The Weekly Hit List: July 10, 2015

Cover ArtCraig Blomberg’s Can We Still Believe the Bible? was a featured reviewed at The Englewood Review of Books.

Readers who seriously engage the arguments contained in this book will discover a reflective, reasonable, and rich Christianity that does not shy away from tough questions or hard facts.

In light of the recent supreme court ruling, Comment Magazine shared an excerpt from the forthcoming Free to Serve by Stephen Monsma and Stanley Carlson-Thies.

Principled pluralism seeks public policies that are even-handed not only among the faith-based organizations of various religious traditions but also between faith-based organizations and secular organizations. Neither should be favored over the other.


Quick Hits:

Rejoicing in Lament, by J. Todd Billings, was named one of the best books of the year by Words of Grace.

Stephen Monsma, co-author of Free to Serve, discussed the Obergefell v. Hodges decision at Christianity Today.

And finally, congrats to Dr. David G. Benner whose Presence and Encounter received the silver award in the Body, Mind & Spirit category of the 2014 Foreword Reviews IndieFab Book of the Year Awards.

 

The Weekly Hit List: February 1, 2013

Speaking of DyingSpeaking of Dying by Fred Craddock, Dale Goldsmith, and Joy V. Goldsmith was chosen by the Academy of Parish Clergy as one of their Top 10 Books of the Year.

This book offers a critical analysis of the church’s failure to communicate constructively about dying, reminding the church of its considerable liturgical, scriptural, and pastoral resources when it ministers to the terminally ill. The authors, who have all been personally and professionally involved in end-of-life issues, suggest practical, theological bases for speaking about dying, communicating with those facing death, and preaching about dying.

They explore how dying–in baptism–begins and informs the Christian’s life story. They also emphasize that the narrative of faith embraces dying, and they remind readers of scriptural and christological resources that can lead toward a “good dying.” In addition, they present current best practices from health professionals for communication among caregivers and those facing death.

 

Quick Hits:

A Hobbit Journey by Matthew Dickerson was chosen as the “Most Timely Re-Issue” of 2012 by Hearts & Minds Books“What is so interesting about this is how seamlessly Dickerson weaves together contemporary social ethics — from justice issues to questions about the body — and the Tolkien narratives.”

Just Politics by Ronald J. Sider was chosen the “Most Needed Re-Issue” of 2012 by Hearts & Minds Books“I think everyone who votes should read this book! Just Politics is one of the year’s best.”

Soulful Spirituality by David Benner was recommended by Steve Saccone.

The Evolution of Adam by Peter Enns was recommended by Matthew Barrett on Credo.com.

 

February Ebook Specials:

During the month of February, several ebooks from Brazos Press & Baker Academic are on sale.

Click on book covers for more information on that title.

For a list of places to purchase the ebooks, visit www.brazospress.com/ebookspecials

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The Weekly Hit List: December 7, 2012

The Space Between by Eric O. Jacobsen, author of Sidewalks in the Kingdom, was reviewed by Byron Borger of Hearts & Minds Books for Comment magazine

“Since Jacobsen’s 2003 Brazos Press introductory book Sidewalks of the Kingdom, many were hoping that the Presbyterian pastor turned new urbanist would write a more substantial follow up, taking readers further into the fascinating study of our built environment.

“His nearly decade of further study, writing, speaking, and engaging this interdisciplinary field has paid off with extraordinary fruitfulness, and Jacobsen’s new book is, without a doubt, one of the most important books in the field, and should be considered to be one of the most important books of the year.”

Read the rest of the review here.

 

Quick Hits:

Lee C. Camp, author of Who Is My Enemy?, was interviewed on “Kresta in the Afternoon” on Ave Maria Radio on December 3, 2012.

A Hobbit Journey by Matthew Dickerson was reviewed in Family Fiction.

The Bible Made Impossible by Christian Smith was recommended by Andrew Wilson on the Theology Matters blog.

Living into Focus by Arthur Boers was recommended by Dana Cassell.

Frank G. Honeycutt, author of The Truth Shall Make You Odd, wrote an article for The Christian Century: “New life without parole.” (The full text is available to subscribers only.)

Soulful Spirituality by David Benner was recommended by Barry Pearman.

 

Ebook Specials and Other Offers:

December ebook specials are currently running for multiple Brazos Press and Baker Academic titles. All of these are at least 60% off.

The Virtuous Reader by Richard S. Briggs
Healing in the Bible by Frederick J. Gaiser
1 & 2 Kings (BTCB) by Peter J. Leithart
Broken Hallelujahs by Christian Scharen
Claiming Abraham by Michael Lodahl
Where Mortals Dwell by Craig G. Bartholomew
The Forgotten Ways Handbook by Alan Hirsch with Darryn Altclass
The Vampire Defanged by Susannah Clements
Adventures in Daily Prayer by Bert Ghezzi
Seven Deadly Spirits by T. Scott Daniels

The Weekly Hit List: October 12, 2012

Spirituality and the Awakening Self by David Benner was reviewed in the October 2012 issue of The Diocesan Post, a section of The Anglican Journal.

“In a day when the world is filled with self-help books, offering advice with varying degrees of helpfulness, Benner reconnects the process of transformational change with the world’s spiritual traditions, particularly reflecting his own deep rooted-ness in the mystical tradition of Christianity.

“Benner offers a helpful corrective to some of the self-centered road maps that are popular in our individualistic culture, suggesting, ‘Ultimately transformation is not even really about me. It is about an increasing recognition of the reality of the me-in-God and the God-in-me. Self-engineered attempts at transformation are far too self-focused to truly allow my ego-self to die and my spirit-centered self to emerge.'”

To read the rest of this review, click here.

 

Quick Hits:

Living into Focus by Arthur Boers was reviewed by Jeff Loach of Presbyterian Record.
It was also reviewed by Jeff Borden on his blog, iCrucified.

Speaking of Dying by Fred Craddock, Dale Goldsmith, and Joy V. Goldsmith was featured in a “Take & read” piece on Christian Century.

An excerpt from Speaking of Dying was featured on MinistryMatters.com.

A Hobbit Journey by Matthew Dickerson was reviewed by Jeff Lonsinger on his blog, Pastor Jeff’s Ramblings.

The Evolution of Adam by Peter Enns was reviewed by Randal Hardman on his blog, The Bara Initiative.

A Public Faith by Miroslav Volf was reviewed in the August 2012 issue of The Messenger.

 

Ebook Specials and Other Offers:

October ebook specials are currently running for multiple Brazos Press and Baker Academic titles. All of these are at least 75% off.

Deconstructing Theodicy by David B. Burrell
Song of Songs (BTCB series) by Paul J. Griffiths
Under the Influence by Monica Ganas
The Mind and the Machine by Matthew Dickerson
John (Paideia series) by Jo-Ann A. Brant
The Fall of Interpretation by James K. A. Smith
Killing Enmity by Thomas R. Yoder Neufield
Finding Your Plot in a Plotless World by Daniel de Roulet
Second Corinthians (CCSS series) by Thomas D. Stegman, SJ
A Liturgy of Grief by Leslie C. Allen

 

The Weekly Hit List: September 7, 2012

Luke (a Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible) by David Lyle Jeffrey was reviewed in Englewood Review of Books.

Brazos Theological Commentary has, in my opinion, offered a breath of fresh air to the sometimes stale academic air of commentaries.  The newest volume in the series is Luke by David Lyle Jeffrey. . . .

This is a great commentary series for its scholarship and unabashed emphasis on how scripture leads us into the sacred story of self-giving love.  I would commend David Lyle Jeffrey’s volume on Luke in particular for those, especially in ministry, who are looking to dive deeper into the theological power of Luke.

Read the full review here.

 

Quick Hits:

Soulful Spirituality by David G. Benner was reviewed in Englewood Review of Books.

Rachel Held Evans concluded her review of Peter Enns’s Inspiration and Incarnation.

 

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

 

A Hobbit Journey Giveaway Winners:

Congratulations to George Mearns, Lynn Kauppi, Caroline Batchelder, Valerio Bernardi, and Jonathan Ruehs.

They have each won a copy of A Hobbit Journey: Discovering the Enchantment of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth by Matthew Dickersonon on The Brazos Blog.

Keep checking back for our next giveaway.

 

Don’t Miss It:

This month we celebrate the one-year anniversary of The Brazos Blog!

During the week of September 10-14 we will be highlighting some of the best posts from our first year of blogging. This will include our interview with Miroslav Volf, videos from Lee C. Camp, and posts written exclusively for the blog from Peter Enns and Christian Scharen.

During this week we will also be giving several Brazos books away.  Don’t miss it!

Being and Becoming: Learning from the Mystics – by David G. Benner

The following article is written by Dr. David G. Benner, author of Spirituality and the Awakening Self and Soulful Spirituality, and was originally published as a part of the Patheos.com Book Club in March 2012.

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Being and Becoming: Learning from the Mystics

Most Christians find the mystics mystifying. Their language often makes it hard to identify with them, their lifestyle seems out of sync with modernity, and their message simply doesn’t seem relevant to life as most of us know and live it. It’s easy, therefore, to think of mysticism as a hobby for people on the fringe of life—spiritual gurus or others seeking esoteric spiritual experiences. But this easy dismissal would be unfortunate because the mystics are surprisingly relevant to modern life and their message is much more practical than usually realized. This is the reason Karl Rahner, perhaps the most influential Roman Catholic theologian of the 20th century, argued that “the Christian of the future will either be a mystic or not exist at all.”

However, before we attempt to learn from this rich Christian tradition let me take a moment to clear some common misconceptions. Despite what you might have heard, Christian mysticism is not about seeing visions or receiving special messages from God. Nor is it the pursuit of enlightenment or esoteric spiritual or religious experiences. In fact, its goal is not experience at all—or, at least, it should not be. The goal is simply knowing—deep personal knowing of God. The mystical or contemplative journey is, therefore, deeply relational. At its core is a longing for an intimate knowing of God in love. There is nothing that mystics desire more deeply than this.

What the mystics offer us isn’t primarily techniques or theories but wisdom—wisdom that is deeply congruent with biblical teaching but which emphasizes the interior dimensions of the transformational encounter with God that authentic knowing of God involves. Although it is immensely practical and includes practices, this wisdom can’t be reduced to those practices. For like any wisdom teaching, it starts at a place much deeper than what we believe or what we do. It starts with ontology—with our being—and moves out from there.

Being and Becoming
The starting point of the Christian contemplative journey is the paradoxical realization that there really is nothing to achieve and no where to go. This is because God is already present and we already exist in God and God exists in us. All that is lacking is awareness of this most fundamental reality of our existence. But, even that awareness is not something we need to achieve. It is a gift from God and is not something we can manufacture. But it is a gift that we can unwrap and this is where the wisdom of the mystics is so helpful.

Within contemplative spirituality there is a tension between being and becoming. In terms of being, we are always, already, one with God, immersed in God’s presence and deeply enmeshed with God’s very being. Becoming is returning to this eternal state of being. It is being aware of what is most deeply the truth of my being and allowing this to become equally true of my identity. Consequently, even the metaphor of the journey is somewhat misleading. Of course, life is a journey and our spirituality is deeply part of that journey. But, it is not a journey of finding God because God is already present in Christ in my depths. If it is a journey of anything it is a journey of knowing—of knowing the truth of my being and knowing the transformational power of the life and love of God flowing through us.

So how is this practical? It is, in fact, immensely practical. It reminds us to relax and let go of our striving to know God—or our striving to achieve anything of spiritual significance. It tells us that the initiative in this relationship has been and always will be all God’s. Everything that God asks of us, God gives us. And everything that we most deeply seek is already ours in the God who resides at the center of our being. God having taken that initiative and being now fully present to me, my job is simply to open myself in trust to the God whose abiding presence is the very foundation of my existence. Because, if the eternal I AM were not present to me, I would not be.

Inner Space and Hospitality
The second important thing the mystics have to teach us is how to open ourselves in trust to the knowing of God’s loving presence that we seek. The answer is that we do this by making space for God. Christian mysticism is less about attaining unity with God and more about creating the inner emptiness where you can offer God hospitality. It is, therefore, more a matter of subtraction than addition.

This brings us to the important role of silence and solitude. These are not primarily things to achieve as they are ways of preparing ourselves to receive the gifts God has for us. Both are ways of stepping outside our usual patterns of self-preoccupation and distraction. They are ways of making space in the depths of our being. And the clearing of this space is our way of showing hospitality to the God who is already there but who has not been noticed in all the clutter and noise that usually fills that space.

The silence and solitude that are important are, of course, inner—not merely external. Scriptures speak of this as stillness. Think, for example, of the words of Psalm 46:10—”Be still and know that I am God.” Inner stillness is a way of communicating our intent to make space for God. Offering whatever inner stillness we have in the moment allows us to be present to the One who is present to us. And it results in a unique form of knowing that the mystics call contemplative knowing.

Contemplative Knowing
Any genuinely transformational knowing of God will always involve more than knowing about God. John of the Cross says that God cannot be thought but can be loved. Even though we will often feel the need to put words to our experience of the Mystery that is God, our words can never hold God. They may point in the general direction of God but that pointing will always be imperfect and limited. And looking at fingers that point toward God should never be confused with the ineffable mystery to which they point. That’s the limitation of words and of the mind in the encounter with God.

Knowing God who is love will always involve what the mystics call knowing in love or knowing through love. Love is its own form of knowing. We can be as certain of what we know in or through love as we can of any other form of knowing. In fact, it will usually resonate with things deep in our soul in a way that will confirm the validity of our knowing in ways that go beyond what we can ever experience with intellectual knowing. Some, therefore, speak of bringing our heart, not just our head, to the contemplative encounter. But we shouldn’t think of this as making space for feelings but making space for love—God’s love, God’s life. Contemplation isn’t thinking about something or other—even thinking about God. It is making space in our hearts for the touch of the Loving and Living God, and then allowing that touch to flow through the rest of our being—heads included—and out into the world.

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David G. Benner (PhD, York University; postdoctoral studies, Chicago Institute of Psychoanalysis) is an internationally known depth psychologist, author, spiritual guide, and personal transformation coach. He currently serves as Emeritus Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Spirituality at the Psychological Studies Institute, Richmont Graduate University. He has authored or edited more than twenty books, including Soulful Spirituality and Strategic Pastoral Counseling. Benner lectures widely around the world and has held numerous clinical and academic appointments. Visit his website at www.drdavidgbenner.ca.

To read this article on Patheos.com, click here.

The Weekly Hit List: June 22, 2012

Kicking at the Darkness by Brian J. Walsh was granted the 2012 Nonfiction Book — Academic book Award of Merit from the Canadian Christian Writing Awards.

The Canadian Christian Writing Awards are “designed to raise the profile of Canadian writers who are Christian, and to encourage them in the pursuit of excellence in the art, craft, practice and ministry of writing.

“The awards are sponsored by The Word Guild, a national organization of Canadian writers and editors who are Christian. Formerly known as The God Uses Ink Awards, these writing prizes have been awarded annually since 1988.”

 

Quick Hits:

Spirituality and the Awakening Self by David G. Benner was reviewed on Semper Reformanda.

The Bible Made Impossible by Christian Smith was reviewed on The Gregorian Blog.

A Public Faith by Miroslav Volf was recommended on the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s blog.

The June issue of Border Crossings (the Brazos Press newsletter) is now available.

In case you missed it: James K. A. Smith, author of Letters to a Young Calvinist,  was interviewed on WGVU-FM.

The Weekly Hit List: May 4, 2012

The Christian Century reviewed Living into Focus: Choosing What Matters in an Age of Distractions by Arthur Boers. You must be a subscriber to read the entire review. Here is an excerpt:

“The more difficult task, however, and the one that Boers’s book mostly succeeds in provoking, is to look long and hard at ourselves, at the objects that command our attention and at the practices that make up our days. And then, after he holds up a mirror for us for a little while, Boers asks us the essential, if no longer new, questions: When do we rule our gadgets and when do they rule us? When does technology improve our lives and when does it bankrupt them? What habits might help us manage the omnipresent allures of a technological age? And what can we do if we find ourselves walking around with devices that are not, in the deepest sense of the word, working?”

