Archives for March 2013

The Weekly Hit List: March 29, 2013

Educating All God's ChildrenEducating All God’s Children by Nicole Baker Fulgham received a four-star review from Christianity Today

“Using dozens of her own similar stories, Nicole Baker Fulgham’s Educating All God’s Children . . . champions a faith-based message of ‘educational equity.’ Though fortunate enough to have attended better schools than those in her largely African American neighborhood, Fulgham argues that today’s impoverished families have little access to such mobility.

“Her book offers a candid theological plea for Christians (and, by implication, especially Republican Christians) to prioritize educational equity alongside issues like abortion and same-sex marriage. Educating All God’s Children convincingly shows scriptural mandates for closing the educational gap between low-income areas and wealthier communities.”

Read the rest of the review here.

 

Jim Wallis, On God’s Side:

On God’s Side: What Religion Forgets and Politics Hasn’t Learned about Serving the Common Good by Jim Wallis releases on Monday (April 1).

Jim Wallis wrote “On God’s Side: For the Common Good” for Huffington Post.

Don’t miss seeing Jim Wallis on Easter Sunday, March 31, on This Week with George Stephanopoulos.

 

Quick Hits:

Luke (BTCB) by David Lyle Jeffrey was reviewed in the May/June 2013 issue of Bible Study Magazine (available to subscribers): “Those who are interested in the church fathers will find this resource helpful. Pastors will find a treasury of ready-made quotations and illustrations from church history already connected to appropriate passages of Scripture.”

A Life Observed (August 2013) by Devin Brown was mentioned in Publishers Weekly Religion Bookline: “C.S. Lewis: Still Bringing Readers Joy.”

Living into Focus by Arthur Boers was recommended by Darryl Dash.

 

Educating All God’s Children Giveaway Winners:

Congratulations to Guy Williams, Tyler Glodjo, Dennis Yam, Gus Cole-Kroll, and Naomi Johnston.

They have each won a copy of Educating All God’s Children: What Christians Can—and Should—Do to Improve Public Education for Low-Income Kids by Nicole Baker Fulgham on The Brazos Blog.

Keep checking back for our next giveaway.

 

Ebook Specials and Other Offers:

Don’t miss out on March ebook specials that are currently running for multiple Brazos Press and Baker Academic titles. All of these are at least 50% off.

Christians at the Border by M. Daniel Carroll R.
Performing the Faith by Stanley Hauerwas
Preface to Theology by John Howard Yoder
Following Jesus in a Culture of Fear by Scott Bader-Saye
Loving Homosexuals as Jesus Would by Chad W. Thompson

Lectionary Reflection for Easter

Luke BTCBThis excerpt comes from Luke (BTCB) by David Lyle Jeffrey, commenting on Luke 24:1-12:

The difficulty of conveying such a momentous thing as the resurrection verbally is instanced by Luke in his depiction of the women’s own immediate frustration, even as they become the first to proclaim the very essence of the good news.

Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and all the others have returned breathless to “the eleven” (24:9-10), yet their words seem to the grieving men as “idle tales” . . . . Thus, in sharing this most important news imaginable, the women are disbelieved and ignored (24:11).

These women are soon, of course, to be vindicated. Peter will be troubled and eventually leap up and run to the tomb to see for himself. John will record that he also, having been approached by Mary Magdalene, then runs toward the tomb, where he and Peter likewise find it empty (John 20:1-10) and that meanwhile, Mary Magdalene, having returned to the area to search, queries one she takes to be the gardener about the body of Jesus and discovers herself to be both seeing and speaking with the risen Lord (20:11-18).

So it is the women who first learn of the resurrection, and Mary Magdalene among them who first sees and speaks with the Lord before he has “risen to the Father.” There is just no getting around this, as Augustine says: “So in this fact we have to reflect on the goodness of the Lord’s arrangements, because this, of course, was the doing of the Lord Jesus Christ, that it should be the female sex which would be the first to report that he had risen again.”

Augustine goes on to emphasize this fact too, in the narrative symmetry reflected in Luke’s Gospel especially, that though “humanity fell through the female sex, humankind was restored through the female sex. A virgin gave birth to Christ; a woman proclaimed that he had risen again. Through a woman death; through a woman life. But the disciples didn’t believe what the women had said. They thought the women were raving, when in fact they were reporting the truth” (Sermon 232.2).

One persuasive indicator that we are dealing with facts as they happened is that the revelation comes first to women, so unconventional and imagination for this culture. This is both confirmed and reinforced by the other Gospel accounts.

