CRITICS' CHOICES FOR RELIGIOUS BOOK WEEK

Davis, Charles & Dohen, Dorothy & Marty, Martin E. & Riemer, Jack & Toolan, David S. & Dulles, Avery

Selections for Religious Booh Week CRITICS' CHOICES Charles Davis The religious book I read with the ' greatest pleasure last year was John Dominic Crossan's The Dark Interval: Towards a Theology...

...In the reprints and new editions of classics on publishers' lists these days there may be evidence of a growing consensus that progress toward the Kingdom of God necessitates our knowing from where we have started as a people, and what have been the discoveries, vicissitudes and joys of our journey thus far...
...Covenant (Seabury, $7.95) by the sociologist, Robert N. Bell ah...
...Anyone looking for appropriate bicentennial reading should be referred to The Broken...
...In the labyrinthine world of specialization, it is perhaps fitting to think of God as exhibiting a comprehensive irony toward all our artificial closures...
...When I pointed out to her that there is a mystical tradition in the West as well, she was amazed, and I was abashed...
...Wicker's book is there to keep us real and alive to a world to which no inward turn should blind us...
...Besides wanting to encourage the publisher to put it in paperback, I include it because I find it the most acceptable to date of American Catholicism's most creative geographer of the modern life story and the disguises of God in our time...
...Rage" hardly suits an exposition where every step fa hobbled by a footnote nor fa mere any sign of a poet's feel for words...
...Quadrangle/New York Times, $10...
...The scene is fictional, but the sentiment is genuine...
...Although I have reservations , about some of Tracy's presuppositions and conclusions, especially as regards the...
...Perhaps then my reading was not so idiosyncratic as I had thought...
...In terms of my theme, moreover, the thinking here "recovers what is just about a' vanished literary species, a work which exhibits both extraordinary philosophic acumen and equally extraordinary spiritual' insight...
...Subtitled "The Gunpowder Empires and Modern Times," the book carries the story of Islamic development into the recent and to most of us, I surmise, least familiar period...
...prayer as medium of personal therapy and rigorous intellectual exercise...
...I jib at the linear, non-dialectical' method...
...Bailyn, a preeminent historian, in telling his story casts different kinds of light on the Revolutionary moment and spirit...
...Ruether has edited...
...Not a professional biblical scholar but one who has not lost interest in the Hebrew Scriptures, I read a commentary only if it comes with high recommendations...
...Two Christian books that moved me were Faith and Fratricide by Rosemary Ruether (Seabury, $9.50), and Religion and Sexism (Simon and Schuster, $9.95), which Ms...
...Gregory Baum, a theologian who has trained himself in sociology, offers in his Religion and Alienation (Paul-ist, paperback, $6.95) what will probably prove to be a very popular introduction to religious sociology...
...I should be sorry if reviewers and critics neglect to note that it includes a remarkable theology of death and spirituality of dying...
...Martin E. Marty "Now, Mr...
...Marty, would you open the envelope for 'best book in religion by an American scholar so far in the 1970's?'" "Yes...
...In this first volume, Grof offers us a "Cartography of inner space," a descriptive account of the various levels and types of experience manifested in' psychedelic sessions...
...What makes the book especially impressive is that the poems come from both Jewish and Arab children...
...His interdisciplinary thinking gives a book full of unexpected insights...
...It may be surprising that I include in choices...
...In fact, I found as much revelation in Erica Jong's Fear of Flying as in the titles here listed...
...I am encouraged to recommend her journal, however, because of a discussion I had with a former student who had enthusiastically discovered Eastern mysticism...
...According to the author, the Christian covenant idea that underlay our national self-understanding in the 17th and 18th centuries was in the 19th century adulterated by the utilitarian cult of success...
...We need to hear that, and maybe it is ironically easier to hear from a Protestant...
...A pure layman in this field, I confess that each turn of a page opens a new world for me, but one that seems increasingly important to Westerners...
...Finally, I should like to recommend Jay P. Dolan's The Immigrant Church: New York's Irish and German Catholics, 1815-1865 (The John Hopkins University Press, $10...
