Archives for December 2013

The Brazos Press Best of 2013

Many of our titles received awards and were included in “best of” lists in 2013.

Following are some of the honors Brazos Press books received this year.

          

The Evolution of Adam by Peter Enns won Gold in the Religion category of ForeWord Reviews‘ Book of the Year Awards.

Speaking of Dying by Fred Craddock, Dale Goldsmith, and Joy V. Goldsmith was one of the Academy of Parish Clergy’s Top 10 Books of the Year.

          

Esther & Daniel (Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible) by Samuel Wells and George Sumner was included in Preaching.com’s 2013 Survey of Year’s Best Bibles and Bible Reference.

Living into Focus by Arthur Boers won in the Christian Living category of The Word Awards.

On God’s Side by Jim Wallis was one of Revangelical Blog’s Best Books of 2013.

 

A happy 2014 to all our readers!

Lectionary Reflection for the Second Sunday after Christmas

This excerpt comes from Psalms for All Seasons, commenting on Psalm 147:

Psalm 147, the third of six praise psalms that conclude the Psalter, intertwines acclamations about God’s creation and preservation of the cosmos (vv. 4-5, 8-9, 15-18) with acclamations about God’s present-day acts of healing and restoration to the brokenhearted and outcasts (vv. 2-3, 6, 10-11, 13-14, 19-20).

Addressed to the community that had returned from exile (see v. 2), this intertwining is a way of saying both that the one who heals and restores us is none other than the Creator of the cosmos and that the Creator of the astonishing cosmos is the one who cares about nurturing and healing us.

 

Prayer for reflection:

We worship you, O God, builder, healer, counter of stars.
We sing praise to you, O God, provider, delighter, protector of your people.
You give us life and joy through your Son.
By the power of your Spirit may we never stop rejoicing in you. Amen.

 

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

Ebook Special for Adventures in Daily Prayer

Now through January 4, the ebook of Adventures in Daily Prayer: Experiencing the Power of God’s Love by Bert Ghezzi is only $1.99 (72% off) from the following participating retailers:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

CBD

 

Adventures in Daily Prayer is a book to be experienced, not simply read. With topics such as praying in the Spirit and relying on God, it has the potential to lead to a richer, more rewarding prayer time for anyone seeking to draw near to God. It could also serve well as a study guide for prayer groups.”
Christian Retailing

“At the risk of seeming to have engaged in an extravagant statement, I still venture to say that not one of us presently writing about religion in this country is better equipped by experience, skill, and devotion to write about prayer than is Bert Ghezzi. He lives what he speaks, and he speaks what he lives very, very well.”
Phyllis Tickle, author of Prayer Is a Place and The Great Emergence

For the past forty-five years, beloved author Bert Ghezzi has begun each day with prayer. At first he had to work at doing it consistently, but eventually he couldn’t imagine starting his day without it. Through his discovery of the gift of daily prayer, he came to see God’s connection with us as a bountiful and permanent act of love.

In this delightful book Ghezzi shares his adventures in prayer, offering readers a winsome invitation to experience the promise and power of this faithful daily practice. For those who have struggled at cultivating a strong prayer life, he provides practical help for overcoming obstacles. He also covers how to pray, praying for and with others, and persevering in prayer. The book includes questions for further reflection and group discussion at the end of each chapter.

Ebook Special for A Life Observed: A Spiritual Biography of C. S. Lewis

Now through January 2, the ebook for A Life Observed: A Spiritual Biography of C. S. Lewis by Devin Brown is only $2.99 (80% off) from the following participating retailers:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

CBD

 

“Lewis believed that Christianity was first and foremost about experiencing God in one’s life. . . . Quite appropriately then, Brown’s biography recounts events from Lewis’ life and quotes from his books, letters, and diary in order to tell the story of his spiritual journey. And it’s a fascinating tale, especially when one considers that Lewis was not always a Christian. . . . Fans of Lewis will find much here to savor. So, too, will those interested in a man’s lifelong attempt to live out his faith.”
Booklist