So many “walls of partition” have been broken down by Jesus in his life and, now, after his death and in his resurrection. Think of it: not only is his resurrection made known first to the women, but he also reveals himself in his resurrection body first to a woman—and to a woman who is not his mother or a relative—something perhaps almost unthinkable in first-century Palestine.

One powerful theme to emerge in Luke’s Gospel is just this: Jesus is no respecter of persons. He does not conform to our social hierarchies and sorry prejudices.

 

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

On the Necessity of Early Childhood Education for All Children – by Nicole Baker Fulgham

This is an original post by Nicole Baker Fulgham, author of Educating All God’s Children: What Christians Can—and Should—Do to Improve Public Education for Low-Income Kids.

Nicole Baker Fulgham (PhD, UCLA) is president and founder of The Expectations Project, a national organization that mobilizes people of faith to support public education reform and close the academic achievement gap. She is the former vice president of faith community relations at Teach For America, has appeared on CNN and ABC News, and was named to the list of “50 Women to Watch: Those Most Shaping the Church and Culture” by Christianity Today. She lives in the Washington, DC area.

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Educating All Gods Children

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
Genesis 1:27 (ESV)

My mother studied early childhood education in college. As a stay-at-home mother, she was more than happy to use all of her training on my older brother and me. Mom systematically taught us the alphabet; then she helped us learn the sounds that each letter made; and eventually (with the help of a couple wonderful shows on public television in the 1970s), we began to string letter sounds together, which allowed us to read words. My big brother, Jay, and I were both fluent readers before we set one foot in a kindergarten classroom. Our parents literally turned our home into a preschool made for two, allowing our God-given potential to be released.

I am quite certain that my informal (and formal) early childhood education provided a phenomenal foundation for my future education. But what happens when a child doesn’t have access to a high-quality preschool education? Not every parent has studied education in college, nor can every family afford to have a stay-at-home parent who can recreate the ideal preschool learning experience.

Research has proven that brain development is at its most critical stage from birth until the time a child is five years old. Therefore, early childhood education significantly influences a child’s academic and life success. For example, research studies have revealed that Chicago children who attended an early childhood education program were twenty-nine percent more likely to graduate from high school than their peers who did not attend. Similarly, Michigan fourth graders who had attended early childhood education programs passed the state’s literacy and math assessment tests at higher rates than their peers who did not attend.

Given the importance of preschool, it seems that we should ensure that the youngest among us receive the best start possible in life. Unfortunately, children in low-income communities are much less likely to obtain a high-quality preschool education than children in wealthier communities. These families, on the average, have less disposable income to afford tuition-based preschools, and they have far fewer options. Most urban and rural communities do not offer public preschool for all children. As a result, children in wealthier communities are significantly better prepared for kindergarten—making it much harder for children from less wealthy families to compete.

Nicole Baker FulghamI believe deeply that all children have been created in God’s image and likeness. As a result, I trust that we each have incredibly rich potential—both intellectually and academically. But I also believe that, as Christians, we have a responsibility to steward that potential and ensure that all children, regardless of their family’s background or economic circumstances, have the opportunity to find their unique purpose.

One of the ways we can do that is to ensure that all children have a high-quality education—beginning at preschool and, hopefully, ending at college. Our nation’s public education system has the potential to help all children receive the excellent start that my brother and I received. But we are a long way from fulfilling that promise for the fifteen million children growing up in poverty in the United States.

I look forward to seeing the creative and dynamic methods in which Christians will stand alongside all families and help every child fulfill their academic and God-given potential.

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Don’t miss your chance to enter a giveaway for a copy of Educating All God’s Children! Enter here.

The Weekly Hit List: March 22, 2013

On God's SideJim Wallis, author of the forthcoming On God’s Side, wrote about his new book in “What Does It Mean to Be on God’s Side?” for Sojourners.

“This is not just another book for me. I wrote it during a three-month sabbatical that started in a monastery overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Every day started before sunrise with prayers, walks, yoga, and exercise, followed by writing the rest of the day.

“My other discipline was not to write or comment publicly on the news. I watched the nation’s political discourse each night after a day of writing and found it more depressing than ever. It was an election year.

“The resulting book is not about politics in the narrow sense, but about how to engage our personal and public lives with an ancient but timely idea and practice—the common good—that has long and deep historical roots across many religious faiths and secular notions of democracy.

