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Book Review: “A Light So Lovely: The Spiritual Legacy of Madeleine L’Engle” by Sarah Arthur

A Light So Lovely is a remarkable look at an intriguing woman’s life and contributions to spirituality. At times challenging while at others biographical, Sarah Arthur weaves together tale with theology, fact with fiction in a compelling way.

Madeleine L’Engle is almost certainly best remembered for her book A Wrinkle in Time, but Sarah Arthur exposes readers to the broad range of L’Engle’s work, which seems to rival C.S. Lewis’s output in both range and output. Arthur draws on this comparison herself a number of times, though she never comes to rely upon it. L’Engle is her own person, and one with complexities that demand careful reading.

The book is organized around a number of themes within L’Engle’s thought and work. Arthur notes that one of L’Engle’s driving spiritual themes is that of the “both/and” rather than the “either/or.” As a Lutheran, this resonates with me quite a bit because Lutherans tend to see themes in life as both/and as well (e.g. that Christians are sinner/saints). The chapters reflect this “both/and” narrative with titles like “Icon and Iconoclast” and “Faith and Science.” In each chapter, the both/and that L’Engle affirms becomes clear.

L’Engle’s spirituality is tied up in both fiction and nonfictional works. At times, it challenges the bounds of what some would demand for orthodoxy. Her apparent affirmations of things like ultimate universalism and the like caused some controversy in her own time and continue to do so to this day. L’Engle explored spirituality through myth and mythmaking (using the terms in the technical sense). Arthur draws upon fiction, nonfiction, anecdotes, interviews, the Bible, and more for sources in outlining L’Engle’s thought and spirituality.

So what is L’Engle’s spirituality? It would be hard to sum it up even in paragraph form, but Arthur’s focus in the chapters already points towards a way to do so. Specifically, L’Engle’s spirituality was one which was inclusive almost to a fault, focused on uniting truths together that some would see as at odds with each other. Her spirituality was also deeply practical, with her honest looks at the struggles of working as a mother, dealing with doubt, and more. Another theme Arthur explores is the way L’Engle tied her spirituality into her fiction. It is remarkable, looking back, to see that a book like A Wrinkle in Time, with its explicitly Christian themes, managed to win a Newbery Award, for such awards typically avoid anything explicitly religious. But L’Engle’s work is so magical, so captivating, and her Christianity so matter-of-fact that it becomes its own kind of light, the “light so lovely” that it can inspire others to learn more and seek it out. This central theme of the book is also central to L’Engle’s spirituality.

A Light So Lovely is a delightful work. The highest laud I can give it is that it has led me to seek out more writings of L’Engle to seek a deeper understanding and try to help make my own light shine. Recommended.

Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of the book for review by the publisher. I was not required to give any specific kind of feedback whatsoever.

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Book Reviews– There are plenty more book reviews to read! Read like crazy! (Scroll down for more, and click at bottom for even more!)

SDG.

——

The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

 

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Book Review: “Ecologies of Faith in a Digital Age” by Stephen D. Lowe and Mary E. Lowe

Ecologies of Faith in a Digital Age is a narrowly focused book that will be essential reading for its target audience. That target audience? People who are teaching or participating in online learning.

I’m almost tempted to leave the review at that, because genuinely, this book has a razor sharp focus that will make it invaluable for that audience but not as interesting for those who aren’t in the target group. As one who has done my share of online learning, I wish that I’d had this book ahead of time to help me foster some of the advice the authors share.

So what kind of advice is given herein? It ranges from helping make connections with others on social media to how best to design a learning environment for an online-only experience. The authors go beyond merely giving advice to helping readers strategize how to teach, learn, and foster spiritual growth in online environments. All throughout the book, many of the points are tied to scriptural examples in ways that–this is important–don’t feel like pulling texts out of context. The authors are careful to make points that will be directly relevant to their readers, and in doing so they’ve created a kind of guidebook for spiritual learning and growth online. Indeed, a whole section is dedicated to “A Biblical Theology of Ecology” before turning to how the internet has created its own share of “digital ecologies.”

Ecologies of Faith in a Digital Age will give readers exactly what they want out of it, so long as they’re part of its audience. For those involved in online learning or online groups geared towards formation, this will be an invaluable read.

Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of the book for review by the publisher. I was not required to give any specific kind of feedback whatsoever.

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Book Reviews– There are plenty more book reviews to read! Read like crazy! (Scroll down for more, and click at bottom for even more!)

