Charity: The Place of the Poor in the Biblical Tradition, by Gary A. Anderson. Have modern economic assumptions and the theological underpinnings of Protestantism left us with distorted perspectives on almsgiving and its spiritual rewards? Anderson says yes.
Recently, Secretary of State John Kerry explained that if he could do it all over again, he would major in “comparative religion.” Were it not for a Supreme Court decision 50 years ago, this might not have even been possible.
The public has a taste for biographies of great people who on closer inspection turn out to be not so great after all. The curtain has been pulled back on Thomas Jefferson, Bill Clinton, Mother Teresa and even Jesus.
Reza Aslan’s Zealot arrived with an enormous splash. An engaging and personal interview on NPR’s Fresh Air attracted widespread interest. Then a Fox News interview commandeered Internet coverage. The network’s religion correspondent, Lauren Green, began by asking why Aslan, a Muslim, would write a book about Jesus.
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.
When Justin Welby, archbishop of Canterbury, was asked what he would write to his 14-year-old self, he said: “Dear Justin, You are rarely good at anything, a fact you know well and worry about. But don’t worry—it does not measure who you are. Keep on dreaming of great things, but learn to live in the present so that you take steps to accomplish them. Above all, more important than anything, don’t wait until you are older to find out about Jesus Christ and his love for you. He is not just a name at chapel, but a person you can know. Christmas is not a fairy story, but the compelling opening of the greatest drama in history, with you as one of millions of players. Life will often be tough, but you will find more love than you can imagine now. With my love to you, Justin” (The Spectator, December 14).