The Church and Abortion: In Search of New Ground for Response
edited by Paul T. Stallsworth
Abingdon, 152 pages, $10.95 paper
Although it is prepared by and for Methodists, you don't have to be a Methodist to welcome this important contribution. The contributors are Ruth S. Brown, Michael J. Gorman, Stanley Hauerwas, and William Willimon. Each offers a bracing challenge, albeit from different perspectives, to oldline Protestantism's failure to come clean on what is involved in the abortion debate. An ideal book for study groups.
Deadly Compassion: The Death of Ann Humphry and the Truth about Euthanasia
by Rita Marker
Morrow, 310 pages, $18
When she was diagnosed as having cancer, Ann Humphry was abandoned and publicly scorned by her husband Derek Humphry, the founder of the Hemlock Society. In her last year Ann turned for friendship and counsel to the author, whom she had met as an opponent of Hemlock's campaign for euthanasia and assisted suicide. This is a thoughtful and readable account of that remarkable relationship and includes devastating insights into the personalities and purposes of the euthanasia movement. An appendix contains “Always to Care, Never to Kill,” the statement on assisted suicide produced by the Institute on Religion and Public Life. Deadly Compassion is warmly recommended as a book that readers will want to pass on to friends who are confused by the seductive rhetoric of “death with dignity.”
Christianity and Democracy in Global Context
edited by John Witte
Westview, 324 pages, $49.95
The product of an important conference at Emory University that brought together scholars, clerics, and activists from several continents and many persuasions. Contributors include Bryan Hehir, Jean Bethke Elshtain, James Skillen, Paul Sigmund, Desmond Tutu, and Richard John Neuhaus. The book is a valuable contribution to understanding the ways in which Christianity both undergirds and challenges the global movement toward democratic governance.
The Real World Order: Zones of Peace/Zones of Turmoil
by Max Singer and Aaron Wildavsky
Chatham House, 201 pages, $25 cloth, $16.95 paper
This is a deliberately provocative and speculative thought exercise in how the world will be a hundred years from now. It helps us to think more clearly about the world today when the Cold War and the old order have passed. The authors are guardedly hopeful that the poor nations of the world (those outside the democratic zone of peace) will within the next seventy or one hundred years achieve a measure of prosperity and democratic governance comparable, say, to that of Greece or Portugal. Key to their argument is the belief that democracy makes for peace and their assumption, backed by persuasive argument, that Russia will not be a dominant or even major international player in the decades ahead. They probably underestimate the negative influence of militant Islam in large parts of the world, but such disagreements with the authors do not detract from the value of this bold and suggestive work.
Readings in the Classical Historians
edited by Michael Grant
Macmillan, 686 pages, $32.50
Among Matthew Arnold's many memorable observations is this one: “Commerce with the ancients appears to me to produce, in those who constantly practice it, a steadying and composing effect upon their judgment, not of literary works only, but of men and events in general. They are like persons who have had a very weighty and impressive experience; they are more truly than others under the empire of facts, and more independent of the language current among those with whom they live.” Those interested in acquiring such a “steadying and composing” influence will find a most useful introduction to the ancients in this collection, edited by the eminent classicist Michael Grant. In a single volume Grant presents essential selections from the ancient historians: Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon, Julius Caesar, Sallust, Josephus, Livy, Tacitus, Appian, and others. The editor's commentaries provide these diverse fragments with context and coherence.
Faith Without Prejudice: Rebuilding Christian Attitudes Toward Judaism
Revised and Expanded Edition
by Eugene J. Fisher
Crossroad, 208 pages, $24.95
Originally published in 1977, this updated version of Faith Without Prejudice is most welcome. In it, Eugene J. Fisher, Director of the Secretariat for Catholic-Jewish Relations of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, D.C., provides detailed description of post-Vatican II teachings meant to combat anti-Semitism and give Christians an appreciation for historical and living Judaism, particularly its affinities with Christianity, which are seen as being far more extensive than recognized in previous times. Included also is an updated bibliography plus practical information for interfaith dialogue.
Buttercups, and So forth
by Robert Greer Cohn
Lantern Editions (Menlo Park, CA), 144 pages
A charming, if bittersweet, autobiographical memoir of his first thirty years by a Professor Emeritus of French at Stanford University. Best known for his lifetime work on Mallarme, Cohn was Founding Editor of Yale French Studies and author of The Poetry of Rimbaud. A concluding note ruefully remarks “the creeping, and sometimes rampant, neo-barbarism and politicization” that overtook academia after 1968 and that cast a shadow on an otherwise rewarding forty-year career of teaching and writing.