Archives for September 2012

The Weekly Hit List: September 28, 2012

Glittering Vices: A New Look at the Seven Deadly Sins and Their Remedies by Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung has been granted second place in the 2012 C. S. Lewis Book Prize by the St. Thomas Philosophy of Religion Project.

This book offers a new look at ancient and enduring Christian moral wisdom on the Seven Deadly Sins, their meaning for today, and possible remedies.

The C. S. Lewis Book Prize recognizes the best recent book in the philosophy of religion or philosophical theology written for a general audience.

For more information on Glittering Vices, check out this Christianity Today interview with Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung from 2009.

 
 

Quick Hits:

Psalms for All Seasons was reviewed by Father Richard Peers SCP on the blog Company of Voices.

Living into Focus by Arthur Boers was reviewed on The Community, a blog of Canadian Anglicans.

 

Ebook Specials and Other Offers:

September ebook specials are currently running for multiple Brazos Press and Baker Academic titles. All of these are at least 50% off.

Who Is My Enemy? by Lee. C. Camp
A Public Faith by Miroslav Volf
Christians and the Common Good by Charles E. Gutenson
War and the American Difference by Stanley Hauerwas
The Politics of Discipleship by Graham Ward
Christians at the Border by M. Daniel Carroll R.
Hope in Troubled Times by Bob Goudzwaard and David Van Heemst and Mark Vander Vennen

 

Lectionary Reflection for the Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost

This excerpt comes from Numbers (BTCB) by David L. Stubbs, commenting on Numbers 11:4-6,10-16,24-29:

This passage does not comment on what precisely Israel’s sin was, what was wrong with their craving and weeping. However, Deut. 8:3 is explicit: “He [YHWH] humbled you by letting you hunger, then by feeding you with manna, with which neither you nor your ancestors were acquainted, in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”

The phrase “one does not live by bread alone” means that humanity—and specifically Israel—is called to something higher than simply meeting their basic needs. The phrase “every word” refers to “this entire commandment that I command you today” (8:1)—it is the covenantal way that leads to life.

The sin of Israel is that they worry too much about their daily bread. Their worry and lack of trust in God’s providence causes them to think fondly of Egypt, and eventually they begin making plans to abandon God’s plan and elect a leader who will take them back (Num. 14:4).

They allow a legitimate need and desire, the desire for good and tasty food, to become a craving that gets in the way of their calling as a people. Their faithfulness to God’s purposes is choked by their desire for material and bodily comfort, a desire that becomes a roadblock in their journey to the fullness of the life God intends for them.

Using the terminology of virtue theory, the people of Israel lack temperance, which is the virtue of being able to say no to the desires of one’s body—whether good or bad—insofar as they get in the way of the pursuit of higher goods (the classic Christian exposition is Aquinas Summa theologica I-II Q61.2-3).

 

©2009 by David L. Stubbs. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

Daniel Taylor Speaks on “Spiritual Legacy”

In April of this year Daniel Taylor, author of Creating a Spiritual Legacy: How to Share your Stories, Values and Wisdom, spoke at the Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin College.

One of his workshops was titled “Creating a Spiritual Will: Passing on Wisdom, Values and Stories.”

In his workshop, Taylor develops many of the ideas from Creating a Spiritual Legacy.

In this audio clip, Daniel defines “spiritual legacy” and its significance for passing on our values and wisdom in our stories.

Daniel Taylor (PhD, Emory University) is the author of ten books, including The Myth of Certainty, Letters to My Children, Tell Me a Story: The Life-Shaping Power of Our Stories, and In Search of Sacred Places. He has worked as a stylist on various Bible translations and is cofounder of The Legacy Center. He is also a contributing editor for Books & Culture.

For more information on Daniel Taylor and Creating a Spiritual Legacy, visit the book’s webpage here.

Daniel also contributed some posts on The Brazos Blog a while back on why he wrote Creating a Spiritual Legacy.

Check them out here.

The Weekly Hit List: September 21, 2012

God and Charles Dickens by Gary L. Colledge was reviewed by Comment Magazine

“Gary L. Colledge’s God and Charles Dickens: Recovering the Christian Voice of a Classic Author (Brazos 2012) makes the convincing case that behind each of Dickens’s novels is a consistent vision of Christ’s ministry of reconciliation. . . . This is an aspect of Dickens that we have not heard enough about this year, the 200th anniversary of his birth, neither in the public commemorations nor in the academic press.”

