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Religious institutions are ruled by the morally bankrupt –
but we need them, if they would just do what they need to do

Chris Hedges, son of a Presbyterian minister and himself seminary-trained, is well equipped to offer sharp criticisms of religion and religious institutions. A Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, he is a senior fellow at the Nation Institute and writes a regular column for TruthDig every Monday. His latest book is Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle.


He begins this essay:

It is hard to muster much sympathy over the implosion of the Catholic Church, traditional Protestant denominations or Jewish synagogues. These institutions were passive as the Christian right, which peddles magical thinking and a Jesus-as-warrior philosophy, hijacked the language and iconography of traditional Christianity. They have busied themselves with the boutique activism of the culture wars. They have failed to unequivocally denounce unfettered capitalism, globalization and pre-emptive war. The obsession with personal piety and “How-is-it-with-me?” spirituality that permeates most congregations is narcissism. And while the Protestant church and reformed Judaism have not replicated the perfidiousness of the Catholic bishops, who protect child-molesting priests, they have little to say in an age when we desperately need moral guidance.

But he eventually concludes that we need religion, no matter how dangerous it may be, for without it we fall easy prey to a vapid secularism and materialism – the world that Nietzsche worried about:

We live in the age of the Übermensch who rejects the sentimental tenets of traditional religion. The Übermensch creates his own morality based on human instincts, drive and will. We worship the “will to power” and think we have gone “beyond good and evil.” We spurn virtue. We think we have the moral fortitude and wisdom to create our own moral code. The high priests of our new religion run Wall Street, the Pentagon and the corporate state. They flood our airwaves with the tawdry and the salacious. They, too, promise a utopia. They redefine truth, beauty, morality, desire and goodness. And we imbibe their poison as blind followers once imbibed the poison of the medieval church.

Could we hear this as a passionate call for the church – like, maybe our PC(USA) – to care to stand up and do its job? Not to save the church, but to save the world.

The full essay >>                    Also on AlterNet >>

Thanks to Elizabeth Sarfaty

For people who as followers of Jesus want to change the world, here’s some sober, creative, and promising guidance

To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World, by James Davison Hunter    [4-17-10]

The review:


The call to make the world a better place is inherent in the Christian belief and practice. But why have efforts to change the world by Christians so often failed or gone tragically awry? And how might Christians in the 21st century live in ways that have integrity with their traditions and are more truly transformative? In To Change the World, James Davison Hunter offers persuasive – and provocative – answers to these questions.

Hunter begins with a penetrating appraisal of the most popular models of world-changing among Christians today, highlighting the ways they are inherently flawed and therefore incapable of generating the change to which they aspire. Because change implies power, all Christians eventually embrace strategies of political engagement. Hunter offers a trenchant critique of the political theologies of the Christian Right and Left and the Neo-Anabaptists, taking on many respected leaders, from Charles W. Colson to Jim Wallis and Stanley Hauerwas. Hunter argues that all too often these political theologies worsen the very problems they are designed to solve. What is really needed is a different paradigm of Christian engagement with the world, one that Hunter calls "faithful presence" – an ideal of Christian practice that is not only individual but institutional; a model that plays out not only in all relationships but in our work and all spheres of social life. He offers real life examples, large and small, of what can be accomplished through the practice of "faithful presence." Such practices will be more fruitful, Hunter argues, more exemplary, and more deeply transfiguring than any more overtly ambitious attempts can ever be.

Written with keen insight, deep faith, and profound historical grasp, To Change the World will forever change the way Christians view and talk about their role in the modern world.

For other reviews, and an interview with the author, click here

Read the Bible with a newspaper in the other hand? No, something more is needed, says retired Presbyterian pastor

Robert A. McKenzie, in his book of reminiscences, comments on a famous dictum: 

Karl Barth, the great Swiss theologian, said that Christians need to read the Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other. He had it wrong. Newspapers, I discovered, are apologists for the world's power brokers.

To read the Bible aright we have to get behind the newspapers to the stories told by the poor and oppressed because the newspapers, not to mention governments or business or even much of the church, have no interest in the stories of the poor. But when I read the Bible from the perspective of the stories recited by the poor, I invariably find a perfect correspondence. Indeed, it is the poor themselves who make that correlation.


It's on pages 358-59 of Life Keeps Coming At Me: A Son of the Soil Takes Root in Berkeley (1st Books Library, 2003). The statement is more applicable today than at the time of its publication.

While the book has much personal and family information, it also tells the important story of how a North Dakotan who voted for Nixon in 1960 became a "Sixties radical" on the basis of his experiences in Berkeley (where he was pastor at St. John's Presbyterian Church from the Sixties to the Eighties) and in Central America. 

You can order through Amazon >>>>>

Thanks to Gene TeSelle

Religious Collaboration for Social Justice

by Barbara Mauk, Westminster Librarian


A new book, Journeys into Justice: Religious Collaboratives Working for Social Transformation, by Westminster Church [and Witherspoon] member Nile Harper, explores ten successful religious collaboratives to discover the ways in which they changed public policies and social systems to greatly improve the lives of thousands of people. This is a book of hope based on experience.

What is a religious collaborative? Harper defines it as an organization of organizations rooted in religious values. It builds mutual trust and the sharing of human and financial resources. It is characterized by commitment to long-term carefully planned action to serve the common good. Collaboration has existed in various forms through much of human history. But now in the midst of present-day social-economic-political crises that give rise to a widespread sense of personal powerlessness, collaboration is rising as an effective form of organization to deal with pressing issues that affect so many people.

Journeys into Justice documents how ten religious collaboratives dealt creatively with issues of affordable housing, economic development, juvenile justice, family empowerment, worker justice, a living wage, immigration, the care of creation, and the promotion of civic leadership. Dr. Harper draws together the rich experience of local, regional, and national level collaboratives working in a variety of different settings. The final section of the book focuses on putting ideas into action. It provides resource materials for creating new collaboratives and strengthening existing ones.


Dr. Walter Brueggemann says about the book, “This is an enormously important book coming just at the right time as our society moves toward new public possibilities for social justice.”

Dr. Clifton Kirkpatrick, former Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and now President of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, says, “I recommend this very readable book for all whose spiritual and social quest leads them to seek a more just and peaceful world.”

The book is available online at or

Thanks to Westminster Presbyterian Church, Minneapolis, MN, for this review.

Interested in labor justice?  Here’s a new book worth reading.

Kim Bobo, founder and executive director of Interfaith Worker Justice, publishes Wage Theft in America

Witherspooner Gene TeSelle, a resident of Nashville, sends this recommendation:

Kim Bobo was heard on an interview on National Public Radio on Thursday, May 18, talking about wage theft in its various forms. She was in Nashville to celebrate a victory by car wash workers (not a group that you usually associate with victories). They had filed a federal lawsuit against Shur-Brite Hi-Speed Carwash, which recently signed a consent decree repaying them lost wages and giving them a break room, first aid equipment, and labeling or hazardous chemicals.

