Archives for April 2012

Between the Lines: A Conversation with Gary Colledge – Part 2

We recently got the chance to talk with Gary L. Colledge about his new Brazos book God and Charles Dickens: Recovering the Christian Voice of a Class Author.

Gary teaches at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and at Walsh University in Canton, Ohio, and is the author of Dickens, Christianity, and “The Life of Our Lord”.

Last week, we asked Gary about the type of book he intended God and Charles Dickens to be.

In part 2, Gary responds to the lack of attention that is given to Charles Dicken’s Christian faith.

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Charles Dickens is not always thought of as a “Christian” writer, yet—as you point out in your book—his Christian faith and worldview undergird all of his writing. Why do you think this aspect of Dickens is often overlooked or neglected?

The fact that the Christian aspect of Dickens’s work is regularly overlooked is a puzzle to me. Dickens’s Christian voice is forthright and clear in his work. He doesn’t veil his Christian expression in symbolic language or an occasional cryptic passage. In fact, it seems to me that even the casual reader of Dickens would find it hard to miss the overt and pervasive expression of his Christian thought and ideas.

Having said that, however, I think there may be a handful of interrelated explanations for this curious gap in Dickens studies. First, as I note in the book, some of the influential early-twentieth-century Dickens scholars dismissed Dickens’s expressed religious thought as superficial and irrelevant. And even though there were contemporaneous challenges to this sort of critique, this dismissive criticism won out, carried the day, and continues to have a residual influence today. Second, there are current Dickens scholars who would explain the religious content in Dickens as mere moralism or nontraditional religious thought in the nineteenth century and thereby eviscerate his work of any Christian element. Third, I suspect there are other scholars today who believe this area of Dickens studies is just not important. Add to all of this the negative interpretation of Dickens’s caricatures of self-righteous religionists and parodies of distorted religion, and the sum is an view of Dickens as dismissive of religion at best.

In any event, the Christian aspect of Dickens’s work has not received the attention it deserves until relatively recently. In the 1960s, Philip Collins and Noel Peyrouten both wrote seminal pieces on Dickens’s The Life of Our Lord and so dealt with Dickens’s religion; in the 1970s, Alexander Welsh’s The City of Dickens (Clarendon) took the religious aspect of Dickens’s work seriously; in the 1980s, both Andrew Sanders (Charles Dickens: Resurrectionist, Macmillan) and Dennis Walder (Dickens and Religion, George, Allen & Unwin) wrote definitive single volumes on Dickens’s religion; and most recently, Carolyn W. de la L. Oulton’s Literature and Religion in Mid-Victorian England: From Dickens to Eliot is notable for its treatment of Dickens’s religion. My contribution in God and Charles Dickens, I hope, has been to bring into focus the centrality of Jesus and the specifically Christian content in the Dickens corpus.

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For more information on Gary Colledge’s book, God and Charles Dickens, click here.

We will post the rest of this interview over the next two weeks – so keep checking back!

The Weekly Hit List: April 27, 2012

Peter Enns’s book The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn’t Say about Human Origins has gotten much online attention this week.

James K. A. Smith wrote a review on The Colossian Forum: “Whose Bible? Which Adam?”

J. R. Daniel Kirk wrote a response (to Smith’s review) on his blog, Storied Theology: “What’s Wrong with Theological Exegesis”.

Enns was also featured in video from the symposium Biblical Faith in an Age of Science; Adam & Eve, Evolution, and Evangelicalism that took place on the NC State campus on April 12.  Here he talks about problems with Adam and evolution, and here the panel talks about Adam and Eve, evolution, and evangelicalism.

For additional video of Peter Enns describing The Evolution of Adam,  click here, here, and here.

 

Quick Hits:

Jim Wallis wrote about his recent sabbatical and his forthcoming book with Brazos Press in “Listening for the Voice of Aslan.”

