To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World
By James Davison Hunter
(Oxford University Pres, 368 pages, $27.95)
I don't consider myself an exile, but I do consider myself a Christian. James Davison Hunter would say that's impossible. According to his thesis in this wordy, challenging book, exiles are what Christians in this 21st century are called to be. He expects us to be literal Jeremiahs, living in Babylon.
Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America
By Barbara Ehrenreich
(Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt, 235 pages, $23)
Should, god forbid, a close relation ever be diagnosed with cancer, you may find yourself tempted to muster whatever cheerfulness -possible. Your loved one may even insist he desires such tender regard or be himself determined to "think positive." Resist this pre-Enlightenment urge. Instead, gaze down into those enfeebled eyes and recite the following:
[F]rom an evolutionary perspective, why should the body possess a means of combating cancer, such as a form of ‘natural healing' that would kick in if only we get past our fears and negative thoughts? Cancer tends to strike older people who have passed the age of reproduction and hence are of little or no evolutionary significance...If you live long enough to get cancer, chances are you will have already accomplished your biological mission and produced a few children of your own.