SDG.

——

The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

 

Book Review: “Always Be Ready” by Hugh Ross with Kathy Ross

Always Be Ready is another entry in the crowded field of introductory apologetics works. What sets it apart? I’d answer the question two ways: first, it has a number of deeply personal stories about faith and defending the faith from a noted apologist, Hugh Ross; second, it gives more insight than most books do into how to set up your own apologetics group/meeting/blog/etc.

The Ross couple give a number of anecdotes about their experience sharing the faith. As with most of the books from Reasons to Believe, there are a number of scientific discoveries sprinkled throughout the work. But the focus of the book is really on the title and the verse(s) it is taken from, 1 Peter 3:15-16 (NIV) “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”

Too often, apologists focus on the preparation and being ready, but not on the gentleness and respect aspects of it. The authors do a great job preparing readers for that side, while also opening readers to the resources to explore how to be ready for a defense when needed. The aspects of apologetic argument that are offered are in line with other Reasons to Believe publications, primarily focused upon an old earth creationist, concordist view of science, and seeing science as directly related to specific statements in the Bible. Whether one finds such a view of hermeneutics compelling or not will determine, largely, how useful such sections are.

But the book also has a surprising latter part, which deals in specifics of setting up small or large groups for apologetics discussions, along with a few tips that can apply to blogging, other online ministries, and more. I found these sections particularly useful, because they aren’t often things that apologetics works touch upon. It’s one thing to have an apologetics method and knowledge, but what if we don’t know how to sit down and compassionately, compellingly share that? The authors prepare readers for just that activity, making the last section of the book extremely valuable. Tips include thinking about your goal for the group. A large group is nice on the “numbers” front, but you won’t be able to make it as personalized as a smaller group. On the flip side, a larger group may allow some people who aren’t comfortable in small group settings to come and be somewhat anonymous. These kinds of tips that direct thinking for those who are eager to go and share their faith are essential reading.

Always Be Ready is a solid, introductory apologetics work with a focus on method and storytelling. Those are two aspects that aren’t discussed enough in much of the apologetics-related literature.

Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of the book for review by the publisher. I was not required to give any specific kind of feedback whatsoever.

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Book Reviews– There are plenty more book reviews to read! Read like crazy! (Scroll down for more, and click at bottom for even more!)

SDG.

——

The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

Serena Williams, Tennis, Race, and Sexism

Serena Williams is in the news for a reason other than winning at tennis. Wait, she often makes headlines for other reasons, and we’ll talk about some of these. But the recent discussion of her disputing with the umpire at the U.S. Open Final (2018) has me incensed. I am angry. I am angry for several reasons, and I want to get into that as well. I will be referring to Serena Williams throughout as “Serena” to distinguish her from her sister, Venus, another tennis great.

Context Matters

First, the discussion about Serena Williams shouldn’t occur in a vacuum. Too many of those who are weighing in calling her unsporting or deserving of the penalties she got frankly have not done anything more than watch the reel of her complaining to the judge about the penalties. They haven’t taken into account any of the context surrounding these comments, or the more than a decade of fighting against a system stacked against her that Serena has overcome.

Alize Cornet

Early in the U.S. Open, Alize Cornet, a French player, got penalized because she had realized her shirt was inside out and changed it on the court. She simply took her shirt off, flipped it right side in, and put it back on. Penalty. Meanwhile, male athletes like Djokovic (with his own history of sexism) run around with their shirt completely off in celebration without penalty. This was an early and glaring example of the sexism in the powers that be of tennis. Later, it was admitted Cornet should not have been penalized. Ya think?

As one headline opined, Cornet didn’t violate anything but the notion that women’s bodies are inherently “scandalous.” Cornet would later note that the catsuit ban (see below) was even more absurd than the penalty against her.

The Catsuit

At the French Open, Serena was planning to play in a catsuit, which was intended to help her health, but was banned from doing so. She took it in stride and with grace, finding other ways to deal with her health that fit the tennis hierarchy’s notion of what a woman ought to look like.

Double Standard

Several male tennis players came out on Twitter and elsewhere noting that not just others but that they themselves have gotten away with saying much worse to umpires and not been even warned about it. Cursing, shouting, screaming, slamming rackets: these behaviors are frequently overlooked when men do them, but when it is Serena? An umpire decides to tilt the match with a full game penalty. Why? There’s a clear double standard that continues in tennis that exists in the society at large. Another clear example is the discussion of “grunting” or “groaning” in tennis. Women continually have the sounds of exertion they make during a match cited as unseemly or worth mocking, while men who make just as much or more noise do so without comment.

