CTS Faculty Recommend Summer Reading

Reading WeekSummer often provides an opportunity to catch up on some backlogged reading. Since there are never too many recommendations, we checked in with several members of the CTS faculty to see what they are reading and what they have recently written.

President David M. Mellott

Recent/current reads:

  • Ezra Klein, Why We’re Polarized (Simon & Schuster, 2020).

Klein suggests that we need to include the reality that we are polarized into how we organize our common life. We shouldn’t think that polarization is terribly new or that it will go away.

  • Richard Blanco, How to Love a Country: Poems (Beacon Press, 2020).

Blanco was a presidential inaugural poet for President Obama.

Dean Leah Gunning Francis


  • Frank A. Thomas, How to Survive a Dangerous Sermon (Abington, 2020).
  • William B. Kincaid, Like Stepping Into A Canoe: Nimbleness and the Transition into Ministry (Cascade, 2018).
  • Robert C. Saler, All These Things into Position: What Theology Can Learn from Radiohead (Cascade, 2020).
  • Carol Anderson, One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression is Destroying our Democracy (Bloomsbury, 2018).

Associate Dean Robert Saler

Recently written:

  • Robert C. Saler, All These Things into Position: What Theology Can Learn from Radiohead (Cascade, 2020).

What I hope is a fun mix of rock [music] criticism and theology.

Current/recent reads:

  • Andrew Prevot, Thinking Prayer: Theology and Spirituality Amid the Crisis of Modernity (University of Notre Dame Press, 2015).
[This book is] one of the most stunning mixes of patristic, systematic, and black liberation theology that I have ever read.

  • Bella Bathurst, Sound: A Memoir of Hearing Lost and Found (Greystone, 2018).

For a fascinating, sobering, and uplifting memoir, which will totally change how you understand our sonic engagement with the world.

Prof. Amy Lindeman Allen, Assistant Professor of New Testament

Recently written:

  • Amy Lindeman Allen, For Theirs is the Kingdom: Inclusion and Participation of Children in the Gospel According to Luke (Lexington/Fortress, 2019).

This book expands upon the historical probability that young children were present in the crowds and communities among whom Jesus ministered. In it I lay out a case for a more robust understanding of the role of children in first century Greco-Roman and Judean communities and perform a careful reading of key stories in Luke’s gospel account to suggest that such participation and inclusion of children in the larger fabric of society may have extended to Jesus’ inner circles as well.

Recent/current reads:

  • Stephanie Buckhanon Crowder, When Momma Speaks: The Bible and Motherhood from a Womanist Perspective (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2016).

The embodiment of a scholar-practitioner, Dr. Buckhanon Crowder writes this book as a mother who deeply loves her own family, her church, and the academy. By telling familiar biblical stories through the lens of contemporary contexts, Buchkanon Crowder challenges us to all love a bit more deeply–something that the world needs now more than ever.

  • Jennifer Harvey, Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America (Abingdon, 2017).

Although not all of the advice is perfect, nor am I sure there are perfect answers, as a white parent of white children who strives to raise my children to be decent human beings, this book strikes a chord and offers practical advice for moving beyond colorblind or value diversity models for teaching about race to a lifelong commitment to embody a fuller sense of love, equality, and justice throughout all aspects of life.

  • Elisabeth Zartl, Where Are You Hiding, God? (Westminster John Knox, 2017).

As a parent, I don’t get much time to read for pleasure on my own. This is an illustrated children’s book with a message simple enough for the youngest toddler and profound enough that it bears repeating for us grownups too. When a little girl goes searching for God in all the familiar places, she discovers God has been with her all along.

Prof. Matthias Beier, Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology and Mental Health Counseling

Recently written:

Prof. Bill Kincaid, Harold B. Monroe Professor of Leadership and Ministry Studies

Recently written:

  • William B. Kincaid, Letters to the Church: Encouragement and Engagement for the 2020 Election.

My new book will be out by mid to late June. I hope people will read it this summer so that they can decide how they want to use it for their church’s study groups.

Recent/current reads:

  • Jill Lepore, These Truths: A History of the United States.

It’s a massive volume, but a wonderful read, especially for those who want to frame the upcoming presidential election in thoughtful, historic terms.

  • Willie James Jennings, Acts.

This is a volume in the Belief biblical commentary series, but it reads like one, long, powerful, poetic sermon. The early followers of Jesus were faced from the start with a form of ‘Make America Great Again’ when they asked, ‘Is this the time when you will restore the kingdom of Israel?’ This is no ordinary commentary, especially when it comes to the identity of the church and issues like nationalism, exclusion and greed.

Prof. Kimberly D. Russaw, Assistant Professor of Hebrew Bible

Recently written:

  • Kimberly D. Russaw, “Reading Rahab with Larsen,” in the academic journal Horizon in Biblical Theology.

By reading the story of Rahab (as found in Joshua 2 alongside the stories of characters found in literary fiction, “Reading Rahab with Larsen” invites readers to immerse themselves in the biblical world and reflect critically upon issues of survival and identity. The article can be found here: https://brill.com/view/journals/hbth/42/1/article-p1_1.xml. Members of the CTS community should be able to access the article using their CTS library credentials.

Recent/current reads:

  • Tony Morrison, The Bluest Eye; Nella Larsen, Passing; Octavia Butler, The Parable of the Sower.

I am reading three novels as part of the Connecting the Canons course.

Rev. Dr. Jonathan Barnes, Affiliate Professor

Recently written:

  • A chapter in a forthcoming book (out in October or November), Living in a Time of Global Pandemic (Wipf & Stock, 2020), edited by Eleazar Fernandez.

Recent/current reads:

  • Belden Lane, The Solace of Fierce Landscapes: Exploring Desert and Mountain Spirituality (Oxford University Press, 1998).

By looking at how desert and mountain spirituality helped him work through his mother’s slow decline and eventual death, Lane explores the apophatic tradition and the connection of desert and mountain spaces, both real and metaphorical, to times in our lives when we feel the absence of God.

  • Emmanuel Katongole, Born from Lament: The Theology and and Politics of Hope in Africa (Eerdmans, 2017).

In looking at the African context, Katongole writes that hope takes the form of “lament” as humans cry out, appealing to and arguing with God. In our current global pandemic, a theological exploration of lament, both in the Bible and in our current world, is timely.

Rev. Linda McCrae, Adjunct Professor

Podcast recommendations:

  • Brené Brown, Unlocking Us.

Well, she’s Brené Brown! Research-based insights into human nature that encourage full living.

  • Finding Fred.

I’ve barely started this [podcast], but a friend describes it as ‘deep thought about being human, expansive consideration of justice and race, and a warm hug.’

  • Scene on Radio, especially Season 2 (“Seeing White”) and Season 4 (“The Land that Never Has Been Yet”).

This podcast dives into the history of race (season 2) and of democracy and capitalism in the U.S. (season 4) in eye-opening, provocative and ultimately helpful ways.

Also included in the June 2020 Christian Theological Seminary Connection


  • Prof. Courtney Buggs Finishes First Year as Visiting Assistant Professor of Homiletics - Rev. Dr. Courtney Buggs joined the CTS faculty in 2019 as Visiting Assistant Professor of Homiletics, having been awarded a prestigious Louisville Institute postdoctoral fellowship. Prof. Buggs has quickly become an integral part of the CTS community, bringing her wide-ranging experience and expertise to the life of the seminary. She begins the second of her […]
  • Members of the CTS Community Join Processional for Racial Justice - President David M. Mellott noted in his recent “Letter to Congregations” that members of the CTS faculty, staff, alumni, and student body participated in a Processional for Racial Justice on May 31, 2020. In the letter, President Mellott explained, “As religious leaders and people of faith in the city and the region we gathered and […]
  • CTS Honors its 2020 Graduates in Unexpected Ways - Like so many other schools, colleges, and seminaries, Christian Theological Seminary had to adjust its annual commencement ceremonies this year, but the administration, staff, and faculty worked hard to honor its 2020 graduates. Although pre-commencement events and the annual graduation reception were canceled, CTS marked the occasion by sending each of the graduates a party […]
  • Kerry Connelly Publishes New Book about Racial Justice - Religion News Service has just published a new article by Kerry: “How white spirituality, religious or not, allows racism to grow.” Kerry Connelly, MDiv student, recently celebrated the publication of her new book, Good White Racist?: Confronting Your Role in Racial Injustice. The book, published by Westminster John Knox, was released on March 17 of […]
  • Faith & Action Project Emergency Grant Recipients on WFYI’s “All IN” - In April, the CTS Faith & Action Project provided $75,000 in emergency relief grants to seven organizations whose work to reduce poverty in Indianapolis includes mental health services and family stability measures. Read more about this here. On May 18th, Lindsey Rabinowitch, Program Director of the Faith & Action Project, was joined on WFYI’s “All […]
  • Reading Week CTS Faculty Recommend Summer Reading - Summer often provides an opportunity to catch up on some backlogged reading. Since there are never too many recommendations, we checked in with several members of the CTS faculty to see what they are reading and what they have recently written. President David M. Mellott Recent/current reads: Ezra Klein, Why We’re Polarized (Simon & Schuster, […]
  • Faith & Action Project June 2020 Newsletter - Read the newest edition of the Faith & Action Project’s monthly newsletter!
  • CTS Alum and Spouse Encourage Alumni Giving Through Matching Gift - “I have a sense of giving, because I have received.” Rev. Robert J. Shaw (CTS ’73) began his ministry journey in a time of global unrest. Bob (as he prefers) entered CTS as the Vietnam War was entering its latter years and had caused great division and challenges across our country and world. Like our […]