"Divine action" is a hot topic just now. Like much academic talk, the term is comically pompous, managing to suggest that God is anxiously awaiting the judgment of a panel of theologians and philosophers as to when and how he can "act." And yet the subjects encompassed in this conversation touch us all. Terence Fretheim's very useful book on God and natural disasters can be read with profit by believers with a wide range of views on sovereignty and "divine action." Fretheim's own view is that "natural disasters are a key agent of God in the continuing creation of the world" (emphasis his).

Wayfaring Essays Pleasant and Unpleasant
Alan Jacobs (Eerdmans)


Most of the pieces in this collection first appeared in Books & Culture or First Things. If you think that by recommending Alan Jacobs's book here I am engaged in brazen back-scratching, I suggest you dash off a furious e-mail. Readers not inclined to respond that way may want to check out the first essay in Wayfaring, "Sentences." It is just over three pages long. If it leaves you lukewarm, that's fine. There are plenty of other good books. But some of you, I know, will be delighted by this glimpse of sentences in the making, as I was, and you'll want to read more.

Master of Disguises
Charles Simic


Charles Simic was the poet laureate of the United States in 2007-2008. The thought of it is wonderfully ironic, not because the honor was not deserved—Simic is a superb poet—but because of the incongruity between the world of his imagination and the public office. His new collection has a sharp taste, like the dregs of very strong coffee. It's a book of old age (or what used to be called old age), the testament of an unbeliever, loaded with religious language ...

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