Log In

Subscriber-Only Content; You must be a PW subscriber to access the Table-of-Contents Database.

Get a digital subscription to Publishers Weekly for only $18.95/month.

Your subscription gives you instant access exclusive feature articles on notable figures in the publishing industry, he latest industry news, interviews of up and coming authors and bestselling authors, and access over 200,000 book reviews.

PW "All Access" site license members have access to PW's subscriber-only website content. To find out more about PW's site license subscription options please email: pw@pubservice.com or call 1-800-278-2991 (U.S.) or 1-818-487-2069 (all other countries), Monday-Friday between 5am and 5pm Pacific time.

To Change the Church: Pope Francis and the Future of Catholicism

Ross Douthat. Simon and Schuster, $26 (211p) ISBN 978-1-5011-4692-3

In this balanced investigation, Douthat (Bad Religion), columnist for the New York Times and convert to Catholicism, wonders whether Pope Francis will ultimately be helpful or harmful to the Catholic Church. The author describes his religious worldview as “conservative, in the sense that it assumes the church needs a settled core of doctrine, a clear unbroken link to the New Testament and the early Church, for Catholicism’s claims and structure and demands to make any sense at all.” Douthat explores the pontiff’s early days as a Jesuit in South America and his rise through the ranks of Church leadership. The former Cardinal Bergoglio chose the name Francis after the saint from Assisi who lived a simple life dedicated to the poor. This choice has set a tone for a papacy that has become increasingly progressive and more concerned about persons than strict doctrine. Douthat writes that many in the Church view Francis’s unprecedented choices as at odds with church tradition. For example, many have become alarmed at Francis’s statements about divorced Catholics who have not had their marriages annulled still being able to receive communion. His main concern is that Pope Francis is stirring up ambiguity regarding Catholic teaching on divorce, remarriage, and homosexuality. Douthat is never shy about sharing his staunch beliefs, but he is able to temper them with modesty and asks more questions than he answers. Those interested in contemporary Catholicism and how it might develop will be pleased with this look at the liberalizing policies of Pope Francis. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 02/09/2018 | Details & Permalink

show more
Your Holiness: Discover the Light Within

Debbie Ford. HarperOne, $22.99 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-0-06-269494-2

Ford (The Best Year of Your Life), who died of cancer in 2013, leaves readers with this spirited account of her life. Ford writes of how she overcame her drug addictions after kneeling on her filthy bathroom floor and asking God to help her: “A calm had come over me—a silence that was palpable. In asking God, this higher power, to enter my awareness, something inside me had opened up and relaxed.” Ford shares that this moment began her journey to knowing God as a “creative, powerful, and wise, force that is often referred to as ‘spirit,’ ‘love,’ ‘universal consciousness,’ ‘divine order,’ ‘nature,’ or a ‘spiritual master.’ ” Her book includes prayers and chants that focus on specific goals, such as finding the holiness within, preparing for holy cleansing, healing one’s heart, discovering the power of forgiveness, and reclaiming one’s inner light. Ford frequently returns her thoughts to self-care: “What we think we’re craving from the external world is an illusion. We will only find it from the heart candy we give ourselves.” Ford’s book encourages readers to lift themselves up in the light of God. Filled with her original prayers and questions for further discussion, Ford’s impassioned story will help those looking for concrete ways of developing a deeper relationship with God. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 02/09/2018 | Details & Permalink

show more
Putting It Together Again When It’s All Fallen Apart: 7 Principles for Rebuilding Your Life

Tom Holladay. Zondervan, $16.99 trade paper (192p) ISBN 978-0-310-35039-2

Holladay (The Relationship Principles of Jesus), senior pastor at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., challenges Christians to respond positively to defeats and failures by adopting seven life-enhancing practices. The first two—find the strength to start and take the first step—are simple but difficult to carry out. In order to confront a setback or calamity, Holladay advises, one must be able to see methods of recovery, such as mourning the loss of a loved one, as an invitation to become closer to God. In the following chapters, Holladay tells readers to appreciate others, expect and reject opposition, build on successes, celebrate to sustain joy, and dedicate everything to God. “Your reaction to a problem is determined by the way you see that problem,” he writes. “A faith reaction to our problems will radically change the direction of our lives.” Holladay believes that Americans fail at mourning and often never fully heal from loss, whether of a loved one, a job, or a possession. Citing how Nehemiah moved from shock to a reaction of faith in Nehemiah 1:4, Holladay proposes ways that Christians today can follow Nehemiah’s example and turn any obstacle into an opportunity for faith by healing with intention. “Mourning is expressing your hurt to God,” he writes. “Fasting is focusing your heart on God. Praying is asking for help from God.” Holladay’s straightforward work will help readers looking for more spiritual structure. (Feb.)

