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    book shelf stuffed with books

    Editors’ Picks Issue 6

    December 16, 2014

    Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption

    Bryan Stevenson
    (Spiegel & Grau)

    This summer, the literary world was abuzz again about Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, in which trial lawyer Atticus Finch unsuccessfully defends a falsely accused black man. But surely a better follow-up read than Go Set a Watchman is lawyer Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy, winner of this year’s Carnegie Medal for nonfiction. In the real-world Monroeville, Alabama – the town on which Lee’s Maycomb is based – an African-American named Walter McMillian was condemned to death for murder, even though a hundred eyewitnesses saw him at a church barbeque at the time of the crime. In Just Mercy, Stevenson tells how he helped free McMillian and, eventually, many others. Stevenson formed the Equal Justice Initiative to represent people trapped in the US criminal justice system because of race or poverty. At a time when over two million Americans are behind bars, this book, both disturbing and encouraging, reminds us not to look away.

    Cover of Just Mercy Just Mercy

    Rescuing the Gospel from the Cowboys: A Native American Expression of the Jesus Way

    by Richard Twiss
    (IVP Books)

    In view of the atrocities perpetrated against Native American people, all too often in Christ’s name, it’s no wonder that few have found their way to Jesus. In this posthumous reflection, Richard Twiss (1954–2013), a Sicangu Lakota pastor, theologian, and community builder, surveys the ugly side of Christian mission among indigenous peoples. More importantly, he gives voice to culturally authentic expressions of the way of Jesus from disciples in many Native communities. Twiss leaves behind a legacy for future generations, showing that, ultimately, no racial, cultural, or historical barriers can separate any nation from the love of Christ

    Cover of Rescuing the Gospel from the Cowboys Rescuing the Gospel from the Cowboys

    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