“I sought to explore the biblical and theological roots of the idea, and then apply it to the most basic questions of economic trust, the role of government, civility, renewing democracy, globalization, conflict resolution in a violent world, and, of course, what our faith can contribute to the common good with the world as our parish.

“Most compelling, I found Jesus’ call to love our neighbors to be the gospel foundation for serving the common good.”

The rest can be read here.

 

Quick Hits:

Of Games and God by Kevin Schut was recommended by Ted Turnau.

The Evolution of Adam by Peter Enns was recommended by Ben Spackman.

Be Not Afraid by Samuel Wells was recommended in an excerpt written by Michele Howe, shared by Diane Markins.

Living into Focus by Arthur Boers was recommended by Matthew LaPine.

Video is available of Miroslav Volf, author of A Public Faith, speaking on “Public Faith in a Pluralistic Society” at Q Forum.

 

Ebook Specials and Other Offers:

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

Christians at the Border by M. Daniel Carroll R.
Performing the Faith by Stanley Hauerwas
Preface to Theology by John Howard Yoder
Following Jesus in a Culture of Fear by Scott Bader-Saye
Loving Homosexuals as Jesus Would by Chad W. Thompson

Lectionary Reflection for Palm Sunday

Luke BTCBThis excerpt comes from Luke (BTCB) by David Lyle Jeffrey, commenting on Luke 22:14-20:

Jesus, as Luke has learned from many witnesses, is the farthest thing from a dispassionate sage or cool-medium rabbi. He is as passionate as the God of the prophets, as passionate as his predecessor the poet David, and we cannot, unlike Michal in her famous disdainful scorn, begin to imagine Jesus being anything other than immensely please with the heart of that true lover of God when he danced naked before the ark. His desire is real; a passionate heart loves a passionate heart.

When he says just at the beginning of the Passover meal that, in effect, he has long been yearning toward this moment, this feast of love with his cherished friends and the students who must carry on his work, only such an intensified expression makes sense, and it is a Hebraism entirely consistent with everything we have learned about the love of Jesus. It also makes sense, or begins to make sense, of the astonishing and utterly extravagant language he is now about to use with respect to his own self-giving and their sharing in it, now and forever.

It is at this point that the reader begins to see, as did the Twelve themselves, that in relation to fulfillment Jesus is here speaking of the ultimate redemption of which the Passover has been a sign. The Passover ritual is now about to take on a future as well as past significance. The Lord will not participate again in this high festive meal, he says, until some future date. Yet there is, in the ritual meal, a sense of sacramental transposition that the apostles will later recognize retrospectively, in the words of the ancient liturgy: “Christ, our Passover, is sacrificed for us.”

It is absolutely clear that considered, thoughtful retrospect is crucial to the realized theological understanding of the disciples, and Luke’s narrative is full of evidence that he as narrator had been all along actively participating in this sort of remembering—putting events back together in such a way that their fullness of expression gathers in a proper register of abiding theological significance for all subsequent Christian history.

Anamnēsis (“remembering”) is thus the heart of Christian celebration of the Eucharist and serves for us to make Christ eternally present to us and us to him, in what he has done and still does for us as we live in him and he in us. It is also propaedeutic, “until he comes” in glory, to take unto himself his faithful and beloved for the final, everlasting eucharistic feast in the celestial Jerusalem that will have no end.

 

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

This Just In: Educating All God’s Children by Nicole Baker Fulgham (and a Giveaway)

Educating All Gods ChildrenAmerica strives to be a land of equal opportunity, but our nation’s public schools are not leveling the playing field for the fifteen million children growing up in poverty. By the time kids in low-income communities are in fourth grade, they’re already three grade levels behind their peers in wealthier communities. More than half won’t graduate from high school–and many that do graduate only perform at an eighth-grade level. Only one in ten will go on to graduate from college. These students have severely diminished opportunities for personal prosperity and professional success.

Education expert Nicole Baker Fulgham explores what Christians can–and should–do to champion urgently needed reform and help improve our public schools. The book provides concrete action steps for working to ensure that all of God’s children get the quality public education they deserve. It also features personal narratives from the author and other Christian public school teachers that demonstrate how the achievement gap in public education can be solved.

Nicole Baker Fulgham (PhD, UCLA) is president and founder of The Expectations Project, a national organization that mobilizes people of faith to support public education reform and close the academic achievement gap. She is the former vice president of faith community relations at Teach For America, has appeared on CNN and ABC News, and was named to the list of “50 Women to Watch: Those Most Shaping the Church and Culture” by Christianity Today. She lives in the Washington, DC area.