Reviewed on 02/09/2018 | Details & Permalink

show more
Anxious to Talk About It: Helping White Christians Talk Faithfully About Racism

Carolyn B. Helsel. Chalice, $19.99 trade paper (128p) ISBN 978-0-8272-0072-2

In this useful book, Helsel, a Presbyterian pastor and professor of preaching at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, lends her perspective as an academic, a member of the clergy, and a white woman to the conversation about race in contemporary America. Helsel divulges personal stories as well as stories taken from the lives of people she has met while preaching and during her time working with the Oral History Project. In one chapter, Helsel tells the story of a young biracial girl named Ashley growing up in white society. To analyze Ashley’s experience of learning that white people view her as an outsider, Helsel breaks it into the five phases of racial identity development described by Janet Helms—pre-encounter, encounter, immersion, internalization, and commitment—that track Ashley’s process from the original encounter with racism to a full commitment to her African-American identity. Helsel’s penultimate chapter, “Spiritual Practices for Race Talk,” argues that (for white people) overcoming fears of talking about race requires “caring for yourself through self-compassion, tending to cries for justice through bearing witness, strengthening community through hospitality and dialogue, and incorporating a vision of reconciliation in regular forms of worship and preaching.” In Helsel’s thesis, public, communal healing must begin with spiritual inner peace and a love of brotherhood found through Christ. This slim but powerful book will be of most use to white readers looking for a way to have honest conversations about race. (Feb.)

Reviewed on 02/09/2018 | Details & Permalink

show more
Love and Sex: A Christian Guide to Healthy Intimacy

Nancy Houston. Regnery, $24.99 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-62157-675-4

Sex therapist Houston draws on her professional expertise in this guide intended to help Christian men and women better understand their attitudes and beliefs toward love and sex. “Scripture clearly makes a connection between married love and sex—a very necessary connection to make if we are going to reclaim the meaning and purpose of our sexuality,” she writes. Houston creates two fictional story lines (based on real people) of one married and one single adult who recognize their sexual angst and relationship frustrations and decide to seek help through counseling. She begins by exploring biblical stories of grace and redemption that depict healthy marital relationships (particularly Jesus’s advice to husbands and wives in Ephesians 5) before delving into how these lessons can help people who are facing challenges that stem from childhood trauma, sexual abuse, obsession with pornography, “sexual confusion,” and infidelity. Through the proxy characters, Houston shows how to integrate spirituality with sexuality. Though the stories are often bland, Houston’s advice is reasonable: “Put ourselves in loving, compassionate, kind, and trusting environments. Tell your story over and over until your history begins to make sense to you. Attune, tune in, be present.” Houston’s instructive text offer sound advice to Christian readers struggling with intimacy who want to move toward understanding themselves as sexual beings. (Feb.)

Reviewed on 02/09/2018 | Details & Permalink

show more
Jesus in Asia

R.S. Sugirtharajah. Harvard Univ., $29.95 (315p) ISBN 978-0-674-05113-3

This detailed history from Sugirtharajah (The Bible and Asia) surveys textual portrayals of Jesus by Korean, Indian, Chinese, and Japanese theologians in confrontation (and occasionally collaboration) with Western notions of the “historical Jesus.” There is no unified depiction of Jesus that emerges here; instead, Sugirtharajah considers a mosaic of descriptions from over a millennium, including scholarship primarily from the Chinese Taiping revolution (1850-1864), the Korean Minjung uprising of the 1970s, and the Indian and Sri Lankan anticolonial movements of the 20th century. These reconstructions, predominately from male and elite sources, situate Jesus in Asian contexts and challenge prevailing notions of how people can learn about Jesus as a spiritual figure, including a reimagining of Jesus as a kind of Jain tirthankara, an enlightened spiritual master who achieved perfect knowledge through a life of asceticism. The book’s claim that Jesus was reconceived in Asia concurrently to—and largely independently of—the Western search for the historical Jesus is more clarifying than illuminating; no cohesive argument emerges from the slew of examples of Jesus refashionings throughout Asia. A glaring flaw, which the author admits but doesn’t excuse, is his omission of Asian women’s voices. Despite this, Sugirtharajah’s trenchant book will be useful to anyone looking for an introduction to some of the many Asian representations of Christ. (Feb.)

Reviewed on 02/09/2018 | Details & Permalink

show more
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

Parts of this site are only available to paying PW subscribers. Subscribers: to set up your digital access click here.

To subscribe, click here.

PW “All Access” site license members have access to PW’s subscriber-only website content. Simply close and relaunch your preferred browser to log-in. To find out more about PW’s site license subscription options please email: pw@pubservice.com.

If you have questions or need assistance setting up your account please email pw@pubservice.com or call 1-800-278-2991 (U.S.) or 1-818-487-2069 (all other countries), Monday-Friday between 5am and 5pm Pacific time for assistance.

Not Registered? Click here.