“[Brown] chronicles Lewis’s journey from atheist to Christian, tracing Lewis’s lifelong search for his mysterious object of desirejoy. He provides a close reading of Lewis’s writings and an examination of Lewis’s friendships with J. R. R. Tolkien and the rest of the literary circle known as the Inklings. . . . [This book] perform[s] the task that all critical books should and also plant[s] a desire in readers to pick up and read Lewis’s own work. . . . [It] illuminate[s] this gifted author, whose passion for good writing and deep desire to bring pleasure to readers make his work timeless.”
Publishers Weekly

C. S. Lewis is one of the most influential Christian writers of our time. The Chronicles of Narnia has sold more than 100 million copies worldwide and all Lewis’s works are estimated to sell 6 million copies annually. At the fiftieth anniversary of his death, Lewis expert Devin Brown brings the beloved author’s story to life in a fresh, accessible, and moving biography through focusing on Lewis’s spiritual journey.

Although it was clear from the start that Lewis would be a writer, it was not always clear he would become a Christian. Drawing on Lewis’s autobiographical works, books by those who knew him personally, and his apologetic and fictional writing, this book tells the inspiring story of Lewis’s journey from cynical atheist to joyous Christian and challenges readers to follow their own calling. The book allows Lewis to tell his own life story in a uniquely powerful manner while shedding light on his best-known works.

The Weekly Hit List: December 20, 2013

On God’s Side by Jim Wallis was reviewed for Spirituality & Practice.

“Speaking from his role as an evangelical leader, Wallis asks Americans to move from satisfying their appetites to living their values day-by-day: ‘People were made for family, community, and human flourishing, not consumerism, materialism, addiction, and empty overwork.’

“Wallis prophetically criticizes the damaging role money is playing in politics, and he is upset about the growing inequality between the rich and the poor. He ends with praise for the old fashioned values of marriage and parenting, noting with pride his love of being a Little League coach.”

Read the rest of the review here.

 

Quick Hits:

Gary Colledge, author of God and Charles Dickens, was interviewed for the CBN.com article “Writings of Charles Dickens were inspired by faith.”

On God’s Side by Jim Wallis was one of Revangelical Blog’s Best Books of 2013.

A Life Observed by Devin Brown was recommended by Dr. Joel Heck as the “Best Biography of Lewis.”

A Life Observed was referenced in “The C.S. Lewis Industry” by The American Spectator.

Testing Scripture by John Polkinghorne was referenced by Scot McKnight on Jesus Creed.

A Hobbit Journey by Matthew Dickerson was recommended by Shout It Ministries.

A Hobbit Journey was also recommended on Shadows of History.

The Evolution of Adam by Peter Enns was recommended on Catholic Cravings.

Lectionary Reflection for the Fourth Sunday in Advent

This excerpt comes from Matthew (BTCB) by Stanley Hauerwas, commenting on Matthew 1:18-25:

Matthew’s story of Mary’s pregnancy lacks the charm and detail of Luke’s account, but that may well be its value. One of the great enemies of the gospel is sentimentality, and the stories surrounding Jesus’s birth have proven to be ready material for maudlin sentiment. Matthew’s account of Jesus’s conception and birth is unapologetically realistic.

Joseph, not Mary, is the main actor. John Chrysostom praises Joseph as a man of exceptional self-restraint since he must have been free of that most tyrannical passion, jealousy. Unwilling to cause Mary distress, to expose her to public disgrace, he planned to dismiss her discreetly. Joseph, therefore, refused to act according to the law, but rather chose to act in a manner that Jesus himself would later exemplify by his attitude toward known sinners (Matt. 9:10–13).

Yet Joseph still required a revelation so that he would know the character of Mary’s pregnancy. He is also given the honor to name Jesus as the new Joshua capable of rescuing his people from their sins. The Joshua of old had been given the task of conquering the promised land, but this Joshua is sent to save his people from their sins, making it possible for them to live as the people of the promise. Joseph did as he was instructed, taking Mary for his wife and naming his son Jesus.

Moreover, Matthew tells us all this was done so that the prophecy of Isa. 7:14 would be fulfilled. This is the first time that Matthew uses the formula “all this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord,” but he will use the formula often to show how Jesus fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament.

