Jan 31, 2013

'You have to allow yourself to be imperfect'

Tosca Lee, a noted Christian fiction author, gives a short sermon on creativity:

Jan 29, 2013

'I’m gonna baptize you in fire'

Well the future for me is already a thing of the past
You were my first love and you will be my last 
Papa gone mad, mamma, she’s feeling sad
I’m gonna baptize you in fire so you can sin no more
I’m gonna establish my rule through civil war
Gonna make you see just how loyal and true a man can be
-- Bob Dylan, in "Bye and Bye," on Love and Theft, narrating from the point of view of a God outside of time, with promises of providential purposes and a holiness-style sanctification for the chosen.

Alternatively, this could be Dylan riffing on a Faulkner novel, maybe Absalom, Absalom! Not that would be entirely different.

Jan 26, 2013

I is for infidel

The Gospel of Slavery: A Primer of Freedom, written by a Unitarian minister and published in Philadelphia in 1864. More information at Slate's new history blog, The Vault.

This argument, interestingly, that faith was undermined by contorted arguments about slavery, was often made by the other side, by those supporting the positive good of the institution of slavery. Christian abolitionists were regularly condemned for not reading the Bible literally, and betraying true, orthodox Christianity in their (radical) attempts to abolish slavery. One standard argument, from the South, was that the pro-slavery forces were actually preserving Christianity against the corruptions of those who had been influenced by rationalists, atheists, and so on.

It was the case, after all, that "Revivals of religion and revivals of the slave-trade go hand in hand together."

The prominent presence of non-traditional Christians and even non-Christians, such as this Unitarian Universalist, in the anti-slavery coalition was regularly cited as evidence that abolitionism couldn't really be Christian.

As one Confederate famously argued, the armed defense of slavery was a defense against the evils of revolutionary atheism:
For 'Liberty Equality, Fraternity,' we have deliberately substituted Slavery, Subordination and Government. Those social and political problems which rack and torture modern society we have undertaken to solve for ourselves, in our own way, and upon our own principles. That among equals equality is right;' among those who are naturally unequal, equality is chaos; that there are slave races born to serve, master races born to govern. Such are the fundamental principles which we inherit from the ancient world, which we lifted up in the face of perverse generation that has forgotten the wisdom of its fathers: by those principles we live and in their defence we have shown ourselves ready to die. Reverently we feel that our Confederacy is a God sent missionary to the nations, with great truths to preach.
It's exactly in this context that Frederick Douglass argued that there were two types of Christianity in America, the severity of the split between them being such that, as historian Mark Noll argues, the American Civil War actually began within the internal divisions of American Christianity.

Jan 24, 2013

Jan 23, 2013

Getting clearer on David Foster Wallace's religious experiments

The shroud around David Foster Wallace's engagements with religion has lifted a bit, thanks to the efforts of an emeritus English professor at Goshen College.

In August, I wrote that "no one in the position to find out more about [Wallace's] religious beliefs or practices seems to have been interested in doing so." Ervin Beck was in a position to find out more about Wallace's reported interaction with a Mennonite church during his time in Normal, Ill., and has now done so, in a piece called "David Foster Wallace Among the Mennonites."

Several articles on Wallace from that time say that he was attending a Mennonite church, marking that experience as a part of the important ethical turn in Wallace's writing, as he became increasingly interested in and focused on the ways in which fiction, and in particular experimental fiction, could serve the function of a kind of "technology of the self," which, as Michel Foucault wrote, "permit individuals to effect by their own means or with the help of others a certain number of operations on their own bodies and souls, thoughts, conduct, and way of being, so as to transform I themselves in order to attain a certain state of happiness, purity, wisdom, perfection, or immortality." The extent of Wallace's connection to a church in Normal was somewhat cryptic, though. In one version he attended regularly as part of his acclimation to the Midwest. In another, he was there as research. In a third, he was seriously considering joining and becoming a Mennonite.

Most of this seems to have stemmed from a misrepresentation, which Wallace either perpetuated or allowed.

Jan 22, 2013

The "nones" of 87 years ago

Most of the debates about the "nones" have had to do with interpretation. The question is, who are they? The question is, what does it mean?

A question that hasn't been so prominently raised is whether this new thing is really so new.

Charles Richter, of (Ir)religion in America, has turned up some evidence it's not. From the University of Illinois student newspaper in 1926, a letter from a student questioning the interpretations of a survey of university students' religious affiliations. According to the letter, only one student out of more than 10,000 identified as an atheist, but there were more than a few that were religiously unaffiliated.

