Canadian Mennonite
Volume 7, number 21
November 3, 2003

Weird and wonderful titles

Compiling the Spring and Fall lists of books and resources is always a fascinating exercise. While wading through publishers’ catalogues, reviews in journals and magazines, and files of book notes collected over the months, one invariably comes across tantalizing titles and unexpected treasures.

One also finds new things one would prefer not to see. Following are some of the more weird titles in the religious landscape this season:

• Revolve is a New Testament in fashion-magazine format for teenage girls (Thomas Nelson Publishers). This version offers images of stylish, beautiful young women, with quizzes and lists of celebrity birthdays, along with a “Guys speak out” column on how girls should dress and behave. (Update on St. Paul?) The publisher found that “the number one reason teens don’t read the Bible is that it is ‘too big and freaky looking.’ This fashion-magazine format is the perfect solution.” The text is the New Century Version created in 1978 as an easy-reader Bible. Thomas Nelson’s Extreme Teen Bible (1999) has sold more than 800,000 copies.

In His Image is the first book in the “Christ Clone trilogy” from Warner Books. In this series, Jesus is cloned from cells on the Shroud of Turin, combining apocalyptic fervour with scientific suspense. Apparently books on the end-times are so popular these days that secular publishers are trying to get in on the action. Penguin Books has just published two installments of The Prodigal Project, a series of novels about the end of time. Right Behind from Canon Press is described as a “parody of last days goofiness.”

What Animals Can Teach Us about Spirituality (Skylight Paths Publishing) provides “inspiring lessons from wild and tame creatures,” and explores “different levels of spiritual development vividly embodied by animal models.” Another title from this publisher is The Sacred Art of Bowing, an introduction to “bowing as a spiritual practice” that can enrich your daily life. Another title from Skylight that holds more promise is Spiritually Incorrect: Finding God in All the Wrong Places.

I am intrigued by the fact that Oxford University Press is issuing a new series on the Seven Deadly Sins, written by “seven prominent writers and thinkers.” In the first volume, American writer Joseph Epstein considers Envy. His wide-ranging exploration includes philosophers like Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, Shakespeare’s Othello, and current breeding grounds for the vice, including academia. Epstein appears to be well qualified for the topic, having just written a bestseller called Snobbery: The American Version.

Also out this fall will be Gluttony by Francine Prose, a New York author who has written a book called Guided Tours of Hell. The third volume, Lust, is due in January. Its author is Simon Blackburn who teaches philosophy at Cambridge. Two of his previous works are Think and Being Good.

On a less weird note, check out the new titles in our Fall 2003 listing on page 15. Along with new titles from Mennonite publishers, we include other books that may be of interest to our readers, along with publishing notes and resources. See also the Focus on Books and Resources . It includes an article by Elsie Rempel, director of Christian Education and Nurture for Mennonite Church Canada, reminding us that books are a great resource for nurturing faith.

We have not included new recordings in this year’s list because our next issue, November 17, will feature our first-ever “Focus on Music” section. That issue will also feature the second “Multi-cultural supplement” focused on the variety of ethnic congregations in Mennonite Church Canada. The first supplement was in the June 16 issue.—
Margaret Loewen Reimer

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