Brian Walsh’s Kicking at the Darkness is a finalist in The Word Guild’s 2012 Canadian Christian Writing Awards. Kicking at the Darkness was also reviewed on A Sideways Glance.

 

Lectionary Reflection for the Fourth Sunday of Easter

From Genesis (BTCB) by R. R. Reno, commenting on Genesis 7:12 (alternative for Church of England):

The first feature of the flood is that divine intervention prevents sin from spiraling to its conclusion. The destructive power of the water turns back the corruptive power of evil, and in this way the flood prevents sin from descending all the way into nothingness. In an important sense, therefore, just as the garments of skin and expulsion from the garden are punishments that protect human beings from the full force of their sinful decisions, so also does the flood block the realization of the future promised in the covenant of Satan’s lie.

Furthermore, as the use of forty days (or years) throughout scripture suggests, the rains sent by God last for the standard period for purgation and purification: “Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow” (Ps. 51:7). This link between purgative destruction and salvation culminates in the saving death of Jesus Christ. Written in a context of persecution, the author of 1 Peter describes the trials of the faithful as tests of fire that purify the soul (1 Pet. 1:7, 22). In these trials, the suffering of Christ serves as an example (2:21). He is the one who, “when he was reviled, . . . did not revile in return” (2:23). The application is clear: the faithful are to resist the temptation to return evil for evil. Like Noah in the ark and Jesus in the wilderness, they should patiently endure affliction for the sake of righteousness.

Yet, there is a decisive twist that distinguishes Jesus from Noah and his ark. Jesus Christ does not endure death simply as a trial; his death brings life. For “by his wounds,” writes the author of 1 Peter, echoing Isa. 53, “you have been healed.” His death took place so “that we might die to sin and live to righteousness” (1 Pet. 2:24). Christ even “went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water” (3:19–20).

It is as if, when the waters begin to rise, Christ leaps from the ark and dives into the destroying flood of death so that he can reach all the way to the bottom and rescue those drowning in the covenant of the lie. Perhaps the imagery breaks down at this point, because Christ and the church are the ark into which the faithful are incorporated. The author if 1 Peter presumes this shift: “Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you” (3:21)—although this assertion of allegorical correspondence is itself complex and plays across different aspects of Noah’s story. Baptism is both immersion in Christ’s death (a recapitulation of his dive into the waters of destruction) and incorporation into his risen life (a first draught of the water of life).

©2010 by R. R. Reno. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

Between the Lines: A Conversation with Gary Colledge – Part 1

We recently got the chance to talk with Gary L. Colledge about his new Brazos book God and Charles Dickens: Recovering the Christian Voice of a Class Author.

Gary teaches at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and at Walsh University in Canton, Ohio, and is the author of Dickens, Christianity, and “The Life of Our Lord”.

In today’s post (part 1 of 5), we ask Gary about the type of book he intended God and Charles Dickens to be.

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In the introduction to God and Charles Dickens, you write that it is not a book about Dickens but rather is a book of him. What do you mean by this?

I’ve tried, in this book, to let Dickens speak. I’m convinced that he speaks with a vibrant Christian voice that has not been heard or acknowledged as fully as it should be. So, I didn’t want to write a book about Dickens—there are plenty of excellent books about him. I wanted God and Charles Dickens to be a book of him—or from him.

To accomplish that, I quote Dickens often—from his novels, his stories, his letters, his journalism, and his speeches—and I do so regularly at length. I attempt to keep my own interpretation to a minimum and to let Dickens’s own words be at the heart of my work. While I certainly attempt to guide readers into Dickens’s Christian thought, my goal is to have them hear Dickens. As such, then, I’m hopeful the book will be received as a book of Charles Dickens and that those who read it will be encouraged to revisit Dickens or pick him up for the first time. Reading Dickens, of course, is the best way to hear his Christian voice.

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For more information on Gary’s book, God and Charles Dickens, click here.

We will post the rest of this interview over the next two weeks – so keep checking back!

