A spirited argument that challenges what the author sees as the hypocrisies of contemporary American Christian faith.

For Goodness' Sake

PRINCIPLES OF AN ECOTHEOLOGY

Cuttino introduces a new, ecologically conscious Christianity in this theological work.

Both the planet and Christianity are in a precarious state in the 21st century, according to the author: nature is in flux due to human-generated climate change and unsustainable resource-gathering practices, and he says that fundamentalist American Christians are, by and large, failing to address them. In the face of scientific and economic progressivism, many Christian churches, he says, have fallen into reactionary stances that defy logic and the teachings of their religion. Cuttino laments the rise of this conservative, human-centered Christianity and calls for a return to what he believes is an older one: a comprehensive “ecotheology,” centered on the primacy of the system (societal and ecological) over the primacy of the individual. The brief volume offers comprehensive coverage of Cuttino’s targets, from problematic trends in contemporary Christianity, to the limits of capitalism (“Capitalism is not an unqualified Good”), to the parameters of good and evil (“Is America good?”), including textual support from the Bible. He also provides a basic outline for implementing ecotheology in the real world, and its implications for institutions as varied as higher education, the media, and charities. Cuttino’s points are well-argued, although readers’ faith will likely determine how compelling they find them. The author seems to have aimed this book mainly at a nonbelieving readership, so it’s not nearly as devout as one might expect—it gives ecology much greater weight than theology. This could perhaps limit its effect: Christian readers may not see enough of Christ in its pages, while secular readers will likely already agree with many of Cuttino’s assertions, but have no interest in his religious beliefs. The author is at his most convincing when he’s unmasking the inherent failures of our institutions. However, readers may be less engrossed when he begins to offer his own alternatives. Even so, his points are solid, his concern is real, and the world he imagines sounds, in many ways, preferable to our current one.

A spirited argument that challenges what the author sees as the hypocrisies of contemporary American Christian faith. 

Pub Date: April 2, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4834-1837-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Lulu

Review Posted Online: Aug. 13, 2015

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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