...The life of the spirit, after all, is not concerned with what goes on in our bell-jar psyches, but is a matter of the 'soul' in our relationship to the things of life...
...Over several years had I given to her only "the spirit of geometry...
...David Tracy's Blessed Rage for Order (Seabury, $12.95) is a closely written and demanding study of the method of theology and, more specifically, fundamental theology...
...Bercovitch has read deeply in the sources if not widely in theology, and out of treasures of what I call creative naivete" has seen continuities in "the American self," threads that have entangled many non-WASPS whose lineage does not, derive from the Puritan source in any direct way...
...The latter brings together some very important essays on the past and present that explain why women have fared so badly until now within religion and why they will put up with it no more...
...Yale's Childs combines scholarly acumen, fresh angles of vision, and reasonable literary grace...
...Hutchinson was a Loyalist historian, merchant, and official in Massachusetts just before the Revolution...
...Space permits only a brief mention of some of the other good books of' the year...
...Ira Progoff...
...The journal provides a systematic vehicle for playing guru to yourself, for breaking through traps and into the creative movement of your life-which some might name Spirit No money-back guarantees-there's no free lunch-but it's good stuff...
...and yet as those familiar with his prison journal know, it was for him a time of rich theological meditation...
...The believer, he holds, is summoned to confront and overcome the oppressive, structures in his own religious tradition...
...Tom Wicker...
...We do not even know their names...
...Much against all his previous biases, Grof has to acknowledge that Rank and Jung were probably right in finding religious archetypes inscribed somewhere deep inside us all-and LSD commonly brings them out...
...Seabury's edition of The Way of the Pilgrim (paperback, $3.95), Orbis Books Prayer at the Heart of Life and Silent Pilgrimage to God: The Spirituality of Charles de Foucauld (each priced at $4.95) are other books which may serve to introduce the reader to the, ways of serious prayer...
...Next, then, the religious book that provides most delight: Paul Horgan's biography of Lamy of Santa Fe (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $15...
...Fm not...
...This is very much .a book that charts an inner transformation brought on by collision with external events-the way most of our internal geological shifts occur...
...Though the thought is no less compact than in his other books, the imagistic style allows the reader to get into it more readily and turn the reading itself into a meditation in the best sense...
...Well, Grof is no Leafy...
...We are moved by each biography: by the young Israeli who dreamed of somehow reach-ing Arabs' so that he could explain to them the need for peace,' by the wrestler who had somehow gotten out of the Soviet Union at enormous cost only to end in such a futile way, by the young athlete from Cleveland who' had come to Israel to teach' sports only to die in a contest in which there was no fair play...
...Somehow, find $45...
...Beginnings by Abraham Karp (Jewish Publication Society, $20), brings together ten documents from out of the early American Jewish experience that are a welcome addition to the bicentennial literature...
...Doubleday, $5.95...
...And he and Princeton packaged the argument with such exceptional visual material that I had to say that this format was a good choice...
...Yosef Yeru-shalmi's Hagadah and History (Jewish Publication Society, $27.50) is much more than just a collection of facsimile plates...
...These three are books which, each in their own way, express the travail that the people of that land...
...Reaching Out...
...Were they mercenaries, or fanatics, or madmen...
...Without putting the reader through the mill of rigorous theological analysis, Cardinal Suenens, gathering up some of the finest fruits of recent pastoral and theological reflection, communicates a keen sense of how the Holy Spirit may be at work in today's Church...
...for Religious Book Week Ivan Illich's Medical Nemesis: The Expropriation "of Health (to be published by Pantheon in May), which I read in the British edition...
...LessĄ demanding and more inspirational in tone is A New Pentecost...
...To deny any way of knowing ' reality other than story-telling is to end in incoherence...
...Rome he acknowledges as the center and focus of unity but not as the infallible arbiter of doctrine...
...It is The Blood of Israel by Serge Grossard (Morrow, $12.50), the account of the murder of the eleven Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics...
...But if you want more than a map, want actually to take the trip Nouwen speaks about, then try Ira Progoffs' manual of how to keep an "intensive journal...
