January 2011


Healing in the Bible

by Fred Gaiser, ’59
What does the Bible say about healing? In Healing in the Bible: Theological Insight for Ministry (Baker Academic, 2010), respected biblical scholar Frederick J. Gaiser offers a close theological reading of biblical texts on health and healing, engaging questions of contemporary theological and pastoral concern. Gaiser considers fifteen key Old and New Testament passages, examining their significance for the church's understanding of healing and its ministry today. He explores issues such as God's role in healing; the relationship between healing and prayer; the place of healing in biblical theology; God's healing and medical science; the healing work of Jesus; healing, salvation, and cure; the relationship between sickness and sin; and healing under the sign of the cross. The final chapter draws together insights from the various chapters and summarizes Gaiser's findings. Healing offers fresh insights for anyone interested in Christian views on healing, from professors and students in Bible, theology, and pastoral ministry courses to thoughtful lay readers and pastors. Gaiser is Professor of Old Testament at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., and editor of Word & World: Theology for Christian Ministry. He has edited several published volumes, including, most recently Rethinking Stewardship: Our Culture, Our Theology, Our Practices.

Siblings and Autism

Edited by Debra L. Cumberland and Bruce E. Mills, with an essay by Lindsey Fisch ’09
What is it like to grow up with a sibling on the autism spectrum? What kind of relationship do such siblings have? How does that relationship change as the siblings get older? Siblings and Autism: Stories Spanning Generations and Cultures is a moving collection of beautifully-written personal accounts by siblings from a variety of backgrounds, and in different circumstances, sharing their experiences of growing up with a brother or sister with autism. Despite their many differences, their stories show that certain things are common to the "sibling experience": the emotional terrain of looking on or being overlooked; the confusion of accommodating resentment, love, and helplessness; and above all the yearning to connect across neurological difference. Siblings and Autism is a thought-provoking book that will appeal to anyone with a personal or professional interest in autism, including parents of siblings of children on the spectrum, teachers, counselors, and psychologists. Deb Cumberland is associate professor of English and director of graduate studies in English at Winona State University in Minnesota. Bruce Mills is professor of English at Kalamazoo College. He is also the author of two critical studies (Poe, Fuller, and the Mesmeric Arts: Transition States in the American Renaissance [2005] and Cultural Reformations: Lydia Maria Child and the Literature of Reform [1994], and one edited volume (Child’s Letters from New-York [1999; originally published in 1843]. Lindsey Fisch earned her B.A. degree in psychology at Kalamazoo. She is now pursuing a degree at Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine. Lindsey originally wrote her essay in Siblings and Autism during an independent study experience at “K” under Mills’ guidance.

Brody's Ghost

by Mark Crilley ’88
Brody hoped it was just a hallucination. But no, the teenaged ghostly girl who’d come face to face with him in the middle of a busy city street was all too real. And now she was back, telling him she needed his help in hunting down a dangerous killer, and that he must undergo training from the spirit of a centuries-old samurai to unlock his hidden supernatural powers. Mark Crilley launches his most original and action-packed saga to date in Brody’s Ghost (Dark Horse Books, 2010), the first in a six-volume series of graphic novels about Brody, a fairly ordinary young man living in a decaying futuristic metropolis, whose life doesn't stay ordinary for very long. Crilley is also the author/illustrator of the ten-volume Akiko series of adventure books for young readers, and the four-volume manga series Miki Falls, which Kirkus reviews called “stellar” and the American Library Association put on its official list of recommended graphic novels. Miki Falls was also optioned for film development by Paramount Pictures and Brad Pitt’s Plan B production company. Crilley lives in Michigan with his wife, Miki, and their two children.

Shoestring Reporter

by Joel Thurtell ’67
Shoestring Reporter (Hardalee Press, 2010) describes how author, award-winning newspaper reporter, and blogger Joel Thurtell became a staff writer at daily newspapers without formally studying journalism. Subtitled “How I got to be a big city reporter without going to J school and how you can do it too!” Shoestring explains how any reasonably intelligent person, with hard work and dedication, can become a paid journalist without formal training. “Shoestring is aimed at people long on brains but short on cash,” says Thurtell, who was a staff writer for 23 years at the Detroit Free Press. He’s also written for the New York Times, Indianapolis Star, South Bend Tribune, Grand Rapids Press and other publications. He has taught journalism, but has never taken a journalism class. “Despite the decline of newspapers, there still is a need for good journalists. The route to becoming one, however, is not straightforward. Even students who take the regular route will find much to aid them in this helpful and provocative how-to. Journalism school profs will find this book to be a solid tool for inspiring would-be journalists to realize that their experiences and their intelligence are all they need—along with good old-fashioned self-discipline—to become working journalists. Thurtell was profiled in the May 2010 BeLight “In Print” section for his book Up the Rouge.