You can read the rest of the review here.

 

God and Charles Dickens was also reviewed by Gene C. Fant Jr. for The Gospel Coalition.

“Gary Colledge’s helpful work, published on the 200th anniversary of the author’s birth, urges Christian readers in particular to consider rescuing Dickens from the literary quicksand of the past. . . . Colledge, adjunct professor at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and Walsh University in Canton, Ohio, proposes that Dickens’s voice is as relevant today as it was in the past, as his works address significant issues of poverty, justice, personal hypocrisy, and faith.”

You can read the rest of Fant’s review here.

 

Gary Colledge was also featured in an interview last week with Dr. Bill Maier on Faith Radio.

 

Quick Hits:

Speaking of Dying by Fred Craddock, Dale Goldsmith, and Joy V. Goldsmith was reviewed by Englewood Review of Books.

A Public Faith by Miroslav Volf was reviewed by The Christian Chronicle.

A Hobbit Journey by Matthew Dickerson was reviewed by Jeffrey Overstreet on his Patheos blog.

The Bible Made Impossible by Christian Smith was recommended in Religious Herald.

Peter Enns, author of The Evolution of Adam, was interviewed on Beyond the Box podcast.
Listen to: “The Nature of Scripture and the Question of Evolution with Peter Enns.”

We Were the Least of These by Elaine A. Heath was reviewed by Scott Endress on ClergySpirit and shared on the The Methoblog.

Arthur Boers, author of Living into Focus, was quoted extensively in the article “Virtual Virtue” on pages 18-23 of the July/August 2012 issue of Faith Today.

 

Ebook Specials and Other Offers:

September ebook specials are currently running for multiple Brazos Press and Baker Academic titles. All of these are at least 50% off.

Who Is My Enemy? by Lee. C. Camp
A Public Faith by Miroslav Volf
Christians and the Common Good by Charles E. Gutenson
War and the American Difference by Stanley Hauerwas
The Politics of Discipleship by Graham Ward
Christians at the Border by M. Daniel Carroll R.
Hope in Troubled Times by Bob Goudzwaard and David Van Heemst and Mark Vander Vennen

Lectionary Reflection for the Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost

This excerpt comes from Proverbs & Ecclesiastes (BTCB) by Daniel J. Treier, commenting on Proverbs 31:10-31:

The poem in 31:10-31 is an acrostic, each verse beginning with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Beyond reflecting the intricacy of beautiful design, this suggests a stylized discourse conveying a climactic point. The ode surely works at a literal level, and therefore—influenced as it is by Lemuel’s mother, no less—it has profound implications for assessing the portrayal of women in Proverbs.

Many a fundamentalist patriarch runs aground here—or should, anyway—when setting forth a simplistic vision of the postindustrial nuclear family, with no woman working outside the home as the exclusively biblical paradigm. To the contrary, the “Prov. 31 woman” is industrious in multiple senses, even as this household does not neglect care for children.

At the same time, the superlatives-with-acrostic character of the ode suggests another level of meaning beyond the literal. While it is important to see the possibility of embodying Lady Wisdom’s teachings in flesh and blood, her foil, Dame Folly, promoted not only literal license but also spiritual adultery. Likewise, it seems probable that in Prov. 31 we get a portrait of the ideal partner for the divine husband. The conclusion, regarding works that manifest the fear of the Lord, reinforces this.

Thus the person who learns the wisdom of Proverbs will be a boon to others—industrious, taking clever initiative, strong, caring for the needy, planning and preparing, enjoying a good reputation and results, teaching wisdom to others—as well as, ultimately, one who through these works expresses devotion to God. The spiritual interpretation calls God’s covenant people to render tangible service.

 

©2011 by Daniel J. Treier. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

This Just In: Just Politics by Ronald Sider

Evangelicals today probably have more political influence in the United States than at any time in the last century–but they might not be certain what to do with it. It has been difficult to develop a unified voice on pressing issues such as social justice and moral renewal.

Bestselling author and theologian Ron Sider offers a biblically grounded, factually rooted, Christian approach to politics that cuts across ideological divides. Shaped by a careful study of society, this book will guide readers into more thoughtful and effective political activity.

