Race and Christianity in America

By: Rebecca Tinsley “My God, my God, why hast though forsaken me?” is the greatest blues line of all time, according to the African American intellectual, Stanley Crouch. For the rapper, Tupak Shakur, Jesus was, “Somebody that hurt like we hurt, that understands where we’re coming from.” James Cone’s “The Cross and the Lynching Tree” www.goodreads.com/book/show/12417679-the-cross-and-the-lynching-tree explains the parallels between Jesus, the innocent victim of mob hysteria in the Roman Empire’s province of Judea, and almost five thousand African Americans who were lynched, mostly between 1880 and 1940. In both cases, Cone suggests, the point was not the punishment or death of the supposed offender, but a warning to those considering sedition against the powers that…

Book: Faith, Magic and Corruption – ‘This Present Darkness: a history of Nigerian organised crime’

This Present Darkness: a history of Nigerian organised crime’ by Stephen Ellis, Hurst books. On a visit to see a Christian charity’s humanitarian project in Nigeria in 2016, your reviewer was impressed that her jeep was frequently stopped by soldiers and police. Then the pastor at the wheel explained why there were barricades every twenty miles or so. These agents of the state were not keeping an eye out for Boko Haram terrorists or murderous Fulani tribesmen: they were trying to extort money. Similarly, at Abuja airport, the official who pulled me to one side, asking me to clarify my reasons for coming to Nigeria was not fulfilling his job description: he was hoping I…

Book: Enlightenment Now

  Enlightenment Now: the case for reason, science, humanism and progress, by Steven Pinker, Allen Lane, £25 Bill Gates has anointed Enlightenment Now as his favourite book of all time. No wonder: the author, Steven Pinker, provides proof that the logic underlying the Gates Foundation’s work is correct. Despite the daily diet of misery in the news, the hard evidence shows that the world is a massively better place, and there has never been a better time to be alive. This lengthy but highly readable tome is recommended for ICN readers discouraged by the global rise of populism, intolerance, conflict and ethnic cleansing. The author succeeds in showing the extraordinary strides made in tackling absolute…

Book Review: “Kill Boxes: Facing the Legacy of US-Sponsored Torture, Indefinite Detention, and Drone Warfare,” by Elisabeth Weber

  In 2004 a photo of a hooded man, standing on a box, holding out his hands with wires attached, emerged from Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. The image rapidly spread around the world, becoming an instantly recognizable symbol of America’s use of torture. Graphic artists famously reproduced it alongside a rainbow-colored image of a “wired” dancing girl, listening to her iPod.     In her timely book, “Kill Boxes,” Elisabeth Weber ironically notes the “long history of images uniting figures of torture and sacredness or divinity.” She explores the use of “no touch” “positional” torture in which the terrified victims are forced to inflict suffering on themselves, leaving no marks. When the Abu Ghraib…

Book: Child Migration and Human Rights in a Golden Age

Child Migration and Human Rights in a Golden Age by Jacqueline Bhabha – Princeton University PressIn the last 35 years, migration to the developed world has doubled. Yet, contrary to the current anti-refugee narrative, 83% of migrants remain in their region of original. This book concerns the 11% of the world’s migrants who are younger than 20 years of age, many of them fending for themselves in appalling circumstances, exploited or ignored. Only recently has it been acknowledged that the authorities should consider what is best for the child. Children used to be treated as appendages of their male relatives, as women were (and still are in many parts of the world). Now, children are…

Book Review: New Short History of the Catholic Church’ by Norman Tanner

This review appeared originally in the Independent Catholic News  Book: New Short History of the Catholic Church’ by Norman Tanner Rebecca Tinsley Sunday, June 28, 2015 12:44 am. THE NEW SHORT HISTORY OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH by Norman Tanner published by Bloomsbury Norman Tanner has given us a learned and impressive survey of two thousand years of history in a mere 239 pages. Yet this reviewer found it strangely bloodless. The most disastrous and dramatic events – the split with Constantinople in 1054 and the beginning of the Reformation in 1517 – are handled with the same measured calm as less traumatic or important milestones. There is little to convey the misery of centuries of…

Book Review: Coexistence and Reconciliation in Israel – voices for inter-religious dialogue

This post appeared orginally in the Independent Catholic news Book: Coexistence and Reconciliation in Israel – voices for inter-religious dialogue Rebecca Tinsley Thursday, June 25, 2015 2:00 pm. Coexistence and Reconciliation in Israel – voices for inter-religious dialogue edited by Ronald Kronish, Paulist Press, 2015. Since secular leaders have failed to secure peace in the Holy Land, why not give faith leaders a chance? After all, religious identity is central to many citizens in the region, and with sufficient education, and through personal encounters, people may find they have more in common than separates them. This is the message from a collection of essays by a group of brave, patient, determined faith leaders who are…

Book Review: ‘Heroes of the Holocaust’

This review appeared originally on the Independent Catholic news Book: ‘Heroes of the Holocaust’ Rebecca Tinsley Sunday, June 21, 2015 3:40 pm. ‘Heroes of the Holocaust’ by Lyn Smith, published by Ebury Press Lyn Smith’s work deserves a wide audience. For decades she has been interviewing survivors of war- soldiers and civilians- for the Imperial War Museum voice archive. Smith’s dedication has also resulted in a series of books about apparently ‘ordinary’ people who lived through extraordinary times. Although ‘Heroes of the Holocaust’ was published two years ago, it is especially timely as we mark 70 years since the end of World War Two. There is no hyperbole in the way in which Smith’s heroes…

Book Review: The Great Reformer: Francis and the making of a radical Pope

This review appeared orginally on The Independent Catholic News Book: The Great Reformer: Francis and the making of a radical Pope Rebecca Tinsley Tuesday, June 9, 2015 3:16 pm. “The Great Reformer: Francis and the making of a radical Pope” by Austen Ivereigh, publisher: Allen & Unwin, 2105 A recent profile of Pope Francis in Der Spiegel* reports a Vatican whispering campaign against the Argentine pontiff. When Francis highlighted the pomp and ostentation of the clergy, it was “an unspoken declaration of war, especially against the Vatican Curia.” By challenging corruption in the Vatican bank, and ex-communicating Mafia bosses, Francis also confronted Rome’s unsavoury vested interests, the article suggests. Those plotting against Francis accuse him…

Book Review: ‘BLAIR INC: The man behind the mask’

This review appeared originally on the Independent Catholic News Book: ‘BLAIR INC: The man behind the mask’ Rebecca Tinsley ‘BLAIR INC: The man behind the mask’ Francis Beckett, David Hencke & Nick Kochan, John Blake Publishing, 2015 Tony Blair recently resigned from his role as an envoy of the Middle East Quartet. The book under review suggests the former British prime minster used his high profile diplomatic access to oil-producing governments in the Middle East to facilitate rather more commercial activity than peace-making. Living in a permanent Davos-like state since he left Downing Street in 2007, Blair is always on the move, opening doors, enabling deals and accruing vast personal wealth. “Blair Inc” is a…