On the Shelves

On the Shelves features book recommendations from a variety of Princeton Seminary faculty and staff, with the hope that these suggestions will help alumni/ae choose books that will contribute to their personal and professional growth.

From Kenda Creasy Dean, assistant professor of youth, church, and culture and director of research and development, Institute for Youth Ministry

Family-Based Youth Ministry: Reaching the Been-There, Done-That Generation, by Mark DeVries ('86B). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1994. This is the book to read about youth ministry in the '90s, not because author Mark DeVries has all the answers, but because he asks the right questions. By relocating youth ministry in the context of "family" rather than in the context of "program ministry," DeVries raises questions that youth ministry has avoided for most of the twentieth century. Although DeVries takes seriously the role of the nuclear family in pastoring its own children, he is equally committed to the ministry of the entire church "family" on behalf of adolescents who need an "extended family" as they necessarily distance themselves from their families of origin. This book sets a new and welcome course for congregational youth ministry entering the twenty-first century.

Adolescent Girls (Creative Pastoral Care and Counseling Series), by Patricia H. Davis ('84B, '92D). Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 1996. From her opening quotation‹"I feel stupid and contagious"‹to her closing benediction in which she recalls the story of Jairus's daughter who came back to life to resume her rightful place in the world, author Patricia H. Davis demonstrates a deep appreciation for both the experience of adolescent girls and the resources of Christian faith. A useful resource to anyone who pastors or parents adolescent girls, this is a book whose strength lies in Davis's recognition that all girls struggle with growing up in ways that merit the attention and creative care of adults who love them. Considering such diverse topics as girls' social location in American culture, their particular spirituality, their psychological development, and their place in the family, Davis provides resources and directions for adults who stand beside adolescent girls as they develop healthy skills of resistance, resilience, and grace.

From Jeffrey V. O'Grady, director of vocations and admissions

Religion and American Education: Rethinking a National Dilemma, by Warren A. Nord. Chapel Hill, NC, and London: University of North Carolina Press, 1995. Our society is increasingly dissatisfied with public education, as is evidenced by the growth of both private education and home schooling. Philosopher Warren Nord examines one of the primary causes of this discontent: the secularization of American education. Nord aspires to "chart a middle course" through the turbulent waters of debate over issues surrounding the separation of church and state. His argument proceeds along philosophical, educational, political, and constitutional lines and concludes with practical suggestions for taking religion seriously as a part of public school and university education. He seeks to "restore the tension" between secular schools and religious faith so that both receive fair and reasonable treatment and neither is slighted. Yet, with sights leveled on public education's systematic exclusion of religious themes and history in its textbooks and core curriculum, Nord pulls the trigger, arguing for religious studies as "an established field in public education as it is now in higher education." One alternative solution proposed is the support of voucher plans, argued to be substantively neutral between religion and non-religion and, thus, closer to the First Amendment's proper interpretation of neutrality. There is more breadth than depth in this treatment of the issues, but Nord has a significant contribution to make to an important discussion.

The Whole Shebang, by Timothy Ferris. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 1997. For those who enjoy keeping abreast of the newest discoveries at the outer limits of both our universe and our understanding, here is a readable overview of the history of cosmology and astrophysics. Using helpful analogies and memorable anecdotes, author Timothy Ferris describes the world of quasars, supernovas, black holes, and time travel in language that makes those mysteries accessible to those with limited scientific background. It is clear that Ferris enjoys what he is doing and comes from the same galaxy as Isaac Newton, who is said to have described himself, as a scientist, "like a child at play" on the shore of an ocean of knowledge. Ferris is not, however, a cosmologist who gazes into the heavens, ponders the universe, and then declares: "O Lord, our God, how majestic is your name in all the earth!" While he is willing to wrestle with the classical intellectual proofs of God's existence, in the end he takes his position among the agnostics. A strict barrier between the insights of science and those of religion is maintained.


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