Practical, balanced, and nonpartisan, this book will be a welcome resource during the 2012 presidential race. It is a revised version of what was previously published as The Scandal of Evangelical Politics and includes a new introduction and revisions throughout.


Ronald J. Sider (PhD, Yale University) is president of Evangelicals for Social Action and professor of theology, holistic ministry, and public policy at Palmer Theological Seminary in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania. He is the author of many books, including the bestselling Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger and The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience.

Praise for Just Politics:

“Ron Sider once again proves that he is one of our country’s most important public theologians. Tackling the most pertinent debates of the day, Just Politics offers a blueprint for how evangelicals can be politically active in a biblically coherent, spiritually mature, and publicly reflective way. Any Christian who is looking to be challenged in what it means to be faithful and politically engaged should read this book!” —Jim Wallis, president and CEO, Sojourners; author, On God’s Side: What Religion Forgets and Politics Hasn’t Learned about Serving the Common Good

“Ron Sider, the founder of Evangelicals for Social Action, sets forth in this book ways in which Christians can work for justice with the political systems of our day. Drawing on his extensive scholarly research and his lifetime of activism, he provides a scenario that can assist Christians who want to responsibly implement biblical principles in the decisions of government. Those who want to know how to make informed statements in response to the crucial issues of these perilous times will find this book an invaluable guide. Ron Sider writes with clarity and conviction. This book deserves praise!” —Tony Campolo, Eastern University

“Ron Sider builds on years of experience and conversations with Christians across a very wide spectrum. His balance is better than that of most who want to influence politics for the better. And biblical faith is the solid platform on which he builds and balances. Listen to Ron carefully before taking your next step. Just Politics: that’s what we need.” —James W. Skillen, former president, Center for Public Justice

Best of the Brazos Blog – Recap and Giveaways

It is the one year anniversary of The Brazos Blog! All week we have been highlighting the best of the blog from the last year.

Monday we highlighted our Between the Lines posts – featuring an interview w/ Miroslav Volf.
Tuesday we featured videos that have appeared on our blog – highlighting those w/ Lee C. Camp.
Wednesday we ran a post from Peter Enns on why he wrote The Evolution of Adam to highlight our Behind the Book series.
Thursday we featured our Beyond the Book entries – highlighting a blog post from Christian Scharen on Mumford & Sons.

Each day we have had a giveaway for Brazos titles to go with each post.

Best of The Brazos Blog – Beyond the Book

It is the one year anniversary of The Brazos Blog! To celebrate we are posting the best of the blog – along with a variety of giveaways (we will have one per day – see below).

Monday we highlighted our Between the Lines posts – featuring an interview w/ Miroslav Volf.
Tuesday we featured videos that have appeared on our blog – highlighting those w/ Lee C. Camp.
Yesterday we ran a post from Peter Enns on why he wrote The Evolution of Adam to highlight our Behind the Book series.

Today we are featuring our Beyond the Book entries – in which Brazos authors write original posts that extend the conversation of their books. Some notable Beyond the Book posts include:

“Job Description for a Dying Pastor” by Dale Goldsmith, co-author of Speaking of Dying
“Hide it under a bushel? Yes!” by Jonathan Malesic, author of Secret Faith in the Public Square
“The Best Weapon against Vampires Has Always Been the Cross” by Susannah Clements, author of The Vampire Defanged
“Being and Becoming: Learning from the Mystics” by David Benner, author of Spirituality and the Awakening Self

In January of this year, Christian Scharen, author of Broken Hallelujahs: Why Popular Music Matters to Those Seeking God, wrote three Beyond the Book posts for The Brazos Blog. The first was titled “Reflections on Grammy Nominees, Part 1: Mumford and Sons.” We’ve chosen to feature this post, not only because it is a great article, but also because Mumford and Sons release their second album next week. Enjoy.

—————————————————

One reason I wrote Broken Hallelujahs was to offer a theology of culture that sees–expects!–God’s redeeming presence already at work in the world. Pop culture is not God-forsaken, despite the ‘constricted imagination’ present in some corners of Christianity which would say it is. As a case in point, I’m starting a series of posts here engaging some of the featured artists in the upcoming Grammy Awards, the recording industry’s major awards ceremony, on February 12.

