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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Longwinded though affecting tribute to resilience and solidarity.

HURRICANE SEASON

A COACH, HIS TEAM, AND THEIR TRIUMPH IN THE TIME OF KATRINA

Even a Category 5 hurricane can’t stop a revered coach and his championship high-school football team.

Popular historian Thompson (Driving with the Devil, 2006, etc.) begins in the locker room of New Orleans’ John Curtis Christian School on August 26, 2005. It was the night of the “jamboree” scrimmage that opened the season, and members of the Patriots were hoping to win another state championship for their school. Nationally recognized coach J.T. Curtis, also the school’s headmaster and son of its founder, knew that his hardworking, enthusiastic squad couldn’t compare to last year’s lineup. Many key players had graduated to college ball, and he needed to mentally and physically condition a young, unproven team with efficient, college-level practices consisting of “equal parts Broadway musical and football drills.” The 2005-6 Patriots included an anxious new starting quarterback, a Harvard hopeful, a spiritual heavyweight and a star linebacker whose religion forbade him to play on Friday nights. John Curtis School favored community building and happiness over flashy exteriors, and Coach Curtis reflected those values in his broadminded teaching style and paternal approach to his players’ personal lives. Hurricane Katrina confronted him and his team with the ultimate challenge. Returning to the drowned city, J.T. found the school in miraculously good shape and set out to reunite his squad and get them on the field again. Some players were tempted to join teams in other school districts, and Hurricane Rita tested them once again, but the devoted coach kept on plugging. Thompson deftly profiles a generous selection of players and families torn apart by the disaster and considers the contagious obsession for football shared by participants and fans alike. In a somewhat meandering fashion, he delivers a fully realized interpretative portrait of a coach and a sports organization willing to sacrifice all in the name of football.

Longwinded though affecting tribute to resilience and solidarity.

Pub Date: July 31, 2007

ISBN: 978-1-4165-4070-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2007

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