Top Reads of 2011

In no particular order, the books and essays that stood out for me in one way or another:

Non-Fiction Books

     Saba Mahmood, Politics of Piety: The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject

Submitting that the tropes of resistance or repression are insufficient to describe contemporary political landscapes, Mahmood reconceives of moral agency in terms of subject formation via Foucault and Butler and the women’s mosque movement in Cairo, where the veil (piety) is political.




Jacques Derrida, On Cosmopolitanism and Forgiveness

The second essay here, “On Forgiveness,” was of particular interest of me as an example or instance of how Derrida’s differance and im/possibility play.





Jacques Derrida and Anne Dufourmantelle, Of Hospitality

Considering the ethics of diaspora for my thesis, this was one way of thinking about foreign, strange, and exilic existence and the politics of hospitality: the encounters between the ambiguous roles of guests and hosts.



John Howard Yoder, For the Nations: Essays Evangelical and Public

Probably the best collection of Yoder essays. Especially “See How They Go with Their Face to the Sun” (on Jeremiah and the diaspora) and “The Racial Revolution in Theological Perspective.” Just read it.



Jean-Luc Nancy, Being Singular Plural
I probably only understood about a third of this book but where I did it was thought provoking (e.g. existence as being-with). At the very least, I will continuously quote Nancy to others that: “We have a responsibility to think.” Read mostly out of curiosity and in preparation for Adam Kotsko’s book below.



Irenaeus, Against Heresies

“The final result of the work of the Spirit is the salvation of the flesh.” We’re still Gnostic. Enough Said.





Adam Kotsko, The Politics of Redemption: The Social Logic of Salvation

What I appreciated most about this book is that Kotsko’s theology finds its starting point, at every instance, with the cross (as does Irenaeus!).  Particularly interesting was his reconfiguration of ontology and creation by beginning with the cross.  His relational ontology (via Nancy and Irenaeus among others) undercuts foundationalism.



John Paul Lederach,When Blood and Bones Cry Out: Journeys through the Soundscape of      Healing and Reconciliation

Lederach’s thought is like wine – with his age and experience his work is ever more astounding.  A book written with his daughter, Angela Jill Lederach, they experiment with the ways in which healing and reconciliation are aural.  The Tibetan singing bowl becomes an image for a particular community that experiences both violence and peace; there is resonance in conflict and in healing.



Peter J. Leithart, Defending Constantine: The Twilight of an Empire and the Dawn of Christendom

This book could be subtitled “Why John Howard Yoder is wrong,” and that is why it is on my list. A thoroughly historical analysis of Constantine the man, the emperor, the friend of bishops, etc. as well as the theological aspects of the collusion  of church and empire that Yoder picks up as constantinianism. I have submitted my review of it for publication and so it is not available on the blog.


Wendell Berry, “Sex, Economy, Freedom, and Community.”

___________, “Feminism, the Body, and the Machine.”

John Howard Yoder, “Walk and Word: The Alternative to Methodologism.”

________________, “Christ, the Hope of the World.”


Wendell Berry, Jayber Crow


2 comments on “Top Reads of 2011

  1. Jeremy says:

    There are some interesting titles on this list. I’d be interested to read your review of the Leithart book wherever it appears. I imagine you’ve probably seen the issue of Mennonite Quarterly Review devoted to discussion of the book?

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