First up: Mumford and Sons, the British folk-rock band that has exploded in popularity on the strength of their debut album, Sigh No More. Last year, they were present at the Grammy Awards with nominations in two categories: “Best New Artist” and “Best Rock Song” (For “Little Lion Man”). While they lost both, they did get a rousing set playing “The Cave” and then sharing the stage with The Avett Brother’s “Head Full of Doubt / Road Full of Promise” before both bands backed Bob Dylan on “Maggie’s Farm.” It is a rousing performance, worth a watch especially for “The Cave” which I’ll talk about next.

This year, Mumford and Sons are back with four nominations, all for “The Cave” and with the wave they are riding I very much expect them to win one or more. The nominations are for “Record of the Year,” “Song of the Year,” “Best Rock Performance,” and “Best Rock Song.” As an aside, I find it hilarious that a group that got its start in the London folk scene and that played “hoe-downs” in a barn in its early days would continue to get nominations as a rock group. As I’ve written elsewhere, Mumford and Sons are a spiritually deep band. Their music has its own energy, often rising to a joyous crescendo, drawing the enthusiastic audience into a kind of musical rapture, taken outside of oneself into another place.

While such energy can be bent or twisted towards unsavory and self-destructive ends in pop music, Mumford and Sons are an unusual example of a band that has lyrical depth, depth that repays listening and even study. Marcus Mumford, the lead singer and songwriter, is the son of Vineyard UK leaders John and Eleanor Mumford and the Scriptures are an obvious source of lyrics in some of the band’s songs. Others, like “The Cave,” are not as readily accessible. Yet “The Cave”, according to Mike who blogs at Laughter and Humility, seems to be at least in part a song about spiritual transformation, a story modeled on and even quoting directly from G.K.Chesterton’s biography of St. Francis. The lyrics of the song say:

“So come out of your cave walking on your hands / And see the world hanging upside down / You can understand dependence / When you know the Maker’s hand”

And in Chapter Five of Chesterton’s biography, he writes:

“Francis, at the time or somewhere about the time when he disappeared into the prison or the dark cavern, underwent a reversal of a certain psychological kind […] The man who went into the cave was not the man who came out again […] He looked at the world as differently from other men as if he had come out of that dark hole walking on his hands […] This state can only be represented in symbol; but the symbol of inversion is true in another way. If a man saw the world upside down, with all the trees and towers hanging head downwards as in a pool, one effect would be to emphasize the idea of dependence. There is a Latin and literal connection; for the very word dependence only means hanging. It would make vivid the Scriptural text which says that God has hung the world upon nothing.”

Should “The Cave” win at the Grammys it will be icing on the cake. It is a moving and powerful thing to see a band surfing a wave of mainstream popularity that can invite spiritual seekers into much deeper things through their art.

—————————————–

Best of The Brazos Blog – Behind the Book

It is the one year anniversary of The Brazos Blog! To celebrate we are posting the best of the blog – along with a variety of giveaways (we will have one per day – see below).

Monday we highlighted our Between the Lines posts – featuring an interview w/ Miroslav Volf.
Yesterday we featured the various videos that have appeared on our blog – highlighting those with Lee C. Camp.

Today wish with to feature our Behind the Book posts.

Over the past year we have posted numerous original blog entries from Brazos authors that share the stories of the inspiration and background for their books. Authors who have shared Behind the Book posts include Daniel Taylor, Arthur Boers, and Elaine Heath.

In January of this year Peter Enns wrote a piece for The Brazos Blog titled “Why I Wrote The Evolution of Adam“. Here it is:

———————————————–

“Why I Wrote The Evolution of Adam” by Peter Enns

Many Christians are looking for ways to think clearly, deliberately, and differently about evolution and the Bible. There are several angles one can take to talk about this (e.g., theological, philosophical), and they all come into play. But I feel the most pressing issue Christians face is the hermeneutical one: if evolution is true, what do I do about what the Bible says about Adam and Eve?

I know many Christians who understand the scientific issues and are convinced that evolution explains human origins. They are looking for ways to read the Adam story differently. Many more—at least this is my experience—are open to the discussion, but are not ready simply to pull the trigger on evolution. They first need to see for themselves that the Adam story can be read with respect and reverence but without needing to read it as a literal account of human origins. Both groups are thinking hermeneutically, though they approach the issue from different sides.

