For Sunday January 6, 2019
Lectionary Readings (Revised Common Lectionary, Year C)
Psalm 72:1–7, 10–14
"When I have a little money," said the Renaissance humanist and Catholic priest Erasmus of Rotterdam (1466–1536), "I buy books; and if I have any left, I buy food and clothes."
It's that time of year for the most subjective of exercises — my five favorite books of 2018. Truly, there's no accounting for personal taste.
Please note that you can search JwJ's Comprehensive Index of nearly 800 book reviews alphabetically by author, or by fourteen different subject categories like history, art, economics, etc. And if you ever get stuck, just use the "search" button in the top right corner of every JwJ page.
The hot-linked titles will take you to my full book review.
Happy New Year, and happy reading!
Pietro Bartolo and Lidia Tilotta, translated from the Italian by Chenxin Jiang, Tears of Salt: A Doctor's Story (New York: W.W. Norton, 2018), 206pp.
This memoir of moral courage and indignation is set among the refugee crisis on Lampedusa, a tiny and isolated Italian island just eight miles square and that sits only seventy miles from the north coast of Africa. In the last twenty years, 400,000 migrants have landed on Lampedusa, fleeing war, poverty, and ethnic strife. About 15,000 people have died trying… READ FULL REVIEW »
Kate Bowler, Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I've Loved (New York: Random House, 2018), 178pp.
Two years ago the New York Times published an opinion piece by Kate Bowler, a historian at Duke Divinity School, called "Death, the Prosperity Gospel, and Me" (February 13, 2016). A few months before she wrote the piece, Bowler was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer. She was thirty-five. That op-ed burned up the internet, and has now been expanded into a book… READ FULL REVIEW »
Francisco Cantú, The Line Becomes a River; Dispatches From the Border (New York: Riverhead, 2018), 250pp.
I read Francisco Cantú's powerful memoir at the height of the national outrage about the U.S. treatment of migrants. According to Time magazine (July 13, 2018), "currently, more than 11,800 children, from a few months old to 17, are housed in nearly 90 facilities in 15 states. They are being held while their parents await immigration proceedings or, if the children arrived unaccompanied, are reviewed for possible asylum themselves." In fact, this is a billion-dollar-a-year industry… READ FULL REVIEW »
Jim Forest, At Play in the Lion's Den: A Biography and Memoir of Daniel Berrigan (Maryknoll: Orbis, 2017), 336pp.
On April 30, 2016, Daniel Joseph Berrigan died just ten days short of his ninety-fifth birthday. Berrigan was many things to many people — Jesuit priest, poet (15 volumes), playwright, author of over sixty books, university professor, and peace activist. He spent a long life celebrating the good news of Jesus rather than the bad news of caesar. Most of all, like Elijah of old, he was a troubler of the modern conscience.
Jim Forest begins his book with the most remembered anecdote of Berrigan's life. In 1968, he and eight other activists stole 378 draft files of young men who were about to be sent to Vietnam, dumped them into two garbage cans, poured homemade napalm on them, and burned them in the parking lot of the Catonsville, Maryland, draft board. But there was so much more. In 1980, he trespassed into General Electric's nuclear missile plant in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, poured blood on some warhead nose cones, then hammered away to punctuate his prophetic point. For these and similar activities, he and his brother Philip spent time on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list, not to mention significant time in prison (about eleven years for Phil). When asked one time how many times he had been arrested for the gospel, Berrigan replied, "apparently not enough." For his 80th birthday he remarked, “The day after I’m embalmed, that’s when I’ll give it up…” READ FULL REVIEW »
Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror (Montgomery: The Equal Justice Initiative, 2017 third edition), available online at eji.org.
On April 26, 2018, the National Memorial for Peace and Justice opened in downtown Montgomery, Alabama, on a six acre site near the state capital where American slaves were formerly auctioned for market. Informally known as the "Lynching Memorial," the outdoor exhibit commemorates the more than 4,400 documented victims of "racial terror" that were concentrated in 12 southern states from 1877 to 1950. On the same day, and near the memorial, the Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration also opened. The $20 million complex was paid for by private funds, and was the brainchild of Bryan Stevenson, the Harvard-trained attorney, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, and author of the best-selling book Just Mercy… READ FULL REVIEW »