Making the San Fernando Valley: Rural Landscapes, Urban Development, and White Privilege

by Laura R. Barraclough
Barraclough is assistant professor of sociology at Kalamazoo College. Her book, Making the San Fernando Valley: Rural Landscapes, Urban Development, and White Privilege (University of Georgia Press, 2011), is the first book-length scholarly study of the San Fernando Valley—home to one-third of the population of Los Angeles. Barraclough combines ambitious historical sweep with an on-the ground investigation of contemporary life in this iconic western suburb. She is particularly intrigued by the Valley’s many rural elements, such as dirt roads, tack-and-feed stores, horse-keeping districts, citrus groves, and movie ranches. Far from natural or undeveloped spaces, these rural characteristics are, she shows, the result of deliberate urban planning decisions that have shaped the Valley over the course of more than a hundred years. The Valley’s entwined history of urban development and rural preservation has real ramifications today for patterns of racial and class inequality and especially for the evolving meaning of whiteness. Immersing herself in meetings of homeowners’ associations, equestrian organizations, and redistricting committees, Barraclough uncovers the racial biases embedded in rhetoric about “open space” and “western heritage.” The Valley’s urban cowboys enjoy exclusive, semirural landscapes alongside the opportunities afforded by one of the world’s largest cities. Despite this enviable position, they have at their disposal powerful articulations of both white victimization and, with little contradiction, color-blind politics.

Tree Soldier

by Janet Oakley ’68
One mistake can ruin a life. One mistake can transform it. A government forestry camp set deep in the mountainous forests of the Pacific Northwest might not seem the likely place to find redemption, but in Janet Oakley’s Tree Soldier, set in the 1930s in the North Cascades Mountains of Washington State, Park Hardesty hopes for just that. Blaming himself for the fiery accident that caused his brother’s disfigurement and the death of the bootlegging woman he loved, planting trees, building bridges and mentoring tough, homesick New Jersey boys brings him both penitence and the renewal of his own self-worth. When he wins the love of Kate Alford, a local naturalist who envisions joining the Forest Service, which allows only men, he also captures the ire of a camp officer who refuses to let her go. Just when he is ready to seek his brother’s forgiveness, he is falsely accused of a terrible crime. Every aspect of his life he has tried to rebuild is put in jeopardy. In the end, the only way he can defend himself is to tell the truth about his brother, but he risks being kicked out of the camp. Worse, he could lose Kate’s love forever. Based on Oakley’s personal interviews with former Civilian Conservation Corp workers and her mother’s stories about “CCC boys” working along the rugged Salmon River in Idaho, Tree Soldier was a Pacific Northwest Writers Association Literary Contest finalist. Read more about Oakley and Tree Soldier—currently available only as a Kindle book.

Thrift Store Saints

by Jane (Hudson) Knuth ’80
Thrift Store Saints: Meeting Jesus 25¢ at a Time (Loyola Press) is a collection of true stories based on Jane Knuth’s experiences serving the poor at the St. Vincent de Paul thrift store in Kalamazoo. At the outset of the book, Knuth is a reluctant new volunteer at the store, sharing that her middle-class, suburban, church-going background has not prepared her well for this kind of work. By the end of the book, Knuth has undergone a transformation of sorts, and neither she nor we can ever view the poor in the same way again. Knuth’s transformation is rooted in the prevailing message of Thrift Store Saints: When we serve the poor, they end up helping us as much as we help them. Throughout the book readers are introduced to new saints, as Knuth thoughtfully, at times humorously, describes how her encounters with the poorest people led her to the greatest riches of God’s grace. Jane Knuth has been volunteering at the St. Vincent de Paul thrift store in Kalamazoo, for the last 15 years. She is also an eighth-grade math teacher. Jane and her husband, Dean Knuth ’78, live in Portage, Michigan. This is her first book. Read more about Thrift Store Saints and Jane Knuth in her Dec. 2010 interview with Read the Spirit.

Politics of Redemption

by Adam Kotsko, Visiting Assistant Professor of Religion
Recent decades have witnessed an explosion of new perspectives on “atonement theory,” the traditional name for reflections on the meaning of Christ’s work. These new theologies view Christ as a political figure and mobilize social theory to understand the contemporary context and Christ’s meaning for that context. The Politics of Redemption: The Social Logic of Salvation (Continuum, Oct. 2010) demonstrates that pre-modern theologians also understood Christ’s role in a fundamentally social way. The argument proceeds by analyzing the most important and original contributors to the tradition of atonement theory (Irenaeus, Gregory of Nyssa, Anselm, and Abelard). The investigation reveals that they all work within a shared social-relational logic based on the solidarity of all human beings and the irreducible relatedness of humanity and the rest of creation. Having brought this social-relational logic to the surface, the work concludes by sketching out a fresh atonement theory as a way of showing that our understanding of Christ’s work and of its relevance for our life together is enriched by foregrounding the question of how creation, and particularly the human social sphere, is structured. Politics of Redemption is “an indispensable contribution to the thorny theory of atonement,” says Catherine Keller, professor of constructive theology at Drew University. “Hip to the feminist critique, inflected by the postmodern return to political theology, and steeped in the depths and potentialities of the doctrinal tradition, Kotsko’s relational ontology for the doctrine of redemption offers a lucid and erudite resource for a wide spectrum of Christian theology.” Kotsko is also the author of Zizek and Theology, a book about Slovenian philosopher, psychoanalyst, and “academic rock star” Slavoj Zizek, and the pop-culture study Awkwardness.

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