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A Jew on the Bayou
Jennifer Anne Moses left behind a comfortable life in the upper echelons of East Coast Jewish society to move with her husband and children to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Searching for connection to her surroundings, she decided to volunteer at an AIDS hospice. But as she encountered a culture populated by French Catholics and Evangelical Christians, African Americans and Cajuns, altruistic nurses and nuns, ex-cons, street-walkers, impoverished AIDS patients, and healers of all stripes, she found she had embarked on an unexpected journey of profound self-discovery.
In a keenly observed memoir that embraces both pathos and humor, Moses takes us into a world that is strange and sad but also suffused with the holy. As witness to dire poverty and extreme adversity, Moses discovers a deeper commitment to her own faith—Judaism that asks not for blind belief, but rather daily commitment. She recounts the challenges of taking on a life committed to God in a postmodern world that has little use for the divine. Telling her story of redemption with an honesty that goes right for the guts, she leaves the reader with new hope.
Outstanding Book, selected by the American Association of School Librarians, and Best Books for Regional Special Interests, selected by the Public Library Association
How Christianity Created Race
In The Baptism of Early Virginia, Rebecca Anne Goetz examines the construction of race through the religious beliefs and practices of English Virginians. She argues that the seventeenth century was a critical time for the development and articulation of racial ideologies. Paramount was the idea of “hereditary heathenism,” the notion that Africans and Indians were incapable of genuine Christian conversion. In Virginia in particular, English settlers initially believed that native people would quickly become Christian and would form a vibrant partnership with English people. After those hopes were dashed by vicious Anglo-Indian violence, English Virginians used Christian rituals like marriage and baptism to exclude first Indians and then Africans from the privileges enjoyed by English Christians—including freedom. Resistance to hereditary heathenism was not uncommon, however. Enslaved people and many Anglican ministers fought against planters’ racial ideologies, setting the stage for Christian abolitionism in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Using court records, letters, and pamphlets, Goetz suggests new ways of approaching and understanding the deeply entwined relationship between Christianity and race in early America.
The Religion of the Lost Cause, 1865-1920
Selected Poems of Matsuo Basho
Bashoµ’s Haiku offers the most comprehensive translation yet of the poetry of Japanese writer Matsuo Bashoµ (1644–1694), who is credited with perfecting and popularizing the haiku form of poetry. One of the most widely read Japanese writers, both within his own country and worldwide, Bashoµ is especially beloved by those who appreciate nature and those who practice Zen Buddhism. Born into the samurai class, Bashoµ rejected that world after the death of his master and became a wandering poet and teacher. During his travels across Japan, he became a lay Zen monk and studied history and classical poetry. His poems contained a mystical quality and expressed universal themes through simple images from the natural world. David Landis Barnhill’s brilliant book strives for literal translations of Bashoµ’s work, arranged chronologically in order to show Bashoµ’s development as a writer. Avoiding wordy and explanatory translations, Barnhill captures the brevity and vitality of the original Japanese, letting the images suggest the depth of meaning involved. Barnhill also presents an overview of haiku poetry and analyzes the significance of nature in this literary form, while suggesting the importance of Bashoµ to contemporary American literature and environmental thought.
The Literary Prose of Matsuo Basho
In Bashoµ’s Journey, David Landis Barnhill provides the definitive translation of Matsuo Bashoµ’s literary prose, as well as a companion piece to his previous translation, Bashoµ’s Haiku. One of the world’s greatest nature writers, Bashoµ (1644–1694) is well known for his subtle sensitivity to the natural world, and his writings have influenced contemporary American environmental writers such as Gretel Ehrlich, John Elder, and Gary Snyder. This volume concentrates on Bashoµ’s travel journal, literary diary (Saga Diary), and haibun. The premiere form of literary prose in medieval Japan, the travel journal described the uncertainty and occasional humor of traveling, appreciations of nature, and encounters with areas rich in cultural history. Haiku poetry often accompanied the prose. The literary diary also had a long history, with a format similar to the travel journal but with a focus on the place where the poet was living. Bashoµ was the first master of haibun, short poetic prose sketches that usually included haiku. As he did in Bashoµ’s Haiku, Barnhill arranges the work chronologically in order to show Bashoµ’s development as a writer. These accessible translations capture the spirit of the original Japanese prose, permitting the nature images to hint at the deeper meaning in the work. Barnhill’s introduction presents an overview of Bashoµ’s prose and discusses the significance of nature in this literary form, while also noting Bashoµ’s significance to contemporary American literature and environmental thought. Excellent notes clearly annotate the translations.
