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We are routinely grabbed by the collar and told that what the church needs now—REALLY! ARE YOU LISTENING?—is x (or y, or z). Alas, x never equals deeply informed historical perspective + clarity of expression. But that is needful, now and always. We can be thankful for scholars such as Mark Noll who deliver the goods. This lightly revised and expanded version of his overview of church history combines superb scholarship, wise judgment, and deep humility (see especially page 326). Will we avail ourselves of its riches?

Gauguin, Cézanne, Matisse Visions of Arcadia
Edited by Joseph J. Rishel (Yale University Press)


This handsome catalogue accompanied an exhibition centering on paintings by three masters. But it also includes many others that evoke the earthly paradise imagined by the poet Virgil in his Eclogues (37 b.c.) and elaborated over the centuries. Essays by five scholars probe different aspects of the Arcadian tradition. If you want to reflect on the ways in which these works are related to images of Eden and to Christian conceptions more generally, you'll have to do the work yourself.

With the Night Mail and as Easy AS A.B.C. Two Yarns about the Aerial Board of Control
Rudyard Kipling (HiLo Books)


Whatever "modernity" was or is, we are still learning its contours. Illumination comes from many angles—just now, from the website HiLobrow and its offshoot, HiLo Books. This potent little volume is one of the first in the Radium Age Science Fiction Series, drawn from the period between 1904 and 1933. The tales imagine a global society governed by a technocratic élite whose rule is enforced from above, by airship.

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September 2012

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