Culture Corner | Faith-focused media picks
"Street Saints: Renewing America's Cities"
Barbara J. Elliott (Templeton Foundation Press, $24.95)
Faith-based initiatives have long been at the heart of Christian social ministry, and this book describes how it's done today.
Founder of the Center for Renewal in Houston, Elliott highlights successful programs and the people behind them, particularly focusing on Pittsburgh, Houston and Fresno, Calif.
It's a first-rate book, gathering up evangelical, mainline and Catholic initiatives in the hope of sparking renewed effort by others. Unfortunately, though, she ties her vision too closely to a political agenda and fails to understand how separation of church and state protects a fundamental right: religious freedom.
Drop the final two chapters and you have an excellent introduction to how religiously motivated people are making a difference.
The Dallas Morning News
"The Ten Commandments"
The Rev. Brendan Powell Smith
The Rev. Brendan Powell Smith is a California minister with a slightly demented, though devout, sense of humor. Over the past few years, he has re-created the most famous tales of the Old and New Testaments in Legos, displayed in all their intricate glory on his Web site, www.thebricktestament.com.
The site has spawned a line of books. The latest, "The Ten Commandments" (Quirk Books, $14.95), chronicles the journey of Moses — complete with burning bush and parting Red Sea. His work, Smith says, is popular in religious and secular circles.
"Jesus Gonna Build Me A Home"
Artist: John Davis (Rambler)
John Davis was the frontman for the group Superdrag during the mid-1990s through 2002. But as the band's popularity grew, so did his alcohol abuse.
A couple of years ago, he rediscovered his Christian roots, gave up alcohol and decided to go solo, bringing along the eclectic sound that made Superdrag popular.
Throughout this album, available through Musichristian.com, you can hear influences from the past: the Beach Boys, '70s power pop, classic British rock and a dash of Bob Dylan. Lyrically, the album has clear gospel themes and titles such as "Jesus Gonna Build Me a Home" and "Lay Your Burden Down."
It takes a few plays to grow on you, but once it does you may find the rest of your CD collection getting a little dusty.
The Rev. William Fore
Scholars dig into topics such as the religious right, black churches, congregational life and the separation of church and state at Religion Online, www.religion-online.org.
The site came about when the Rev. William Fore, former president of the Foundation for United Methodist Communications, taught in India, in 1997. "He discovered that books were almost impossible for students and professors to obtain," the site says. Since then, Fore has managed to post more than 5,100 chapters, monographs, speeches and articles.
Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company