This Just In: God and Charles Dickens by Gary L. Colledge

Today we are introducing a new feature for The Brazos Blog: This Just In will announce new releases from Brazos Press.


God and Charles Dickens: Recovering the Christian Voice of a Classic Author
By Gary L. Colledge

Available
ISBN:
9781587433207
Price: $19.99
Category: Christianity/Literature

Though Charles Dickens’s writings are now more than 100 years old, many remain in print and are avidly read and studied. Often overlooked—or unknown—are the considerable Christian convictions this author held and displayed in his work.

God and Charles Dickens illuminates a fresh perspective on Dickens by examining Dickens the Christian and showing how Christian beliefs and practices permeate his work. Gary Colledge examines Dickens’s novels, letters, and other writings to explore his Christian thought and worldview.

Chapters examine Dickens’s life and work topically, arguing that Christian faith was front and center in some of what he wrote (such as his children’s work The Life of Our Lord) and saliently implicit throughout various other characters and plots.

This work, especially timely since 2012 is Dickens’s 200th birthday year, will appeal to students of literature. It brings to life the vital faith of an enduringly important and vastly popular writer.

 “In his highly readable book, Colledge does what every good critic should: he puts Dickens center stage and allows the author to speak for himself. Colledge helps us clearly hear the challenge Dickens makes to his readers to more closely follow Christ’s example of compassion and caring. This book is long overdue.”
—Devin Brown, professor of English, Asbury University; author of The Christian World of “The Hobbit”

Gary L. Colledge (PhD, University of St. Andrews) is currently an adjunct professor at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and at Walsh University in Canton, Ohio. He wrote his dissertation on Dickens and Christianity. Colledge is the author of Dickens, Christianity, and “The Life of Our Lord” and contributed several articles to the New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible.

Reflecting on Wendell Berry on Earth Day

Yesterday was Earth Day and we thought it a proper time to highlight the Brazos book Wendell Berry and the Cultivation of Life by J. Matthew Bonzo and Michael R. Stevens.

Wendell Berry offers an important and redemptive vision for life through his poetry, fiction, and essays. His themes of community, place, and conservation speak to a range of people, both conservative and progressive, who are concerned with finding health in the midst of our restless, transient “culture of death.” Wendell Berry and the Cultivation of Life is a systematic overview of Berry’s life and work and a concise introduction to his cultural and spiritual themes. It demonstrates the power of Berry’s vision and shows how his account of the world resonates with the biblical narrative of creation.

The following excerpt was taken from the first chapter.

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[Wendell] Berry’s vision is not a new metaphysic—another world offered as an escape from fallenness and despair. Instead, the story to be told is one of healing within the bounds of creation, not yet a final resurrection, not yet a new creation. Nowhere does Berry articulate this more eloquently than in the long essay “The Body and the Earth.” Here the mask is seen as the glossy embodiment of human pride, a pride that reduces the world to its mechanical functions: “We become less and less capable of sensing ourselves as small within Creation . . . because we were becoming creators, ourselves, of a mechanical creation by which we felt ourselves greatly magnified.”

But Berry also elaborates on the theme of blessed limitation which characterizes the “Sympathetic Mind.” When we perceive that “healing is impossible in loneliness; it is the opposite of loneliness,” we are back at the root of healing, the communal recognition and obligation. This extends outward, not with the universalizing or otalizing motive of modernity, for such a motive would reject the very particularity that makes community possible. But there is a sweeping scope to this healing: “to be healed, we must come with all the other creatures to the feast of Creation.”

©2008 by J. Matthew Bonzo & Michael R. Stevens. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

 

The Weekly Hit List: April 20, 2012

Brian Walsh, author of the Brazos book Kicking at the Darkness: Bruce Cockburn and the Christian Imagination, will be featured in the documentary Bruce Cockburn: Pacing the Cage.

The film will premeire on the Canadian station ‘VisionTV’ May 1st, at 10 pm ET.

