As long ago as 1996, Jon Levenson wrote an important article, “The Universal Horizon of Biblical Particularism.” In that piece he reflected on the way in which the Hebrew Bible adjudicated the particularity of Israel and a reach beyond Israel to the nations.
Brigham Young, unlike Joseph Smith, played no role in the translation of the Book of Mormon. He never ran for president of the United States, as Smith did in 1844. And Young was not dramatically martyred, as Smith was when a mob shot him in his prison cell. But without Young, we might not remember Smith.
America and Its Guns: A Theological Exposé, by James E. Atwood. In a year in which incidents of horrific gun violence have cascaded one after another, this is a timely and important book for clergy and churches.
Almost a decade after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, many Americans have become numb to the reports of continued violence in Iraq that are buried in the back pages of newspapers and are barely mentioned on the nightly news. But acts of sectarian violence in Iraq are still frequent and are increasingly large in scale.
Given the talk about the decline of Christian identity in the United States, Marilynne Robinson suggests a standard is needed to define this change. She proposes that a marker is the general fearfulness in our culture, which is revealed by the obsession with and purchase of guns. “Contemporary America is full of fear,” Robinson says, but “fear is not a Christian habit of mind.” One of the markers of people who forget God is “that they make irrational responses to irrational fears” (New York Review of Books, September 24).