Métis children encounter evangelical Protestants at Mackinaw Mission, 1823-1837
In 1823 William and Amanda Ferry opened a boarding school for Métis children on Mackinac Island, Michigan Territory, setting in motion an intense spiritual battle to win the souls and change the lives of the children, their parents, and all others living at Mackinac. Battle for the Soul demonstrates how a group of enthusiastic missionaries, empowered by an uncompromising religious motivation, served as agents of Americanization. The Ferrys' high hopes crumbled, however, as they watched their work bring about a revival of Catholicism and their students refuse to abandon the fur trade as a way of life. The story of the Mackinaw Mission is that of people who held differing world views negotiating to create a "middle-ground," a society with room for all.
Widder's study is a welcome addition to the literature on American frontier missions. Using Richard White's "middle ground" paradigm, it focuses on the cultural interaction between French, British, American, and various native groups at the Mackinac mission in Michigan during the early 19th century. The author draws on materials from the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions archives, as well as other manuscript sources, to trace not only the missionaries' efforts to Christianize and Americanize the native peoples, but the religious, social, and cultural conflicts between Protestant missionaries and Catholic priests in the region. Much attention has been given to the missionaries to the Indians in other areas of the US, but little to this region.
Conversations with Benoit Chantre
In Battling to the End René Girard engages Carl von Clausewitz (1780-1831), the Prussian military theoretician who wrote On War. Clausewitz, who has been critiqued by military strategists, political scientists, and philosophers, famously postulated that "War is the continuation of politics by other means." He also seemed to believe that governments could constrain war.
Clausewitz, a firsthand witness to the Napoleonic Wars, understood the nature of modern warfare. Far from controlling violence, politics follows in war's wake: the means of war have become its ends.
René Girard shows us a Clausewitz who is a fascinated witness of history's acceleration. Haunted by the French-German conflict, Clausewitz clarifies more than anyone else the development that would ravage Europe. Battling to the End pushes aside the taboo that prevents us from seeing that the apocalypse has begun. Human violence is escaping our control; today it threatens the entire planet.
The Sacred and Sexual Struggles of Gay and Ex-Gay Christian Men
In Be Not Deceived, Michelle Wolkomir explores the difficult dilemma that gay Christians face in their attempts to reconcile their religious and sexual identities. She introduces the ideologies and practices of two alternative and competing ministries that offer solutions for Christians who experience homosexual desire. One organization-the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches-believes that God made people gay to suit divine purposes. In contrast, Exodus International preaches that homosexuality is a sin and a symptom of disordered psychological development-one that can be cured through redemptive prayer. Through careful analysis of the groups' ideologies, interactions, and symbolic resources, Be Not Deceived goes far beyond the obvious differences between the ministries to uncover their similarities, namely that both continue to define heterosexuality as the normative and dominant lifestyle.
Christianity and the Cultivation of Female Genius
Because of Beauvoir does what many say is impossible: it demonstrates how women can flourish, without conflict, while being simultaneously Christian and feminist. Alison Jasper offers a vision of Julia Kristeva's "female genius" as the capacity of women to thrive and cultivate intellect within and across different cultural and theological environments. Using the writings of English women from the 17th through the 21st centuries as living profiles, Jasper draws upon the creative power in the lives of real women to recognize and retrieve a female subjectivity—one that determines how women see and are seen after Simon de Beauvoir.