“My dear, let us hope that it isn’t true! But if it is true, let us hope that it doesn’t become widely known!” That’s what the wife of the bishop of Worcester is reputed to have exclaimed 150 years ago on hearing that human beings might be descended from apes.
The bishop’s wife has her modern counterparts. Much of the evangelical church and the scientific community are on the same page: both sides are inclined to dispute or misrepresent the relevance of evolution to human beings.
In Saving Darwin (HarperOne), Eastern Nazarene College physicist Karl Giberson sets out to build a bridge between these two cultures, offering an account of his personal pilgrimage from creationism to an acceptance of evolution. Giberson attempts to mediate between those who read the Genesis creation account literally and scientists who disregard the divine altogether.
Moving from a rehabilitation of Charles Darwin, through the Scopes Monkey and Post-Scopes (evolution) trials, to the birth of religious responses to Darwinian theory and beyond, Giberson offers a helpful historical analysis of creationism, intelligent design, and evolution.
The great observation of his autobiographical journey is that “evolution has become the focal point of a culture war.” One almost needs a scorecard to keep track of the combatants: Dawkins, Dennett, Gould, and Atkins vs. Johnson, Morris, Dembski, Ross, and Behe. The tragedy of these debates is their highly politicized and partisan nature.
With 2009 being the 150th anniversary of the publication of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species (Nov. 24) and the 200th anniversary of his birth (Feb. 12), the creation-evolution debates will be prominent in scientific and religious circles. Giberson, while not addressing in detail the troubling theological questions raised by biological evolution, provides, according to Francis Collins’s foreword, good news for thoughtful Christians wrestling with these origin-of-life issues: finding no conflict in embracing evolution and “seeing this as the means by which God implemented his majestic creation.” Let the debates continue!
reviewed by Ron DeBoer
ServantMatch is an interactive website created by the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA). It allows users to quickly and efficiently find stewardship opportunities. Search by category, subcategory, keyword, and/or geographic location to narrow your search results to a specific giving opportunity, or use a single search option to find a broader range of giving opportunities. For instance, choose from categories such as homelessness, water, or women and search them in combination with places such as Texas, Canada, or Kenya. (www.ecfa.org/ServantMatch.aspx)
by David Rhodes
reviewed by Phil Christman Jr.
Rhodes wrote three of the finest novels of the 1970s before fading from view. Here he resurfaces with a rich, kaleidoscopic story of rural Wisconsin lives, all of them affected by July Montgomery (hero of Rhodes’s 1975 masterpiece Rock Island Line). Like Wendell Berry or Marilynne Robinson, Rhodes narrates the lives of his small-town protagonists with a delicacy and lack of condescension rarely found in literary fiction. But his vision is entirely his own. (Milkweed)
by Nikki Giovanni
reviewed by Sonya VanderVeen Feddema
When former slave Frederick Douglass walked across the floor and greeted newly re-elected president Abraham Lincoln at his inaugural ball, “the journey across the ballroom felt like a journey across time.” Worlds apart because of their different racial origins, abolitionist Lincoln and former slave Douglass formed an unlikely friendship. Bryan Collier’s vibrant collages, showing the similarities and differences between the two men, complement Giovanni’s clear yet subtle narrative, which explores the historic circumstances surrounding their friendship in this picture book. (Henry Holt)
reviewed by Kristy Quist
Lonely, burned-out college professor Walter Vale stumbles into the lives of two undocumented immigrants, Tarek and Zainab. While the immigrants are obviously “visitors,” so is Walter. Since the loss of his wife, Walter has been living in self-imposed exile. Tarek draws Walter out, reintroducing him to the joys of life. Walter also experiences the fear his new friends endure. This slow-moving, thoughtful movie is great for discussion of not only the obvious immigration question, but also, perhaps more profitably, the meaning of hospitality. PG-13 for language. (Anchor Bay)
reviewed by Ron VandenBurg
Teens, do you want to tell the world about your parents, your school, or a crush? Do you want to read poetry and short stories and see art by other teens like you? Teenink.com and its print magazine of the same name publish essays, short stories, reviews, interviews, poetry, art, and photography. Having published the work of more than 25,000 teens since 1989, Teen Ink is a great platform that gives teens a creative voice and an audience to read their work.
by John Palfrey and Urs Gasser
reviewed by Robert N. Hosack
In this practical primer, attorney academics Palfrey and Gasser explore the brave new world of “Digital Natives” (those born after 1980) vs. the rest of us “Digital Immigrants.” The book traces the undeniable lifestyle migration to the digital frontier—from being consumers to creators of information—beginning “a long conversation about the future opportunities and challenges associated with the Internet as a social space.” Connections made between youth culture, adult fears, technology, and public policy will benefit parents, educators, and youth workers. (Basic Books)
Gifted and Talented: Gifted Hands, the movie version of Dr. Ben Carson’s road from a tough inner-city childhood to becoming a pediatric neurosurgeon, hits TNT this month.Big Questions: Who Made the Moon? is author Sigmund Brouwer’s answer to his young daughters’ questions about creation—a helpful book for any parents contemplating their child’s exploration of science and faith. (Thomas Nelson)They’re Back: Popular band The Fray releases its second album this month. Their previous album spawned hits like “How to Save a Life,” played on both secular and Christian radio. (Sony)