Saturday, July 16, 2016

CHARIOT IN THE SKY by Arna Bontemps

Bontemps, Arna, Chariot in the Sky, The John C. Winston Company, Philadelphia, 1951.

Available in various hardcover and paperback editions. 


Recommended by Dorinda Kauzlarich-Rupe

Chariot in the Sky is a special book to me. 1) This book was the first gift given to me by Dad—one year exactly before he and Mother married. It was great to re-read it! 2) It is a genre that I really like to read—stories about those who are “the least of these”—those who are either overlooked or treated horribly by society.

The story is about a slave boy, Caleb Willows, and his dream of and journey to freedom, and finally, his efforts to make something of himself and to help others to do the same once they were actually freedmen. Whether slave or free, Caleb was always a youngster/man of great integrity, always a hard worker and wanting to help others. Like all former slaves he had a lot of mishaps along the way, but always maintained his integrity.

It is also the story of Fisk University founded in Nashville, Tennessee, just 6 months after the end of the Civil War and incorporated in 1866. It still exists today. Caleb attended during the terrible financial difficulties of the school and had a beautiful bass voice. He sang with the Fisk Jubilee singers as they tried to raise money going on concert tours in the US and Europe.

Arna Bontemps was librarian at Fisk in later years and therefore had access to historical records. He was one of several Fisk faculty members who became major figures in American literature. The sketches in the book are by Cyrus Leroy Baldridge, a well-known black writer and painter.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016


Marcus Borg, Speaking Christian: Why Christian Words Have Lost Their Meaning and Power – and How They Can Be Restored (HarperOne, 2011).

Available in hardback, paperback, Kindle, Nook and Audible

Recommended by Edgar Morris

Borg states in the introduction that the book repeats some of the topics he has treated in other books. Since I have only read a couple of his other books, I can only say that I have seen some of the topics before but appreciate his restating of his understanding of them. What he is doing in the book is taking a number of the terms we use fairly routinely in the church and stating what he thinks the terms originally meant as opposed to what many (most?) of us take them to mean now. Throughout, I kept wondering if it is more difficult to redefine the terms and keep using them or if it would be better for the church to begin using new terminology that more correctly conveys what the Christian Faith means in our time. I was not convinced that he answered that question.

I recommend the book but hope you will not hold it against me if you purchase and read the book and are disappointed.