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Wading through Modern Ennui

THE OXFORD BOOK OF AMERICAN SHORT STORIES, SECOND EDITION JOYCE CAROL OATES, EDITOR OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2013 $21.95 808 PAGES A review of a book of short stories should tell the reader some of the stories. Let’s start with Charles Chesnutt’s “The Sheriff’s Children,” which was originally published in 1889. In it, a biracial man, referred to in the story …

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A Peek into the Mind of Marilynne Robinson

THE GIVENNESS OF THINGS: ESSAYS MARILYNNE ROBINSON FARRAR, STRAUS AND GIROUX, 2015. $26 286 PAGES Marilynne Robinson, best known for her four novels, Housekeeping, Gilead, Home and Lila, is a prolific essayist. The Givenness of Things represents her most recent compilation of essays. A self-described theist, Robinson identifies as a Protestant and makes no apologies for assigning priority to the …

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God as the ‘Principal Clerk’ of the Market

STORIES ECONOMISTS TELL: STUDIES IN CHRISTIANITY AND ECONOMICS JOHN P. TIEMSTRA WIPF AND STOCK $18 191 PAGES In his essay describing the good merchant, Thomas Fuller says, “For God is the principal clerk of the market.” That is, there are three people involved in every commercial transaction. His definition reflects the ethos of an earlier world view, one pervaded by …

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Stories that Bring Sermons Home

ACTUALITY: REAL LIFE STORIES FOR SERMONS THAT MATTER SCOTT HOEZEE ABINGDON PRESS, 2014 176 PAGES $14.24 (PAPER) Scott Hoezee launched this book at a festive gathering of friends and colleagues in the seminary where he teaches. Though he is a teacher of preachers and the readership for his book is pastors, the guests were not limited to them. The book …

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A Kindly Ballet of Serious Questions

LILA MARILYNNE ROBINSON FARRAR, STRAUS AND GIROUX, 2014 $15.60 (HARDCOVER) 261 PAGES Marriage counselors would certainly have discouraged talk of a marriage between an aging Presbyterian pastor in Gilead, a small Iowa town, and an orphan 40 years younger who had only years of wandering with an itinerant group to show for her life. This novel, the third in a …

A Calvinian Curmudgeon

NOVEMBER 2012: REVIEW by Steve Van der Weele When I was a Child I Read Books: Essays Marilynne Robinson Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012. $24.00. 202 pages. Marilynne Robinson has become a heavy hitter on the American religious scene. In her lectures, writings, and teaching she soldiers prophetically against the mischief spread by an assortment of today’s errant ideologies. She …

Validating the Faith: The Poetry of Rod Jellema

Rod Jellema, professor of English emertius at the University of Maryland, has been writing poetry for forty years. This new volume constitutes a selective harvest of his effort. Forty-nine of the poems are new. Also new is a section consisting of translations from modern Hebrew by Moshe Dor and Jellema. The task of choosing could not have been easy. Jellema …