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Nile Harper and associates, Journeys into Justice." Religious Collaboratives Working for Social Transformation.

Nile Harper and associates, Journeys into Justice." Religious Collaboratives Working for Social Transformation. Minneapolis, MN: Bascom Hill Publishing Group, 2009. Pp. 352. $18.95, paper.

Tradition and Pluralism: Essays in Honor of William M. Shea. Edited by Kenneth L. Parker, Peter A. Huff, and Michael J. G. Pahls. Studies in Religion and the Social Order. Lanham, MD, and Plymouth, U.K.: University Press of America, 2009. Pp. 370. $53.00, paper.

Journeys into Justice presents ten case studies, each focused upon the history and goals of a religious collaborative, which the authors define as "a voluntary association of organizations coming together around the common religious values that enable the creation of trust and the sharing of human and financial resources over a sustained period of time in order to accomplish significant goals for the public common good that no one group could achieve by itself' (p. 20). The book is entirely practical in its aims. Harper notes, "The most meaningful way to learn about religious collaboration is by participation in a collaborative" (p. 328). The collaboratives are located in Ann Arbor, Shreveport, Chicago, St. Paul/Minneapolis, Atlanta, St. Louis, Tucson, Nogales, Albuquerque, and Cleveland; one strength of the book is its focus on the local. Some of the studies are more narrative, while others read too much like a summary report to a board of directors; however, each effectively presents the history, aims, successes, and failures of creative religious-public partnerships designed to support the most needy.

Although Harper authors many of the studies, others are written either by the founder or a person significantly involved in the functioning of that particular collaborative. In his conclusion, Harper draws together lessons learned from the ten cases, including common themes, obstacles, and best practices, with the intention of aiding those who would found new or strengthen existing collaboratives. Harper's descriptions, at times, lack critical distance (e.g., at least two of the projects are described as "truly amazing"), and there are some grammatical and orthographic errors (e.g., "created from one ssence"). But the book should serve its intended audience well, even providing websites and contact information in an appendix for further consultation (pp. 43, 110, 266). It is hard to imagine how the book would be useful in a classroom.

The essays in Tradition and Pluralism are more scholarly and more reflective, and, as the book's subtitle declares, they honor the work of William (Bill) M. Shea, the Catholic intellectual who has spent his career at the Catholic University of America, the University of South Florida, St. Louis University, and the College of the Holy Cross. The essays are written by Shea's former students and former and current colleagues and friends, including among others Jacob Neusner, Terence Tilley, Michael Barnes, Dennis Doyle, and John Renard; therefore, they will be of most interest to academics, namely, philosophers, theologians, scholars of religion, and graduate students in those fields. However, one should add that the essays are unusually accessible to colleagues in the fields just mentioned, whether or not they specialize in Shea's areas of interest. Some of the essays develop elements of Shea's own research (Tilley, Barnes, Doyle, James Kee, Michael Lacey, Sandra Yocum Mize, William Portier), referring principally to his two major works, The Naturalists and the Supernatural and The Lion and the Lamb.

Representative is Yocum Mize's contribution to Shea's work on nineteenth-century American Catholic apologetics, in which she retrieves the writing of Anna Hanson Dorsey, as one of many important Catholic women's voices in the same period and subject. Some of the essays, clearly inspired by Shea's work, character, and personal influence, pursue topics outside his normal sphere of interest. Richard Matlak, e.g., summarizes a screenplay he wrote based on the life and poetry of William Wordsworth. Finally, two of the essays are more biographical. Francis Nichols provides an eye-witness review of Shea's efforts to professionalize the department of theological studies at Saint Louis University, and Darrell Fasching recalls an event from Shea's childhood that Shea later connected to a burgeoning interest in Catholic-Jewish mutual understanding. The disparate subjects are unified by the seriousness with which each author attends to the data relevant to the questions he or she asks and provisionally answers. Whether Renard's dismantling of Western stereotypes of Muslims and Islam, or Joseph Lawrence's careful and thorough (if occasionally biting) critique of Pope Benedict's Regensburg Address, the authors stubbornly and universally refuse to accept conventional platitudes. No doubt one finds here the influence of Shea's critical mind as well as that of a thinker of major importance in Shea's own intellectual formation: Bernard Lonergan, S.J.

One also finds a thread common to both books. Despite the evident differences in subject, audience, and style, each book emphasizes the crucial importance of attending to the particular, whether to local efforts at religious-public partnerships toward social justice or to the particulars of the conversations between science and religion, Catholics and Evangelicals, theology and philosophy, etc.

Christian S. Krokus, University of Scranton, Scranton, PA
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Author:Krokus, Christian S.
Publication:Journal of Ecumenical Studies
Article Type:Book review
Date:Sep 22, 2012
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