Books Reviewed and Recommended

Reading, Etc.

Healthy Leadership for Thriving Organizations: Creating Contexts Where People Flourish


Here Justin A. Irving aims to offer “wisdom for organizational leaders” so they can lead thriving organizations — thriving in the fullest sense. The book’s specific discussions arise from Irving’s survey of 200 “executive leaders” about their priorities and challenges, though these categories end up being the usual suspects. Before those treatments, comes Irving’s framing of thriving organizations, which itself is worth the cost of the book. The second chapter, “A Vision for Human and Organizational Flourishing,” expands the human-flourishing conversation to organizations, which he sees not just as instruments of human flourishing, but agents themselves. Against stacks of leadership books, this one does seem new, in aim if not in form, placing organizational life into the scheme of God’s design for humanity.


The Vaster Wilds: A Novel


In the landscape of literary fiction, you trek a difficult path to find an author more preoccupied with God and with creativity than Lauren Groff. Debatably, you could say the question of vocation forms the chief question in Groff’s work. This new novel builds on this theme in subtle, if a touch dull, ways. Set in 17th-century colonial America, Groff’s tale follows a teen girl who escapes a starving colony to find her way through untamed country to whatever hopeful place caused people to leave the tame, old world for the new. That sparse plot line represents just about the whole. The textures are unmistakably Groff, and readers will relish her sentences and the details they convey. But those looking for more story may be disappointed.


The God of Monkey Science: People of Faith in a Modern Scientific World


In her first book, science teacher Janet Kellogg Ray chronicles how she came to reconcile evangelical Christianity and evolutionary science. In her new book, Ray — a lifelong evangelical herself — says she understood the tensions (and subcultures) built around Christians and evolution, including potentially competing origin stories. But the pandemic world reintroduced her to antagonistic postures among some evangelicals toward scientific issues with no apparent link to evolution. Her question in The God of Monkey Science is why. She traces the religio-political landscapes that she suggests shape this posture. No doubt, many readers will run into disagreements throughout this book, but Ray’s lively, often funny, jaunt is worth a look.


Faith in Markets: Christian Capitalism in the Early American Republic


The story of American Christianity and American capitalism, contends Joseph P. Slaughter in this new book, tells an entire history of religious engagement in American life and illustrates the lasting question of how Christians interact with the culture around them. Then and now, Christians generally lean into one of three categories — separation, fight/reform, or engage/redeem — of engagement. Slaughter sees these same models embodied in the “Christian Business Enterprises” of the early American period. This creates layers, because even though “we can glimpse the ways that businesses ‘infused with religion’ were at the very center of this dynamic period of American history,” those businesses represent varied and contrasting approaches that illuminate the history of the nation itself.


May we recommend

Women, Work, and Calling: Step into Your Place in God’s World


Women today enjoy historically unprecedented professional opportunities, yet, according to Joanna Meyer, women’s opportunities for discipleship in the contemporary church lags. This book charts a way to fix that. 

The Spiritual Art of Business: Connecting the Daily with the Divine


Of all the spiritual disciplines you could name, going to work on Monday probably isn’t top of mind. In this super readable book, Barry Rowan argues that it should be.

The Water and the Blood: How the Sacraments Shape Christian Identity


In a moment overwhelmed by loss of identity, “one of the most powerful tools for helping us understand ourselves in relation to Christ is the sacraments,” writes Kevin P. Emmert. God uses water, bread, and wine to unite his people to his son.

African Heroes: Discovering Our Christian Heritage


A huge part of the Christian story — ancient and current — takes place in Africa. This little book brings that story, rich with theologians and martyrs of the faith, to kids in the English-speaking world.

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