Book Review: Acres of Diamonds

Acres of Diamonds: All Good Things Are Possible, Right Where You Are, and Now! By Russell H. Conwell and Robert Shackleton (Lexington: Feather Trail Press, 2009; originally published in 1915. 92 pp) Born in Massachusetts, Russell Conwell attended Yale University and Albany Law School. Conwell founded Temple University and pastored The Baptist Temple in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. An Inspiring Story  For some reason, the simplicity of the standard “success story” conjures the hopeful sentiment that such accomplishments could occur in any life. Truthfully, most successful stories begin with an idea, a notion of which all human beings are equally capable. In Acres of Diamonds, Russell Conwell utilizes positive and negative narratives in order to inspire productivity in his community. In Defense… Read More →

Book Review: Christianity and the Social Crisis in the 21st Century

Christianity and the Social Crisis in the 21st Century: The Classic That Woke Up the Church by Walter Rauschenbusch; edited by Paul Raushenbush (New York: HarperOne, 2008. 400 pp) Walter Rauschenbusch was the leading proponent of the Social Gospel Movement whose mission was to reform society to meet the social needs of the poor through the ministrations of the institutional church. PBS recently called him “one of the most influential American religious leaders of the last 100 years.” Paul Raushenbush, great-grandson of Walter Rauschenbusch, was associate dean or religious life and the chapel at Princeton University and current religion editor at the Huffington Post. He has served as an associate minister at the Riverside Church in New York City and… Read More →

Book Review: Good News to the Poor

Good News to the Poor: John Wesley’s Evangelical Economics by Theodore W. Jennings, Jr. (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1990. 236 pp) The current Professor of Biblical and Constructive Theology at Chicago Theology Seminary, Theodore W. Jennings, Jr. earned his A.B. from Duke University in 1964 and both his B.D. and Ph.D. from Emory University in 1967 and 1971 respectively. Jennings has served as a local pastor and taught for three years at the Methodist Seminary in Mexico City. He has served as a consultant with the United Methodist Church on issues related to commitment to the poor. His research interests include Christian doctrine, biblical theology, gay studies, contemporary late modern philosophy and deconstruction. The Relationship between Wealth and Piety Similar to… Read More →

Film Review: Sin Nombre

Sin Nombre directed by Cary Fukunaga (Scion Films, Canana Films, and Creando Films, R, 96 min) Starring Paulina Gaitan, Edgar Flores, and Kristian Ferrer. 35,000 Feet between Cultures An airplane flies overhead as the characters look up in awe, dreaming of the day that they too can board a passenger plane. This scene is a brief but defining moment in Sin Nombre. It expresses the distance between the life of the viewer and the life depicted on screen. Shot in Mexico and with dialogue in Spanish, Sin Nombre depicts the intertwining lives of two characters, Sayra (Paulina Gaitan) and Willy “El Casper” (Edgar Flores), as they escape the poverty and gang culture of Honduras. Strikingly Different People, Strikingly Similar Pursuits… Read More →

Book Review: Age of Greed

Age of Greed: The Triumph of Finance and the Decline of America, 1970 to the Present by Jeff Madrick (New York: Knopf, 2011. 480 pp) Jeff Madrick is a regular contributor to The New York Review of Books, and former economics columnist for The New York Times. He is an adjunct professor of humanities at The Cooper Union, and senior fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and at the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis, The New School. He lives in New York City. The Meltdown  In any situation, time, or place, an individual’s story is of utmost importance. On person can change the lives of a family, a community, and a country. We can learn more about ourselves and our… Read More →

Book Review: Falling Sideways

Falling Sideways: A Novel by Thomas E. Kennedy (New York: Bloomsbury, 2011 304 pp) Born in New York City, Thomas Kennedy wanted to become a writer after reading Dosteovsky’s Crime and Punishment. Kennedy earned a B.A. in language and literature from City College of New York. Immediately after his undergraduate studies, Kennedy took a job as News Editor of World Medical Journal based in France. After a few years at the journal, Kennedy took a job with the Danish Medical Association. It wasn’t until 1981 that Kennedy published his first work in a literary journal. In 1985, he received his MFA from Vermont College and, then, received a Ph.D. in American Literature at the University of Copenhagen. Kennedy has won… Read More →

Book Review: God and the Evil of Scarcity

God and the Evil of Scarcity: Moral Foundations of Economic Agency by Albino Barrera, O.P. (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2005. 272 pp) Albino Barrera teaches economics and theology at Providence College in Providence, Rhode Island. In addition to God and the Evil of Scarcity, he wrote Modern Catholic Social Documents and Political Economy (Georgetown University Press) in 2001. It Begins with Malthus For Albino Barrera, God and the Evil of Scarcity is essentially a response to the Malthusian understanding of theodicy.  While most consider resource scarcity and population control when Thomas Malthus comes to mind, Barrera explores Malthus’ foundational views of God that lead him to his conclusions on resource scarcity. Simply put, Barrera understands Malthusian theodicy as a source… Read More →

Book Review: God the Economist

God the Economist: The Doctrine of God and Political Economy by M. Douglas Meeks (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1989. 272 pp.) Currently the Cal Turner Chancellor’s Chair in Wesleyan Studies and Theology at Vanderbilt University, M. Douglas Meeks is a renowned researcher on the relation of Christian doctrine to economic, social, and political theory. Dr. Meeks earned both his B.D. and Ph.D. from Duke University and studied as a Fulbright Fellow at Tübingen University. In his previous appointment, he served as the dean and professor of systematic theology at Wesley Theological Seminary. Dr. Meeks has authored 16 books and numerous scholarly articles. He is an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church serving as the Director of Wesleyan Studies and the… Read More →

Book Review: Economy of Grace

Economy of Grace by Kathryn Tanner (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2005. 172 pp) Working through the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels of Yale University, Kathryn Tanner recently returned home as a professor of systematic theology at Yale Divinity School. For her previous appointment, Tanner taught at the University of Chicago. Tanner focuses her research on constructive Christian theology relating to social, cultural, and feminist theory. On top of her numerous books and articles that have been published, Tanner serves on the editorial boards of Modern Theology, International Journal of Systematic Theology, and Scottish Journal of Theology. She is a member of the Theology Committee that advises the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops and is currently researching financial markets through the Luce… Read More →

Book Review: The Art of the Commonplace

The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry by Wendell Berry; edited by Norman Wirzba (Berkley: Counterpoint, 2002. 352 pp) Born in rural Kentucky, Wendell Berry is a farmer, critic, and prolific author. He has published many works in novels, essays, poems, and short stories genres. Berry received his B.A. and M.A. in English from the University of Kentucky before attending Stanford University’s Creative Writing Program. He obtained a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship and taught English at New York University before taking a position on faculty at the University of Kentucky.  After a decade of teaching, Berry purchased a farm in the Kentucky countryside where he currently works and writes about the virtues of connecting with the land…. Read More →