...Realms of the Human Unconscious...
...Viking Press, $15...
...The fads and flourishes of post-Vati-' can days may be over...
...doing somewhat secularizes theology itself...
...And Sacvan Bercovitch in The Puritan Origins of the American Self (Yale, $15) exegetes some pages of Cotton Mather about John Winthrop and, on the basis of his reading,' traces certain myths of the self from earliest Puritan days down to modern America...
...There are discussions of suffering and death and of the Christian's mission to non-Christians, which are lucid without being simplistic...
...The dream of an absolute starting-point has not been relinquished...
...To see the task of constructing present meaning in fundamental and systematic theology and the task of reconstructing past meaning in historical theology as both preceding the concern with the future in practical theology is to miss the implications of man's becoming in history and the mediation of truth through history...
...The book begins and ends on a welcome note of prayerful hope...
...But, despite the caution and the jargon, we feel the power of the author's thinking...
...The title is a gimmick...
...A Time to Die...
...The study of myth in world religion is a land-mined field,' and experts have great trouble accepting each other's approaches in an inquiry that must be based on much speculation...
...Her spirituality is perennial, but she has a particularly contemporary appeal since she speaks of God as Mother...
...It is written with all the drama of a good detective story, and so even though we know the inevitable climax of the story we find ourselves engrossed all the way...
...I regard this book as the onejwork published in English this year which I, as a theologian, could least afford to overlook...
...Stanislav Grof s new book, the first of five projected on the results of his ground-breaking study of LSD as Chief of Psychiatric Research at the Maryland Research Center in Baltimore, should be immediately fascinating for anyone interested in the dimensions of the human spirit-and particularly so for all those worried about the current viability of traditional religious symbol...
...Having absorbed the critical approach to the Bible, he is free to fe-set the Exodus narrative into the context of community, and does so very well indeed...
...It is a remarkable book because of its simplicity and its so uncommon common sense...
...Jack Riemer I suspect that not many, perhaps none, of the books that have been my favorites this year will be remembered a decade from now...
...I had no trouble staying with it and now it stays with me...
...Henri J. M. Nouwen...
...A woman who believed in Socialism from her youth, not as an abstraction but as a life style, put it into practice when she was Ambassador to Moscow by running the embassy like a kibbutz in which everyone, including herself, took turns working in the kitchen...
...It fa a very English book in its idiosyncratic handling of issues and lack of concern about exhaustively considering what others have said...
...Mrs.' Meir tells her life story in a clear and direct manner and with such refreshing informality and honesty that every -reader has to be moved...
...John S. Dunne...
...A woman whose earliest childhood memory is of hiding in a cellar during a pogrom lived long'enough to come back to that land of Russia as the first ambas-sador of a' sovereign state of Israeli A woman who walked to school to save carfare in Milwaukee as a teen- ager came back to that same school fifty years later, now a Prime Minister, to tell the schoolchildren, now mostly black, and as poor as she was then, that hard work and sincerity do bring results...
...are now going through and convey the, moral truths that the struggle is all about...
...Bicentennial year reading that stood above the many potboiling offerings is to be found in Bernard Bailyn's The Ordeal of Thomas Hutchinsori, a book that appeared already in 1974 (as did Childs') (Harvard University Press, $12.50...
...The first title listed, Dunne's, deserves an unapologetic apology inasmuch as it dates from 1973-but then I just got round to reading it, and vintage Dunne bears repeating...
...What counts is that they have given readers a measure of insight and enjoyment this year, and that through them we have come in contact with some special people and tome very rich lives...
...Doubleday, $5.95., At a Journal Workshop...
...He does not need structuralism for what he has to say But he makes unforgettable the contrast between mythical religion as giving the final word about "reality" and parabolic religion as subverting final words about "reality" and thereby introducing the possibility of transcendence...
...In general his views will appeal to Roman Catholics and to confessionally oriented Anglicans and Protestants...
...Last July I was encouraged when I read Martin Marty's advice to subscribers to his newsletter that they should spend their summer reading the religious classics...
