Shuck and Jive

Sunday, October 12, 2008

New Titles from Polebridge

Here are some ideas for Christmas. Polebridge Press is releasing some new titles this Fall. Here is an on-line catalogue.

What happens to faith when the creeds and confessions can no longer be squared with historical and empirical evidence? Most critical scholars have wrestled with this question. Some have found ways to reconcile their personal religious belief with the scholarship they practice. Others have chosen to reconstruct their view of religious meaning in light of what they have learned.

But most have tended not to share those views in a public forum. And that brings up a second question: at what point does the discrepancy between what I know, or think I know, and what I am willing to say publicly become so acute that my personal integrity is at stake? Being honest about what one thinks has always mattered in critical scholarship. In the pages of When Faith Meets Reason, thirteen scholars take up the challenge to speak candidly about how they negotiate the conflicting claims of faith and reason, in hopes that their journeys will inspire others to engage in their own search for meaning.

Don Cupitt believes that a new and truly global religious consciousness has been quietly easing itself in around the world. It does not need any visible organization and does not make any non-rational doctrinal claims. It is the religion of life—a secular, purely this-worldly, and radically-democratic affirmation of ordinary life.

Where prescientific ages saw Heaven, he says, we see only sky. We have given up belief in a supernatural world, and we have felt compelled to break with the received ecclesiastical form of Christianity. But the Christian spirit of critical thinking, of systematic self-criticism and perpetual reform, has spread around the whole world in modern science, technology, critical history, and liberal democracy. In
Above Us Only Sky, in 27 brief slogans, he presents a systematic theology of this religion of ordinary life, setting it against its philosophical background, its spirituality and its relation to other faiths. It is, he says, the legacy and the long-awaited fulfilment of Christianity.

How does one speak about the really big questions of our time—waging war, making ends meet, and preserving the planet? What does it mean to think ethically in a world marked by fear of terror, economic anxiety and ecological meltdown? Can revisiting the moral wisdom of the
historical Jesus or learning about the moral perspectives of our global neighbors help us address our fears?

Ethics in the Global Village, Jack Hill connects the dots between what Jesus said long ago and what we experience today in a radically new way by linking the voice of Jesus to unheard voices of contemporary, largely marginalized, social and political movements. He draws on his firsthand experiences living overseas to introduce readers to the moral thinking of Pacific islanders, Jamaican Rastafarians and a new generation of South Africans. If Americans are to live the good life in the global village, he argues, we need to be in creative dialogue with neighbors overseas, and that dialogue will enable us to experience our own American moral heritage, as well as the Jesus tradition, in fresh ways.

How does one begin the search for the historical Jesus? What are the rules or criteria for sorting through the evidence? These are the most important questions in the quest of the historical Jesus, and their answers are not obvious. In Finding the Historical Jesus, six veterans of the Jesus Seminar help readers negotiate this thicket. For readers looking to discover who Jesus was, this is where the quest begins.

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