many modern gospel records, this double disc was recorded live. But it
begins nontraditionally: "Reclaim Your Mountain" builds tension by
repeating a two-note phrase for almost four minutes before spiraling
into a Holy Spirit call. "Prophecy" kicks off with a tom-tom solo and
then unfurls a Latin-tinged rhythm that frames fervent, improvised
prayer. On disc two, the moody, piano-based "Ascending Higher" tops 16
minutes, a fitting soundtrack for a meditative yet emotional soul
takes guts to kick off an album with a seven-minute track, but Canasta
rewards the listener who hangs in there. "Becoming You" unfolds with
patient pop majesty, recalling Belle & Sebastian or the Decemberists
as it evokes a warm spring morning shaking off the frost. Sometimes the
band's slow burn boils over in thrilling fashion, as in "I Don't Know
Where I Was Going with This," which gathers polyrhythmic keyboards,
violin and guitar arpeggios into a momentous baroque gallop.
Bruce Cockburn is a singer-songwriter of extraordinary perception and wit. On Comfort,
his faculties come into laserlike focus on "Call Me Rose," a jaunty
tune about a single mom in the projects who claims to be Richard Nixon
reincarnated: "I'm back here learning what it is to be poor / To have no
power but the strength to endure." Cockburn also offers a moving
requiem in "Each One Lost," inspired by two Canadian soldiers killed in
the Middle East. And he can weave quite a spell on guitar, as on the
Faith of the Founders: Religion and the New Nation 1776–1826, by Edwin S. Gaustad. This is the best short, accessible, single-volume treatment of the religious lives, intellectual pathways and church-state politics of the preeminent founders of the United States—Jefferson, Madison, Adams, Washington and Franklin. It is written by one of the nation's leading church historians. Behind these pithy chapters stand whole libraries of learning, including Gaustad's own exquisite studies of Jefferson, Franklin, Isaac Backus and Roger Williams.
A manifesto hardly seems like the right genre for David F. Ford. The
Irish Anglican theologian has made a career partly with the splendid
encyclopedia The Modern Theologians, a book regularly blessed by graduate students facing their exams.
The most famous farewell addresses in the history of the American
presidency are those delivered by two of the greatest military leaders
to occupy the office: George Washington and Dwight Eisenhower. Both
warned of the threat that military power and its interests posed to the
Enough already. Do I need yet another book to tell me that the latest
technology is messing with my head? Late medieval church leaders, after
all, didn't care for Gutenberg's invention, without which the
Reformation would have remained a purely local aberration.