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Book Reviews and Reflections


Larry the Librarian.jpg

Welcome to the Reviews and Reflections page.  I am Larry the Librarian. I earned a bachelor of arts at Bethany Bible College.  I was a Theology major and a History minor. I first developed my love of research there while writing a paper on the early church's debates on the Trinity. (There is a certain irony that I am now the librarian at Trinity Library.)  I also received a Masters Degree at San Francisco Theological Seminary were I experienced and enjoyed the Graduate Theological Library in Berkeley. While at Princeton I was privileged to use the Wright Library to complete my Doctoral work on religious initiation from both theological and sociological perspectives.  We are a truly literary church.  We have a modest but mighty book collection. I will be highlighting aspects of that collection on this page.


The national reckoning that we now know as “The Fire Next Time” begins with Baldwin’s salvation. At 14, he found himself writhing on his church’s floor, experiencing a pain “like one of those floods that devastate counties, tearing everything down.” He became a child preacher reveling in his congregation’s exclamatory community (“Amen!” “Yes, Lord!”) until he realized that preaching was his revenge against his stepfather and hell his church’s revenge against the world. When the essay turns to Baldwin’s dinner with Elijah Muhammad, the Nation of Islam’s castigation of white devils and Elijah’s followers’ affirmations around the table (“Yes, that’s right”) were unnerving because they were familiar.

The resemblance leads to Baldwin’s insight that churches, nations and races are fantasies intended to evade death, whereas we should confront “with passion the conundrum of life.” 


Why We Can't Wait Doctor Matin Luther King I

In this remarkable book—winner of the Nobel Peace Prize—Dr. King recounts the story of Birmingham in vivid detail, tracing the history of the struggle for civil rights back to its beginnings three centuries ago and looking to the future, assessing the work to be done beyond Birmingham to bring about full equality for African Americans. Above all, Dr. King offers an eloquent and penetrating analysis of the events and pressures that propelled the Civil Rights movement from lunch counter sit-ins and prayer marches to the forefront of American consciousness. This book includes the famous “Letter from a Birmingham Jail’

Laudato Si’  Our Common Home by Pope Francis 2015

This is a really excellent tome. The current Pope is both articulate and profoundly theological.  “Laudato Si” translates roughly as “Praise Be” in English. The subtitle “Our Common Home” is used throughout the book. Pope Francis begins by giving a brief history of environmental and theological statements from such luminaries as Saint Francis of Assisi, Pope John and Pope Benedict. He then moves into his own theological and practical thesis which is simple in form, and complex in its consequences. At its root his premises are these 1. God created all of us as one family. 2. This one family shares one planet as our home. Simple and true statements. However the implications for economics, government, ethics and social justice are challenging indeed. I was especially impressed with his analysis of the impact of environmental denigration on the poor and his “preferential option for the poor”.  Liberation theologians have influenced his outlook.

Also, like Liberation theologians, he lays out an ethic and an action plan. If you only read one book on the environmental crisis this should be it.  


A Theology of Liberation by Gustavo Gutierrez 1972

This was one of the first, and still a foundational book in the Liberation Theology Movement. This movement gave priority to the poor and marginalized, based on literal readings of the words of Jesus and the Prophets. At a recent celebration of this book’s 50 years in print I heard ample testimony from theologians, professors, and pastors, about how significant this book was in their vocations. It is still fresh after 50 years in print. 

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