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    Editors’ Picks Issue 5

    By Sam Hine

    August 7, 2015

    What do you have on your reading list for 2015? Consider adding these recently published books reviewed in Plough Quarterly.

    The Buried Giant: A Novel

    Kazuo Ishiguro

    In the Britain of Ishiguro’s mythic tale, grass grows on Roman ruins, Britons and Saxons share an uneasy peace, and a wanderer might still cross paths with an ogre or dragon. A spell of forgetfulness seems to envelop the country like fog. An elderly couple, Axl and Beatrice, set out from their village to find their son and recover their lost memories. Will they break the spell, or are some things best left unremembered – especially in the wake of wholesale slaughter? Throughout the ensuing drama, the tender love Axl and Beatrice share shines like a jewel. Can it survive if the buried giant of their forgotten past reawakens?

    olive green book cover with drawing of goblet The Buried Giant

    Ancient Christian Worship: Early Church Practices in Social, Historical, and Theological Perspective

    Andrew B. McGowan

    How did the first Christians worship? The New Testament tells us they gathered daily to pray, sing, and share meals. McGowan fleshes out this picture using other early sources to show how much of the rich diversity of Christian worship today – singing, dancing, praying, baptizing, anointing, teaching, preaching, prophesying, feasting, and fasting – has its roots in the first through fourth centuries. When did Sunday church services start? What about Christmas? Why did many early Christians pray five times a day? This thorough, authoritative work gives a challenging glimpse into the lives of our forerunners in the faith.

    book cover with medieval icon art Ancient Christian Worship

    Scavenger Loop: Poems

    David Baker

    The masterful thirty-page title poem has it all: a whirlwind of poetic forms, our tempestuous love affair with nature, lost innocence, a dying mother, materialism, GM corn, trash pickers, and our inevitable return to dust. Baker, poetry editor of the Kenyon Review, rarely fails to bring us back down to earth: “. . . I’ve read / the dust of long-blown stars seeds empty / space. / Go get your saw, he says. I’ll grab my gloves.” Though the shadow of loss, absence, and regret falls across many of these poems, it doesn’t dampen the poet’s obvious love for his language and his land. In “Heaven” all it takes is a cicada:

    I don’t know what has shocked me more,
    that you are gone, that I am still here,
    that there is music after the end.

    See the author’s poem Errand

    book cover with styilized flowers Scavenger Loop

    Where the Cross Meets the Street: What Happens to the Neighborhood When God Is at the Center

    Noel Castellanos
    (IVP Books)

    In this spiritual memoir, ­Castellanos, who leads the Christian Community Development Association and has written on immigration for Plough, takes us back to his roots in a Mexican farmworker family in Texas. He honors those who helped form him– a fifth grade teacher who believed in him, a football coach who brought him to Jesus – and describes landing in the white, evangelical world of Christian college. Inspired by his mentor John Perkins and by Latin American liberation theologians, he moved to a Chicago barrio with his young family to found a church that confronts injustice and restores community. In his candid description of both the rewards and failures he’s experienced, Castellanos shows us why God’s love for those at the margins – a love demonstrated on the cross – should be the center of every ­Christian’s life.

    book cover with street mural art Where the Cross Meets the Street

    The Road to Character

    David Brooks
    (Random House)

    A leading pundit, Brooks confesses that in his rise to fame he’s neglected certain fundamentals. Like many ambitious souls, he has focused on “resumé virtues” instead of “eulogy virtues”: courage, kindness, honesty, generosity, depth of character. These are traits shared by the “deeply good” people whom we all want to resemble. Though Brooks’s moral vision blurs at times (don’t “follow your heart” into adultery, for instance), we’re heartened that a bestseller is pointing so many people in the right direction.

    red book cover with person symbol The Road to Character





    Contributed By Sam Hine Sam Hine

    Sam Hine is an editor at Plough.

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