Bookshelf: July 26, 2013

Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth

By Reza Aslan (July 26, 2013) - "Sifting through centuries of mythmaking, Reza Aslan sheds new light on one of history's most influential and enigmatic characters by examining Jesus through the lens of the tumultuous era in which he lived: first-century Palestine, an age awash in apocalyptic fervor. Scores of Jewish prophets, preachers, and would-be messiahs wandered through the Holy Land, bearing messages from God. This was the age of zealotry--a fervent nationalism that made resistance to the Roman occupation a sacred duty incumbent on all Jews. And few figures better exemplified this principle than the charismatic Galilean who defied both the imperial authorities and their allies in the Jewish religious hierarchy. Balancing the Jesus of the Gospels against the historical sources, Aslan describes a man full of conviction and passion, yet rife with contradiction; a man of peace who exhorted his followers to arm themselves with swords; an exorcist and faith healer who urged his disciples to keep his identity a secret; and ultimately the seditious "King of the Jews" whose promise of liberation from Rome went unfulfilled in his brief lifetime. Aslan explores the reasons why the early Christian church preferred to promulgate an image of Jesus as a peaceful spiritual teacher rather than a politically conscious revolutionary. And he grapples with the riddle of how Jesus understood himself, the mystery that is at the heart of all subsequent claims about his divinity. Zealot yields a fresh perspective on one of the greatest stories ever told even as it affirms the radical and transformative nature of Jesus of Nazareth's life and mission. The result is a thought-provoking, elegantly written biography with the pulse of a fast-paced novel: a singularly brilliant portrait of a man, a time, and the birth of a religion." (Random House)

 

Sideswiped: Lessons Learned Courtesy of The Hit Men of Capitol Hill

By Bob Ney (July 26, 2013) - "Ohio Congressman Bob Ney plead guilty to federal charges of corruption and falsification of federal documents in connection with Jack Abramoff, a Washington super lobbyist-turned criminal. As a six-term member of congress, Bob found himself caught up in a culture of greed, backstabbing, and corruption that eventually destroyed his career. In his new book, Bob recounts the events leading up to his resignation, his own guilt, and how a powerful member of congress and the Bush Administration officials played leading roles in both the Abramoff scandal and Bob's own downfall."

 

On God’s Side

By Jim Wallis (July 26, 2013) - "Lincoln led America through one of the most tumultuous times in our nation's history. Reading his words today, it is clear we still have much to learn concerning what it means to be on God's side. Bestselling author, public theologian, and leading Christian activist Jim Wallis speaks directly into our current context, revealing the spiritual compass we need to effect lasting change in our society. He explains how the good news of Jesus transforms not only our individual lives but also our public lives. Jesus's gospel of the kingdom of God helps us recover a personal and social commitment to the common good and shows us--in concrete ways--how to be both personally responsible and socially just. Working together, we can reshape our churches, society, politics, and economy.

Releasing in the wake of the 2012 election cycle, this book seeks to move beyond the current media and political warfare and bring together a divided country. Wallis explores how Jesus's agenda can serve the common good, what it takes to sustain a lifelong commitment to social justice, and how reading the Bible as well as the culture can shape our lives for genuine transformation." (Brazos Press)

 

Protecting Capitalism: Case By Case

By Eliot Spitzer (July 26, 2013) - "Eliot Spitzer built his reputation as Attorney General of New York by redefining the role and purpose of the public prosecutor. The cases he brought against the largest corporations on Wall Street and others--both criminal and civil--targeted pervasive misconduct and structural flaws in the economy that were metastasizing in the years leading up to 2008. The cases themselves and the remedies they produced were precedent setting. Today, after the financial crisis has exposed the faults that were brewing and the ever-expanding gap between the 1% and the 99%, it is clear that Eliot Spitzer was prescient. This is Eliot Spitzer's first account of the high-profile cases he prosecuted, initially as an assistant district attorney and later as Attorney General. The book is organized by the lessons that can be learned from these cases. Well-written and argued in the first person, this is an account only Eliot Spitzer could write. The book describes the tension between capitalism, for which Eliot Spitzer is a staunch advocate, and the need for government to rein in excesses and protect those who cannot protect themselves." (Rosetta Books)