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.
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.
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.
Nothing outrages students in Jonathan Sheehan’s course on the history of Christianity at the University of California at Berkeley more than the writings of John Calvin. What kind of God is it who would predetermine the ultimate destiny of all humans before the creation of the world? students wonder. Reading Calvin, he says, helps students see the power of an argument and consider the consequences of their own beliefs and commitments. Sheehan wants students to wrestle with Calvin with “integrity, reason, creativity, and charity . . . intellectual virtues that we need in our modern world” (New York Times, September 12).