...I begin with three that come from Israel because Israel' has been very much on my mind and heart this year as it has been on the mind and heart of every Jew...
...Here is the rare commentary that can be either consulted or read...
...Were I asked to name the book on religion from which I have been learning the most, and doing so in enjoyable fashion, it would be the third volume of Marshall G. S. Hodgson, The Venture of Islam (The University of Chicago Press, $20...
...The former is an honest effort to come to terms with the anti-Semitism that is so deeply rooted in the thought of the church fathers and to come up with an alternative theology that will liberate Christianity from this burden...
...Returning to a theme which he explored in a preliminary way in the fifties, Illich reveals much more clearly than in his other books the value base from which he makes his criticism of social institutions...
...Fortunately, God's small still voice speaks to us from strange quarters, often in the disguise of therapists, newspaper reporters and investigators of the effects of LSD...
...Seabury, $7.95) ,by Leon-Joseph Suenens...
...Ricoeur's work fa indispensable, but after reading it Wicker's book still provoked me to further reflection and gave me as well enjoyable chapters on modern novelists...
...Situating the theologian within the "community of scientific inquiry," Tracy wants to bridge the gap between theology,, and other academic disciplines, and in so...
...So it is...
...this is the preliminary report without grandiose claims...
...Avery Dulles Let me begin with a meaty' theological selection...
...I mean it is what Augustine's Confessions were...
...But Horgan, who knows the southwest so well and who also writes so well, sets the story straight and gives us a really different archbishop from the familiar figure from Cather's fiction...
...doctrine of God and Christology...
...Prayer at the Heart of Life is the work of Pierre-Yves Emery, a brother of the Taize" Community, the French Protestant monastic community which so influenced us Catholics in the fifties who were attempting to "put if all together"-prayer and social action, Protestant and Catholic traditions...
...The suggestion is that often the last place to find religious perception evoked is in "religion books...
...For a "Religious Book Is-ue," let alone for my theme, the titles listed above may seem an odd mix...
...For, for me the past year has been influenced more by my own need to discover the roots of my faith and the social traditions of the Christian community of which I am a part, than by any desire to seek for new syntheses of faith with current learning or of new insights on how to live the Gospel in the bicentennial year...
...In working for that end, we might reflect on Gilkey's remark that a symbol "is creative for us only when it shapes or forms our actual, lived experience...
...A delight, doubly so if you've read his past work...
...A recent book which I did find immensely interesting perhaps because it coincides with my own need to build on our tradition, and because it avoids glossing over problems in the quest for ecumenical harmony, is The Common Catechism: A Book of Christian Faith (New York: Seabury Press, $10.95...
...It suffers occasionally from convoluted statements that may be the fault of the translation, or of the multiple authorship, or of the present state of ambiguity" of certain theological questions...
...Appendices on specifically Catholic beliefs are useful...
...While an admirer, I have my reservations...
...Stanislav Grof...
...David S. Toolan Time and Myth...
...Seabury, $8.95...
...Raissa's Journal (Magi Books, $12.95), presented by Jacques Mari-tain, received a generally unfavorable review in Commonweal, but for me it was a reminder not only of the debt we owe to the Maritains, but of the possibility that ppst-Vatican II Catholics have forgotten that-as Job so well knew-the demands of the Lord are beyond human understanding...
...Although Bellah has his doubts about whether the churches in the United States are still vigorous enough to provide the energies for cultural renewal, he is convinced that, without a resurgence of the old covenant idea, our "great experiment'' is likely to end in ashes...
...Not content to report the views of others, he sets forth positions of his own on disputed questions such as ministry, eucharist, marriage, Mariology, and papacy...
...But if actual experience in its social 'and cultural diversity becomes the point of reference, Then theology's concern with praxis cannot be left to the last chapter...
...Situating the charismatic movement in its larger ecclesial context, he provides useful criteria for evaluating Pentecostal phenomena...
...Some of the youngsters who are less than ten years old are already veterans of two wars, and the way in which they dream and yearn for peace is very touching...
