Review: Swimming in the Congo by Margaret Myers (Summer 1997)
"How many times have you been saved, Grace?" The answer was eleven. "'Is that all?' Carrie tossed her head with an air of virtuous suffering. 'I've been saved twenty-four times.'"
In the Preface, the author writes that this book is about replacing the presider notion of leading worship with "artistic creativity in the performance of Christian worship."
From Rättvik to Isanti County (Fall 1999)
My grandfather, Curtiss D. Johnson, had a deep interest in his Swedish heritage. Many years ago, he gave me a coin that depicted immigrants landing in New York with the Statute of Liberty in the background. The coin reminds me that my ancestors arrived in America in that same fashion. Many of Pietisten’s readers share this same heritage, but even those non-Swedes among us would enjoy reading Robert Ostergren’s history of the emigration of a Swedish community.
This book in Dr. Nelson’s honor is a treasury of essays by distinguished scholars.
Civilizations in Conflict? (Spring 2000)
A while back I read an editorial in the New York Times which struck me as a constructive evaluation of the situation in the Balkans. The Times identified the author as a University Professor at Harvard, a former director of security planning at the National Security Council, and the author of the book reviewed here. I thought this was someone whose work I needed to know, so I bought the book.
Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time by Marcus Borg (Summer 2000)
Marcus Borg, from my viewpoint, neatly diagnoses the central issue of our times: a deep misconception in our view of the world (in this case, its religious core) and of the sociopolitical structures arising from it. Then, constructively, he shows how, by a labor of critical rethinking, we might revise our view, or paradigm, of Creation, our place and purpose in it, and, so, our earthly aims, relations, and actions.
Pre-Ventura (Winter 2000)
One of Minnesota’s finest citizens just published his memoirs. In A Man’s Reach, 91-year-old Elmer Andersen looks back with humor and wisdom on a full, rich, and wonderful life.
I recommend Borg’s stories to all readers, especially those who see that the stories are not only a path to good faith but also a way to "Meet Democracy Again For The First Time."
Swedes in the Twin Cities (Spring 2001)
These scholars had collectively produced Swedes in the Twin Cities, which was selling like hotcakes. The book is co-edited by Dag Blanck, the Director of the Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center at Augustana College, Rock Island, and Philip J. Anderson, Professor at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago.
The Greatest Generation (Spring 2001)
The Greatest Generation is a great book, one of the best! The reason I enjoyed it so much was that Brokaw writes so well, introduces us to some authentic individuals and seems to capture the character of this time period in our history. In the same book you get history, biography, autobiography, romance, tragedy, and triumph. I encourage everyone to read this inspiring book.
The Feeling of What Happens (Spring 2001)
Several months ago, in a somewhat foolish burst of philosophical bravado, I began reading this book with an eye to reviewing it for Pietisten. As a neurologist, I looked forward to diving into Dr. Damasio’s thoughts on consciousness; he is a preeminent neuroscientist and popular thinker and writer on this subject. In addition, although I do occasionally darken the doorway of a church, I always try very hard to be a thorn in the side of those of mystical and warm-fuzzy religion. I hoped this book would provide some easy barbs to toss at my theologically-oriented friends.
Simon’s Family (Spring 2001)
Simon’s Family, A Novel of Mothers and Sons by Marianne Fredriksson, Ballantine 1300 KS, 1999. 306 pp. $14 paperback.
Wittgenstein's Poker (Summer 2001)
Lots of people look forward to the Festival of Lessons and Carols broadcast live each year from the Cambridge University King's College Chapel on Christmas Day. The soaring music sung by boy sopranos, the lovely "Once in Royal David's City" processional, the beautifully read texts, and the thrilling acoustics of this vaulting, perpendicular Gothic chapel built by Henry VI combine for a spiritual and aesthetic treat.
When Life Calls Out to Us: The Lifework of Viktor and Elly Frankly by Haddon Klingberg, Jr. (Summer 2002)
Like many who went to college in the middle part of the last century, I was required to read Viktor Frankl’s moving memoir of his Holocaust years, Man’s Search for Meaning. Even though I can remember being deeply stirred by the book as a North Park student, I sheepishly admit that I could not remember many of the details of the book—or of Frankl’s then relatively new psychological theory known as logotherapy.