So, as a biblical scholar who has always been keenly interested in the interface of ancient faith and contemporary life, I thought I would paint a bull’s-eye on my back and write a book trying to do just that.

I never really gave the topic of evolution any serious thought until 2009. I had just read Karl Giberson’s Saving Darwin and I was struck by how helpful it was, but also how much more convincing his arguments could be if they were in conversation of biblical scholarship and hermeneutical issues. He and I began corresponding, which eventually lead to my working at The BioLogos Foundation—first under Giberson and then under the current president Darrel Falk.

As I got deeper into the issue and began reading widely, I could see that, despite the many tremendous books out there on science and faith, few, if any, books were taking on the hermeneutical issues surrounding evolution—they weren’t dealing head on with the question, “How specifically do I read Genesis and Paul now that you’ve convinced me that evolution is true and that science and faith can live in harmony?”  In other words, the uneasy, awkward, piecemeal approach sometimes seen when Christians (especially evangelicals) talk about evolution stems from a failure to have an overt hermeneutical strategy for handling the Bible.

From the vantage point of academic biblical scholarship, I felt that such a strategy was sitting there all along, waiting patiently for someone to name it: read the Bible in historical context and see for yourself that the Bible is not remotely set up to contribute to any modern scientific discussions, including evolution.

This conclusion is, I feel, obvious: the pink elephant, 500-pound gorilla, and emperor with no clothes all rolled into one. And one needs no secret academic decoder ring to see it. A simple Google search will quickly yield a lot of information. We know enough today about the religious traditions of the ancient Mesopotamian world, of which Genesis was a part, to know that Genesis was produced by storytellers, not historians, anthropologists, or biologists. Ancient Israelites produced the story of Adam and Eve, and however you think of God’s role in inspiring these storytellers, the ancient Near Eastern-ness of it all must be kept front and center.

Likewise, astute readers of Paul in his historical context see clearly that he, like others of his time, felt quite free to appropriate and adapt creatively his scriptural tradition (our Old Testament) to serve his rhetorical and theological purposes. This is precisely what Paul does with Adam. Here too—however we might explain Paul’s being moved by God’s spirit—we must remember that the Paul that was so moved was a first century Jew who thought like a first century Jew, not a western evangelical.

As I see it, these observations about Genesis and Paul cannot be sidelined but must be brought front and center into the hermeneutical discussion over evolution. I say this for two reasons. First, these observations are hardly idiosyncratic or resting on thin ice, but are well-documented staples of biblical studies. Any discussion of the Bible and evolution that ignores or minimizes these factors in favor of defending familiar theological categories should be given no quarter. Second, these observations are well positioned to help provide the “theological vocabulary” for many Christians to begin their own hermeneutical journey of reading Genesis and Paul responsibly.

Of course, there is a downside to this type of discussion. Many readers seeking alternate ways forward experience tremendous cognitive dissonance and social pressure, for they are part of ecclesiastical communions that historically have not looked kindly at the kind of hermeneutical synthesis the evolution/Bible discussion requires. In fact, not to overstate, but there are theological and ecclesiastical bodies that have a vested interest in seeing to it that these conversations don’t happen.

I do not take the fact lightly, but I do think that a self-preservationist mindset is wrong, and, ironically, self-defeating in the long run.

———————————————–

Best of The Brazos Blog – Videos

It is the one year anniversary of The Brazos Blog! To celebrate we are posting the best of the blog – along with a variety of giveaways (we will have one per day – see below).

Yesterday we highlighted our Between the Lines posts – featuring an interview w/ Miroslav Volf.

Today we would like to highlight the various videos that we have posted on The Brazos Blog over the past year.

We have shared videos of Brazos authors Peter Enns (Video 1, 2, 3), Christian Scharen (1, 2, 3, 4), Miroslav Volf (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6), and Christian Smith (1, 2, 3, 4, 5).

Today, we are featuring a series of videos from Lee C. Camp, author of Who Is My Enemy? Questions American Christians Must Face about Islam – and Themselves. These videos originally appeared on The Brazos Blog in September 2011.

Lee Camp on His Book Who Is My Enemy?

Lee Camp on Questions behind Who Is My Enemy?

Lee Camp on Religion in the Public Square