Another report from Nashville Public Radio >>

Here’s a brief sketch of the book, from the WageTheft website:


In what has been described as “the crime wave no one talks about,” wages are stolen from millions of workers in the United States ever year. Between two and three million workers are paid less than the minimum wage. More than three million are misclassified by their employers as independent contractors when they are really employees, allowing employers to shirk their share of payroll taxes and to illegally deny workers overtime pay. Even the Economic Policy Foundation, a business- funded think tank, estimated that companies annually steal 19 billion dollars in unpaid overtime. The scope of these abuses is staggering, and in response, activists, unions, and policymakers are beginning to take notice. Nationally-recognized social justice activist Kim Bobo’s Wage Theft in America is an incisive handbook for activists, organizers, workers, and concerned citizens on how to prevent the flagrant exploitation of America’s working people. Bobo offers a sweeping analysis of the crisis, citing hard-hitting statistics and heartbreaking first-person accounts of exploitation at the hands of employers. She then offers concrete solutions, with special attention to what a new Presidential administration can do to address one of the gravest issues facing workers in the 21st-century.

Senator Edward M. Kennedy commends the book, writing:

“Kim Bobo has written an excellent and informative book on one of the most pressing issues facing millions of hardworking Americans. She offers bold, practical, and progressive solutions for how policymakers and advocates can end the growing crisis of wage theft in America.”

More on the book >>

Hugo Chávez’ gift to Obama is worth our attention

When Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, on his first meeting with U.S. president Barack Obama, presented him with a book about Latin American history, U.S. reports expressed some sense of offense and some puzzlement, but people who know the book see it as “a brilliant idea” of a gift, to quote Richard Gott, writing for The Guardian/UK.

Gott opens his article:

Some surprise has been expressed in the Anglo-Saxon world that should have presented a book to Barack Obama by Eduardo Galeano. Ignorance can be the only defence, the very fault that the had earlier accused his US counterpart of suffering from. For Galeano is one of the most well-known and celebrated writers in Latin America, up there with Gabriel García Márquez, and his huge output of fact and fiction, as well as his journalism, has been published all over the continent. His books have been continuously in print since the 1960s, read voraciously by successive generations. 


It was a brilliant idea of Chávez's to give Galeano's Open Veins of Latin America to Obama, since this book, first published in 1971, encapsulates a radical version of the history of Latin America with which most Latin Americans are familiar. Its subtitle, “Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent,” gives a flavour of its contents, which discuss the way in which Latin America has been dominated and exploited by its European invaders (and later by US corporations) for hundreds of years. For the full essay >>

Remembering Maggie Kuhn and the Gray Panthers – for clues to dealing with such a time as this

Gene TeSelle, Witherspoon Issues Analyst, calls attention to a recent book by Roger Sanjek, entitled Gray Panthers.  He writes as an anthropologist, but also as a participant observer in the Gray Panther movement during the 1970s and '80s. A long-time national staff member of the Presbyterian Church, Kuhn was instrumental in the founding and shaping of the Gray Panthers as an organization advocating for the rights of "senior citizens," when that was a new thing in U.S. society.

TeSelle notes that this book reminds us that the Panthers achieved results in part because they refused to be a "single issue" organization focused on the interests of the ageing -- but pointed always toward a wider range of social justice issues.

Dr. Jack Rogers announces the soon-to-be published second edition of Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality

Rogers writes:

I am delighted to announce that today is the official publication day for the updated and expanded second edition of my book, Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality: Explode the Myths, Heal the Church! is still listing the publication day as April 14 – but we think they are just doing that so that folks will be pleasantly surprised when it arrives early! We know that they are accepting pre-orders and that some people have already received the book. You can pre-order the book on Amazon by clicking here.

The revised and expanded edition includes all of the material from the first edition plus:

bulletA new preface with "stories from the road" as a result of my two-year book tour in support of the first edition;

Updates on recent developments within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.);


A new chapter that examines God's radical welcome for all who have faith as revealed in Scripture;


A new appendix that maps the recent progress toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) equality in major U.S. denominations; and


A study guide for group or personal reflection.

I hope the new edition will make a helpful contribution to the conversation about equal rights in church and society for people who are LGBT.

Many thanks to all who supported the first edition over the past two years including everyone at Westminster John Knox Press, the Human Rights Campaign, Covenant Network of Presbyterians, More Light Presbyterians, That All May Freely Serve, Witherspoon Society, Presbyterian Promise, Presbyterian Welcome, GLAAD, PFLAG, Soulforce, allies in other denominations, as well as families, pastors, co-workers, friends, and congregation members who shared this book with others. Together we are building a church for all God's people.

Peace and strength,



War: Do we hafta??

A book review by Arch Taylor

Beyond War: The Human Potential for Peace

by Douglas P. Fry (New York: Oxford, 2007)

The recorded history of humankind is replete with stories of war and bloodshed. Consequently, most people resignedly assume that making war must be a natural characteristic of human nature, or at least of the masculine half. The phrase, “man the warrior” has become shorthand to express this generally accepted view.


Douglas P. Fry challenges that conclusion, drawing on the evidence provided by careful research into the evolutionary development of humankind. Modern Homo sapiens has been in existence for at least 50,000 years, Homo for over a million years prior to that, and earlier still pre-hominids such as Australopithecines for even more millions. During this great length of time our forebears lived in small, nomadic hunter-gatherer groups characterized by egalitarianism and generosity, and maintaining themselves by developing means of limiting violence and keeping peace without resort to warfare. This type of behavior has been verified in surviving hunter-gatherer groups. When Europeans first settled Australia, they found an estimated 750,000 aboriginals, none of whom knew agriculture, but all living in typical small hunter-gatherer groups in which warfare was a rarity. There was, indeed, violence such as homicide and revenge killing, and cases where small kinship groups engaged in violent retaliation or feud, but this was always a matter of a few individuals acting against known opponents on a personal basis.

Archaeological evidence, Fry finds, shows that warfare is actually a very recent feature of human society, having first occurred only about 10,000 years Before the Present time (BP). Warfare in the proper sense appeared only with the change from simple hunter-gatherer social organization to sedentary, materially rich and socially stratified communities, that is, after the agricultural revolution. The increase in wealth and development of hierarchical social structures provided the conditions under which warfare began to occur.

Fry adopts this definition of warfare properly so called from Roy Prosterman, author of Surviving to 3000:

A group activity carried on by members of one community against members of another community, in which it is the primary purpose to inflict serious injury or death on multiple nonspecified members of that other community.

A beneficial result of the more highly organized social organization was, however, the discouragement of self-redress on the part of individuals. Revenge killing and family feuding gave way to the establishment of internal law and order and the organization of police and courts to deal with crime. Fry celebrates the human capacity to make such an advance.

Unfortunately, as he notes, within the broader community of nations, humankind is still stuck in the mode of self-redress. He comments: “Within nations this transition from seeking justice through self-redress to reliance on legal institutions has been made repeatedly in human history, offering hope that a similar transition is possible internationally. We are faced with the challenge of bringing the sheriff and the judge to the global Wild West.”

Fry remains optimistic, however, because of his faith in evolution. Our developmental process has not predestined us to constant warfare. Surely we have the capacity to get beyond war. “Replacing war with alternative ways to insure security and resolve conflicts is the only rational way to proceed into the twenty-first century and beyond.”