The letter writer, who signs A.B.C, argues:
Shall we say that only one is an atheist and the rest are religious, but merely indifferent to church attendance, or shall we take into consideration the deadliness of Christian intolerance and admit that some of the 1,828 did not register as atheists for fear of ostracism? I am an atheist, but when I registered I did not admit that fact because I knew the registers would be made public, and some enthusiastic religionist might bring the information to the attention of the Great Christian Majority, to my discomfort.
There's a familiarity of this argument -- atheists need to "come out," and so on. This is a very contemporary debate, happening 87 years ago. While clearly the ranks of the unaffiliated have swelled since the days when less than two percent of university students said they didn't belong to any specific religion, the category of those who don't fit comfortably into a religious demographics survey, it turns out, is not new.

It's just that they didn't have a clever name for it in 1926.

'This right of privacy . . . is broad enough to encompass a woman's decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy'

Roe vs. Wade, the federal case that legalized abortion, thus determining one critical line of political battle and cultural division for generations to come, was handed down by the Supreme Court 40 years ago today.

The decision, writing by Justice Harry Blackmun, focused on the question of whether privacy was a right guaranteed by the constitution. That's not normally the core of the debate as it's debated day to day in American culture, but that was the central question of the legal issue.

A key excerpt of the decision, on the matter of a constitutional right to privacy:

Jan 21, 2013

Religion at the inauguration

God is all over inauguration
Obama family goes to church
Sermon uses Obama campaign theme, 'Forward'
Commentary: Obama's inauguration Bibles
Historic Bibles used in ceremonies 
The tradition of inaugural prayer
Presidential oaths, from Washington to Obama
Adding "So help me God" to the Constitution:
... there was a myth that the tradition of adding God to the oath began with George Washington. It didn’t, say experts at the Library of Congress, the U.S. Senate Historical Office and the first president’s home, Mount Vernon. Although the phrase was used in federal courtrooms since 1789, the first proof it was used in a presidential oath of office came with Chester Arthur’s inauguration in September 1881.
Newdow v. Roberts, the 2008 lawsuit over "So help me God"
Court declines to hear case over "So help me God"
Why doesn't every president use the Lincoln Bible? (And what did John Adams swear on instead of a Bible?)
Biden used his family Bible for today's ceremony, a 5-inch-thick tome featuring a Celtic cross on the cover. It has been in the Biden family since 1893. He used it each time he was sworn in as a senator and when he was sworn in as vice president in 2009. His son Beau used it when he was sworn in as Delaware's attorney general.
The Biden family Bible, in use
Special piece of art Biden had hung for inauguration
Official & unofficial inauguration prayers
Evangelical pastor's 90s sermon stirs controversy after inauguration invitation
Unpacking the Giglio imbroglio
Commentary: Stop politicizing inaugural prayers
Commentary: Pastor's dis-invitation to inauguration is new moral McCarthyism
Commentary: A wry congratulations to the LGBT community
Commentary: I don't care who prays at the inauguration
Discussing the Giglio controversy & its wider implications
Political/religious tensions in prayer invitations
Farewell, Louie Giglio?
Does Giglio controversy mean the end of publican role for evangelicals?
Obama may have disagreed with how Giglio controversy was handled
Benedictions not offered
When was the last time a rabbi prayed at a presidential inauguration?
1,500 to pray for president, government, military, media & business. Also: Great Awakening.
Methodist pastor Adam Hamilton to preach at inauguration
Widow of civil right's icon to deliver invocation
Episcopal priest to close inauguration
Commentary: Obama should invoke Puritan vision of 'City on a Hill'
Commentary: Civil religion holds country to higher moral standard
Inauguration is 'worship of the nation'
Inaugurations & America's 'civil religion':
President Obama’s [2009] inaugural address contains a muted expression of the American civil religion that Robert Bellah first recognized in Kennedy’s speech of 1961. The reference to God as the transcendent source of values, the activist faith, the trust in God’s providence and grace, notions of sacrifice and rebirth, the appeal to sacred events and heroes of the past (recall, too, Obama’s use of Lincoln’s Bible during the swearing-in ceremony), are all enduring aspects of this tradition, and Obama placed special emphasis on the civil republican dimension 
Yet, the God that Obama appeals to feels more remote, less directly involved in history than in earlier inaugural addresses. Remarkable, too, is Obama’s stress on the nation’s shortcomings, his mention of religious traditions beyond the so-called “Judeo-Christian” faiths, his outreach to Muslims and inclusion of non-believers. The latter represents a real and significant innovation ....
Myrlie Evers-Williams delivers inaugural invocation 
The text of Obama's inaugural address
Cornel West's critique of Obama's use of Martin Luther King Jr.'s Bible
Pastor Mark Driscoll's critique of Obama's use of the Bible
Richard Blanco's poem, "One Day"
Richard Blanco reading
Kelly Clarkson performs "My Country Tis of Thee"
Rev. Luis Leon delivers benediction
The text of Leon's benediction

