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Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity

James Martin. HarperOne, $19.99 trade paper (160p) ISBN 978-0-06-269431-7

Jesuit priest Martin responds to the 2016 massacre in the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., with this brief, clear guide on how Catholics can heal some of the rifts surrounding issues of sexuality. He explains how both Catholic leadership and LGBTQ laity can apply principles of respect, compassion, and sensitivity to the thorny issue. Central to his argument is a gentle reminder to see opponents as fallible humans with good intentions. Rather than argue for a specific theology of sexuality, Martin urges a greater openness from those on both sides to listening, showing care, and genuinely seeking to understand each other. After these suggestions, he turns to brief biblical passages to explore how the ministry of Jesus, the Psalms, and other verses might offer insight into current debates. Each passage is paired with questions for reflection aimed at both LGBTQ believers and those seeking to understand their situation. The surprising places he finds insight highlight the subtlety of his thought and the time he has devoted to considering these questions. Although specifically Catholic, this approachable resource will resonate with many Christians looking for help with providing pastoral care to sexual minorities or living as an LGBTQ Christian. (June)

Reviewed on 06/23/2017 | Details & Permalink

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Who Will Lead Us? The Story of Five Hasidic Dynasties in America

Samuel C. Heilman. Univ. of California, $29.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-520277-23-6

This detailed study of changes in leadership in the major communities of the Hasidic movement—Munkacs, Boyan and Kopyczynitz, Bobov, Satmar, and Chabad—is not aimed at the same general audience as sociology professor Heilman’s acclaimed other works (The Rebbe; Sliding to the Right); instead, he focuses on “the patterns and processes of contemporary Hasidic succession.” Heilman presupposes some familiarity with Hasidism, which centers on charismatic leaders who inspire intense devotion among their followers; indeed, the disputes about whom should lead some Hasidic groups often devolved into violence. The descriptions of those physical altercations are just some of the warts-and-all aspects of the tradition that Heilman is able to provide as a result of his remarkable access to insiders, including influential Bobover rebbe Shlomo Halberstam, who brought the Bobov Hasidic dynasty to the U.S. after WWII, and Nachum Dov Brayer, current rebbe of the Boyan Hasidic dynasty. The centrality of the rebbe to his adherents makes the stakes high when he dies, and Heilman traces what happens when there is no successor, when there are competing successors, and when, as with Chabad/Lubavitch, there is denial that a successor is needed (in this case, because they believe the late Rabbi Schneerson did not really die and will return as the messiah). This is an invaluable addition to the ranks of objective studies of a Jewish movement that continues to flourish in the U.S. even as more modern denominations decline. (June)

Reviewed on 06/23/2017 | Details & Permalink

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