Arch B. Taylor, 10-18-08
Clarksville, Indiana


Locked Up: Letters and Papers of a Prisoner of Conscience   [3-1-08]

Imprisoned for six months in 2004 as a result of his protest at the School of the Americas, Witherspoon member Don Beisswenger offers a personal collection of journal entries, letters, and spiritual reflections during his incarceration. The book has unusual richness and concreteness as Beisswenger narrates his encounters with prisoners, prison staff, and many people on the "outside." In the process he offered a pastoral presence and a prophetic challenge within the prison system. And he also gives an account of his own spiritual growth and the things that made prison life bearable.  (from Witherspoon Issues Analyst Gene TeSelle)

Read our reports on his arrest and imprisonment, and his own reflections >>

His book is published by Upper Room Books, with a list price of $15. ISBN: 083589939X

Jim Wallis publishes new book following up on God’s Politics   [1-24-08]

Jim Wallis of Sojourners gained wide attention three years ago for the religious perspectives of the left, arguing that the right should have no monopoly on spiritual and moral concerns in political life.


His new book, The Great Awakening: Reviving Faith & Politics in a Post-Religious Right America, calls for spiritual revival as the foundation for real social and political change. A revival of faith, he argues, is the only force big enough to take on the greatest challenges of our time: senseless poverty, deadly pandemic diseases, alarming climate change, massive violations of human rights, and the endless cycle of terrorism and war.

Sojourners is again urging people to buy the book now, in order to move it onto the New York Times’ best-seller list, thereby giving it a huge boost to a wider audience. That happened with God’s Politics, and they hope it will happen again.

You can read more about the book, and even order it, by clicking on the box to the right, where you'll save money, and your order will provide a small (but important!) bit of support for The Witherspoon Society. 

Why the Conservative Turn in the Catholic Church?
And What Can We All Learn From It?

Gene TeSelle, Witherspoon’s Issues Analyst, reviews a recent book of four thoughtful chapters, mostly by Jesuits, analyzing efforts in the Catholic Church to deal with the changes initiated by the Second Vatican Council (“Vatican II”) – largely by backing away from them. The authors see the Catholic Church’s conservative trends as efforts to restore a “healing balance” to the tensions between continuity and change in the church – a struggle which is familiar to us Presbyterians as well.

TeSelle focuses on three particular aspects of the church’s life in recent decades, as examples of the difficulties in finding that healing balance. First he considers how these tensions have affected Catholic bishops around the world, many of whom (especially in Latin America) have struggled with the tension between engagement in progressive social movements, and ecclesiastical resistance to such activities.

Second, he looks at efforts by Catholics, as members of one of the most diverse organizations in the world, to deal with global tensions ranging from the Cold War to the current struggles over globalization. Nurturing the global community of the Catholic Church in the midst of all these tensions presents great challenges.

And those challenges are sharpened by the third reality: the growing secularization of nations and peoples around the world, which often is represented as a threat of “cultural liberalism” that denies deeply held Catholic values and weakens the commitment of many Catholics to their tradition.

TeSelle suggests that understanding these struggles – the “major ruptures of our time” – might be helpful to Presbyterians as well.

The book is Vatican II: Did Anything Happen?, edited by David G. Schultenover.

The full essay -- and a link to order the book.

Witherspooner Ross Kinsler publishes new book on theological education:

Diversified Theological Education: Equipping All God’s People, edited by Ross Kinsler    [12-6-07]

Ross Kinsler is a Witherspoon member, has been a participant in some of the Ghost Ranch Seminars co-sponsored by the Witherspoon Society and the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, and has provided good material for this website before.  Click here for Ross and his wife Gloria's thoughts on the Biblical principle of Jubilee in relation to the increasingly globalized economy.

The central concern of Diversified Theological Education, which includes Theological Education by Extension, is access. TEE and DTE models have made enormous progress in the urgent task of opening access to and equipping all God's people for ministry and mission. This has many interrelated dimensions: Geographical, economic, cultural, ecclesiastical, gender, race, class, pedagogical, and spiritual access. The case studies in this anthology come from Zambia, South Africa, Ghana, India, Nepal, Australia, Costa Rica, Argentina, Guatemala, Canada, United States, and Russia.

bullet "One of the most creative and widespread movements of theological education in our time has been called Theological Education by Extension. . . .The case studies offered here demonstrate ongoing creativity, so much so that a new name is proposed in the title for this anthology: Diversified Theological Education." — From the Foreword by Archbishop Desmond Tutu
bullet "This book will be of great interest to all those involved in theological education around the world. It has to do with the relentless quest for the relevance of theological education to the mission of the church in the contemporary world." — Aharon Sapsezian, former Director of the World Council of Churches' Programme on Theological Education
bullet "Testimonies recorded in this book show how TEE/DTE equips God's people for God's mission in the face of globalization and new forms of empire." — Kangwa Mabuluki, Secretary, All Africa Theological Education by Extension Association

Ross Kinsler was part of the team that developed TEE in Guatemala in the early 1960s. Then he joined the staff of the Programme on Theological Education of the WCC, where he was able to follow the global development of TEE, which he documented in the 1983 publication of Ministry by the People: Theological Education by Extension. Later he joined the faculty of the Latin American Biblical University in Costa Rica, which is included in this anthology. He now lives in Southern California, USA. 

To order, contact:

William Carey International University Press
1539 E. Howard St. Pasadena, CA 91104 USA
Phone: 001-626-398-2309
Fax: 001-626-628-3234

ISBN:  978-0-87808-028-1
296 pp 5.5 x 8.5
Paperback USD $19.95

The New Road to Serfdom

Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine    [11-29-07]

Naomi Klein has recently published an ambitious history of neoliberalism, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, which has attracted lots of attention recently -- both pro and con.

Christopher Hayes, the Washington Editor of the Nation, offers a thoughtful summary and commentary on the book, on the In These Times website.


He summarizes it in one sentence: “The Shock Doctrine is an encyclopedic catalog of the tactics that governments, corporations and economists have used to impose— usually over popular opposition—what Klein calls the ‘policy trinity’ of the Chicago-School program: ‘the elimination of the public sphere, total liberation for corporations and skeletal social spending.’ ”

While appreciative of her argument, Hayes objects that she over-works her “shock doctrine” metaphor, which she draws from a series of “CIA-funded experiments undertaken by a sadistic Canadian doctor in the ’50s. Subjects were shocked, against their will, into states of highly suggestible infantilism, and the results were enshrined in the CIA’s so-called ‘Kubark’ manual, which Klein alleges has become a handbook for American interrogators during the war on terror.”

New book surveys theology’s dealing with Empire and Christianity

News release from Fortress Press, Minneapolis, October 19, 2007      [10-22-07]

The radically altered situation today in religion, politics, and global communication -- what can broadly be characterized as postmodern and postcolonial -- necessitates close rereading of Christianity's classical sources, especially its theologians.

In a groundbreaking textbook anthology from Fortress Press, Empire and The Christian Tradition: New Readings of Classical Theologians, twenty-nine distinguished scholars scrutinize the relationship between empire and Christianity from Paul to the liberation theologians of our time.

The contributors discuss how the classical theologians in different historical periods dealt with their own contexts of empire and issues such as center and margin, divine power and social domination, war and violence, gender hierarchy, and displacement and diaspora. Each chapter provides insights and resources drawn from the classical theological tradition to address the current political situation.

Empire and The Christian Tradition is a unique textbook anthology ideal for classroom use.



