PW's starred reviews for spirituality and religion books publishing in April include religion scholar Lauren Winner's beautifully written consideration of little-known images of God and Harvey Cox's friendly and masterful guide to getting to know the Bible.
Wearing God: Clothing, Laughter, Fire, and Other Overlooked Ways of Meeting God
Lauren F. Winner. HarperOne, $24.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-06-176812-5
Duke Divinity School professor and author Winner combines spiritual insight and beautifully descriptive prose as she explores some of the more obscure biblical metaphors for God. This is not a book about God as king, shepherd, father, or judge. Rather, Winner looks at the ways God can be known through the everyday and familiar: a beloved sweater, the smell of a loved one’s shirt, morning-glory muffins. Weaving together intimate reflections and scholarship, Winner demonstrates how metaphors can deepen an understanding of God.
The Religion of Democracy: Seven Liberals and the American Moral Tradition
Amy Kittelstrom. Penguin Press, $32.95 (432p) ISBN 978-1-59420-485-2
Mention of religion in the public square today is commonly associated with political conservatism. This analysis from Kittelstrom, who teachers history at California’s Sonoma State University, serves as a reminder that many religious liberals were instrumental in guiding American society in its quest for moral and social progress. The seven individuals discussed—including John Adams, William James, and Jane Addams—are drawn from a wide swath of history and a broad range of occupations and ideologies, but they share the conviction that religion “doth not deserve that Sacred Name, if it does us no Good.”
Christian Reconstructionism: R.J. Rushdoony and American Religious Conservatism
Michael J. McVicar. Univ. of North Carolina, $34.95 (328p) ISBN 978-1-4696-2274-3
How is it that a man the author describes as “one of the most controversial ministers of the 20th century” is also a man whom most people have never heard of? Such is the story of R.J. Rushdoony and his campaign to introduce “Dominion Theology,” which champions a national government run by Christians that would “reconstruct” American society. Rushdoony set out to transform both Protestant Christianity and the American system, issuing a clarion call for Christians to engage, and ultimately control, American government and public education.
How to Read the Bible
Harvey Cox. HarperOne, $26.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-06-234315-4
When a highly respected scholar and writer such as Cox writes a simply titled book about a complicated text, readers can justifiably wonder how practical and understandable such a work will be. Scholars and students alike will be gratified by this pragmatic but profoundly insightful volume. Beginning with a masterful exposition of the composition of the Pentateuch, and finishing with a careful look at the historical and theological underpinnings of Revelation, Cox lays out a road map for reading and understanding the Bible and exploring its spiritual nature without compromising its literary and historical complexity.
Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving and Finding the Church
Rachel Held Evans. Thomas Nelson, $16.99 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-0-7180-2212-9
Evans uses the lens of her own journey as an evangelical Christian to explore what is happening in church circles today and, more broadly, what it means to be part of a church community. Evans humorously describes her gradual evolution from a teenager with a "crusader complex" to an adult who became increasingly uncomfortable with her church's conservative theology: "The trouble started when I began to suspect God was less concerned with saving people from hell than I was."