Adele Gallogly


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Loving Mercy, Living in Prison


The Sun Does Shine is the gripping memoir by Anthony Ray Hinton, who was wrongfully convicted of killing two men and sentenced to death in 1985 in Alabama. The case against Hinton, a 29-year-old black man, was clearly shaped by racism and rooted in insufficient evidence. He spent nearly 30 years in prison, until he was finally freed in 2015, after 16 years of working with Equal Justice Initiative.

As Hinton relives moments leading up to his conviction and his painful decades in 34964905prison, his voice burns with righteous anger at the systemic injustice at work. From the moment he is convicted, however, he finds great freedom is his ability to make choices that will shape his life for the better. Even in the depths of death row he chooses compassion over hatred, and forgiveness over bitterness.

Surrounded by sights and sounds of death and despair, Hinton finds strength in his faith in God and the love of his family and friends. He also relies on the liberating force of his vivid, playful imagination. His friendships with fellow inmates help him recognize their shared humanity and identity as children of God. He advocates for a prison library so he and the other prisoners can share in the transformative power of literature.

Hinton’s gritty yet triumphant memoir bears witness to the rewards inherent in “loving mercy” in one of the world’s most seemingly forsaken places.

{Originally published in Christian Courier)


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Seeing through the Lens of Personality


Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the plethora of personality types and their corresponding measurements? Author and well-known book blogger Anne Bogel (Modern Mrs. Darcy) may be just the wise and gracious guide you need.

In Reading People, Bogel pulls from years of research and offers up her personal experiences with popular personality frameworks such as the Enneagram, Keirsey’s Temperaments, and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. She compares understanding personality to “holding a good map” and positions herself as a fascinated “fellow traveler” in the quest to make sense of the complex layers of human identity through various typing systems.

Examining people through the lens of personality requires deep interior work—and Bogel notes that we may not necessarily like or immediately understand what we discover. She writes, “When it comes to understanding yourselves and others, wishful thinking will get you nowhere. If personality information is going to help you, you’re going to have to get comfortable with the true self that lies within you.”

As difficult as this soul-mining exploration may be, Bogel suggests that it is absolutely worthwhile work. We have much to gain by both “confronting our junk” as well as embracing our particular gifts and characteristics. These steps can equip us to improve our relationships, clarify our vocations, and refine our spiritual lives.

Reading People is an entertaining, astute, and actionable personality primer that can help us more fully understand how God has uniquely made us and those around us. (Banner review)


Magazines for Thoughtful Christians

TIN-677 Magazines for Thoughtful_large_all

In a recent issue of The Banner, I compiled some suggestions of Christian magazines and journals to add to your reading list. Here are some to consider:

Comment: Produced by Cardus, a Canada-based Christian think tank, this magazine is grounded in a Reformed, biblical worldview that all of life is being redeemed by God and worthy of faithful attention. Its lively essays and timely, well-researched articles celebrate the multifaceted areas of human existence—vocation, family, worship, politics, economics—as opportunities to freshly proclaim God’s grace in a broken world. Tip: The recent The Comment Reader anthology is an excellent way to acquaint (or reacquaint) yourself with the magazine.

Geez: Definitely progressive and defiantly hopeful, this magazine highlights the role of social justice activism in living out a Christ-like response to the complex—and often controversial—realities of the world. Each issue uses poetry, personal essays, news stories, and photos to explore hard-hitting questions about such topics as poverty, politics, creation care, race, and gender identity.

Image: Since 1989, Image has been demonstrating that contemporary art can do more than merely express faith. When crafted well, it can embody the very struggles and paradoxes at the heart of Judeo-Christian religion. The journal is an array of poetry, fiction, longer essays, artist profiles, and interviews that seeks to engage your imagination and invite you to see God’s image in every human being. Features the work of both modern masters and emerging artists.

Relief: This literary journal features fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, graphic narrative, and reviews by both new and established authors. It is a publication that boldly aims to rise above a saccharine or easy view of Christian faith by artfully revealing how belief and doubt can intersect in surprising, varied, and beautiful ways in one’s spiritual journey.

The Other Journal: Presented by the Seattle School of Theology and Psychology, this journal blends academic scholarship with cultural critique, primarily through creative writing. Each issue is organized around a theme in the topical sphere of theology, art, and social justice. Recent themes include “Identity,” “Sport,” “Encounter,” and “Trauma.”

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Reading Kingdom Poets

Since 2010, Canadian poet and editor D.S. Martin has been curating a blog called “The Kingdom Poets,” where he shares weekly work by poets of the Christian faith. “There is no attempt made to assess orthodoxy, but simply to present poets who speak profoundly of faith in God,” Martin writes in the site’s description. He took this same approach as editor of his new anthology of contemporary Christian poetry, The Turning Aside.

Pulling from the plethora of contemporary Christian poetry was no doubt a challenging task. In order to give this collection some necessary limits, Martin chose to include only poetry written in English by poets who were alive in January 2000. The poets come from various denominational backgrounds. They also vary in style and form, which makes this a vibrant collection of very different voices. There are delicately-crafted sonnets and works of free verse—lengthy epics and brief, vivid musings. Some of the poets published their first poems decades ago, and are widely regarded as masters of Christian verse—such as Luci Shaw, Wendell Berry, Richard Wilbur, and Margaret Avison. Other contributors are newer to the fold, yet clearly modern masters in their own right and certainly worthy of a wider readership.

Common themes emerge throughout this collection. Several poems contain more questions than answers and dare to inhabit difficult spaces of doubt and paradox alongside exclamations of praise or gratitude. Often the poets directly contemplate poetry itself—the literary form’s ability to both express belief with clarity and transgress the borders of typical religious language. In one poem by Les Murray, for example, the poet says: “God is the poetry caught in any religion,/caught, not imprisoned. Caught as in a mirror/that he attracted, being in the world as poetry/is in the poem, a law against its closure.” These are skilled poets boldly and imaginatively seeking God’s face, and this anthology is a truly unforgettable feast of words made flesh. (Banner review)

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Art and Secrets in the Dutch Golden Age

midnight-blueThis historical novel by Dutch author Simone van der Vlugt follows Catrin, a driven and talented young widow who is desperate for a fresh start after the death of her abusive husband. The story begins in 1654, during the Dutch Golden Age; Catrin sets out from her small village in North Holland in search of work and new opportunities—settling first in Amsterdam before moving on to Delft. As she navigates this new chapter, her life is complicated by secrets from her past and romantic possibilities in the present. Ultimately her journey is brightened by her artistic pursuits, which land her a role in the creation and rise of Delft Blue pottery and even allow her to interactwith real-life famous Dutch painters (much to the delight of Rembrandt and Vermeer fans). Continue reading


The Gorgeous Curiosity of Mary Oliver


Eighty-one-year-old Mary Oliver is widely acclaimed for her wise, lyrical poetry that presents life as a spiritual pilgrimage. Her latest book, a collection of essays, celebrates nature and literature as sources of hope, and points to the power of quiet acts such as taking a slow walk in the woods or spending hours with a book. As fans of Oliver’s work already know, however, she sees such acts as far more than movements of serenity or escape. The very title of her new book, Upstream, alludes to resistance—and the purposeful boldness of her vision should not be missed. Continue reading