...These eleven young men whose lives were cut down so suddenly and so senselessly become well known to us as the author traces their short lives and tells us what brought them to' that place and time...
...De Foucauld possibly has never gone into total eclipse (little groups of priests, sisters and lay people have been following his spirit of contemplation as they lived out their urban mission), but it is good to look at his words in a new format...
...They tell me that the specialists find Hodgson up to standard and "even enlightening...
...Maybe...
...We learn to understand the spirit and the motivations of each of these eleven Israelis but somehow we are never able to , learn anything at all about the character, the motivations," or the inner lives of their captors...
...Whether he is right on all details or even on all basic theoretical points is not up to me to decide...
...Lest anyone should suspect that ecumenism is on the, wane, John Mac-quarrie shows the contrary in his splendid little overview, Christian Unity and Christian Diversity (Westminster Press, paperback, $2.85...
...For a more popular charting of the connections between our struggle to create inner space for ourselves, others and God out of our loneliness, hostility and illusion, I recommend Henri Nouwen...
...I do not accept his claim there is only story...
...In that it contrasts with Paul Ricoeur's latest book, La metaphore vive (Editions du Seuil, $16.50), where the issues raised by Wicker are treated with indeed a powerful personal thought, but through a detailed discussion of other writing...
...My interest in the question of Christ and the plurality of religions led me to George Rupp's Christologies and Cultures: Towards a Typology of Religious Worldviews (Mouton, $14...
...The author forgets the "common human experience" is an abstraction, not a concrete point of reference...
...With a multiple authorship of German, French and Swiss theologians, Protestant and Catholic, it is fascinating for showing to the non-theologian how much Catholic and Protestant theologies have come together...
...But before rushing off to volunteer for a session with your archetypes in Maryland, remind yourself of the world that Wicker confronted when he entered' Attica prison four years ago...
...In a year that included a scholarly symposium on the person and works of Sin.Jne Weil, I am encouraged to think that I was not alone in going back to my heroes and heroines of the fifties...
...Langdon Gilkey's Catholicism Con-fronts Modernity: A Protestant View (Seabury, $8.95) encouraged me to think again about the contribution the Catholic Church could make to contemporary Christianity by resolving its present crisis...
...Through a critical history of sociological approaches to religion, from Hegel and Marx to Berger and Bellah, Baum argues his thesis that religion is both pathogenic and therapeutic...
...Catholicism Confronts Modernity...
...Langdon Gilkey...
...The Way of the Pilgrim, a classic of the Russian Church, is already known to devotees of Salinger's Fanny and Zooey...
...The theme of my selection is the inner life...
...It is the kind of document that we wish could find its way onto the desks and into the hearts of the leaders of the nations for truly here out of the mouths of babes has come real wisdom...
...Those who love the Bible and those who love the disappearing art of good conversation will find much pleasure in The Book of Praises (John Day, $8.95) which preserves some of the impromptu banter Ibout the Bible which the late Maurice Samuel and Mark Van Doren engaged in over radio for many years...
...I also found his little diagrams and scraps of structuralist analysis flim-flam...
...The first is My Life, the autobiog-' raphy of- Golda Meir (Putnam, $12.50...
...Opposing the concept of united .national churches, he urges dialogue and convergence among World Confessional Families with a view to full mutual recognition and intercommunion...
...Joseph Campbell's The Mythic Image (Princeton University Press, $45), which looks like a conventionally lavish coffee table book and thus stands ready for condemnation by many jaundiced critics, turns out to be a readable, scholarly, informative summa or encapsulation of a lifetime of theoretical probing by Campbell...
...Shewing of Gods Love by the English medieval mystic Dame Julian of Norwich has been reissued (Christian Classics, $4.25...
...The third book is the saddest and the most bewildering of all...
...That he made me think in new "ways about the mythic image and the power of myth over mind was unquestionable...
...The second book from Israel is a collection of children's poems and drawings called My Shalom, My Peace, edited by Jacob Zim (McGraw Hill, $9.95...
...This one is always designated as the book that deals with the archbishop to whom death came for Willa Cather...
