Fiction, nonfiction, light, deep, critical, inspirational—all make an appearance on this list of the latest good reads recommended by Candler faculty.
Elizabeth Corrie, assistant professor in the practice of youth education and peacebuilding, recommends A Young Man’s Guide to Late Capitalism, by Peter Mountford. “Disguised as a 21st-century coming-of-age novel, it is an excellent introduction to how global capitalism works, and raises lots of wonderful ethical issues to ponder. Throw in a plot twist and a romance, and you have a great read!” she says.
Steven J. Kraftchick, associate professor in the practice of New Testament interpretation, recently finished Lost Memory of Skin by Russell Banks, “a sad but compelling story about a societal response to a vilified group.” Kraftchick says the personalization in the novel helped break down some stereotypes.
Professor of Christian Ethics Timothy Jackson recommends Stuart Kauffman's Reinventing the Sacred: A New View of Science, Reason, and Religion. “Kauffman argues persuasively that we are now in a position to break the Galilean-Newtonian-Darwinian spell. We are beginning to understand that materialist determinism is false, mutations are not random, and natural selection is not the only engine driving evolution. Rather than being Rube Goldberg machines cobbled together by chance or welded together by necessity, we are ‘at home’ and active in the universe—‘expected’ rather than pointless. Kauffman does not believe in ‘a Creator God,’ but he does consider the creativity of nature in which human beings participate ‘sacred.’”
David Orr’s Hope is an Imperative bridges environmental studies and pedagogical theory, resonating with Jennifer Ayres, assistant professor of religious education. “Although Orr is not a theologian, he raises questions of meaning, formation, and vocation in relationship to our ecological context, prompting us to ask, ‘How do we flourish in an ecological faith?’”
Emmanuel Lartey, professor of pastoral theology, care and counseling, recommends a classic: The Colonizer and the Colonized by Tunisian Jewish philosopher-sociologist Albert Memmi. This exploration of the psychological effects of colonialism on colonized and colonizers alike was confiscated by colonial police and banned throughout the world when the original French version was published in 1957. The American Edition, published by Beacon Press, is dedicated ‘to the American Negro, also colonized.’
Associate Professor of Christian Ethics and Conflict Transformation Ellen Ott Marshall gives two thumbs up to Tina Fey’s Bossypants “because it’s hilarious—and we all need a good laugh.” Next up: Warren St. John’s Outcasts United, about a refugee soccer team in Clarkston, Georgia.
Luke Timothy Johnson admires the “splendid journalism on politics and culture” in Michael Kelly’s 2005 Things Worth Fighting For: Collected Writings. Next on his reading list is Arguably: Essays by Christopher Hitchens.
The novel Alice Walker dubbed “The Color Purple for the 21st century,” Daniel Black’s Perfect Peace draws kudos from Assistant Professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling Gregory Ellison. The story unfolds the gifts and challenges of Perfect, a child born as a boy but raised by his mother as a girl. “An excellent resource for caregivers concerned with issues of trauma, sexuality, and family systems,” says Ellison.
“Given my proclivities toward theology and art history, it will come as no surprise that the most recent theological work I have read is David Brown’s Tradition and Imagination: Revelation and Change,” reports David Pacini, professor of historical theology. Brown’s aim is to show that far from being opposites, tradition and revelation are indissolubly and dynamically linked. Indeed, Brown argues that Christian practice is deeply embedded in a narrative that goes well beyond scripture. The history of art plays a significant role in the expansiveness of this narrative. Even though Brown’s scholarship is massive, the book is clearly written and highly accessible. Still more, he has comparative religious sensibilities that make this a must-read for the challenges that face us in the church today.”
The Orphan Master’s Son, a novel by Adam Johnson (Random House, 2012)
I visited the DMZ with Don Saliers in November, while on a Candler trip to South Korea with him, Karen Scheib, and Dean Jan Love. It was a sobering day. Korea’s unnaturally and tragically divided peninsula, the tense relationship most have with North Korea, and its close proximity to Seoul, the world’s second largest metropolitan area, were made graphically real as we peered over the blue line into North Korea. The visit was made surreal as we learned of “Propaganda Village,” an illusion of a community maintained by the North Koreans that is not actually inhabited, and of the nature preserve that the DMZ has become since its establishment in 1953. A walk through an incursion tunnel, one of four dug by the North Koreans into South Korea and discovered as recently as 1990, made us mindful that the uneasy truce between these nations is much more active than the wildlife preserve would imply.
Our trip—worshipping in the churches of Candler graduates, visiting with Candler and GDR alumni, meeting faculty and prospective students at a number of universities and seminaries—was extraordinary! When I saw a brief review of The Orphan Master’s Son, I was anxious to read it. The mother of the novel’s main character was an accomplished singer, kidnapped by the North Koreans to entertain the “Dear Leader,” Kim Jung-Il. His father oversaw a work camp for orphans. In time the protagonist rises through the ranks of the North Korean military, visits South Korea via an incursion tunnel, and even visits the Texas ranch of a United States senator. Through his eyes, a corrupt government, arbitrary in its rewards and punishments, and a hungry, subdued people are revealed, as are beauty and romance. It was a thriller I could not put down!
— Mary Lou Greenwood Boice
Associate Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid