Archives for April 2016

The Weekly Hit List: April 29, 2016

Cover ArtJames K. A. Smith, author of You Are What You Love, was interviewed by Heather Walker Peterson at Humane Pursuits.

“Nobody thinks their way into consumerism. Rather, the liturgies of the mall and market co-opt our love by capturing our imagination.”

In Justice, Beauty, and Habits of Waiting, Christen Borgman Yates reviewed Bethany Hanke Hoang and Kristen Deede Johnson’s The Justice Calling for Comment Magazine.

Hoang and Johnson have given us a gift in The Justice Calling. In a world with so many distracting voices, they’ve helped clarify the biblical account of God’s desire for this world to be set to rights

J. Todd Billings was part of a Calvin Institute for Christian Worship panel discussion on Rejoicing in Lament and racism – connecting lamenting cancer with lamenting cancerous racism.

“As Yale theologian Willie James Jennings has argued, racism is ‘woven like a cancer’ into American Christianity. Like cancer, racism is a deep-seated disease that requires more than a ‘quick fix’ treatment.”

Quick Hits:

James K. A. Smith was interviewed on The Eric Metaxas Show, Equipped with Chris Brooks, and Newsworthy with Norsworthy.

You Are What You Love was reviewed by The Gospel Coalition, Influence Magazine, and Jesus Creed.

J. Todd Billings recently wrote the post Superficial Resurrection Hope? and his article A Luminous Mystery was honored at the annual Associated Church Press competition.

Lectionary Reflection for the Sixth Sunday of Easter

This excerpt comes from Revelation (BTCB) by Joseph L. Mangina, commenting on Revelation 21:22-24:

The vision reaches its surprising climax in John’s report of something he does not see, namely, a temple. The city has no need of a temple, “for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.” Their radiance is such that even the illumination provided by sun and stars is superfluous. Special sacraments are no longer necessary, because in the new eon “all truth will be openly and perfectly revealed” (Aquinas, Summa theologiae 3.61.4 §1). The life of the city will not point to God, it will be in God. But John’s remark that “[the city’s] lamp is the Lamb” permits us to say something St. Thomas does not: in the age to come, the vision of God will be mediated through the risen, glorified flesh of Jesus. The heavenly city is not the end of the church, for the church is simply God’s people. It is, however, the end of religion, the demarcation of sacred space from profane space and liturgical time from ordinary time, for the purpose of making present the absent god.

But perhaps the most unexpected thing of all in the new Jerusalem comes in the lines that follow: “By [the city’s] light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations.”

How did these kings get here? Are these the same kings who consorted with Babylon and participated in the beast’s warfare against the Lamb? While the kings in the present passage do not seem to be inhabitants of the city, they are evidently welcome in it. This scene, in fact, represents the eschatological fulfillment of Christ’s identity as “the ruler of kings on earth” (1:5). The Messiah rules not only over his people Israel, but over the goyim. Christ’s exercise of power radically differs from that of the earthly city, as Bernd Wannenwetsch comments: “Rome/Babylon’s wealth was extorted from all the world, in the New City the kings of the earth are said to bring their glory into it—of their own free will.”

©2010 by Joseph L. Mangina. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

The Weekly Hit List: April 15, 2016

 Cover ArtNijay Gupta, at Crux Sola, reviewed Matthew Skinner’s Intrusive God, Disruptive Gospel.

“I heartily recommend Intrusive God, Disruptive Gospel to everyone and encourage a wide readership. It’s good for the soul – and body – and church!”

The Future of Our Faith, by Ron Sider and Ben Lowe, was reviewed at Leadership & Life.

“A compelling, thoughtful and challenging book that every North American Christian should read.”

Quick Hits:

J. Todd Billings spoke on The Church’s Witness in the Midst of Dying and Death at TEDS. Also, First Things recently made available an essay drawn from Billings’ Rejoicing in Lament.

Matthew Skinner, author of Intrusive God, Disruptive Gospel, shared some commentary on Acts 2:1-21 at Working Preacher.

At Marketplace Faith, Dr. Chip Roper reflected on how James K. A. Smith’s You Are What You Love gives insight into how we can find wholeness in our work.

The Latest on You Are What You Love

Cover ArtYou Are What You Love released last week, and the reviews are already starting to come in. Check out some of the latest below.

“If you’ve already engaged Smith’s work as I have, I think you’ll find plenty that’s worth your time. If you’ve never read Smith’s work, this is probably the best place to start.”

“I will be recommending You Are What You Love widely and often.”

“What we love matters, and the habits we develop may yield more insight into what/who we’re loving than any amount of information and words might.”

“The part of the book I appreciate the most, Smith has an uncanny ability to culturally critique things that we have grown blind to.”

“I cannot recommend this book highly enough.”

“This important book challenges us to take a hard look at who and what and how we love.”

“The reading is very enjoyable and there are plenty of fascinating ideas to contemplate. If you are a note taker, keep a pen and highlighter handy.”

“I have looked forward to this book, more than any other, for many months.”

“Absolutely the most brilliant book I have read in years and years and I cannot recommend it highly enough.”


Lectionary Reflection for the Fourth Sunday of Easter

This excerpt comes from Psalms 1-50 (BTCB) by Ellen Charry, commenting on Psalm 23:

Just as Ps. 8 is an oasis amid laments that focuses our attention on the glorious creation, so Ps. 23 is another oasis focusing our attention on the paths of righteousness that are the goodness and grace of God, which cannot be broken through by adversity.

This perspective casts further light on the ambiguous preposition neged of 23:5. If the oil and wine of the table prepared is the righteous path of life that God lays down for the sake of his name, neged truly means “against”

the adversary of fear—that is, against the fear of losing one’s moral and spiritual grounding in the face of adversity. This is the fear that is stilled by the care-taking shepherd. The “sheep” lack nothing (23:1) because God supplies the need that truly enables them to dwell in his house throughout their lives.

The tracks for a morally strong life are secure. This reading carries us back to Ps. 1 that links happiness to God’s teaching. Considered in light of Ps. 23, that happiness is the freedom from the fear that one might become one of the evil ones whose deeds and malevolent aspirations haunt the lament psalms.


©2015 by Ellen T. Charry. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

Lectionary Reflection for the Third Sunday of Easter

This excerpt comes from Psalms 1-50 (BTCB) by Ellen Charry, commenting on Psalm 30:

The theology and the pedagogy of this psalm are different depending on how one fills in the identity and circumstance of the complainant and of those rejoicing. This common observation is one of the great advantages of the Psalter. Its persistent ambiguity invites a wide variety of applications to people in all manner of circumstance, as the various commentators recognize.

The general point of the poem combats the experience of abandonment seen in Pss. 13 and 22 by proposing that God pays attention and is compassionate to those who cry for help and are faithful. The theodicy question is never far from those who suffer. The psalmist celebrates physical and spiritual resurrection in which those whose time of trial has passed look back on their misery to see God’s steady hand at work in their lives.

To enjoy God’s eventual favor, however, one must be patient—a lesson that pertains not only to individuals but also to whole communities, as the Jewish commentators’ association of this psalm with the rescue of the Jewish people in the book of Esther makes clear. A Christian version of corporate rescue appears in Samuel John Stone’s hymn, “The Church’s One Foundation,” which employs Ps. 30:5b in the third stanza:

Though with a scornful wonder men see her sore oppressed,

By schisms rent asunder, by heresies distressed;

Yet saints their watch are keeping, their cry goes up, “How long?”

And soon the night of weeping shall be the morn of song.

Embedded deep in this poem is a report of the kind of spiritual maturation that Calvin seeks for his readers. In my reordered version of the poem, the speaker starts out as one who thinks he will never stumble, only to uncover his own weakness when he does. Perhaps from the perspective of Christian piety, the turning point is when the speaker realizes that he cannot pull himself out of the pit into which he has fallen and that only divine mercy can pull him out.


©2015 by Ellen T. Charry. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

Now Available – You Are What You Love


James K. A. Smith’s You are What You Love officially releases today!

To order a copy you can visit Hearts & Minds, IndieBound, Barnes & Noble, AmazonFamily Christian, or your local bookseller.

Reviews and interviews are already coming in:


More Videos: A Spirituality for Culture-Makers, You Might Not Love What You Think, The Heart of Worship

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