For more info on the documentary, click here.

Also, Byron Borger recently featured Kicking at the Darkness  in the first of a two-part blog post on Bruce Cockburn and Brian Walsh on the “Hearts & Minds” blog.

 

Quick Hits:

Nicole Baker Fulgham, author of the forthcoming Brazos book Educating All God’s Children, was recently interviewed on Christianity Today’s “This Is Our City” blog.

Back in February, Gary Colledge, author of the just-released God and Charles Dickens, wrote a piece for Christianity Today titled “My Top 5 Books by Charles Dickens.”

Christian Smith’s The Bible Made Impossible was reviewed on the “Bartholomusings” blog.

God and Charles Dickens Giveaway Winners

Congratulations to Scott Elliott, Bill Bradford, Thomas Cairns, Lynn Kauppi, and Terrance Tiessen. They have each won a copy of Gary Colledge’s God and Charles Dickens on The Brazos Blog.

Keep checking back for our next giveaway.

Lectionary Reflection for the Third Sunday of Easter

From Luke (BTCB; forthcoming) by David Lyle Jeffrey, commenting on Luke 24: 36b-48:

But even while they are in this joyous exchange, flushed with the excitement and wonder of it all, suddenly Jesus is standing “in the midst of them” and saying, “Peace to you” (24:36). Despite the collective witness of previous encounters with the risen Lord, they are “terrified and affrighted” (ptoeō and emphobos—the doubling indicates extremity of apprehensive emotion) and think he is a ghost (24:37). As so often, he calms them down: “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts?” (24:38). He points to his hands and his feet, inviting them to touch him, “for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have” (24:39). When he does this (24:40), they can scarcely believe for their joy and wonderment (thaumazō has the sense we employ when we refer to something wonderful as “fantastic” or “incredible,” not meaning the word literally but hyperbolically for something so marvelous our minds cannot take it in).

Luke here is as emphatic about the physicality of the resurrected body of Jesus as Paul will be later (1 Cor. 15:35–49); it is of the essence of what he is showing to have happened that every expectation of mortal nature in death has been broken through, the corruptible body having been restored and now, recognizably flesh and bones, yet an entirely new phenomenon. It can scarcely be overstressed how contrary Luke and Paul are to modernist metaphorizing and sidestepping of this absolute foundation of Christian faith and hope. John Updike, himself a modern and no pietist, nevertheless underscores this point beautifully in a poem directed against the evasive liberalism of many theologians when he insists that Jesus’s bodily resurrection is the lynch-pin of any plausible Christian future: “if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules / reknit, the amino acids rekindle,” he says, “the Church will fall.” […]

Luke would have liked Updike’s poem for the way in which it so unequivocally grasps just how real Jesus’s resurrection body is. Jesus asks for something to eat; the dumbfounded disciples give him “fish and some honeycomb,” and he sits down in front of them and eats, as I think we may reliably imagine, with relish (Luke 24:42–43). Once again, as with the angels and the women, he reminds them all of what he has previously said to them, “that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning me” (24:44). He has come to “fulfill the law and the prophets,” and he has. Here too we have his clear indication that all of the scriptures—Torah, Nevi’im, and Ketubim—have spoken of the earth-shattering events to which they have been witnesses; he “open[s] their understanding,” as he had done in Emmaus, “that they might comprehend the Scriptures” (24:45). This is another, living demonstration of the real presence of Christ in his word. It was necessary for this fulfillment, the consolation of Israel for which so many for so long had yearned, that Christ, the Messiah of God, should “suffer and . . . rise from the dead the third day” (24:46).

But now a further fulfillment is necessary, namely that preaching his call to repentance and promise of the forgiveness of sins should take place “to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (24:47). And these very followers are first among those called to the apostolic task, to be “witnesses” of all that has happened and of its meaning (24:48).

