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Noteworthy books

Notable Books | Four books about Christianity reviewed by Susan Olasky

Everything Else You Always Wanted to Know About God

Content: As the title suggests, Metaxas combines humor with biblical wisdom as he tackles basic questions about God as well as hot-button issues (evolution, abortion, and homosexuality) in this accessible sequel to his previous apologetics book.

Gist: Those who think Christians are self-righteous prigs will find Metaxas a refreshing change. His clear answers may not convert all skeptics, but they will at least help clear up common misconceptions held by Christians and non-Christians alike.

Harvest of Hope

Content: Strom visited international relief projects supported by Partners International to see whether the projects measured up to the promises made to donors.

Gist: If you sponsor a child, does the money actually go to that child? That depends on the group (read the fine print), but Strom found the groups she visited using the funds as they'd promised. Donors should ask questions-she provides good ones-so that they can support wholeheartedly those groups they like. She also discusses some of the difficulties facing groups operating in hostile areas.

Jesus Without Religion: What Did He Say? What Did He Do? What's the Point?

Content: James wants to introduce Jesus to modern readers who might otherwise find the Bible hard to understand because of unfamiliar words and the problems of historical context and genre.

Gist: The book's subtitle provides the heart of what's inside: hearty portions from the four Gospels and lots of explanation. James makes plenty of pop culture references and writes in a sometimes-slangy style, but his views are orthodox and he desires his readers to know Christ and embrace the gospel.

Easter Everywhere

Content: Steinke, the daughter of a spiritually confused Lutheran pastor, writes of her movement from childhood faith to rebellion and back to a spiritually confused form of Christianity.

Gist: Steinke is always asking questions, first of her preoccupied father and later of the spiritual guides she encounters. Like Anne Lamott, she writes honestly about dark events in her own life. And though the book is full of insights-"even I could see that without God I was just a meat puppet, a material object no different from a chair or a couch"-by its end she's still wondering.

Spotlight

For many Christians Unhooked by Washington Post reporter Laura Sessions Stepp (Riverhead, 2007) is likely to seem a glimpse into the sexual twilight zone. For more than a year she regularly interviewed young women from Duke, George Washington University, and several D.C.-area high schools, listening to them talk frankly about their sexual experiences. These bright young women sought to separate sex from love, the physical from the emotional or spiritual. They worried about boredom, commitment, and being taken advantage of.

Christians wanting better to understand the life-destroying nature of current campus sexual practice should read this book-but it's not for the faint-hearted. Stepp doesn't make moral judgments about the behaviors she details at length, yet she acknowledges how women especially have been hurt by a culture that promotes easy sexual hook-ups, demeans marriage and relationships, and values unbridled ambition. Although she doesn't intend to, Stepp shows how great is the need for gospel ministry on college campuses.

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