...What to , make of all this...
...It is fashionable to say that the book is too long...
...It provides a useful widening of the common approach to that question...
...Especially for those of us who (to use a Pauline phrase) are the saints of the Church of New York it is important for our common life in the midst of urban blight to know our history...
...Raissa Maritain's intimate experiences in following the way of contemplative prayer, and especially the excruciating sufferings she evidently knew, may be meaningless to some readers and scandalous to others...
...The index is dreadful, but its very inadequacy will prevent random sampling of topics and force the interested reader to give serious attention and thought to the book...
...And the winner is , . . The Book of Exodus by Brevard S. Childs (Westminster, $15...
...This volume deals with the Psalms but they spin off from there in-many different directions, always with insight...
...The series ought to provide much to set our minds going...
...Selections for Religious Booh Week CRITICS' CHOICES Charles Davis The religious book I read with the ' greatest pleasure last year was John Dominic Crossan's The Dark Interval: Towards a Theology of Story (Argus Communications, $1.50)-an original and appealing book, written with both literary and spiritual sensitivity...
...For anyone who wants a good survey of Jewish family life Chaim Bermant's The Walled Garden (Macmillan, $12.95) is highly recommended...
...I expect that when Illich's book is reviewed in this country the focus will be on his highly controversial analysis of the medical system...
...Just as their faces were' hidden behind stocking masks all during the operation, so their purposes and the reasons for their obsessive hatred remain hidden from the author and from us...
...Thus, I have taken my delight in reading Augustine's City of God, in going back to the works of Newman, and in finding in Von Hugel's books the example of a person searching for the absolute who had at the same time a profound sense of religious and cultural relativity...
...The price tag on the next book will lead some readers to say, perhaps, that I have to be kidding...
...In restricting myself to five' recommendations, I have felt the pain of excluding many other excellent works that will, I hope, be picked up by other contributors to this survey...
...But that does not matter...
...Not a classic, but a sane and wise piece-well salted with experience...
...These are the works of youngsters who were invited in their schools to set down their vision of what it would be like to live in peace...
...It is rich in illustrations and insightful in content...
...Dorothy Dohen It is with some diffidence that I have accepted the invitation of Commonweals editor to give my selections for Religious Book Week...
...This is not to be confused with a diary-which commonly records the monotony of one's neurotic .script...
...Here is indeed one of the great sue-cess stories of this century...
...Versed in literary criticism and philosophy of religion, he brings together recent work on the rhetoric of fiction and the current debate about religious language and the metaphysics of belief and argues for a rhetoric of belief and a metaphysics of narrative...
...Religious language is one of the many topics covered in David Tracy's Blessed Rage for Order: The New Pluralism in Theology . (Seabury, $12.95).I found this a most helpful book because of its careful elucidation of the difficult methodological and substantive questions of fundamental theology, which are now my own chief concern...
...We are accustomed to politicians and diplomats who write in convoluted sentences that are intended to hide what they mean...
...But since I do not mean to imply that strictly intellectual problems are not equally real obstacles to inward growth, especially for identity-crisis Catholics at the moment, I cite Gilkey's rigorous intellectual workout-an attempt by a sympathetic outsider to show us the old order is shaking so that some new birth of world-wide significance might take its place...
...So you will meet some anti-Campbellites...
...Efrayim Savela's Legends From Invalid Street (Doubleday, $6.95) is a col--lection of short stories in the spirit of Shalom Aleichem that have the power to make you laugh and cry in turn...
...I am reminded of Dan Berrigan's request to a friend for books during his Danbury Prison days-"Send me anything except theology books...
...It is a panorama of Jewish history as reflected in the different editions of the Passover Hagadah, one of the most frequently and lovingly republished of all Jewish works of liturgy...
...I would put beside it Brian Wicker's The Story-Shaped World: Fiction and Metaphysics: Some Variations on a Theme (University of Notre Dame Press, $12.95)..For him also religious belief is founded upon stories...
...Dialogue House Library, $12.50...

Vol. 103 • February 1976 • No. 5


 
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