Quick Hits:

The May 2012 issue of the Brazos Press newsletter, Border Crossings, has released and is available. To receive future issues in your inbox, click here to subscribe.

Peter Enns (author of The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn’t Say about Human Origins) was interviewed on Christian.co.uk for what he “thinks about Adam and why it matters one way or the other.”

Miroslav Volf’s A Public Faith: How Followers of Christ Should Serve the Common Good was reviewed by Tony Dickinson.

David G. Benner’s Spirituality and the Awakening Self: The Sacred Journey of Transformation was featured in the May list of resources in The Mennonite: “Benner shows that the  transformation of self is foundational to Christian spirituality.”

Christian Smith’s The  Bible Made Impossible: Why Biblicism Is Not a Truly Evangelical Reading of Scripture was reviewed by Charlie Dean on his blog. “If you think deeply about faith, theology and particularly the Bible, you’ll really want to read this book – and better yet, discuss it with a few people.”

Nathaniel Claiborne reviewed Proverbs & Ecclesiastes (part of the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible series) by Daniel J. Treier on his blog.

Between the Lines: A Conversation with David Benner – Part 5

This is the last in a five-part interview with Dr. David Benner – author of the recent Brazos book Spirituality and the Awakening Self: The Sacred Journey of Transformation.

In Part 1, Dr. Benner discussed his purpose for writing Spirituality and the Awakening Self.
In Part 2, he talked about Christian mysticism and what it has to offer for one’s journey of transformation.
In Part 3, he discussed the role of community in that journey.
In Part 4, we asked David about the “first rule of care” for others.

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Finally, please comment on the understanding of the spiritual journey as primarily involving growth in Christ-likeness.

If Christ-likeness is not reduced to behavior but involves taking on both the mind and heart of Christ – not just the behavior of Jesus – this describes exactly what I think the journey involves.  But it cannot simply be a matter of conformity.  We must understand that the Christ-in-me will always look different from the Christ-in-you.

Also, we need to be clear to distinguish this from a journey of increasing sinless perfection.  Nor is taking on the heart and mind of Christ the same as adopting a set of beliefs.  Taking on the heart and mind of Christ involves experiencing and responding to one’s self, the world and God through the heart and mind of God.  This is what it means to become the new creature in Christ that we are called to be.

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For more information on Dr. David G. Benner and Spirituality and the Awakening Self, check out the Book Club page on Patheos.com.

Check out original posts from Dr. Benner, an excerpt from the book, and articles by Tony Jones, Jana Riess, and others.

The Weekly Hit List: April 6, 2012

The April issue of our newsletter “Border Crossings” was just sent out.

You can read it here. To sign up, click here.

Two Brazos books were selected among the finalists for the Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Awards:

Miroslav Volf’s A Public Faith was selected in the “Religion” category.

Daniel Taylor’s Creating a Spiritual Legacy was selected in the “Body, Mind & Spirit” category.

See the full list of finalists here.

 

Several blogs have given attention to Christian Smith’s The Bible Made Impossible: Why Biblicism Is Not a Truly Evangelical Reading of Scripture. Many have been linking to the terrific interview with Smith by Frank Viola on the “Beyond Evangelical” blog. If you haven’t read this interview yet, check it out here.

Here are some blogs that have posted on The Bible Made Impossible:

“I Call You Friend” Blog

“Can’t Catch My Breath” Blog

“Court Can Write” Blog

 Quick Hits:

Peter Enns’s The Evolution of Adam was reviewed on the “Falling Off a Cliff Backwards” blog.

Brian Walsh’s Kicking at the Darkness was mentioned in a Vancouver Sun article.

Many great posts came from David Benner’s Spirituality and the Awakening Self being a part of the Patheos Book Club. Be sure to check out Tony Jones’s post (he’s giving away a copy of the book!).

Miroslav Volf’s A Public Faith was reviewed on the “Ends & Means” blog.

Harold Cameron reviewed Samuel Well’s Be Not Afraid on his blog.