Elesha J. Coffman is Assistant Professor of Church History at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary. In this book, she uses the magazine The Christian Century as the marker or metaphor to talk about the strengths and challenges of the American Protestant mainline church. Think of her concentration on the magazine as the conversation starter for well-reasoned and often positive observations about the mainline church in America. Founded in 1884 as the Christian Oracle, The Century developed into a voice that represented a significant contingent of the United States religious experience. The magazine reflected shared values and prodded conscience. Through the conversations hosted by the magazine content, Coffman interprets the cultural capital of the mainline church. Still today, many mainline churches have clergy and laity that subscribe to and read The Christian Century. Put this book in their hands and see what kind of conversations you join. You will probably find that the mainline church is more vibrant than typically depicted in contemporary media.
Reviewed by Tim Shapiro