Kwok Pui-Lan is William F. Cole Professor of Christian Theology and Spirituality at Episcopal Divinity School. Among her many publications are Discovering the Bible in the Non-Biblical World (1995), Introducing Asian Feminist Theology (2000), and Postcolonial Imagination and Feminist Theology (2005).


Don H. Compier is founding Dean and Professor of Theology at Community of Christ Seminary, Graceland University, Independence, Missouri, and author of What Is Rhetorical Theology? (1999) and John Calvin's Rhetorical Doctrine of Sin (2001).


Joerg Rieger is Professor of Systematic Theology at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, Dallas. He is author of Remember the Poor (1998), God and the Excluded (2001), and Christ and Empire (2007).



Christ and Empire – looking beyond Christ and Culture

a book review by Gene TeSelle    [8-23-07]

There’s been much discussion these days about "the new American Empire" and the need for Jesus’ followers to stand against it as he stood against the imperial powers of his own time. This new book looks at the relation between "Christ and empire" with depth and a recognition of the always ambivalent relationships between faith and political power.

For the book review essay >>

Shaking the Gates of Hell – new book takes a sharp look at globalization and faith-based resistance to it


Globalization has been a matter of concern to the Witherspoon Society for some years. It was a focus of much discussion at the Ghost Ranch Week of Peace, and will again be discussed at the coming Witherspoon conference in Louisville, Sept. 16-19.

Fortress Press, Minneapolis, provides this preview:

Surprisingly vehement demonstrations at meetings of the World Trade Organization and International Monetary Fund have left many observers perplexed: What is the problem?

In her new book, Shaking the Gates of Hell: Faith-Led Resistance to Corporate Globalization, Sharon Delgado provides an eye-opening look at corporate globalization and spiritually motivated resistance to it.

Shaking the Gates of Hell astutely analyzes the major threats facing humanity that are exacerbated by economic globalization, provides an invaluable overview of the global economy and its institutional functioning, and offers a powerful vision for faith-led resistance and hope for transformation.


• Offers an incisive overview and theological analysis of the global economic institutions and their effects
• Reveals the larger cultural and social import of globalization
• Reports the stories of nonviolent resistance to corporate globalization and gives examples of sustainable alternatives

Global economic integration is harmful, maintains Delgado, since it undermines spiritual and cultural values, threatens local economies and mores, vitiates human rights, precipitates rapid environmental decline, and leaves a string of economic victims in its wake. Key to this process, she observes, are corporations. Shaking the Gates of Hell proposes a way for people of faith to respond to the growing power of corporations and their domination of the world's cultures, governments, and global institutions, and to develop creative alternatives.

Part One analyzes major threats facing humanity that are exacerbated by economic globalization: loss of biodiversity, climate change, toxic pollution, harmful technologies, growing inequity, social disruption, violence, terror, and war.

Part Two provides an overview of the global economy and adroitly sketches the structure, ideology, and functioning of economic globalization and the institutional "Powers."

Part Three asks what people of faith can do about this global crisis, and points to Jesus as one who demonstrates the power of faith-led resistance and hope for transformation.

"Delgado will not prove to you that corporate globalization is the Beast running amok. She will instead nail the destructive logic of the Beast, and show the way out of the interlocking network of the IMF, World Bank, and the WTO. Reflecting on her participation in nonviolent direct resistance against these Powers, and describing movements of global justice, such as they have emerged in Chiapas, Cochabamba, Nigeria, Argentina, India, and Kenya, Delgado prepares Christians for faith-led resistance as a way of life." -Carol S. Robb, San Francisco Theological Seminary and Graduate Theological Union

Sharon Delgado is an ordained United Methodist minister and is founder and executive director of Earth Justice Ministries. A longtime activist and advocate for peace, justice, and the environment, she lives in Nevada City, California.

Shaking the Gates of Hell: Faith-Led Resistance to Corporate Globalization

By Sharon Delgado
Format: 5.5" x 8.5", paperback, 172 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0-8006-6220-2
Price: $20.000/CAN $24.00
Publisher: Fortress Press
Release: August 30, 2007

To order Shaking the Gates of Hell please call Fortress Press at 1-800-328-4648 or visit the Web site at

Or you can order Shaking the Gates of Hell for $13.60 through the Witherspoon Society from

The Horrors We Bless: Rethinking the Just-War Legacy, by Daniel C. Maguire, Fortress, 2007.

A book note from the Rev. Betty Hale, of Roxboro, NC    [6-7-07]

Daniel Maguire, who is Professor of Moral Theological Ethics at Marquette University, aims "to challenge the seductive power of war that so grips and hobbles our imaginations." A major cause, he argues, is "Just-war" Theory. Its original purpose – to limit, control, and even avoid warfare – now is commonly subverted to justify and "baptize" it. The burden of proof intended to rest upon the warrior now rests upon the conscientious objector.

Maguire has the gift of truth-telling in such a way that you can see. Noting how we have sanitized the idea of war, Maguire observes: "War can even be a form of armchair spectator entertainment. It is acceptable for people to become 'Civil War buffs,' or 'Revolutionary War buffs.' If people were to announce themselves as 'prostitution buffs' or 'necrophilia buffs,' their perverted absorption in such human disasters would raise eyebrows."


Rightly used, just-war theory would insist that international force be deployed only "in a community context with legal and internationally enforceable restrictions comparable to the restraints we put upon our police." And Maguire has hope: "It is in us to outgrow war. The formula is easy enough: put your main trust in justice, not weapons, trust life-power more than kill-power, specialize in diplomacy and imagination, not bludgeoning."

Grounds for hope abound: "Military power, even 'superpower' military power, is being embarrassed [by its failure to assure peace], and examples of successful nonviolent modes of resistance are multiplying." Maguire calls us to "the hard work of prophetic citizenry," particularly during times like this post-9/11 period, when "a White House spokesman noted that the president 'considers any opposition to his policies to be no less than an act of treason.' "

Excellent for study groups: a good read, thoroughly documented in history and the scriptures, inexpensive (mine was $7), and concise – eighty-nine 4 x 7-inch packed and provocative pages.

Betty Hale

Chalmers Johnson on his new book, "Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic"

In his new book, CIA analyst, distinguished scholar, and best-selling author Chalmers Johnson argues that US military and economic overreach may actually lead to the nation's collapse as a constitutional republic. It's the last volume in his Blowback trilogy, following the best-selling "Blowback" and "The Sorrows of Empire." In those two, Johnson argued American clandestine and military activity has led to un-intended, but direct disaster here in the United States.

In an interview with Amy Goodman, Johnson summarizes his argument from the book.

Johnson says early in the hour that he is serious about the subtitle of his book:

This is not just hype to sell books - "The Last Days of the American Republic." I'm here concerned with a very real, concrete problem in political analysis, namely that the political system of the United States today, history tells us, is one of the most unstable combinations there is - that is, domestic democracy and foreign empire - that the choices are stark. A nation can be one or the other, a democracy or an imperialist, but it can't be both. If it sticks to imperialism, it will, like the old Roman Republic, on which so much of our system was modeled, like the old Roman Republic, it will lose its democracy to a domestic dictatorship.


Among the expressions of the new American empire he discusses the growing number of US military bases (now reportedly 737 American military bases on every continent, in well over 130 countries), and the great resentment those bases inspire; the use of the CIA as "the president’s private army," and the militarization of space.

At the end of the interview, he laments the seemingly inevitable and increasing reliance of the US on the "military-industrial complex," about which Americans have been warned by leaders from George Washington to Dwight Eisenhower. Amy Goodman asks whether he sees any hope. Yes, he says – but only if we can "reconstitute the constitutional system in America," which might happen only "by a mobilization of [America’s] inattentive citizens."

The full text of the interview >>

You can order the book from >>>>


A recent book offer tools for reflection and action in a global economy

Justice in a Global Economy: Strategies for Home, Community, and World Edited by Pamela K. Brubaker, Rebecca Todd Peters, Laura A. Stivers      [3-6-07]

Published by Westminster John Knox Press, July, 2006. List Price: $19.95 (Paperback)

In addition to the editors, contributors include John B. Cobb Jr., Wylin Dassie, Mary Elizabeth Hobgood, W. Anne Joh, Shannon Jung, Daisy L. Machado, Marcia Allen Owens, Larry Rasmussen, and Carlton Waterhouse.


Book Description

Today’s complex social and economic problems leave many people in the affluent world feeling either overwhelmed or ambivalent. Even the small percentage of us who have examined the ethics behind our financial decisions and overcome the often-deterring factors of self-interest rarely know what to do to make any difference. By providing tools for examination and concrete actions for individuals, communities, and society at large, Justice in a Global Economy guides its readers through many of today’s complex societal issues, including land use, immigration, corporate accountability, and environmental and economic justice. Beginning with a basic introduction to the impact of economic globalization, these ethicists and theologians provide both critical assessments of the current political-economic structures and examples of people and communities who are actively working to transform society. Each chapter concludes with questions for discussion and reflection.

If you have read this book and would be willing to offer your comments,
or even a more complete review, we’d be happy to hear from you!
Just send a note.


A time to reflect on William Stacy Johnson’s A Time to Embrace, and on same gender relationships   [12-6-06]

The first book to come from a member of the recent Theological Task Force on the Peace, Unity and Purity of the Church, has been written by William Stacy Johnson under the title A Time to Embrace: Same-Gender Relationships in Religion, Law, and Politics. Witherspoon Issues Analyst Gene TeSelle takes a thoughtful look at the book, examining Johnson’s description of various attitudes that are being promoted in dealing with same-gender relationships, pro and con.

TeSelle sees this typology of attitudes as very useful, partly because of the breadth of Johnson’s exploration of the different views. Further, he shows how Johnson arrives at his conclusion that (in TeSelle’s words) "same-sex marriage is the only approach that is truly just under U.S. legal principles." TeSelle agrees with that conclusion, but then suggests that for the time being, it may be strategically necessary to accept some compromises along the lines of civil unions, until the American public gains enough awareness to affirm same-gender marriage.

The full review essay >>

George McGovern's new book focuses on war that has been a ‘disaster'     [10-30-06]

Former South Dakota Sen. George McGovern has recently published Out of Iraq, co-authored with Middle East scholar William Polk. Their point is that "out of Iraq" is precisely where the US needs to get. Soon. They argue that the war is doing such severe damage to the United States – financially, psychologically, and in undermining our basic values of idealism, democracy, tolerance, and decency – that for our own sake, as well as for the well-being of the Iraqi people, we should move quickly toward withdrawal.

And what do they propose?

They suggest that America should help fund and create an effective national police force, along with helping to establish an international force that would help police the country until the national force takes shape. Some of the other steps would include the release of all prisoners of war, and closing of all detention centers; support for a national reconstruction corps; removal of all private security firms; support for rebuilding, using Iraqi rather than American firms to do the work; financial reparations to Iraqis for loss of life and property ... and more.

Read the review in the Missoulian >>        Or you can order the book >>>>

Ex-GOP senator John Danforth says ‘good Christians’ can be liberals, too    [9-28-06]

Berry Craig lives in western Kentucky, where being Christian and being conservative Republican are pretty much the same thing.  So he appreciates a book by John Danforth, a retired U.S. Senator who says that ain't necessarily so.  Danforth is both Christian and Republican, but says you can be both without being narrowly conservative.

Danforth's book is titled Faith and Politics: How the "Moral Values" Debate Divides America and How to Move Forward Together.

Read his review >>


Theological Task Force member releases new book supporting committed same-gender relationships

Stacy Johnson, professor of systematic theology at Princeton Theological Seminary, and a former member of the Theological Task Force on the Peace, Unity and Purity of the Church, has just released a book entitled A Time to Embrace: Same-Gender Relationships in Religion, Law, and Politics, in which he analyzes seven different ways that churches have dealt with same-sex unions.  His analysis leads him to offer support of same-sex committed relationships. You can look at the book, published by Eerdmans, on the publisher's website.

You can pre-order it on Amazon and save 34% from the Eerdmans price.

For a brief version of Johnson's analysis >>




An up-close look at "Justice in a Global Economy"       [9-4-06]

Globalization isn’t just "out there" far away from us, but it certainly does seem to be an overwhelming constellation of issues and problems, far beyond out reach. This book offers a variety of materials dealing with globalization as it impacts us in our daily lives, along with strategies for dealing with it in our homes and communities, as well as in the public policy arena.

This should be a great resource for study and action in the congregation.

Gene TeSelle provides a review of the book >>


Theologian puts questions about the 9/11 event in a deeper perspective – and gives reasons for deeper concern   [8-30-06]

Christian Faith and the Truth Behind 9/11: A Call to Reflection and Action, by David Ray Griffin

A book review by Arch Taylor   

Also -- Griffin book arouses opposition and support

Rita Nakashima Brock, in her regular FaithVoices email, writes about reactions to the book.
Read her comments >>

Middle Church – a new call for an alternative voice to the Religious Right

Dr. Bob Edgar, the general secretary of the National Council of the Churches of Christ and former six-term congressman, offers a compelling call for people of faith to speak out on the real issues of faith and values today: peace, poverty, and planet earth.

Former President Jimmy Carter writes of this book:

"A stirring call to American believers who resent their spiritual beliefs being co-opted for a political agenda contrary to their faith… Bob Edgar reminds us that faith belongs in the public realm—not to advocate war, privilege and environmental degradation, but to promote peace, the eradication of poverty, and the preservation of our fragile planet."

Middle Church
by Bob Edgar

ISBN: 0-7432-8949-8 Price $25.00/$34.50can.

New book critiques the American Empire in light of the Commonwealth of God    [6-9-06]

Rita Nakashima Brock informs us of a very interesting new book on American Empire:


The American Empire and the Commonwealth of God offers a powerful critique of the rapidly emerging American empire. The book discusses how the United States "is seeking to become the world's first borderless empire" and how its expansionist policies constitute "the primary threat to the survival of the human species."

The four co-authors, David Ray Griffin, John B. Cobb, Jr., Richard A. Falk and Catherine Keller, put forth the political, economic and ecological arguments as well as the religious-spiritual-moral ones.

Joseph C. Hough Jr., President and William E. Dodge Professor of Social Ethics, Union Theological Seminary, says:

Three outstanding theologians and one of the world's leading experts on international policy issues have joined forces to deliver a scathing critique of the aims, policies, impact, and pretensions of the American Empire. While their criticisms may be familiar to some readers, it is their alternative futures that offer such a practical and morally compelling alternative to the disaster that looms ahead. Anyone concerned about the future of American world leadership must read this book.

For more information, and to order the book >>

Ross Kinsler’s book God’s Economy wins award from Catholic Press Association    [6-4-06]

Orbis Books has just announced that the Catholic Press Association has given a Book Award, Third Place in the category of Scripture, to God's Economy: Biblical Studies from Latin America.

The citation reads:

Real progressive and lasting social transformation ought to be rooted in the Bible. Latin America, profoundly religious, is fertile ground for cultivating such transformation. Over the past 30 years especially, popular reading and study of the Bible has stirred human hearts and renewed hope for positive change so that Latin America represents hope for all America. No one puts such hope into words better than Orbis Books. The essays in the volume are an eloquent expression of this fact.

Kinsler, the happy author, adds:

We believe that the key to justice and peace in the 21st Century lies especially in biblical teaching about economics, i.e., economic justice and ecological justice, as expressed so powerfully in the WARC message from Accra. We have an enormous task before us, which is to enable local churches and presbyteries to consider and respond to this biblical challenge.

Orbis Books has agreed to offer a 40% discount on orders of 10 or more copies of God's Economy and for similar orders of The Biblical Jubilee and the Struggle for Life, which is now in its 5th printing. Call toll free 1-800-258-5838.

More on Ross and Gloria Kinsler's writing >>

Globalization – it’s more than economics

A review of In Search of the Good Life: The Ethics of Globalization, by Rebecca Todd Peters
by Doug King, Witherspoon WebWeaver and editor   [5-13-06]

Books about globalization seem to be flooding the stores like those inexpensive shirts pouring into our discount stores from ... well, wherever they’re pouring in from these days. So the arrival of another one raises the question: What does this book offer that’s different from all the others?  Well, it offers a lot, helping us to see the values being assumed as the basis for four different approaches to the global reach of the modern market economy.  And it gives reasons for concern, and for action.    The review >>

If you will be at GA in Birmingham -- Dr. Peters will be signing copies of her book in the Cokesbury bookstore, on Sunday, June 18, from 1 to 2:30 pm.

Her book, originally published in 2004, has just been issued in paperback, at the price of $16.95.

Does God make a difference in our world?


And if so, how do we relate to God’s activity?

Witherspooner Byron Bangert explores those big questions in
Consenting to God and Nature

From the publisher:

This book, an exploration in theological ethics, is motivated by two central questions. First: How can we think and speak with integrity about God as One who is active in human affairs and the world? How can God make a difference in our world and in our lives? Second, and no less important: What is the character of God’s activity in the world, and how are we to relate and respond to this activity? How does God make a difference in our world and our lives, and what are some of the implications for our own actions?

As the book’s title indicates, Bangert claims that a proper engagement in theological ethics requires both consenting to God and consenting to nature. This means both consenting to the reality that is God, the One with whom we ultimately have to do, and the acceptance of the natural or physical world as hugely determinative of the limits and possibilities of human life and all existence. He argues that this calls for a theocentric, naturalistic, theological ethics.

"Bangert has done a remarkable job in bringing three important constructive proposals for contemporary theology into respectful dialogue with one another. In addition to presenting the positions of Gustafson, Griffin, and McFague fairly and sympathetically, he makes a convincing case that their respective contributions can only be strengthened and enriched through critical engagement with one another. This book has many virtues to commend it, not least of which are the clarity of analysis and the simple elegance of its prose style. It is a model of rigorous, yet irenic, theological argumentation." -Paul E. Capetz, author of 'God: A Brief History'

Byron C. Bangert is Research Associate at the Poynter Center for the Study of Ethics and American Institutions at Indiana University, Bloomington. He is also an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), with over 25 years’ experience as a parish minister. His Ph.D. in religious studies is from Indiana University.

ISBN: 1-59752-524-3/paper/272pp/$27.00

An imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers
199 West 8th Avenue Eugene, OR 97401

Jack Rogers on Jesus, the Bible and Homosexuality

Kenneth Smith, president of the Witherspoon Society, reviews Dr. Jack Rogers' latest book, exploring further his new understanding of the Biblical perspective on sexuality and the church.      [4-21-06]

Wrestling Until the Dawn: The Fight for Biblical Justice in a Postmodern World, by John R. Preston    [4-17-06]

Gene TeSelle reviews this recent book by a Witherspoon member, who identifies with Jacob wrestling with an angel, as an image for the struggles of faith in our own postmodern time, as Christians seek ways to live faithfully in confronting the oppression and suffering of human life.   

Preston says of his writing the book:  "When I began this research and writing project over five years ago I wanted to clarify my own personal theology. In particular I sought to understand the connection between my theology and the three major global moral issues of our age. I wanted to “grind a theological lens” through which I could see the world more clearly and understand how my faith might speak to these moral issues. What began as something very personal became a book which, I believe, will prove helpful to people with three concerns. I think this book will address persons who want honesty, those who are concerned for advocacy, and those who desire a more prophetic ministry."

Douglas Ottati, prof. at Union Seminary/PSCE in Richmond and Witherspoon writer, will be signing his new book at GA    [4-11-06]

Doug Ottati, who is a regular contributor of a column of "theological musings" in the Witherspoon Society’s Network News, has just published a new book entitled Theology for Liberal Presbyterians and Other Endangered Species.

He will be signing copies of his book at General Assembly on Thursday, June 15 11:00-1:00 and 5:00-6:00 at the Cokesbury Bookstore in the Exhibit Hall.

Here’s the publisher’s notice for the book:

In this witty, accessible, and concise book, theologian Doug Ottati contends that liberal Presbyterians and other liberal Protestants still have much to contribute to the contemporary world. Offering an alternative to evangelical and conservative thought that he believes now pervades the larger culture, Ottati presents what he sees as the foundations of liberal, theological thought. Writing out of the Reformed tradition and a theology of grace and with a dose of humor, he addresses current issues such as evangelism, the ordination of homosexuals, and the war on terrorism. Ideal for individual or group study, this book is a call to liberal Presbyterians and other liberal Protestants to restate, rethink, and revise traditional theologies and beliefs in the face of contemporary knowledge and realities.

We’re proud to note that many of the essays in the book have appeared previously in Network News.

Published by Geneva Press
Price: $17.95
ISBN: 0-664-50289-X

A critical book review by Nancy Weatherwax    [3-9-06]

Homosexuality: Biblical Interpretation and Moral Discernment, by Willard Swartley

Nancy Weatherwax reviews a study by a scholar who earlier traced how Christian attitudes and readings of the Bible have changed in dealing with slavery, the Sabbath, war and women have changed -- but now can't see the need for similar growth in understanding homosexuality.     The full review >>

Issues Analyst Gene TeSelle authors new book on Augustine

The title? Well, Augustine.

Abingdon Pillars of Theology is a series for the college and seminary classroom designed to help students grasp the basic and necessary facts, influence, and significance of major theologians. Gene TeSelle, emeritus Oberlin Alumni/ae Professor of Church History and Theology at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, introduces Augustine.  He examines the major themes of Augustine's thought following a more or less chronological order including human fulfillment, evil, creation, the human self, the church and its doctrines, the course of human history, and the relation of Christianity to political matters.

More >>

A great resource for the ordination debates

Gene TeSelle reviews Ordination Standards: Biblical, Theological, and Scientific Perspectives – a very thorough guide for studying and discussing the complex questions surrounding the debates of inclusive ordination.   [2-8-06]

He concludes: "This is a thorough discussion guide. In fact, given its length it is a discussion all by itself. In that sense it would be suitable for solitary reading, and in the process you can learn an awful lot! But it does invite — even requires — live discussion, since various perspectives are explored without reaching final resolution."    Read the review >>

A great resource!!!

Insights from the mega-church world

Brian Cave, a student at Union Theological Seminary, New York, has sent a note about a book on "seeker churches," otherwise known as mega-churches, and the insights they may offer into ways that churches can understand and relate to the changing culture of our time.

Seeker Churches, by Kimon Howland Sargeant

In my research on church growth, I have come across Seeker Churches, a great book that provides an insight to the world of mega churches. Sargeant, a sociologist who is an officer in the Religion Program at The Pew Charitable Trusts, spent several years immersing himself in the Seeker Churches, interviewing pastors, and talking with members. His book clarifies many stereotypes that liberals have against mega churches. Before you judge or condemn mega churches you must read this book. There are some things that mega churches are doing right that could help liberals and moderate churches reach out to the many people who could use Christ in their lives.


Here are some quotes from the book:

"…Put simply, Seeker Churches present a more plausible model of Christianity – a model that fits with pervasive cultural understandings about choice, individualism, autonomy, the importance of self…" (pg 31)

Sargeant points out the Seeker Churches are attractive to people who do not like formality. These churches study malls and theme parks in order to run their churches. Sargeant interviewed a pastor who sent his staff to meet with executives from Disney to understand better how they run the park, and from this learned better tools to run the church. "Religious seekers value experience over tradition." (58)

"In sum, seeker churches’ church leaders define their church as places where Christians avoid the two most unappealing extremes of religious practice. Seeker churches are neither intolerant nor lifeless, instead seeker churches practice a sincere and authentic – not a formal and ritualistic Christianity." (92)

"And, as I have stated earlier, what attracts so many people to seeker services across the country is the seeker service emphasis on how God makes the lives of Christians more fulfilling. For today’s religious consumers, the search for meaning and fulfillment is as important as – and perhaps initially even more important than – the search for God." (98)

"In sum, seeker churches introduce seekers to the Christian message by presenting the exclusivist theology of evangelicalism in the friendly guise of an egalitarian, fulfillment-enhancing, fun religious encounter with God. As a result, seeker church pastors make orthodox theology less offensive and more civil for a pluralistic society. Seeker church proponents do not abandon the ‘Gospel Truth’ but repackage it in a kinder, gentler format. They maintain the evangelical emphasis on the importance of faith in Jesus Christ but subtly transform the reasons why one should pursue such a faith." (99)

Brian Cave
Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York
Master of Arts in Theology '06

Why Is Religion so Violent?    [1-24-06]

Gene TeSelle, Witherspoon’s Issues Analyst, offers a quick tour of about a dozen books that explore the connections, so much discussed these days in relation to Islamism, between religion and violence. They offer a variety of understandings that may help us seek ways to expand the peaceful potential of religious faith, and to defuse the impulses to violence.   The full article >>

You can order any of the books mentioned through links of, listed at the bottom of the page.

Ordination Standards:
Biblical, Theological, and Scientific Perspectives

by North Como Presbyterian Church

A Presbyterian congregation has just published an extensive survey of source material – Biblical, theological, and scientific – on questions of sexual orientation and behavior, and how Christians might deal with these within the church.   [1-7-06]

The book notice >>

The Iraq War. Genocide. Globalization.
September 11, 2001. The war on terror.

A new study guide from the National Council of Churches USA helps you make sense of the world.    [1-4-06]

For the Peace of the World
A Christian Curriculum on International Relations

Details >>

Got books??  [12-21-05]

You can assist workers and institutions in countries where books are in short supply!  Share your books by sending them to Readers' Service, an agency of the PC(USA).  It's a great way to help!

Details >>

A book note:
Religion, Politics, and the Christian Right:  Post-9/11 Powers and American Empire 

Princeton theologian Mark Lewis Taylor provides an astute analysis of how after 9/11, Christian nationalists have forged an imperial America that subverts what most U.S. citizens and most Christians hold dear about their democratic life. Even as he exposes the dangers of the Christian right, Taylor also retrieves and highlights an authentic democratic spirit that U.S. citizens can nurture and develop in public life.   [a book notice from Fortress Press] 

For more on the book, and to order >>

"Mark Lewis Taylor is the most prophetic theologian, political activist and cultural critic of his generation. There is simply no one on the scene like him. Don't miss this book!" -- Cornel West, University Professor of Religion, Princeton University

A Witherspoon note:  

Dr. Taylor will the the primary speaker at the Semper Reformanda/Witherspoon Pre-General Assembly Conversation, on the theme of American Empire.  It will be held on Wednesday, June 14, from 1 to 4 pm, in Birmingham.  Watch for details!

Dr Taylor was one of the leaders of the Witherspoon/Peace Fellowship seminar at Ghost Ranch in the summer of 2005.  Witherspoon board member Jake Young reported on the seminar, and especially on Taylor's presentations, in Network News, Summer 2005, pages 9-10.  You can read it in PDF format:  just click here, and scroll down to page 9.

Biblical scholar sees a "wide, wide circle of divine love"

A book note by Berry Craig begins:

I hadn't heard of W. Eugene March or The Wide, Wide Circle of Divine Love: A Biblical Case for Religious Diversity until I read The Layman editorial against the book and its author.

The Layman, the ultra-conservative, if not fundamentalist, Presbyterian Lay Committee's newspaper, was in especially high dudgeon. Thus, I figured The Wide, Wide Circle had to be a good read.

I was wrong. It's a great read.    The rest of the review >>


Torture: A Human Rights Perspective
A new book edited by Kenneth Roth and Minky Worden

A timely and provocative new anthology, Torture is the first book to critically assess torture from a global human rights viewpoint. International law has categorically outlawed the practice, yet the global debate around torture—the legality of its use, the extent of its use, its effectiveness—has intensified in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Revelations of torture and degradation at Abu Ghraib and other detention facilities have galvanized both proponents and opponents of torture, and underscored how imperative it is to tackle the question head-on.

Sixteen original essays from leading commentators take an unflinching look at one of the most urgent issues of our day.

Read the review from Human Rights Watch

Church & Society issue will focus on war, peace, and peace-making   [10-13-05]

The Nov. - Dec. 2005 issue of Church & Society magazine has been developed by the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship and editor by Tom F. Driver.

It will include Moderator Rick Ufford-Chase’s essay on "Is Peace Possible?"   Chris Hedges, Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer and Nancy Corson Carter have articles dealing with "re-thinking war." Offering thoughts on "re-thinking peace" are Ross and Gloria Kinsler, Parrish W. Jones, and Glen Stassen. Anne L. Barstow and Walter Owensby offer positive steps toward peace, followed by descriptions of a number of specific projects of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship.

Prior to publication (or after) you may order it from the PPF, P.O. Box 271, Upper Nyack, NY 10960.

After publication will be able to order it from the Peace Fellowship, or directly from Church & Society

A great resource for preachers on the interesting theme of WAR. (And peace.)

For all of us, but especially for us who have the privilege and burden of preaching, the current issue of The Living Pulpit is a much needed resource. The issue is red-letter titled "WAR" with this question below: "How do we preach about loving our country and loving our enemies, too?" To see the table of contents, and a featured article, "The Ambiguity of War," go to their website. You'll be pleasantly surprised.

Also, the publisher, Presbyterian minister Douglas Stivison, offers bulk copies at a special rate, and a half-price introductory offer through the website. I hope we in Susquehanna Valley Presbytery will take advantage of that and have some discussion groups about preaching during this time of war.
Not incidentally, their editorial calendar for the next three years includes Reign of God, Stewardship, Hunger, Ethics, the Marketplace, Atonement, the Word, Mission, and Shalom.

Thanks to Len Bjorkman, Co-Moderator Emeritus of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship.

Arch Taylor looks at US interpretations and uses of the attacks on Pearl Harbor and later on Hiroshima as an example of our "subversion of values"

Witherspoon Issues Analyst Gene TeSelle reviews his book   [9-28-05]

In Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima, and Beyond: Subversion of Values, Arch B. Taylor, Jr., who served as a Presbyterian minister in Japan for over thirty years, looks at two key events — the beginning and the end of the war in the Pacific. He has had many reasons to look at the relations between the two countries during the Second World War — and at the many questions they have raised with each other, and with themselves, from then until now.   The review >>

US violations of human rights since 9/11


A new book edited by Ann Fagan Ginger, Executive Director of Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute, provides a listing of the US administration’s breaches of our laws since Sept. 11. Ginger presents reports of 180 alleged violations, in 30 categories, by the White House; the Pentagon; the Departments of State, Justice, and Labor; the FBI; the Attorney General; immigration officials; and state and local police against people in the United States, Iraq, Afghanistan, GuantÁnamo Bay, and elsewhere. Each report includes the sources for the allegation, and each section lists the specific US and international laws allegedly violated.

Challenging US Human Rights Violations Since 9/11
Ann Fagan Ginger, ed., Prometheus Books, 2005, 574 pp.

More on the book >>    [6-1-05]

The paradoxes of ministry    [6-1-05]

Amy Ukena has sent a note listing the 21 paradoxes that are analyzed in Judson Edwards’ book, The Leadership Labyrinth: Negotiating the Paradoxes of Ministry. You may find them helpful or not, but they’re pretty funny. Here’s a sampling:  

1. The Leadership Paradox: The harder you try to control a group, the less control you will have.
2. The Calendar Paradox: The busier you are, the less you will accomplish.
4. The Anxiety Paradox: The less you worry about the church, the better it will do.
9. The Power Paradox: The weakest people in the church tend to wield the most power.
13. The Controversy Paradox: The issue you are arguing about is not the issue at all.
16. The Ministry Paradox: The more you try to help people, the more helpless people become.
21. The Attitude Paradox: Only pastors who are having fun can seriously proclaim the Gospel.

For more on the book from the publisher >>

In Search of the Good Life: The Ethics of Globalization

This recent book by Rebecca Todd ("Toddie") Peters offers what Cornel West has called "…the best treatment of the complex debate on globalization by a religious ethicist now available."

Read more about the book     [4-9-05]

A review of Jim Wallis, God's Politics: Why The Right Is Wrong and The Left Doesn't Get It

Jim Wallis of Soujourners has hit the best-seller lists with this prophetic/evangelical survey of the US political scene.  Robert Boehlke, Presbyterian minister and long-time professor of Christian education at one of Indonesia's major theological seminaries, summarizes the book's main points and offers some critical thoughts.   [2-15-05]

Fortress Press releases text for a new generation of theologians

Constructive Theology: A Contemporary Approach to Classical Themes presents an exciting and engaging way for today's students to encounter theology.

Coordinated by Serene Jones of Yale Divinity School and Paul Lakeland of Fairfield University, nearly fifty of North America's top teaching theologians (members of the Workgroup on Constructive Christian Theology) have devised a text that allows students to experience the deeper point of theological questions, to delve into the fractures and disagreements that figured in the development of traditional Christian doctrines, and to sample the diverse and conflicting theological voices that vie for allegiance today.    [2-11-05]

A Presbyterian minister is selling books on eBay

We've received this note -- posted here on 1-26-05

I am a retired Presbyterian Minister. I have a fairly extensive library which could be of some help to Presbyterians. I am in the process of liquidating some of the older books in my library on eBay. I might list a dozen during the week. I expect to be doing this over the next several months at least. My concern is that these books find their way to someone who will appreciate them and make good use of them.

Anyone interested can check my offerings from time to time on eBay.  Just click here.

If this link fails go to and click on Advanced Search in the upper right hand corner, then on the next page, click on Items by Seller on the left hand side - then enter apple9077.

Many of these books are of direct interest to Presbyterians and Presbyterian history.

If you have any questions, or want to communicate directly with me:

Pete Apple

Blue Gold:  The Fight to Stop the Corporate Theft of the World's Water

Alfred Davies reviews a book that outlines that crisis building as private corporations gain ownership and distribution rights over more and more of the world's water.  [1-18-05]

Jim Wallis book offers a " national voice for progressive faith"

The editor of Sojourners has just published a book offering "a much stronger national voice for progressive faith."   Entitled God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It, it offers progressive perspectives on the issues of faith and values that have been so much discussed since the election.   [1-11-05]

Out of last summer's Ghost Ranch seminar on "A Biblical Vision for the Future," Jane Hanna suggests three helpful books.  Check out her ideas -- and order any of them direct from

Click here for an Archive page covering entries from 2000 through 2004

We invite you to add your comments to any of these reviews --
or suggest and comment on books that you find interesting!

Just send a note, to be shared here!


Some blogs worth visiting

PVJ's Facebook page

Mitch Trigger, PVJ's Secretary/Communicator, has created a Facebook page where Witherspoon members and others can gather to exchange news and views. Mitch and a few others have posted bits of news, both personal and organizational. But there’s room for more!

You can post your own news and views, or initiate a conversation about a topic of interest to you.


John Shuck’s new "Religion for Life" website

Long-time and stimulating blogger John Shuck, a Presbyterian minister currently serving as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton, Tenn., writes about spirituality, culture, religion (both organized and disorganized), life, evolution, literature, Jesus, and lightening up.

Click here for his blog posts.

Click here for podcasts of his radio program, which "explores the intersection of religion, social justice and public life."


John Harris’ Summit to Shore blogspot

Theological and philosophical reflections on everything between summit to shore, including kayaking, climbing, religion, spirituality, philosophy, theology, The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), New York City and the Queens neighborhood of Ridgewood -- by a progressive New York City Presbyterian Pastor. John is a former member of the Witherspoon board, and is designated pastor of North Presbyterian Church in Flushing, NY.


Voices of Sophia blog

Heather Reichgott, who has created this new blog for Voices of Sophia, introduces it:

After fifteen years of scholarship and activism, Voices of Sophia presents a blog. Here, we present the voices of feminist theologians of all stripes: scholars, clergy, students, exiles, missionaries, workers, thinkers, artists, lovers and devotees, from many parts of the world, all children of the God in whose image women are made. .... This blog seeks to glorify God through prayer, work, art, and intellectual reflection. Through articles and ensuing discussion we hope to become an active and thoughtful community.


Got more blogs to recommend?

Please send a note, and we'll see what we can do!


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