In the decade since 9/11, it seems as though every trade publisher and university press has brought forth a guide to the Qur’an for the perplexed. Carl Ernst eschews the usual method for books of this sort.
“For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.” When Paul appeals to the self-emptying nature of Christ as one of the central Christian impulses for generosity, he is ringing a familiar chord. Generosity for the Corinthians is grounded in self-emptying in much the same way that joy and worship are grounded in self-emptying for the Philippians.
In readable fashion Levy-Achtemeier explores what it means for humans to flourish. Trained as a psychologist and an Episcopal priest, she draws on evolutionary neuroscience, positive psychology and theology. Relying especially on Teilhard de Chardin, she argues that we are to be cocreators with God of our own lives.
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).