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Head Librarian & Professor
Hannah Matis, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Church History at Virginia Theological Seminary, recommends the following books as part of the Bishop Payne Library’s monthly series highlighting a faculty member’s “picks”:
Rowan Williams,Why Study the Past?: The Quest for the Historical Church. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2005.
This is a wonderful, wise, and much-needed little book exploring, as the title suggests, why the church needs a knowledge of history and of the past: not as a simplistic advice manual for the present, but to broaden our understanding of the identity of the church throughout time and in social and cultural contexts different from our own.
Michael Ramsey, The Gospel and the Catholic Church. Cambridge, MA: Cowley Publications, 1990.
Originally published in 1936, Ramsey’s classic exploration of the connections between scripture and the early institutional history of the church remains as timely, balanced, and ecumenical as ever.
David Bentley Hart, The Doors of the Sea: Where Was God in the Tsunami?. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2005.
Hart is perhaps most famous as a Christian apologist armed with a distinctly “purple” writing style, but this small work on theodicy remains my favorite work of his to date: passionate but restrained, and steeped in Dostoevsky.
G. Willow Wilson, The Butterfly Mosque: A Young American Woman’s Journey to Love and Islam. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2010.
This is a ferociously intelligent and spiritually serious memoir that deliberately sets out to subvert American expectations of and prejudices against Muslims. Willow Wilson, also the author of a wonderful fantasy/science fiction novel, Alif the Unseen, set in the world of the Arab spring, here describes her conversion experience from atheism to Islam, but also of her marriage to an Egyptian and the cultural paradigm shift that that entailed.
Spencer Reece, The Road to Emmaus: Poems. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014.
A poet and an Episcopal priest, this is the second collection of poems from Spencer Reece after The Clerk’s Tale. As the title suggests, these poems chronicle a series of brief, fleeting moments of love and tenderness amidst great suffering.
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Just a reminder that Alums retain borrowing privileges with the Bishop Payne Library and can request these as well others in the catalog be sent at no cost. Alums do pay the shipping costs for the books’ return.