The Year of Living Like Jesus
My Journey of Discovering What Jesus Would Really Do
Ed Dobson (Zondervan)

You're familiar with the genre: A secular Jew follows Old Testament laws for one year. A Brown University student spends a semester at Jerry Falwell's college. Now Ed Dobson, a pastor in evangelical Grand Rapids, seeks to live like Jesus—not the bridge-crossing endeavor we generally encounter in such books. In the end, though, it's not the lengths to which Dobson goes that make his book noteworthy; it's how little he must do to expose the shallow self-centeredness of much of our everyday faith.

Patron Saints for Postmoderns
Ten from the Past Who Speak to Our Future
Chris R. Armstrong (Intervarsity Press)

Chris Armstrong's biographical collection ignores the usual suspects—the likes of Augustine, Aquinas, and Bonaventure are nowhere to be found. Nor is his a white-dudes-only club. Instead, Armstrong profiles some oft-overlooked saints, including several women, and reminds us in a postmodern-friendly fashion that all history is biography, and that the past is more unpredictable, complicated, and instructive than the way it is often presented.

Deep Church
A Third Way Beyond Emerging and Traditional
Jim Belcher (Intervarsity Press)

Jim Belcher is a Presbyterian Church in America pastor. He also was emerging before it was called emerging. That makes him part of a very small tribe, so small that he's probably the only member. Yet his insights into church life are broadly useful, and the balance he strikes between tradition and mission, certainty and creativity, could provide a way forward for many.
Books reviewed by Madison Trammel

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In Theaters

More Than a Game
Lionsgate | Rated PG | October 2

In this true coming-of-age story about nba superstar LeBron James's teen years in Akron, Ohio, we see his team go through various ups and downs. Their tight friendships are tested through thick and thin—especially as James's celebrity status explodes in his senior season. But behind it all, coach Dru Joyce, a Christian, shapes and molds these boys, teaching them about prayer, leadership, perseverance, and integrity.—Mark Moring

The Road
Weinstein | Rated R | October 16

The last time a Cormac McCarthy novel was adapted to film—with No Country for Old Men—it won Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director. Now comes The Road, which earned McCarthy a Pulitzer Prize. The post-apocalyptic tale depicts a father (Viggo Mortensen) and son desperately seeking hope and life on their journey across a desolate landscape. The boy believes there is still goodness in the world; the father isn't so convinced. It's a story of love and sacrifice in a dark and lonely world.—Mark Moring

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The Sold Project
Independent | Unrated

Rachel Sparks was just a "normal" girl from Indiana when she heard about Thailand's child sex trade. She ended up forming an organization and making a documentary by the same name, The Sold Project, which includes short pieces about the problem and how viewers can help. The highlight is a 12-minute feature of a bright, beautiful Thai girl named Cat—and how the Sold Project stepped in to help when she was most at risk, likely preventing an ugly future. (More:—Mark Moring

Film Movement | Unrated | October 6

In the summer of 2006, Lee Isaac Chung went to Rwanda as a volunteer with Youth With a Mission, and decided that his best gift to Rwanda's youth would be helping them use art to work through the trauma of the 1994 genocide. Chung taught filmmaking, allowing the students to tell their own stories in a documentary that ended up at many top festivals. Variety's Robert Koehler described it as "the finest and truest film yet on the moral and emotional repercussions of the genocide that wracked Rwanda."—Brett McCracken

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Electric Dirt
Levon Helm
(Dirt Farmer Music)

When Nina Simone sang, "I Wish I Knew How It Feels to Be Free," she was singing about liberation from racial inequality; when Levon Helm sings it, he's singing about liberation from all the trappings of this world. The singer and drummer for the Band, this recent cancer survivor has mortality—but also the gospel—on his mind on this album. If he continues to do work as joyful as this, it will be a blessing to us all. —Josh Hurst

Songs from Jacob's Well
Mike Crawford & His Secret Siblings

When King David exhorted us to make a joyful noise, Mike Crawford took the call seriously. The worship pastor at Jacob's Well Church in Kansas City, Crawford—and about 22 other musicians, according to the credits—helms a fascinating worship album here, full of Scripture, truth, and beautiful poetry, all wrapped up in, well, a joyful noise. Some of it is melodic, some funky, some dissonant, and some downright weird (think Sufjan Stevens meets Sigur R—s meets Jon Foreman). Singalongs? Not many here. But for intelligent, contemplative songs honoring the Creator, this is it. —Mark Moring

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"All kinds of people make up my life / All kinds of faces show me their love / All kinds of lanterns light up the dark / But there's only One God has a place in my heart." You won't hear these lyrics on your favorite Christian radio station, because they are from Yusuf Islam—the former Cat Stevens—who became a Muslim over 30 years ago. On his latest CD, Roadsinger, you'll find plenty of beautiful music about love and peace, several songs of worship—and nary a mention of Allah. Yusuf has said he hopes to ease Western apprehensions about Islam; this soothing, soaring music is a good step. —Mark Moring

(Mountain Roads Records)

Bluegrass and the Good News have long been companions, but it's an outright marriage—literally, with founders Kevin and Tiffany Wheeler—for this new group from rural southwestern Virginia. There's plenty of foot-stomping pickin' and grinnin', but the vocal harmonies are what make this album soar. "From the Third Day On" is especially lovely, with this uplifting lyric: "From the third day on / Christ is risen / From the third day on / Hope is alive / From the third day on / We are forgiven / Make sure you're livin' / From the third day on."—Mark Moring

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