©2012 by David Lyle Jeffrey. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

Brazos Authors at the Festival of Faith & Writing 2012

This Thursday through Saturday is the beinnial Festival of Faith & Writing at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI.

Begun in 1990, this conference “brings together writers, editors, publishers, musicians, artists, and readers for three days of discussing and celebrating insightful writing that explores, in some significant way, issues of faith.”

You can find more info about the FF&W (including a schedule of events) here.

Brazos Press, alongside the other divisions of Baker Publishing Group, will be in the exhibition hall highlighting many of our new and relevant titles. Also, several lectures and workshops during the conference include Brazos authors. Here are a few highlights:

Thursday, 1:45-2:45 pm: Brian Walsh will be speaking on “Kicking at the Darkness: Methodological Reflections.”

In this session, Brian Walsh reflects on the nature, assumptions, and goals of “theological criticism” of contemporary music, using his work on Bruce Cockburn as an example. What happens when art is taken as a source, in dialogue with Scripture, for theological reflection? How is the art respected as art and not just “used” to make a theological point? How does this kind of work help to engender and shape a Christian imagination?

Thursday, 3:15-4:15 pm: Brazos acquisitions editor, Robert Hosack, will take part in a panel on “What’s a Platform, Anyway? Selling Yourself Without Selling Your
Soul.”

One of the big buzzwords in publishing these days is platform. Simply put, it’s the author’s public profile that helps sell the book. Without a platform, often there is no publishing contract. Yet many aspiring authors don’t know what a platform is, why it’s so important, or how to build one for themselves and their work. Why do they need a platform to sell the book—isn’t that the publisher’s job? And how do Christian writers reconcile self-promotion and platform-building with a faith that values humility? In this session, three publishing veterans—an acquisitions editor and two publicists—will show non-fiction authors why growing a platform is vital to success, how to connect with existing and potential reading audiences, and how to not hate themselves in the process.

Thursday, 4:30-5:30 pm: Brian Walsh will be interviewing Bruce Cockburn.

Singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn talks with Brian Walsh about social justice, the creative process, and “kicking at the darkness.”

Friday, 11:30-12:30 am: Daniel Taylor will be speaking on “Lies, Whitewashes, and Cover-ups: Dealing in Memoir with Pain and Painful People.”

A recurring question in writing memoir is how to deal—both psychologically and in terms of craft—with personal pain and hurtful people, especially when those people may still be in one’s life or known to people who are. The session explores the issues and offers guidelines for writing effectively about things one may be hesitant to write about at all.

Saturday, 2-3 pm: Daniel Taylor will be speaking on “Creating a Spiritual Will: Passing on Wisdom, Values, and Stories.”

A spiritual legacy is the passing of wisdom from one generation or person to another. One form this can take is the spiritual will, an ancient practice of passing on values, insights, and life stories through a brief statement drawing on a lifetime of experience. This workshop guides participants in the creation of a spiritual will for those they care about.

We are excited to be a part of this year’s festival and that Brazos Press will be so well represented! If you’re around for the festival, be sure to stop by our booth and say Hi!

Welcome to Our New Publicist: Trinity Graeser

We are excited to welcome our new publicist, Trinity Graeser, to the Brazos Press & Baker Academic team.

Trinity has worked for Baker Publishing Group since 2008 in both trade and academic divisions. For the past three-and-a-half years, she has served as the acquisitions assistant for Baker Books and Bibles.

Trinity has a BA in Philosophy from Hillsdale College with minors in English and Journalism. Some highlights from her time there included classes on the philosophy of the mind and the philosophy of contemporary issues in society, as well as opportunities to interview John D. Caputo and Alvin Plantinga for The Hillsdale Collegian.

After a stint as a buyer in the military and aerospace industry, Trinity decided to pursue a career in publishing. She is excited to be working now with Brazos Press & Baker Academic and is enthusiastic about working with media to help promote great books and great ideas.

In her spare time, she enjoys testing recipes, taking long road trips, and expanding her Goodreads lists.