Update 2:
Obama swears on two Bibles

Some facts about women who have had abortions. Tomorrow marks the 40th anniversary of the supreme court decision that legalized abortion in the United States. 

Jan 18, 2013

Understanding the "nones" as a demographic dissent

Some people are very uncomfortable with the category of race. Whether for personal, biographical reasons, they just feel like they don't fit any particular category, or for political or philosophical reasons, they get the US census at the beginning of every decade and balk at the question, What is this person's race?

This reticence, interestingly, does not show up in the final results. The final census doesn't list some small percentage of people as not having a race or as not having answered the question. This is because, as NPR recently reported:
When respondents don't choose a race, the Census Bureau assigns them one, based on the racial makeup of their neighborhood, among other factors. The method leads to a less accurate count.
A similar phenomena has happened with the new studies of religious demographics, where an increasing number of people have refused to answer the question, the now notorious "nones." Analysts have tried to interpret this response in various ways. The fundamental mistake that has been made, as I have argued, is to treat the people who answer the religious affiliation question this way as a unified group of people.

The problem may go deeper than that, though.

Jan 16, 2013

Michele Bachmann's post-eleciton disasters

Michele Bachmann's ill-fated campaign for the GOP presidential nomination ended over a year ago, after a brutal loss in the Iowa Caucuses. Bachmann, who is now returning to Congress for her another term, had serious religious right bona fides, having been politicized by Francis Schaeffer in 1977, but couldn't rally the Republican faithful and couldn't manage the necessary transformation into a plausible national candidate.

Her campaign went from disaster to disaster.

Her campaign is still going from disaster to disaster, long after it's over.

A year after the campaign, Peter Waldron, the Bachmann staffer in charge of evangelical outreach is now saying the congresswoman is refusing to pay staffers for work they did. It's a relatively small amount of money. Bachmann ended her presidential campaign with more than $2 million in her war chest and reportedly raised more money in her congressional campaign than any other candidate, but is, according to the disgruntled ex-staffer, refusing to pay out on less than $5,000 of outstanding bills. Which seems like strange behavior.

Or, as Bachmann's one-time head of Christian outreach put it: "It is sobering to think that a Christian member of Congress would betray her testimony to the Lord and the public by withholding earned wages from deserving staff."

The official response has been accusations that Waldron is lying. Which he may be, though that only calls into question the Bachmann campaigns competency in another way. This man, after all, has a history that would have given another political team pause before making him a key part of its strategy.

There's been some speculation that this conflict stems from a separate post-campaign disaster, the ongoing investigation into the alleged theft of a list of homeschooler's e-mails. According to the Star Tribune, the Bachmann campaign eventually paid the homeschool group $2,000 for using or misusing the list, but the campaign is also being sued by the individual they got the list from and the criminal investigation into how that happened is still open.

Whether that's the source of the conflict or not, the public fight between Waldron and the Bachmann loyalists has now escalated, with the ex-staffer now making colorful accusations about unusual things going on in the campaign and the extreme extent to which Bachmann let her staff control her. Things were so bad, according to Waldron, that avid supporters didn't recognize the Bachmann they thought they knew, and "More than one staffer was grateful to God that she didn't win the nomination."

This isn't reliable information, of course, but there is a clear pattern of very bad judgment from this Republican leader of the religious right. Whether one believes the ex-staffer or thinks he's crazy or both, the conclusion would be the same: Bachmann lacks the ability to surround herself with reasonable, reliable people. A good number of her history of crises can be attributed directly to this fact, and she'll likely continue, despite her success at fundraising and winning the vote of her Minnesota district, careening from disaster to disaster.

Her fiercest supporters and critics hold that this is because of her strong ideological positions. It seems possible, though, that it's just incompetance.

