We all have a long winter ahead of us, with a renewed surge of COVID likely keeping us home more than usual. And the events of 2020 have given us much to think about, as we continue to wonder what happened and why.
In other words, the coming months seem like the perfect time for a resurgence of reading!
So either for your own edification and pleasure or as gifts to give for Christmas, let me suggest some books that should be right up the alley of anyone who would read a blog about “the relevance of religious history for today.”
A Devotional for Christian History Buffs
Let me start with the devotional coming out next Monday: Faith and History (Baylor University Press, $14.95), which I edited with Beth. As we mentioned over the summer, this short book features biblical reflections by over 40 Christian historians, including several members of The Anxious Bench. (I wrote more about its back story last week at my own blog.) Coming out at the beginning of Advent, it’s an ideal companion for Christians during a season of contemplation and expectation.
Each entry closes with a prayer, study questions, and suggestions for further learning. So if you buy Faith and History, you’ll find plenty of other reading material before you’re done with it.
But perhaps the best resource for further reading is the list of contributors itself, a cross-section of the many Christian scholars who are called to a life of teaching and writing about history. I won’t attempt a comprehensive bibliography from our contributors, but here’s a sampling of recent books priced under $30:
- Amy Colier Artman, The Miracle Lady: Kathryn Kuhlman and the Transformation of Charismatic Christianity (Eerdmans, $28.00)
- Margaret Bendroth, The Spiritual Practice of Remembering (Eerdmans, $18.50)
- Heath Carter and Janine Giordano Drake (with Christopher Cantwell), eds., The Pew and the Picket Line: Christianity and the American Working Class (University of Illinois Press, $28.00)
- Dyron Daughrity, Rising: The Amazing Story of Christianity’s Resurrection in the Global South (Fortress, $16.99)
- Jonathan Den Hartog, Patriotism and Piety: Federalist Politics and Religious Struggle in the New American Nation (University of Virginia Press, $29.50)
- John Fea, Was America Founded as a Christian Nation? A Historical Introduction, revised edition (Westminster John Knox, $30.00)
- Rick Kennedy, The First American Evangelical: A Short Life of Cotton Mather (Eerdmans, $17.00)
- Mark Noll, In the Beginning Was the Word: The Bible in American Public Life, 1492-1783 (Oxford University Press, $29.95)
- Jemar Tisby, The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism (Zondervan, $19.99)
- Grant Wacker, America’s Pastor: Billy Graham and the Shaping of a Nation (Harvard University Press, $28.95)
Books from the Bench
That list doesn’t include recent works from our Faith and History contributors who also write here at The Anxious Bench. Here all the books published this year by my co-bloggers:
- Agnes Howard, Showing: What Pregnancy Tells Us about Being Human (Eerdmans, $21.99)
- Tal Howard, ed., The Idea of Tradition in the Late Modern World: An Ecumenical and Interreligious Conversation (Cascade, $18.40)
- Philip Jenkins, Fertility and Faith: The Demographic Revolution and the Transformation of World Religions (Baylor University Press, $29.95)
- Kristin Kobes Du Mez, Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation (Liveright, $18.95 — for the forthcoming paperback)
- David Swartz, Facing West: American Evangelicals in an Age of World Christianity (Oxford University Press, $34.95)
- John Turner, They Knew They Were Pilgrims: Plymouth Colony and the Contest for American Liberty (Yale University Press, $30.00)
- Dan Williams, The Election of the Evangelical: Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, and the Presidential Contest of 1976 (University Press of Kansas, $39.95)
And if you really like to get your Christmas shopping done in advance… Next year will bring several more AB books, including Beth’s The Making of Biblical Womanhood: How the Subjugation of Woman Became Gospel Truth (Baker, $19.99) and Philip’s Climate, Catastrophe, and Faith: How Changes in Climate Drive Religious Upheaval (Oxford, $29.95) in April, Tal’s The Faiths of Others: A History of Interreligious Dialogue (Yale, $38.00) in May, and my own Flying Solo: The Spiritual Life of Charles Lindbergh (Eerdmans, $28.00) next August.
My Own Reading List
I just started They Knew They Were Pilgrims last week. Here are a few of the recent and forthcoming books that I’m hoping to read once I’m done with John’s book:
- Lesley Blume, Fallout: The Hiroshima Cover-up and the Reporter Who Revealed It to the World (Simon & Schuster, $27.00)
- Ruth Everhart, The #MeToo Reckoning: Facing the Church’s Complicity in Sexual Abuse and Misconduct (InterVarsity Press, $15.30)
- Margaret MacMillan, War: How Conflict Shaped Us (Random House, $30.00)
- Esau McCaulley, Reading While Black: African American Biblical Interpretation as an Exercise in Hope (InterVarsity Press, $18.00)
- John Wilsey, God’s Cold Warrior: The Life and Faith of John Foster Dulles (Eerdmans, $21.99 — due February 2021)
Of course, you can find all of these books — probably at lower prices than what the publishers list — on Amazon. But please consider ordering through independent bookstores, at least one of which has closed each week since the pandemic began. Here are a few of our contributors’ favorites: