The big idea is worth pondering, but it’s presented in such abstract terms that younger readers may struggle to grasp it. .

RANDOM KINDNESS AND SENSELESS ACTS OF BEAUTY

Twenty years after its original issue, this expanded version of Herbert’s pervasive catchphrase gets a fresh go-round with newly colored illustrations.

The titular phrase is embedded in a free-verse argument that goes like this: The world is stuck in a cycle of “senseless violence” because “[a]nything we do randomly / and frequently / Starts to make its own sense.” But the power we have already retaken (did we but realize it) from our “confused” leaders allows us to engage at will in senseless acts that affirm life rather than destroy it, helping to “make new earth grow / beneath our feet.” In a valiant effort to make all of this approachable for children, Oda, inspired by a renowned 12th-century Japanese scroll, offers brushy ink-and-watercolor depictions of cats, frogs and other creatures. They either attack one another with guns and missiles beneath gouts of flame or frolic together in idyllic natural settings. The art was likewise created on a scroll, and in codex format, the transition between images is sometimes unsettlingly abrupt.

The big idea is worth pondering, but it’s presented in such abstract terms that younger readers may struggle to grasp it. . (foreword by Desmond Tutu) (Picture book. 8-10, adult)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61332-015-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: New Village Press

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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PIONEER CHURCH

This fictional history of a church records not just the architectural changes it underwent over the years, but the links and connections with both the congregation that built the church and the culture that spawned it. A close collaboration between Otto and Lloyd (the team behind What Color Is Camouflage?, 1996) has resulted in a story told equally through pictures and text; it depicts how central a church was to the growth of community in early pioneer days. The first church was a log cabin constructed of trees felled from the hill where it was built. Meetings, weddings, births, and deaths were marked under that roof; when the church burns down, a sturdier structure replaces it. The landscape and the culture change around the church; eventually men and women share the pews, and the sermon is in English, instead of German. With the coming of electricity, the church is closed down, and only swallows inhabit its rafters. Several decades later, it is renovated and re-opened by loving restorationists who appreciate its history. In a style remniscent of American primitives, Lloyd records important storytelling details such as the pots and baskets used to carry meals to those building the church. By capturing such particulars, from the archaic sound of people’s names to the creeping suburban sprawl, Otto and Lloyd create a record of the larger picture of transformation in the landscape. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8050-2554-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1999

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An impressive monograph by two scholars well-positioned to examine the impact of religion on secular life.

BIBLE NATION

THE UNITED STATES OF HOBBY LOBBY

Two biblical scholars combine to dig into the actions and words of the billionaire Green family, founders of the Hobby Lobby chain of craft stores.

Moss (New Testament/Univ. of Notre Dame) and Baden (Hebrew Bible/Yale Divinity School), co-authors of Reconceiving Infertility: Biblical Perspectives on Procreation and Childlessness (2015), focus on the lawsuit filed by the Greens that reached the Supreme Court in 2014. The Greens, who have long been major funders of evangelical Christian initiatives, believed they possessed the right as business owners to ignore federal law requiring employers to cover the costs of contraceptives for employees. In a 5-4 decision, the justices sided with the Greens. The authors explain how the family arrived at their view of the prosperity gospel: due to their literal interpretations of the Bible and their generosity to evangelical Christian causes, God rewarded them with widespread business success. Patriarch David Green claimed that the legal battle occurred because the family could not abide abandoning religious beliefs to obey a provision of the federal government’s Affordable Care Act, signed by President Barack Obama. The authors began their deep dive into the Green empire after becoming aware of the vast sums the family was spending to inject religion into school curricula, to collect rare biblical manuscripts, and to open a massive Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., which is currently under construction. Moss and Baden portray the Green family members and their key executives as sincere evangelicals and benevolent employers. Throughout the book, however, they also show the Greens as naïve or disingenuous. To be sure, the family’s proselytizing is not neutral. Rather, they are promoting a historically inaccurate saga of the U.S. as an exclusionary Christian nation meant to marry church and state.

An impressive monograph by two scholars well-positioned to examine the impact of religion on secular life.

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-691-17735-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Princeton Univ.

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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