings beautifully.

My Neighbor’s Faith: Stories of Interreligious Encounter, Growth, and Transformation, by Jennifer Howe Peace, Or N. Rose and Gregory Mobley. The authors have worked together for more than a decade to design creative encounters that bring understanding and healing to the divisions between religious faiths. They have gathered more than 50 testimonies from people who have engaged their neighbors of different faiths and collectively offer an extraordinary window onto today’s religious landscape.

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Thanks to Sharon Thornton....

....for s uch a thoughtful selection of useful books.   Loved My Neighbor's Faith; now I have to grab my credit card....

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