Real Austin: The Homeless and the Image of God

Annie Vocature Bullock (Cascade Books)

I hesitate to recommend this book—even though it is the best book I have read on the subject—because to do so might imply that I am putting into practice the lessons it imparts. That would be a lie. In fact, whatever I might say about the book is fraught with difficulty. I could observe that the author is too hard on herself, but maybe that's just another way of saying "too hard on me." I can say that it's a short book. You can read it in an evening, but you'll think about it for a long time thereafter.

Renewing the Evangelical Mission

Edited by Richard Lints (Eerdmans)

The all-star lineup for this volume was assembled to "honor the legacy of David Wells and his constructive and critical voice for global evangelicalism" (that odor as you turn the pages is the whiff of hagiography) and to "think about the theological mission of evangelicalism and its role as one of the important dialogue partners of global Christianity." Fortunately, you don't need to share the distinguished contributors' high regard for Wells in order to benefit from their insights here. This book itself could serve as the point of departure for a seminar, a reading group, or a high-level Sunday school class. Essential reading.

Tour of the Breath Gallery: Poems

Sarah Pemberton Strong (Texas Tech University Press)

This is the latest volume in the Walt McDonald First-Book Series in Poetry (which earlier gave us Thom Satterlee's memorable debut, Burning Wyclif). Series editor Robert A. Fink eschews the gush with which such projects are often launched; instead, his six-page introduction is a model of attentive reading. We learn, along the way, that Sarah Pemberton Strong "operates a one-woman plumbing company" (see "Why I Learned the Trade"). If you start with that poem (p. 45), turn next to "Joseph Attempts to Teach the Boy Something Useful" (p. 59, and yes, that Joseph, and that Boy).

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