 

Praise for Educating All God’s Children:

“Despite a strain of anti-intellectualism among extreme Christian conservatives, Christianity has historically been at the forefront in promoting both public and private educational systems. Baker Fulgham, who leads a faith-based education reform group, makes this point as she calls on Christians . . . to once again lead the way. While contributing valuable data on the ‘achievement gap’ between low- and high-income schools, the systemic inequities that shape academic outcomes, and innovative grassroots models of church and public school partnerships, she excels at illustrating biblical principles and personal stories in a conversational tone sure to engage the reader. Her goal is clear: she’s on a mission to bring more people of faith into the fight to save the minds of America’s low-income children. Given the unpopularity of tax increases of any kind, however, it will be critical for Christians–especially the evangelicals whom Baker Fulgham particularly addresses–to use their ‘strong and powerful advocacy voice’ for policies that will close educational gaps. Baker Fulgham is well-informed and stands on a firm historical foundation.”
Publishers Weekly

Educating All God’s Children is a compelling call to a new generation of Christians to fight poverty and injustice through committing themselves to education. Nicole Baker Fulgham is a leader who gives me hope for the future of the church and for educational equality in America. Her passion and dedication to her faith and to tackling one of the greatest challenges of our time is clear on every page. Anyone looking for a practical and faithful means of changing the world should read this book at once.”
Jim Wallis, president and CEO, Sojourners; author of On God’s Side: What Religion Forgets and Politics Hasn’t Learned about Serving the Common Good

“Justice will on occasion march, on other occasions protest, and on yet other occasions sing; but justice will always speak for those that cannot speak for themselves. Educating All God’s Children stands as a justice manifesto on behalf of millions who stand crippled by the epidemic of educational disparity. Nicole Baker Fulgham understands that successful movements in America require the engagement of the followers of Jesus. Accordingly, this book serves as a clarion call for the church of Jesus Christ to rise with a prophetic and moral imperative to reform our public schools.”
—Samuel Rodriguez, president, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, Hispanic Evangelical Association

“A powerful, engaging book about one of the most urgent challenges facing our nation today. Combining moving stories with solid data, Educating All God’s Children is a ringing challenge to provide quality education for all our children. Excellent.”
—Ronald J. Sider, president, Evangelicals for Social Action

“Nicole Baker Fulgham weaves personal experience, national statistics, educational theory, biblical teaching, and practical examples into a compelling call to transform public schools from worst to first. Everyone who cares about America’s children must read this book.”
Leith Anderson, president, National Association of Evangelicals, Washington, DC

 

Enter to win a copy of Educating All God’s Children:

 

The Weekly Hit List: March 15, 2013

The Evolution of AdamThe Evolution of Adam by Peter Enns is a finalist in the Religion category of the 2012 ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Awards.

Traditional Christian teaching presents Jesus as reversing the effects of the fall of Adam. However, an evolutionary view of beginnings doesn’t allow for a historical Adam, making evolution seem incompatible with what Genesis and the apostle Paul say about him. For Christians who accept evolution and want to take the Bible seriously, this presents a tension that endangers faith.

Peter Enns offers a way forward by explaining how this tension is caused not by the discoveries of science but by false expectations about the biblical texts. Focusing on key biblical passages in the discussion, Enns demonstrates that the author of Genesis and the apostle Paul wrote to ask and answer ancient questions for ancient people; the fact that they both speak of Adam does not determine whether Christians can accept evolution.

This thought-provoking book reconciles the teachings of the Bible with the widely held evolutionary view of beginnings and will appeal to anyone interested in the Christianity-evolution debate, including college and seminary students in science and religion courses.

To see the full list of finalists, click here.

 

Quick Hits:

On God’s Side by Jim Wallis was included in “Religion Titles for Spring 2013” in the March 4, 2013, issue of Publishers Weekly.

The Evolution of Adam by Peter Enns was referenced by David B. Garner.

Of Games and God by Kevin Schut was reviewed by Shane Walker.

Living into Focus by Arthur Boers was referenced by Matthew LaPine.

Speaking of Dying by Fred Craddock, Dale Goldsmith, and Joy V. Goldsmith was referenced by Sara of From the park.

