"Sacred space"? Lord, preserve us. Heaven and earth meet everywhere, often inconspicuously. This learned, lavishly illustrated sequence of essays isn't reader-friendly—the prose is often turgid—but there is plenty of information here about the history of Jerusalem and its Esplanade (the southeastern corner of the Old City, where the First and Second Temples once stood) under Jewish, Christian, and Muslim dispensations, from centuries before Christ to the present day. The project was co-sponsored by Jerusalem-based Israeli, Palestinian, and Roman Catholic centers of scholarship.

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The Making of Evangelicalism: From Revivalism to Politics and Beyond
Randall Balmer (Baylor University Press)


In just over 80 pages, this book offers a sharply argued overview of American evangelicalism—past, present, and future. Randall Balmer has covered this terrain before, but there is value in a condensed version, and his account will be useful as a discussion-starter in small groups as well as in classrooms. There's plenty to take issue with here—including the disproportionate emphasis on the Religious Right—and plenty to ponder. Balmer notes, for example, how sermons warning against the temptations of affluence—common when he was a boy—have virtually disappeared in many evangelical congregations.

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The Double Comfort Safari Club
Alexander McCall Smith (Pantheon)


Have you noticed that we aren't in postmodernity any more? While we wait for the savants to come up with a new label, we can confidently assert that one of the glories of our time is Alexander McCall Smith's series of novels devoted to the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency in Botswana. This is the eleventh book in the series, and one of the best. ...

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