One Christian apologist cited Billie Jean King’s own actions dealing with sexism as a counter-argument to me speaking about the unequal treatment of Williams. Billie Jean King, however, wrote a post later that day in which she affirms much of what I was saying:

Did Ramos treat Williams differently than male players have been treated? I think he did. Women are treated differently in most arenas of life. This is especially true for women of color. And what played out on the court yesterday happens far too often. It happens in sports, in the office and in public service. Ultimately, a woman was penalized for standing up for herself. A woman faced down sexism, and the match went on…

Women have a right, though, to speak out against injustice — as much right as a man. I found myself in similar situations in my career; once, I even walked off the court in protest. It wasn’t my proudest moment, but it may have been one of my more powerful ones. I understand what motivated Williams to do what she did. And I hope every single girl and woman watching yesterday’s match realizes they should always stand up for themselves and for what they believe is right. Nothing will ever change if they don’t…

Women are taught to be perfect. We aren’t perfect, of course, and so we shouldn’t be held to that standard. We have a voice. We have emotions. When we react adversely to a heated professional situation, far too often, we’re labeled hysterical. That must stop.

Constant Racism and Sexism Against Serena

There is a long, long history of racism and sexism against Serena Williams and her sister, Venus. From repeated uses of the n-word by so-called “fans” of tennis to being called a gorilla to having another player stuff her skirt and top with towels to mock Serena’s curves (yes, this really happened), Serena has long been a target of all kinds of nonsense, jealousy, and hatred. The many negative comments following this controversy at the U.S. Open just add to that. This post outlines more of the long history and horrible things Serena has had to deal with in her career.

Despite this continued, horrible treatment, Serena has long acted with grace and dignity in the face of these comments and actions. She has set an example that ought to be followed. Yet when she allows her emotion to show, finally allowing some anger to show and some tears to flow in reaction to the unfair application of rules by a power hungry umpire, she is vilified. This is not just unfair, but yet another example of the unequal treatment of Serena.

But She Violated the Rules

There are those who will claim this context doesn’t matter. Rules are rules no matter who you are, and she violated the rules. There may be a case for that, if the rules were applied with any consistency whatsoever. As Serena noted, it seemed clear the umpire was practically accusing her of cheating when she hadn’t even been looking at her coach and male tennis players consistently get that same level of coaching or much, much more without penalty. If rules are really rules for a reason, then there should be enforcement of those rules. But like having Djokovic running around shirtless with impunity vs. Cornet fixing an issue with her shirt and being penalized, there is no consistency enforcing the rules on Serena. An umpire with an ego decided to make a power play out of one of the biggest matches of the year.

Officials and Privilege

I have long been of the opinion that if a sporting event ends up having the story be about the officials, something is deeply wrong with the officiating. Here, the story of the U.S. Open ended up not being about the first Japanese player ever to win a Majors Final, nor about how Serena fought hard through adversity to make a match out of it after a decisive first match by Naomi Osaka; rather, it became about the umpire. There’s something seriously wrong there. As one op ed noted, “Ramos [the umpire] took what began as a minor infraction and turned it into one of the nastiest and most emotional controversies in the history of tennis, all because he couldn’t take a woman speaking sharply to him.” Yep. It’s the fragile male ego striking again, and I say this as a white male.

I know it’s supposed to be some kind of stigma now, especially after the absurdity of some recent evangelical statements about “social justice” (for context and analysis from a source I don’t always agree with, check out this post on that recent statement), but I do realize that as a white male I have significant privilege in this society. I realize that when my privilege is challenge, I have sometimes reacted negatively and defensively, trying to preserve my position. But I repent of that and hope that Christians can all work together to bring about that world that is called for in Galatians 3:28, a world in which there is true equality. I am angry that Serena is not allowed to show anger, that when she is merely excited about a match she is called an animal, that unseemly actions are taken to mock her. This is not something that should be tolerated, and I am angry that various tennis associations and our society at large has generally allowed this kind of treatment to stand. I am angry that when she does, finally, react, Serena is attacked and scorned. Let us work towards a society where all are treated equally, and let’s work towards that as much as we can, wherever we are.