Jan 12, 2013

The religious practices of corporate alter egos

Are businesses, legally speaking, just the alter-egos of their owners?

The absolute clearest, most on-point exploration of the issues actually at stake in the religious liberty court cases involving for-profit business and the new health care rules is this piece by Howard M. Friedman, a former law professor and the blogger at Religion Clause. He raises this question, looking at one way the argument is being made for the religious freedoms of corporations.

Friedman notes that, in addition to questions about corporate personhood and the constitutional guarantees about exercise of religion, there are some curious quandaries about corporate law being brought up by these cases, specifically in the ways owners appear to be undermining the sorts of legal distinctions intended to protect corporate owners.

Friedman writes:
In the Affordable Care Act cases, some courts have avoided the difficult issue of whether a business has religious conscience rights by instead concluding that the business is so closely identified with its owners that it may assert the owners’ religious objections as its own.

This idea—that a corporation and its owners should be treated as the same person—is a well-known concept in corporate law, commonly referred to it as “piercing the corporate veil.” Most of the time, lawyers warn their corporate clients to do everything possible to avoid this “piercing,” since the doctrine is usually invoked when creditors of a business are making claims against the personal assets of a company’s shareholders, seeking to recoup their losses from an insolvent business by going after its owners. There is a vast amount of case law on when a court should allow “piercing the corporate veil” to reach shareholders’ personal assets, often focusing on abuse of the corporate form, misleading of creditors, or lack of corporate formalities. Business lawyers look to whether the corporation is the mere alter ego of its owners and routinely advise their corporate clients to emphasize the corporation’s separate existence from its owners.

However, the pleadings filed in many of the contraceptive mandate challenges purposely blur this line, collapsing the beliefs of the business with its owners, inviting “piercing.”
The distinction between an owner or a shareholder and the corporation itself, as Friedman notes, is an important legal underpinning of modern capitalism. What happens to these companies if they succeed in obliterating that distinction remains to be seen, but it could be serious.

The entire piece is well worth reading:  My Business, Myself: Piercing the Corporate Veil

Jan 11, 2013

Could charity replace welfare?

Here's something you can learn in the line at the welfare office in Clayton County, Ga.: People generally don't ask for help until they really need help. Until the heat is shut off, or the rent is very late, or there's no more food. Until there are no more ketchup packets and saltine crackers in the cupboard. Until their children are very hungry.

And by then it's too late.

As a reporter for several years on the south side of metro Atlanta, I spent some time exploring the area's social services, and the public responses to the problem of poverty. One of the things I found was this specific bureaucratic problem of lag time between the application for and approval of government assistance. The approval process takes time. Time that those who ask for help don't have.

No one applies for help they need in 30 days.

What happens is this: They meet the case worker. They fill out the paperwork. They provide information and sign at the x, and they tell the caseworker what their situation is. Then, at some point, awkwardly, normally, they clear their throat and say, "so ...."

"So ... how soon could this ...?"

And then the government worker says, "When is the last time you ate?" Or, "Do you have food to feed your kids tonight?"

And they don't. They never do: that's why they're asking for help.

Then the case workers lead the people down the hall to what was a break room, but is now a food bank. The get out boxes and bags and they fill them with good things to eat. They send them home with soup and bread, potatoes and canned vegetables and mac & cheese. There is no application process for this. You only have to go and wait in line, meet with the case worker, say that you're hungry and don't know how you'll feed your kids, and you will get food. While you wait for the government to do something, you will be fed. And it's privately funded food.

The food bank in the welfare office in Clayton County, Ga. is actually a private charity. The food isn't paid for by government of any level, but actually is put there by a dozen businesses and services organizations, each of which commit to stocking the food bank for one month a year. It's given away by the social workers who work for the government, but provided by private charity.

This is the kind of charity that many conservatives, particularly Christians, believe is better than welfare programs and should replace welfare programs.

There are very strong teachings in the New Testament about charity and caring for the poor, and those Christians who object to public assistance programs that help the poor don't just ignore those teaching, despite what some critics say. They believe it's very important to assist those who need assistance, but also that how that's done is critical. They argue, on both practical and theoretical grounds, that the state should not be the entity doing this work that needs to be done. Charity in itself is good, but the government ruins that, and makes things worse.

I wonder, though, practically speaking, if charity could replace welfare.

