Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God: The Scandalous Truth of the Very Good News, Brian Zahnd, Waterbrook, 2017.
Brian Zahnd has been on a theological and spiritual journey. And thankfully, he has taken any who are willing to go, with him. Much of this journey has been documented in his earlier books and through his sermons at Word of Life Church.
Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God continues to take us on this journey. Here Zahnd turns a traditional theological understanding of a vengeful God on its head. That is, the idea that God has utter contempt for humankind that was introduced by Jonathan Edwards in 1741.
Edwards’ sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, which I read for the first time in an American Lit class in college, is the main vehicle of this idea. A Puritan classic, the sermon is one of the prominent influences on American evangelicalism. Zahnd provides plenty of quotes from Edwards’ sermon in the opening chapter as he prepares the reader for the shift he is about to make.
Rev. Jesse Lyman Hurlbut (1843-1930) was a clergyman of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Born in New York City, Hurlbut pastored churches in New Jersey including in Newark, Montclair, Paterson, Plainfield, Hoboken, Morristown, Orange, and Bloomfield.
Hurlbut was a contributor to the Sunday school and tract work of the Methodist Episcopal Church. He served as secretary of the Epworth League from 1889-1892. He also served as a District Superintendent of the Newark District.
Hurlbut was a prolific writer. His Story of the Bible was written to help children become familiar with the stories of the Bible. These retelling of Old and New Testament stories were written for children ages six and older.
A Stick Until . . . , Constance Anderson, Star Bright Books, 2017.
The story starts off quite simply with a stick. From here, we see the many different ways a stick can be used by various animals. A stick is a fly swatter. It is a gift and a toy.
A stick is a stick until it is not.
This clever children’s book shows children that something as simple as a stick can be used in creative and innovative ways. The colorful illustrations are a great addition. Plus they provide a discussion starter for the parent and child or teacher and student.
Katherine Schwarzenegger, the eldest daughter of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver, uses her own experience in pet adoption in her children’s book Maverick and Me.
Maverick is a puppy who is left alone under a freeway underpass on a rainy day. A woman finds him and takes care of him until a pet adoption event. Enter a girl named Scarlett and her mom. They come to the pet supply store to get a gift for a friend’s cat. Scarlett falls in love with Maverick. Eventually, mom agrees to adopt the pup.
Schwarzenegger, an ASPCA Ambassador, has a simple and clear goal – to draw attention to “all the other dogs just like Maverick that needed homes too.”
Moses: In the Footsteps of the Reluctant Prophet, Adam Hamilton, Abingdon Press, 2017.
In Moses, Adam Hamilton retraces the footsteps of Moses, whom Hamilton argues is the “single most influential person in the Hebrew Bible.” While he blends historical facts and reflections on visiting sites, Hamilton steadies the course that there is much to learn from this reluctant prophet.
Moses is equal parts history, theology, and commentary. Taking a serious look at Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, the reader is invited to consider what he or she can learn from the Moses narrative. I am careful here because it is not just Moses’ life that offers implications for our own. It is the also the people around him.
Shelter, Céline Claire, Qin Leng (illustrator) Kids Can Press, 2017.
Claire’s picture book is a parable for children. In the story, a storm is coming. All the animals seek shelter in their homes. Little Fox is the only character that wonders about the animals who may be stuck in the storm.
A bear parent and child are stuck in the storm. They go from home to home looking for shelter. Each family turns them away. “Try the neighbor”, they all say.
Including Little Fox’s family. Unable to accept the outcome, Little Fox runs after the bears to give them a lantern to guide their search for shelter.
As fate would have it, the snow from the storm weighs down on the foxes den, and the family barely makes it out before their den collapses. The Fox family is able to find their way to where the bears have built an igloo. The foxes knock and ask for shelter for the night. Unlike their response to the bears, the bears welcome the family in.
Who Counts? 100 Sheep, 10 Coins, and 2 Sons, Amy-Jill Levine & Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, Westminster John Knox Press, 2017.
Whole: Restoring What is Broken in Me, You, and the Entire World, Steve Wiens, NavPress, 2017.
We do not have to look far to see just how broken the world is. It seems that almost daily the news is reporting on another shooting, another disaster, another event that gives us pause. It could be argued that the world is broken because we who make up the world are broken too.
There is brokenness all around us.
It is in this context that Steve Wiens writes his beautiful and relevant book Whole. Wiens is not afraid to call attention to the jagged edges of his own life, and the world.
Since reading his book, I have been following him on Twitter, and he does the same there. The Wiens we meet in the pages of Whole seems to be the real thing.
The Elephant Keeper: Caring for Orphaned Elephants in Zambia, Margriet Ruurs, Pedro Covo (illustrator), Kids Can Press, 2017.
Margriet Ruurs and Pedro Covo give a fresh look at some of the planet’s largest land mammals – the elephant.
A True Story
Ruurs brings to the pages the real-life story of a Zambian boy Aaron who discovers an infant elephant in the Lion’s Lodge swimming pool. Thanks to Aaron’s attentiveness and efforts, the young elephant is rescued and taken to a local elephant orphanage.
Aaron is able to make a connection with the elephant that others are not. Grieving the death of his father Aaron can relate to the orphaned elephant. The boy finds himself growing up sooner than other boys in his village. The elephant has likely lost its mother to poachers. The elephant and the boy have to figure how to do life differently.
Middle Bear, Susanna Isern, Kids Can Press, 2017.
Middle Bear is the second of three brothers. When the brothers go out into the forest to do various errands, Middle Bear is either too big or too small to be of any help. His older and younger brother both seem to be the right size. But Middle Bear seems to always be in the middle.
He seems to go unnoticed. And he longs to be different, to be as special as his brothers.
Susanna Isern’s little book is perfect for children to may seem that there is no place for them. And it is great for helping children experience some empathy for the child who reads alone or who cries because of his or her sadness.