Brigham Young, unlike Joseph Smith, played no role in the translation of the Book of Mormon. He never ran for president of the United States, as Smith did in 1844. And Young was not dramatically martyred, as Smith was when a mob shot him in his prison cell. But without Young, we might not remember Smith.
America and Its Guns: A Theological Exposé, by James E. Atwood. In a year in which incidents of horrific gun violence have cascaded one after another, this is a timely and important book for clergy and churches.
Almost a decade after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, many Americans have become numb to the reports of continued violence in Iraq that are buried in the back pages of newspapers and are barely mentioned on the nightly news. But acts of sectarian violence in Iraq are still frequent and are increasingly large in scale.
Homies and Hermanos: God and Gangs in Central America, by Robert Brenneman. A courageous scholar, Brenneman has undertaken extensive interviews with former members of some of Central America’s most lethal street gangs who have converted to evangelical and Pentecostal Christianity.
Developmental psychologist Erik Erikson, who wrote psycho-historical accounts of both Martin Luther and Mahatma Gandhi, became interested late in life in how Jesus changed the trajectory of history. Following the lead of New Testament scholar Norman Perrin, Erickson published an essay, “The Galilean Sayings,” which examined the sayings of Jesus. He reached two conclusions from his study: that humanity is one universal species, and that by responding to the teachings of Jesus one could discover an inner, numinous core that connects one to something larger than the self. Of Jewish background, Erikson occasionally attended church with his Episcopalian spouse but never claimed to be a believer (Theology Today, April).