Purely as a pragmatic issue, would it be possible? Could private charities move beyond assistance, beyond helping at the points where the system of government assistance is breaking down, replacing government with benevolent associations as religious conservatives say would be preferable. If given the chance, could and would people of good will take care of the poor voluntarily, giving enough money to private organizations to functionally replace the social safety nets now in place?

Jan 10, 2013

J. Gresham Machen's signs of the times

What will be the end of that European civilization, of which I had a survey from my mountain vantage ground—of that European civilization and its daughter in America? What does the future hold in store? Will Luther prove to have lived in vain? Will all the dreams of liberty issue into some vast industrial machine? Will even nature be reduced to standard, as in our country the sweetness of the woods and hills is being destroyed, as I have seen them destroyed in Maine, by the uniformities and artificialities and officialdom of our national parks? Will the so-called 'Child Labor Amendment' and other similar measures be adopted, to the destruction of all the decencies and privacies of the home? Will some dreadful second law of thermodynamics apply in the spiritual as in the material realm? Will all things in church and state be reduced to one dead level, coming at last to an equilibrium in which all liberty and all high aspirations will be gone? Will that be the end of all humanity's hopes? I can see no escape from that conclusion in the signs of the times; too inexorable seems to me to be the march of events. No, I can see only one alternative. The alternative is that there is a God -- a God who in His own good time will bring forward great men again to do His will, great men to resist the tyranny of experts and lead humanity out again into the realms of light and freedom, great men, above all, who will be messengers of His grace. There is, far above any earthly mountain peak of vision, a God high and lifted up who, though He is infinitely exalted, yet cares for His children among men.
-- J. Gresham Machen, Mountains and Why We Love Them, 1933.

Jan 7, 2013

Old rock barn

The faiths of Congress

From the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life:
The new, 113th Congress includes the first Buddhist to serve in the Senate, the first Hindu to serve in either chamber and the first member of Congress to describe her religion as “none,” continuing a gradual increase in religious diversity that mirrors trends in the country as a whole. While Congress remains majority Protestant, the institution is far less so today than it was 50 years ago, when nearly three-quarters of the members belonged to Protestant denominations.

Jan 6, 2013

Beer and church

There's something about beer and church.

The combination seems incongruous, especially when the church in question is a conservative one, evangelical, the sort of church that might well talk about sin, might well put an emphasis on condemning some individual behavior such as drinking as sin. It seems like it must be something new, combining beer and church. It's become something of a regular feature in major newspapers, the gosh-gee story of a church in a bar.

In the New York Times, for example, over the New Years holiday, there was a piece on Steve Gilbertson, 52, who "preaches under a mesquite tree, in the shadow of a saloon best known for the quality of its country-western bands and the fervor of its regulars’ allegiance to the Green Bay Packers."

There, "Mr. Gilbertson’s Sunday services end just as the saloon opens at 10 a.m. He said he does not judge or mind if his congregants stick around for a drink, as some of them might do."

Is it really that strange, though? The logic of the church in the bar isn't a 20th century invention; it's as old as evangelicalism.

Jan 4, 2013

The economics of Left Behind, the movie, then and now

Left Behind, the movie, was either a commercial success or a commercial failure, depending on how you look at it. Depending on your expectations, and your understanding of the market for explicitly evangelical films.

The new version of the movie -- planned for release at the end of 2013, starring Nicolas Cage -- may or may not succeed in theaters. The way it's being produced, though, demonstrates how significantly the market has changed in in the last 12 years.

The original Left Behind was the most financial successful independent film of 2001, bringing in more than $2 million on its opening weekend in February of that year. It ultimately grossed $4.2 million, domestically.

An opening of $2 million can be horrible. Formula 51, also released in 2001, starring Samuel L. Jackson and Meatloaf (!), took in about $2 million on its opening weekend, and was considered a bomb, though investors made their money back and a bit of a profit on video rentals and foreign sales. Bubble Boy, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, took in $2 million on the opening weekend, ultimately grossed more than $5 million, and was also considered a commercial failure.

Nevertheless, Left Behind did a lot better than a lot of other films. Of the 356 films from that year ranked by Box Office Mojo according to commercial success, Left Behind came in at 157.

That isn't bad, but calling it a commercial success certainly evidences a limited vision. It's a success for an alternative movie, available only to a certain sub-market, a film blocked out of the mainstream distribution networks, advertised mainly through Sunday schools and prayer groups.