 

©2006 by Stanley Hauerwas. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

Excerpt from A Hobbit Journey

The following is an excerpt from the introduction to A Hobbit Journey: Discovering the Enchantment of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth by Matthew Dickerson.

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A Hobbit Journey

“Middle-earth,” by the way, is not a name of a never-never land without relation to the world we live in.
—J. R. R. Tolkien

 

Finding Meaning in Fantasy

In October 1958, three years after J. R. R. Tolkien’s long labors writing and revising The Lord of the Rings had reached fruition with its third and final volume at last in print, the author wrote a long and interesting letter to a fan named Rhona Beare. Miss Beare had posed a series of questions about the languages, history, and cultures of Middle-earth. In his response, Tolkien makes what for some readers may seem a very curious claim: Middle-earth, he explains, is our own world, and the tales told in The Lord of the Rings are in some sense connected to our own history.

Now Tolkien acknowledges in this letter that the geology of Middle-earth doesn’t match in details with the geology of our world. As he tells Miss Beare, he considered trying to make these details fit with greater verisimilitude. Before he thought of attempting this, however, the story had already progressed too far. It would have taken too much time and too much work to rewrite his story in order to make Middle-earth more closely tied physically to our world. Despite these geological dissimilarities, however, Tolkien goes on to explain, “I have, I suppose, constructed an imaginary time, but kept my feet on my own mother-earth for place.” And, dismissing the idea put forth by many reviewers that Middle-earth was some other planet, he adds, in clarification of his point, “Middle-earth is . . . a modernization . . . of an old word for the inhabited world of Men” (Letters, 283). What we might say, then, is that Tolkien’s great legendarium—the corpus of all his stories, legends, and histories of Middle-earth, which many readers and scholars alike consider the preeminent work of otherworldly literature—was not about another world at all, but about our world.

 

©2012 by Matthew Dickerson. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

The Weekly Hit List: December 12, 2013

Craig Detweiler, author of iGods, was interviewed by Daniel Darling on Leadership Journal blog Out of Ur.

Some might advocate a complete withdrawal from technology and yet you would say that reflects a poor theology as well, would you not?

“No one escapes the pull of technology and how it enhances our lives. Clothing was a great consolation for Adam and Eve. Same with the hoe or the plow. In building an ark to God’s specifications, Noah preserved the biodiversity of creation. We don’t think of the fork as technology, because we all embrace it as a great invention. Same with glasses. Who wants to go back to life without penicillin? God commanded us to be fruitful and multiply. Better agriculture, medicine, and education help us fulfill that calling. We’re also called to replenish the earth, to steward our resources. Technology can make us better servants of God and each other.”

Read the rest of the interview here.

 

Other iGods media:

iGods was reviewed by Ken Puls for Founders Ministries Blog: “[Detweiler] is to be commended for calling us to examine closely the technology we bring into our lives.”

Craig Detweiler wrote “Abundance and Open Source or Why I Wrote iGODS.”

Craig Detweiler wrote “What Amazon Is Priming Us For” for Leadership Journal blog Out of Ur.

 

Quick Hits:

Jim Wallis, author of On God’s Side, was interviewed on GOD TALKS.

Peter Enns, author of The Evolution of Adam, was interviewed by Randal Rauser for The Tentative Apologist Podcast.

The Evolution of Adam was reviewed by James F. McGrath for Reports of the National Center for Science Education.

Nicole Baker Fulgham, author of Educating All God’s Children, was included in Rachel Held Evans’ list of “101 Christian Women Speakers.”

Educating All God’s Children was recommended by Laura Turner.

Living into Focus by Arthur Boers was reviewed in Mockler Memo.

The Bible Made Impossible by Christian Smith was referenced in The Gospel Coalition article “Glory, Truth, Beauty: 500 Years of Reflection on Revelation.”

Lectionary Reflection for the Third Sunday in Advent

This excerpt comes from Matthew (BTCB) by Stanley Hauerwas, commenting on Matthew 11:2-11:

Jesus does not call attention only to his deeds, but he also helps the crowd and John understand who John is. Jesus reminds the crowds that they did not go into the wilderness to hear someone who would comfort them by saying what they wanted to hear. John was clearly not someone who would change his message according to prevailing opinion.

