Perspectives Urban and Personal: New Books with Local Connections

At a time when it seems increasingly difficult to separate the political and the religious and when friends and neighbors are polarized along partisan lines, In the Midst of the City: The Gospel and God’s Politics collects sermons and essays both political and religious by former St. John’s rector Barkley S. Thompson, now dean of Christ Church Cathedral in Houston, Texas.

The book, released by Bright Sky Publishing, views politics, patriotism and national concerns through the lens of theology and faith, including gun control, mass media, the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the shooting at Pulse night club in Orlando, the controversy over Civil War monuments and the devastation Hurricane Harvey wreaked on Houston in 2017.

“[Thompson] is not calling us to accept specific answers on issues,” writes the Honorable Linnet Deily, former U.S. ambassador to the World Trade Organization, and a parishioner at Christ Church, in the foreward, “but rather, to live our lives and choose our political stances as people of God, firmly grounded in God’s call.”

In Our One Word: Creating Spiritual Joy and Depth, Martha Bourlakas (married to our diocese’s Bishop Mark Bourlakas) takes a more intimate look at faith. The book, released by Church Publishing, pulls together in one volume the “One Word” activities, discussions and devotionals that shape her workshops and retreats. Our One Word is Bourlakas’ second book, following a 2016 collection of essays, Love Feast: Together at the Table.

Each chapter focuses on a different word – peace, fear, change, laugh, beauty, movement, name, bread, boundaries, wilderness and others – defining it and exploring it in scripture and other texts, sacred and secular. Each chapter offers questions for discussion and reflection (To what extent should we go to maintain or seek peace? Are there times and places we should let our hearts be boundary-less?), creative activities to explore words and ending reflections and prayers from a number of resources, including Martha’s daughter Sarah: “Imagine yourself like the color red, ablaze with confidence… Take with you its remarkable color, standing out among a world of greys and muted greens.

These books are available through Canterbury Books and Gifts at St. John’s.

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