Jan 3, 2013

What 'religious liberty' means

The lower courts considering religious objections to the new health care law have -- up to this point -- reached varying and sometimes conflicting conclusions. The legal precedents in these cases about corporatations' religious practices aren't particularly clear, it seems. The unanswered questions are bound to eventually go to the Supreme Court.

A bit of a consensus is emerging, though -- a coherent argument -- among the federal courts that have rejected the religious objections to the Obama administration's mandate that employee health insurance include coverage of birth control. The courts have sidestepped the question of whether corporations have religion, though noting that that's the fundamental issue, but have made a pair of critical arguments about what "religious liberty" means.

Or, more precisely, what religious liberty doesn't mean.

This can be seen in two rulings, as Religion Clause points out.

Judges Carol E. Jackson and Sarah Evans Barker both have argued that "religious liberty" can't mean requiring employees, as a condition of their employment, to adhere to owners' religious beliefs.

Jan 2, 2013

When Hobby Lobby decided it was opposed to providing birth control

As of today, the arts and crafts store Hobby Lobby, Inc., owes the federal government as much as $2.6 million. Tomorrow that may well be up to $3.9, and the day after tomorrow $5.2.

The company has committed to not paying these fines, claiming that they are being levied because the company refuses to compromise its religious beliefs about the evil of "abortion-causing" birth control.

As The Daily Oklahoman reports, the,
Oklahoma City-based Hobby Lobby will defy a federal law that requires employee health care plans to provide insurance coverage for types of contraception that the firm's owners consider to be “abortion-causing drugs and devices,” an attorney for the company said Thursday.

With Wednesday's rejection of an emergency stay of that federal health care law by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Hobby Lobby and sister company Mardel could be subject to fines of up to $1.3 million a day beginning Tuesday.

'They're not going to comply with the mandate,' said Kyle Duncan, general counsel of The Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty, which is representing the company. 'They're not going to offer coverage for abortion-inducing drugs in the insurance plan.'
This stand will likely mean the corporation is hailed as modern day martyrs by some Christian conservatives. They might receive the same show of support that the fast food restaurant Chik-fil-A got when the the company's Chief Operating Officer made statements opposing same-sex marriage. This action -- refusing to provide employee health insurance that includes coverage of certain sorts of birth control, and refusing to pay the fine for breaking the law -- will be understood and interpreted as a stand for the robustness of religious liberty.

It turns out, though, that the verb tense of the lawyer's defiant claim,  "They're not going to offer coverage for abortion-inducing drugs in the insurance plan," is pretty important. They're not "going to," in the future.

But they did, in the past.

The political act of good history

History is the raw material for nationalist or ethnic or fundamentalist ideologies, as poppies are the raw material for heroin addition. The past is an essential element, perhaps the essential element, in these ideologies. If there is no suitable past, it can always be invented. Indeed, in the nature of things there is usually no entirely suitable past, because the phenomenon these ideologies claim to justify is not ancient or eternal but historically novel .... 
In this situation historians find themselves in the unexpected role of political actors. I used to think that the profession of history, unlike that of say, nuclear physics, could at least do no harm. Now I know it can. Our studies can turn into bomb factories like the workshops in which the IRA has learned to transform chemical fertilizer into an explosive. This state of affairs affects us in two ways. We have a responsibility to historical facts in general, and for criticizing the politico-ideological abuse of history in particular. 

-- Eric Hobsbawm

Jan 1, 2013

Books of 2012

1 The Essential Alan Watts, by Alan Watts
2 Grandfather, by Tom Brown, Jr
3 The Visitation, by Frank Peretti
4 They Speak with Other Tongues, by John L. Sherrill
5 The Last Battle, by C.S. Lewis
6 After Theory, by Terry Eagleton
7 Comfort and Joy: A Study of the Heidelberg Catechism, by Andrew Kuyvenhouen
8 Living the Heidelberg: The Heidelberg Catechism and the Moral Life, by Allen Verhey
9 Dutch Calvinism in Modern America, by James D. Bratt
10 Green River Killer, by Jeff Jensen & Jonathan Case
11 The Coming of the Book: The Impact of Printing, 1450-1800, by Lucien Febvre & Henri-Jean Maritan
12 Wittgenstein's Mistress, by David Markson
13 Letters to a Young Calvinist: An Invitation to the Reformed Tradition, by James K.A. Smith
14 A History of the Evangelical and Reformed Church, by David Dunn et al.
15 Divided by a Common Heritage, by Corwin Smith et al.

Bringing in 2013