Nor, Jesus observes, did they go into the wilderness to see someone dressed in soft robes appropriate to living in palaces. Rather, they went to see a prophet, and prophets are not known for their softness or for being well dressed. John is a prophet, he stands in the line of prophets before him; it is no surprise, therefore, that he is in prison.

Jesus claims, moreover—and it is a claim that only he can make—that John is more than a prophet. Jesus’s argument is subtle. John is more than a prophet because he is the one whom the prophet Malachi (3:1) said would come as the messenger to prepare the way for the Messiah.

John, therefore, is greater than the prophets because he has the unique office to herald Israel’s Messiah. He is Elijah. In Mal. 4:5 we are told that Elijah, the prophet who was received into heaven without dying, will be sent “before the great and terrible day of the Lord.” John is Elijah because Jesus is the Messiah.

Yet as great as John is, he remains the least in the kingdom of heaven because John, like Moses, stands on the edge of the new age. Herod will try to defeat the kingdom heralded by
John with violence, but it cannot be so overwhelmed. John the Baptist can be arrested and killed, Jesus will be crucified, but the kingdom that John proclaims comes through the peace brought by Jesus.

This kingdom is not some ideal of peace that requires the use of violence for its realization. Rather, the kingdom is Jesus, the one who has the power to overcome violence through love.

 

©2006 by Stanley Hauerwas. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

Excerpt from Christians at the Border

The following is an excerpt from the preface of Christians at the Border, Second Edition: Immigration, the Church, and the Bible by M. Daniel Carroll R.

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Much has changed since the first edition of Christians at the Border appeared in the spring of 2008. At that time, months before President Obama’s election to his first term in office, there was hope that immigration would be an important topic of the campaign. There had been a few attempts at legislation reform in the preceding years, and immigration had occupied the media’s attention. It seemed as if there was some momentum as election activities heated up. But then . . . nothing. Immigration disappeared from the nation’s radar screen. Neither political party wanted to alienate certain sectors of their constituencies.

Little talk about immigration came out of Washington in the first years of the Obama administration, as its efforts centered on a sweeping health care initiative. Immigration eventually reappeared in the media, however, with continued highly emotive reports and declarations coming from all sides of the debate. Piecemeal measures came from the White House, like the DACA memo (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) in the summer of 2012, which was designed to prevent the removal of qualified undocumented youth, though it did not provide a pathway to legal status. In the election cycle that fall the Hispanic vote and immigration did play a central role, and the Obama reelection seemed to guarantee that immigration reform would become a reality in the near future.

While all this was going on in the political world, something amazing was happening in Christian circles—and this from across the theological spectrum, from the Catholic tradition to mainline and evangelical denominations. Leaders at every level and from all sorts of institutions and ministries were coming together to work for outreach to immigrants in communities across the nation and to advocate for new legislation. Groups that normally do not collaborate were now standing shoulder to shoulder in these efforts.

For me personally, Christians at the Border has generated all kinds of writing opportunities and invitations to speak in many venues in different parts of the country. I have had the privilege of witnessing firsthand this new movement of God as I have interacted with Jews, Roman Catholics, and a wide array of Protestant groups. The gracious commitment to the stranger that is coming from so many directions has been an encouragement to those of us trying to effect change.

These experiences and the changing political landscape have led to this second edition. The historical and legal discussion in the first chapter has been updated, as has the appendix. I have added material to the biblical sections and thoroughly reworked the endnotes. In addition, Samuel Rodríguez and Ron Sider kindly revised their foreword and afterword, respectively.

Hopefully, immigration reform soon will become a reality, if it already has not by the time this revision is published. Yet much work will remain. The people of God will need to continue to be informed about the call to welcome the outsider and to grow in divine hospitality. Negative attitudes and fears do not change immediately with legislation. New laws simply provide a broader arena for working out a perspective in our daily lives that will please the Lord we confess to serve. In other words, what is presented in this book will continue to have relevance for some time to come. My hope is that this second edition of Christians at the Border will be, as was the first, a helpful resource for orienting Christians toward welcoming the strangers in our midst.

 

©2013 by M. Daniel Carroll R. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.