What To Do

The Women’s Tennis Association and other major tennis organizations must work to end the sexism in the sport and do some serious investigation of how penalties are handed out as well as how the rules are applied. Moreover, there needs to be more severe policing of sexist and/or racist comments or actions taken by tennis players and officials. Without these actions, it is clear that the powers that be in tennis simply do not care about these inequities in their sport.

Individuals can play a part as well, and affirmation goes a long way. Serena has faced skepticism her whole career, and as she continued to get better and beat all comers, the sexist comments increased. Though it is tempting to fight fire with fire, a more effective path may be to simply affirm Serena Williams and other female tennis players as much as possible. Serena Williams is among the best athletes of our generation and certainly the greatest tennis player of all time. She has 23 Majors Titles, more than 800 career wins with an 85% winning record, 14 Doubles Finals wins with a 14-0 record, 2 mixed doubles titles, and 4 olympic gold medals (3 doubles, 1 singles). There is frankly no disputing these achievements, along with the fact that she genuinely changed how women’s tennis is played with her powerful style and strong service game. Her advocacy for equal pay for women, women’s equality generally, and racial reconciliation is a strong legacy that will outlast her tennis game. We are living in the age of Serena. Let’s enjoy it.

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Serena Williams is Constantly the Target of disgusting racist and sexist attacks-  a brief summary of many, many instances of racism and sexism that Serena Williams has faced in her career.

At U.S. Open, power of Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka overshadowed by an umpire’s power play– Yep.

Serena Williams’ US Open Loss may be the grossest example of sports sexism yet– Double standard? Double standard.

SDG.

——

The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

Book Review: “Introduction to Political Science: A Christian Perspective” by Fred Van Geest

How are we to live as Christians in the political arena? It’s a question that feels tired at times, but it remains as pressing as ever. Fred van Geest’s Introduction to Political Science: A Christian Perspective is remarkable for its even, fair look at a number of political questions from a broadly Christian viewpoint.

There is no possible way to approach a book like this without bias. Van Geest acknowledges this and notes that Christians ought not to be excluded from using their faith to help determine their answers to political questions; after all, no one can be an unbiased commentator on political questions. The book is organized around four parts: Foundational Values and Ideas for Government; Institutions; Policy; and Foreign Policy and International Relations.

Included among the foundational values and ideas are questions about what a government is to begin with, what it means to be a “Christian” government, and whether such a thing ought to even exist. What makes van Geest’s analysis interesting is that he largely manages to navigate that space between liberal and conservative, showing how ideas and ideals from both groups can be held in unity and even lead to policy change that may be mutually agreed upon. Though it is impossible to truly navigate entirely in that tiny “in between” space, van Geest’s book helps readers to at least understand both sides more than they might have before.

One aspect that makes van Geest’s analysis particularly interesting is his breaking out of the unfortunate tendency to simply analyze U.S. politics from a Christian perspective. Instead, he frequently looks at international perspectives and uses examples of countries outside of North America. Many charts are included showing things like voting turnout (and setting that alongside how different systems of voting may encourage or discourage said turnout), opinions on gun control in the U.S., corporate tax rates in different countries (and why some aspects of taxing corporations may be beneficial or not), and many, many more.

Where van Geest brings in a specifically Christian perspective to politics, it becomes even more interesting. He compares Jimmy Carter’s and George W. Bush’s statements on politics and faith, shows the real challenges of poverty and health care in various countries (including the U.S.), argues that income inequality can lead to very real wrongs, questions some aspects of Just War thought, and challenges readers to look at human rights in a global perspective. Though I didn’t always agree with van Geest, I found him bringing so much information to bear in some of these chapters that I was able to sit back and reflect and even change my view on some things.

The book is an introduction, so it doesn’t delve too deeply into any one topic, but it does give readers all kinds of information for further reading and exploration. Moreover, van Geest does a remarkable job of presenting so many different topics in such a short space. Having read the book, I found I felt more informed, even as someone who was a social studies major in college.

Introduction to Political Science: A Christian Perspective is most notable for the fact that van Geest manages to navigate the difficult terrain of the political minefield without becoming overly polemical. I found it highly enjoyable and challenging in the best ways. I recommend it highly.

Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of the book for review by the publisher. I was not required to give any specific kind of feedback whatsoever.

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Book Reviews– There are plenty more book reviews to read! Read like crazy! (Scroll down for more, and click at bottom for even more!)

SDG.

——

The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

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