World on Fire by Michael Brownstein (Summer 2003)
This could be the Common Sense or Uncle Tom’s Cabin for today’s situation. Has a bit of the flavor of Tom Paine put through the fires of William Blake.
A Magnificent English Cathedral (Winter 2003-2004)
A great work of art is almost always done by a single person. Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony wasn’t written by a committee. Same with Shakespeare’s plays. It’s hard to think of any other masterpiece, aside from the KJB, cooked up in this way.
Review of Ingrid, My Swedish-American Life and Adventure (Winter 2003-2004)
This recent book gives one an excellent picture of immigrant emellan, of a life lived in-between two countries, two cultures, and two languages. I highly recommend Ingrid’s book to the readers of Pietisten and to anyone who wants to read about an exciting, modern immigrant experience.
Review of O Clouds, Unfold! Clara Ueland and her Family (Winter 2003-2004)
People who have been inspired by the books If You Want to Write and Me or have enjoyed Mitropoulos and the North High Band or Strength to Your Sword Arm will be delighted to hear that the manuscript of another great piece of Brenda Ueland’s writing has been discovered and published.
Books from Pietisten Readers (Fall 2004)
Dr. Tim Johnson's Finding God in the Questions; Glenn Olsen's Beginning at Jerusalem
And There Shall Be Wars, World War II Diaries and Memories by Bud Wagner (Winter 2004-2005)
This is an authentic story of patriotism and bravery. When Bud was drafted in April, 1941 at age 22, he thought he would be away from his beloved farming and market-gardening business in Minnesota for about a year. Actually, he served “for the duration” until July, 1945. Almost 42 months of this time was overseas duty, much in combat in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy. Bud was a model GI who willingly, honorably, and efficiently did his part to defeat Hitler. The point of his title, and Bud’s belief, is that there will always be wars until the Prince of Peace is affirmed by the nations of this world.
Heloise and Abelard, A New Biography (Winter 2005)
Heloise and Abelard is about two great historical persons. Heloise (1095-1163), a person of integrity and intelligence, loved Peter Abelard deeply and was unwavering in her faithfulness as a wife and a lover. She was 20 when she fell in love with the great scholar Peter, the 46-year-old master of the school of Notre Dame in 1115. She loved Abelard both physically and intellectually the rest of her life.
Review: From one Heart to Another (Christmas 2007)
Dick celebrates this life-giving gift as he weaves together two threads, one about the physical ordeal he went through leading to well-being, and the other about the spiritual lessons he learned in the process. These parallel stories run throughout the book, connecting nicely into what might be classified as an extended, edifying Christian tract.
Review: Wolf Song (Christmas 2007)
Wolf Song tells the story of a young girl, Nell, and her Uncle Walter embarking on a north woods adventure to howl with the wolves. The story is a refreshing change from the “big bad wolf” character typically depicted in children’s literature.
Mama’s Milk is a wonderfully illustrated book about how human and animal mothers feed their young. The rhyming text reads like a sweet lullaby and tells how a variety of animal babies nurse and bond with their mothers. The colorful pictures demonstrate mothers providing nourishment and comforting their young in their natural habitats. Both wild and domestic animals are included in the book.
BOOK REVIEW: Angels, Worms and Bogeys: The Christian Ethic of Pietism (Spring/Summer 2010)
This somewhat odd title requires explanation. “Bogey,” for example, is one shot over par in golf. Dr. Clifton-Soderstrom points out that through the years, critics have characterized Pietism as below par with respect to sound Christianity on a number of counts. Our author challenges that notion and shows that Pietism’s performance has been miss-scored. Being a person for whom a bogey is my par, a “double bogey” is needed before I think it bad. After reading Clifton-Soderstrom’s book it is clear that Pietism scores a better than par “birdie” as does her book.
BOOK REVIEW: Lillian Budd (Fall/Winter 2010)
Lillian Budd (1897–1989), born in Chicago to immigrants Charles and Selma Peterson, a WWI Navy veteran and Western Electric Company employee, wrote a delightful trilogy about Swedish-American immigration.