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Interviews | April 8, 2014

Shawn Donley: IMG Gabrielle Zevin: The Powells.com Interview

Gabrielle ZevinThe American Booksellers Association collects nominations from bookstores all over the country for favorite forthcoming titles. The Storied Life of... Continue »
  1. $17.47 Sale Hardcover add to wish list

    The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry

    Gabrielle Zevin 9781616203214


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Joanne M. Swenson has commented on (3) products.

The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science by Richard Holmes
The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science

Joanne M. Swenson, May 6, 2011

A great, nuanced history of science, concentrating on an era of breathtaking discovery and correlative literary genius (1769 - 1840). My criticism, not original to me, is that there is no insight into the capacity, or analysis of this wonder exhibited by scientists of this remarkable era. My shot at this: scientists of this era were still able to be generalists of inquiry, and, as members of an educated elite, found it conventional to write poetry, perform music, etc. This engagement with the Whole of experience easily gives rise to Wonder --aesthetic perception -- itself an intuition of the Whole, in the language of John Dewey.
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How To Be a Bad Birdwatcher: To the Greater Glory of Life by Simon Barnes
How To Be a Bad Birdwatcher: To the Greater Glory of Life

Joanne M. Swenson, April 13, 2011

Zen-like in its simplicity, disarming in its down-to-earth language and anecdotes, this book has truly awakened me to birds like no other. Barnes suggests that birds uniquely complement the human need for beauty through their color, movement and songs -- forms of stimulii superbly suited for human enjoyment. After I read this book, I set up yet another bird feeder in the yard, and opened my eyes anew.
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Evangelical Vs. Liberal by James K., Jr. Wellman
Evangelical Vs. Liberal

Joanne M. Swenson, April 12, 2011

In Wellman's earlier treatment of PNW Evangelicals (“The Churching of the Pacific Northwest: The Rise of Sectarian Entrepreneurs,”included in Religion in the Pacific Northwest: The None Zone), Wellman only skirts the topic of the aesthetic dimension of evangelical worship, but in this book he finally gives it the attention deserved. He notes, as well, the irony that “liberal” churches practice a conservative aesthetic, and “conservative” churches practice a liberal or contemporary aesthetic. Indeed, his University students, sent out on field research for this book, mistakenly thought that the conservative churches were the “liberal” ones, because of their hip language and rock’n'roll music. But this contrast between worship style and theological orientation has a long, historical lineage: Luther innovated music, but maintained a Catholic, “real presence” understanding of the Eucharist; the Wesleys innovated music, but carried on Anglican worship; and today, liberals innovate theology, but are historic preservationists when it comes to liturgical order and music, singing hymns largely from the nineteenth century.

Wellman argues that PNW liberal churches are in decline because their theologies simply replicate the worldview of the secular PNW, and thereby offer nothing distinctive and essential to draw committed members. I am left wondering thus, at the failure of liberal traditional worship to create a compelling alternative and sacred world, a form of "world-making" through religious music, liturgy and Scripture.
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