A review of Olivette Otele’s new book, *African Europeans: An Untold History*

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Something strange about humans: we tend to like thinking in binaries.

I’m in my second year teaching AP Psychology, and because of the pandemic last spring I wasn’t able to teach my favorite branch of psychology: social psychology. So right now, I’m teaching through it for the first time.

One important through-line in social psychology is the tendency for humans to form in-groups and out-groups. We prefer our in-group and see individual differences between people, but we assume out-group members are all similar to each other, for the most part.

But what about when the lines blur between in-group and…

My review of Andrew Walker’s new book, *Liberty For All: Defending Everyone’s Religious Freedom in a Pluralistic Age*

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Why would a Christian want, for instance, Muslims to have the freedom to worship however they want?

The answer isn’t as simple as it seems before you have to come up with it. If it is that the government has to treat all religions equally, why is that? Why should Christians want a government that treats all religions equally? “Religious liberty for all” is (for some) an easy concept to get behind, but it is more difficult to express one’s convictions behind it.

Pastor John MacArthur made minor waves in January when he declared: “I don’t even support religious freedom…

A review of Tim Marshall’s wonderful *Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Explain Everything About the World*

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What foreign country’s history is the most fascinating to you?

I asked this on Twitter a few days ago, and the responses were amazing. What I realized, and was noted by at least one other person, is that there’s always an event that sparks our fascination with a country’s history. It can be a personal connection like a visit to that country or knowing someone who lived there. But it can also be as simple as reading something about that country and wanting to know more.

If you’ve ever wanted to know more about a country, a region, or the world in general (my knowledge of world history was embarrassingly…

A review of *Gospelbound: Living with Resolute Hope in an Anxious Age*, by Collin Hansen and Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra

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Do you find yourself anxious and without hope looking at the state of the world?

Our society is full of disappointing, even anxiety-producing stories. The more you are on social media, the more you see this. And, especially over the last year and a half, simply keeping up with the news of the day can make one anxious.

The same can be said of American Christianity. It’s full of disappointing stories. The more you are on social media, the more you see this.

So where is the hope? What hope do we have if those who are supposed to be the light of the world sometimes simply magnify the darkness? That is the question at…

A review of the terrific *Reparations: A Christian Call for Repentance and Repair* by Duke Kwon and Gregory Thompson

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The word “reparations” can kill a conversation faster than almost anything else in politics or religion. But it shouldn’t.

Most honest individuals would agree that the relationship between White people and Black people in the United States is in need of repair. That is what is meant by “reparations”. It is a comprehensive change in the lives and relationships of White people and Black people to repair what has been lost over many centuries. …

A review of Kate Masur’s new history, *Until Justice Be Done: America’s First Civil Rights Movement, From the Revolution to Reconstruction*

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Do you think it’s enough for laws not to discriminate based on race? Or should laws also be analyzed for their effects on different races?

This is an important question for today’s world, as mass incarceration has had a massively disproportional effect on the Black community while laws are forbidden to discriminate based on race. But it is also the basis of the most recent civil rights movement of the 1960s. Poll taxes and literacy tests did not explicitly discriminate based on race, but the effects were both clear and purposeful. But one movement, one that began over a century…

A review of a brand new FRANKENSTEIN reader’s guide edition by Karen Swallow Prior

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Sometimes, with a person, a concept, or a work of fiction, the whole of it seems so commonplace that we miss out on everything that makes that thing unique.

Or maybe, like Frankenstein’s monster, we are so scared of that thing (maybe of ourselves?) that we don’t give it the intimacy it deserves.

That is what I felt when reading Frankenstein for the first time, thanks to Karen Swallow Prior’s new reader’s guide edition. Karen Swallow Prior is a Research Professor of English and Christianity and Culture at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. She began writing a series of reader’s guides…

My review of a brand new JANE EYRE reader’s guide edition by Karen Swallow Prior

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Have you ever read a story that, on the surface, you wouldn’t guess you would connect with, but you find yourself absorbing it at such a deep level that it becomes part of you?

Well, I finished reading Jane Eyre about 30 minutes ago and I’m fairly confident that’s what’s happening. But once again (just as in Heart of Darkness and Sense & Sensibility), I’m sure that I wouldn’t have enjoyed Jane Eyre or been affected by it to such an extent without the help of Karen Swallow Prior’s reader’s guide.

For the uninitiated, Karen Swallow Prior is a Research…

A review of *Useful Delusions: The Power and Paradox of the Self-Deceiving Brain* by Hidden Brain’s Shankar Vedantam

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One facet of a book that separates it from other avenues of media, at least for myself, is a book’s surprising ability to make you thankful for the author’s work even if you disagree with it. It seems to happen to me particularly often. Malcolm Gladwell’s ideas are about a 50/50 proposition whether I’ll agree with him or not, but I will always read his books and I’ll eventually catch up on all his podcasts too. I don’t agree with Ben Sasse on several points, but his books (The Vanishing American Adult and Them) are ones I recommend widely.


A review of Amelia Pang’s brand new *Made in China: A Prisoner, an SOS Letter, and the Hidden Cost of America’s Cheap Goods*

“There is a darker side to China’s rags-to-riches transformation — and our own pleasure in the cheap products that we consume daily. During our endless search for the newest trends and the lowest prices, we become complicit in the forced labor industry.” — Amelia Pang

Amelia Pang’s new book, Made in China, has an almost-irresistible hook: A middle-class American woman, opening Halloween decorations, finds a folded piece of paper. It is a note. More accurately, an SOS letter. A man from the other side of the world was being forced to work in a labor camp making cheap decorative tombstones…

Jason Park

Book-reviewer, AP World History and AP Psychology Teacher. MAT Secondary Social Studies, University of Arkansas. Arlington, TX.

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