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Taking Semiotics to Church: A Review of Crystal Downing’s Changing Signs of Truth


Crystal L. Downing. Changing Signs of Truth: A Christian Introduction to the Semiotics of Communication. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2012.   Crystal Downing offers an entertaining and anecdotally rich account of how an otherwise highly specialized and esoteric form of linguistic science can be deployed theologically to reframe perennial problems in the relationship between... Read More

Citizenship, Voting, and the Common Good


A political news junkie in 2008, I now find myself tuning out. I am done with the partisanship and vitriol. I am tired of sorting facts from lies. Perhaps I’ll just sit out this election. After all, I still have enough faith in the American system’s propensity to tilt from the Far Left or Far Right to the center to believe that I will be fine, to know that when the inane mudslinging... Read More

The Other Side of Normal


“Fearlessness is better than a faint heart for any man who puts his nose out of doors. The length of my life and the day of my death were fated long ago.”1—I read these lines in the Norse epic poem For Skirnis as a child and have remembered them often since. I steeped myself in Norse and Celtic mythologies, and I remain impressed by the fierceness of those warriors whose... Read More

Bearing the Silence: On James Baldwin and Prayer


It is not unusual to encounter silence in prayer or in writings about prayer; it is, in fact, quite normal, whether it be a romanticized vision of the silent heart basking in the brilliant glory of God or the infuriatingly mundane experience of hearing no answer and finding few or no words to lift up to our Creator. Silence is extolled as a virtue in this bustling, chatty world.... Read More

Whither Global Civil Society? A Review of A World for All?

A World for All?

William F. Storrar, Peter J. Casarella, and Paul Louis Metzger, editors. A World for All? Global Civil Society in Political Theory and Trinitarian Theology. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2011. 346 pages.   A Scottish, Reformed pastor, a Latino Catholic, and an American evangelical walk into a bar. The punch line? They walk out with an ecumenical, multidisciplinary collection... Read More

Recovering the Gospel Behind the Creeds? A Review of How God Became King


N. T. Wright, How God Became King: The Forgotten Story of the Gospels (New York, NY: HarperOne, 2012). * * * N. T. Wright describes his most recent book as a solution to a problem. The problem is that “we have all forgotten what the four gospels are about,” namely a revolutionary new vision of God’s mission in the world (ix, Wright’s emphasis). The Gospels share this vision,... Read More

Open Your Eyes Wide: The Generous Vision of Marilynne Robinson


Marilynne Robinson. When I Was a Child I Read Books. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2012. In Marilynne Robinson’s novel Gilead, the Reverend John Ames observes that “you never do know the actual nature even of your own experience”—much less that of others.1 In her new essay collection, When I Was a Child I Read Books, Robinson applies the idea with rigor. There... Read More

Bleakness and Richness: Christopher Nolan on Human Nature


Editor’s Note: This essay contains discussion of plot details, including potential spoilers, from several Christopher Nolan films.   I remember the frenetic buzzing in my head on the way out of the midnight showing of The Dark Knight. I remember the way the theater seemed to heave after the final frame, all at once ringing with cheers, expletives, arguments, and the laughter... Read More

Call to Revival: A Review of Tim Suttle’s An Evangelical Social Gospel?

An Evangelical Social Gospel.Cover.02

Tim Suttle. An Evangelical Social Gospel? Finding God’s Story in the Midst of Extremes. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2011. Theological work is like children gathered around a table, playing with blocks—collaboratively erecting certain structures, contemplating them, and then tearing them down to their foundations and starting all over. It is like children working joyfully, modestly,... Read More

Bloodlines: Race, Cross, and the Christian – A Review


Bloodlines is a curious book. In it John Piper, a prominent white pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, steps out to speak about the problem of race in the American church. Where many prominent white clergy have remained silent, Piper turns his attention to one of the silent tragedies of American Christianity, the perpetual racial and ethnic division of its... Read More