Finishing my book on the Consultation on Church Union and sending the manuscript to the publisher have occupied most of my working life during the past several months. Meantime, books that bear upon my interests in American religion have been stacking up.
It now is time to replenish the reservoir of information and ideas that undergird my continuing work as a church historian. My plans for reading in 2014 can be organized into several categories.
Religion and Society (with special attention to violence): At this moment, three books vie for my time. How to Win a Cosmic War: God, Globalization, and the End of the War on Terror, by Reza Aslan (2009); For a Culture of Life: Transforming Globalization and Violence, by Konrad Raiser (2002); and Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence, by Mark Juergensmeyer (2000).
Aslan was recently added to my bookshelf and I have read part of Raiser. I read Juergensmeyer soon after the book was published but plan to reread it in light of more recent events and publications.
The Ecumenical Protestant Churches: Here, too, three books are calling for my attention. After Cloven Tongues of Fire: Protestant Liberalism in Modern American History, by David A. Hollinger (2013); The Christian Century and the Rise of the Protestant Mainline, by Elesha J. Coffman (2013); and A Lover’s Quarrel: A Theologian and His Beloved Church, by Joe R. Jones (2014).
These books continue themes that are central in my forthcoming book The American Church That Might Have Been. In addition, I will be following other lines of research and analysis dealing with progressive Christianity and the ecumenical movement.
Strategies for Church Life and Leadership: Three books by Bob Cornwall, pastor near Detroit, are on this list: Faith in the Public Square; Worshiping with Charles Darwin, and Unfettered Spirit: Spiritual Gifts for the New Great Awakening. A recent book by Wesley Granberg-Michaelson is also on this list: From Times Square to Timbuktu: The Post-Christian West Meets the Non-Western Church (2013).
Inclusive Yet Discerning: Navigating Worship Artfully, by Frank Burch Brown. I read this 2009 book, which gives special attention to music in worship, soon after its publication, but my continuing interest in reforming Christian worship leads me to reread this vigorously written exposition.
Books of General Interest. Titles keep turning up. My next report will focus on Diarmaid MacCulloch’s Silence: A Christian History (2013). Who knows the other times that will turn up as the year moves along! Thank you for consulting these reports on keithwatkinshistorian.