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    Editors’ Picks Issue 6

    December 16, 2014

    Not in God’s Name:  Confronting Religious Violence

    Rabbi Jonathan Sacks
    (Schocken Books)

    Jonathan Sacks, former chief rabbi of the United Kingdom, tackles an intractable question few have not asked: Why can’t believers in the three great Abrahamic faiths, all followers of the one God, learn to get along? Why are they so prone to the fundamentalist urge to annihilate one another? Sacks reassures us by pointing out that Judaism and Christianity have had, and for the most part have worked through, ISIS-style moments of their own. In a fascinating tour de force of biblical learning, he argues that much of the trouble stems from a dualistic misreading of the Genesis story, one that fails to notice God’s special care for the Hagars, Ishmaels, and Esaus. To many Christians, at least, his strategy of dealing with the “hard texts” by simply interpreting them away will seem unsatisfying. Still, this book is a bold, generous step toward embrace, pointing to the one thing that actually can overcome our differences – the God who loves us all, both universally and particularly.

    Cover of Not in God’s Name Not in God’s Name

    Far-Fetched: Poems

    Devin Johnston
    (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

    What’s not to like about Devin Johnston’s latest collection? Accessible, unpretentious, firmly rooted in nature and place – in this case, Appalachia – these poems still manage to surprise. It’s reassuring to know that in an angst-ridden, technological age one can still build a poem from a chicken’s first egg, a child’s geode (“For her, the stone is new”), a puffball (“of the earth/yet nothing like it”), a vulture (“no hurry, prey already caught”), or a thorn (“time and time/again, you learn/nothing but pain/from pain”). Don’t miss Johnston’s “A Fly from the Early Anglers.”




    Cover of Farfetched Far-Fetched: Poems