 

Ebook Specials and Other Offers:

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

Christians at the Border by M. Daniel Carroll R.
Performing the Faith by Stanley Hauerwas
Preface to Theology by John Howard Yoder
Following Jesus in a Culture of Fear by Scott Bader-Saye
Loving Homosexuals as Jesus Would by Chad W. Thompson

Lectionary Reflection for the Fifth Sunday in Lent

Psalms for All SeasonsThis excerpt comes from Psalms for All Seasons, commenting on Psalm 126:

Psalm 126, the seventh of the Psalms of Ascents, remembers the restoration of Zion and expresses hope in God’s continued restoration (see also Ps. 85).

Its imagery of transformation (weeping to rejoicing, sowing to reaping) makes this psalm rich with evocative possibilities, especially when linked with other scriptural texts that depict conversion, deliverance, or resurrection using the images of weeping and rejoicing (e.g., Ps. 30 or the raising of Lazarus) and sowing and reaping (Luke 8:1-9, 1 Cor. 15:35-42, 2 Cor. 9:6-10, James 3:18).

 

A prayer for reflection:

We are overwhelmed, O Lord, by your love and saving goodness.
In Christ Jesus you restore both our lives and our world.
Like reapers at an unexpected harvest,
we shout your praise and sing your goodness. Amen.

 

©2012 Faith Alive Christian Resources. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

Behind the Book: Phillip Cary on Good News for Anxious Christians

Today Phillip Cary shares why he wrote Good News for Anxious Christians.

Good News for Anxious Christians

The subtitle of Good News for Anxious Christians tells much of the story. It was almost 10 Practical Ideas You Don’t Have to Apply to Your Life, except that subtitle got a little too long to fit on the cover.

I’m not a fan of practical ideas—the kind you’re supposed to apply to your life. Especially when someone’s preaching them at you, because then you’re supposed to feel there’s something wrong with you if you’re not applying those ideas to your life.

That’s how you get a lot of anxious Christians who wonder what’s wrong with them. Why am I not hearing God speak in my heart? Why can’t I seem to find God’s will for my life? Why am I not experiencing inner joy all the time?

The good news is that these “practical ideas” are not in the Bible, so we don’t have to worry about whether we’re applying them to our lives. In that regard I’m all for sola scriptura, the Reformation principle of “Scripture alone.”

Phillip Cary

As the Reformers emphasized, what we get in the Bible is law and gospel. The law of God is not practical advice but commandments, which show us the way to live worthwhile lives. And the gospel, thank God, does not tell us what to do but gives us Jesus Christ himself. The result is that we get not only salvation in Christ but also the strength to live according to God’s law.

In other words, I want to recover the old Protestant piety of the Word of God, which I think evangelicals are in danger of losing as they drown in practical ideas that make them anxious. If we want transformed lives, all the practical advice in the world is no help. What we need to hear is the gospel of Jesus Christ.

For it is what Christ does, not what we do, that makes all the difference. And it is precisely that gospel truth which frees us to do everything differently, with love and comfort and joy instead of anxiety.

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Phillip Cary (PhD, Yale University) is professor of philosophy at Eastern University in Pennsylvania as well as scholar-in-residence at the Templeton Honors College. He is the author of Jonah in the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible and of three critically acclaimed books on the life and thought of Augustine.

For more information on Good News for Anxious Christians, click here.

The Weekly Hit List: March 8, 2013

Of Games and God

 

Of Games and God by Kevin Schut was reviewed by Richard Clark for The Gospel Coalition.

“Schut provides with Of Games and God the only extensive and balanced consideration of the medium I’ve yet seen.

“Not only is the book broad and open-ended enough to remain relevant for years to come, but it is also informed and nuanced enough to be taken seriously by thoughtful fans and critics alike.

“Both sides will find plenty here to consider.”

Read the rest of the review here.

 

 

 

Quick hits:

Kevin Schut spoke at Spring Arbor University on the subject of video games and ethics on February 19, 2013. Video is available here.

A Public Faith by Miroslav Volf was recommended by pastor Tom Nelson.

A Hobbit Journey by Matthew Dickerson was recommended by Rev. Mindi Welton-Mitchell.

The Evolution of Adam by Peter Enns was recommended by David of Thoughts of a Faithful Skeptic.

 

Ebook Specials and Other Offers:

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

Christians at the Border by M. Daniel Carroll R.
Performing the Faith by Stanley Hauerwas
Preface to Theology by John Howard Yoder
Following Jesus in a Culture of Fear by Scott Bader-Saye
Loving Homosexuals as Jesus Would by Chad W. Thompson