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: May 1, 2015

The Englewood Review of Books reviewed Nonviolent Action by Ronald J. Sider.

Sider’s latest work is not a book to be read quickly. Rather, the reader is best served by engaging each story slowly and letting the lessons it contains sink in over time.

Present here are not only additional stories of successful nonviolent action, but also useful current statistics from scholars such as Gene Sharp, Erica Chenoweth, and Maria J. Stephan. The fruits of their labor are intelligently deployed by Sider to prove that even without many resources, there is no denying the success nonviolent approaches have had in the last 100 years.

Sider uses the proof of these successes to question why our society has never systematically put resources to exploring nonviolent action in any sustained or serious way.

Read the entire review here.

 

Rejoicing in Lament (by J. Todd Billings) Media:

First Things shared video of the discussion between Todd Billings and R. R. Reno from Billings’ NYC lecture and book signing event in early April.

Todd wrote “Praying in the Dark: Lament, Providence and Protest” for Perspectives Journal.

Todd appeared on Morning Express with Brock Tozer (Family Radio CHRI 99.1FM – Ontario).

 

Spiritual Friendship (by Wesley Hill) Media:

Dan Brennan reviewed Spiritual Friendship.

YALT (the CRC’s Young Adult Leadership Initiative) interviewed Wesley Hill about Spiritual Friendship.

Chris Woznicki reivewed Spiritual Friendship.

 

Quick Hits:

Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory by Jerry L. Walls was reviewed by Paul A. Nierengarten.

Scot McKnight discussed Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory.

Traces of the Trinity by Peter J. Leithart was reviewed by Patrick Schreiner.

Scot McKnight, author of Kingdom Conspiracy, appeared at Lipscomb University April 22-23, and wrote about it here. Lipscomb University wrote about it here.

Presence and Encounter by David G. Benner was quoted by The Mennonite.

The Weekly Hit List: March 20, 2015

The Gospel Coalition reviewed Rejoicing in Lament by J. Todd Billings

“Dealing with our own troubles and sharing in those of others are among the most challenging aspects of the Christian life.

“It isn’t always easy to weep with those who weep (Rom. 12:15). Foolish and insensitive things get said by well-meaning folks.

“J. Todd Billings’s excellent new book, Rejoicing in Lament: Wrestling with Incurable Cancer and Life in Christ, will go a long way in equipping us to endure and to minister to one another in more theologically grounded and helpful ways.”

Read the entire review here.

 

Other Rejoicing in Lament Media:

Books at a Glance reviewed Rejoicing in Lament.

Tim Challies recommended Rejoicing in Lament.

Derek Emerson reviewed Rejoicing in Lament.

Bobby Grow reviewed Rejoicing in Lament.

 

 

Congratulations to David G. Benner!

Presence and Encounter: The Sacramental Possibilities of Everyday Life is a Foreword Reviews 2014 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award finalist in the Body, Mind & Spirit category.

Foreword Reviews, the only review magazine solely dedicated to discovering new independent books, announced the finalists for its 17th Annual INDIEFAB Book of the Year Awards.

Each year, Foreword Reviews shines a light on a select group of indie publishers, university presses, and self-published authors whose work stands out from the crowd.

 

Quick Hits:

Craig Blomberg, author of Can We Still Believe the Bible?, is answering readers’ questions on Margaret Feinberg’s blog.

Bob Trube reviewed Can We Still Believe the Bible?.

The Weekly Hit List: March 13, 2015

Outreach Magazine Resources of the Year Awards:

Congratulations to Scot McKnight: Outreach Magazine chose Kingdom Conspiracy as their Resource of the Year in the Missional Church category.

Todd Engstrom, executive pastor of ministries at The Austin Stone Community Church, described Kingdom Conspiracy as “a timely resource for the missional church to re-examine some basic assumptions that impact church practice in the everyday.”

 

Also congratulations to Craig Detweiler: Outreach Magazine honored iGods in the Culture category.

 

 

Rejoicing in Lament Media:

Todd Billings was interviewed on Jesus Creed.

“Instead of a theodicy, scripture gives us a prayer book. The Psalms shape our response to evil through laments, which focus our eyes upon God’s promise to make things right, even when things are a mess and through thanksgiving, which rightly recognizes that we are not “entitled” to good things, but the goods of creation and redemption come from the gracious hand of God.

“I think that we cultivate our confidence in God and his promise through prayer, through worship – feeding upon Christ by Word and Sacrament in community – and through compassionate service.”

Read the entire interview here.

 

Todd appeared on INSIGHT (on Canada’s Miracle Channel).

Immanuel UCC‘s blog reviewed Rejoicing in Lament.

Dr. Conrade Yap reviewed Rejoicing in Lament.

 

 

Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory Media:

Scot McKnight recommended Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory by Jerry L. Walls on Jesus Creed.

“No one in the world has thought more about heaven, hell and purgatory than Jerry Walls.

“He has an academic, but accessible, book on each topic and now he has brought all his thinking together in one far more accessible, rearranged book called Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory: A Protestant View of the Cosmic Drama.”

 

Peter Leithart discussed Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory by Jerry L. Walls on his First Things blog.

 

Jerry M. Ireland reviewed Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory.

 

 

Quick Hits:

Presence and Encounter by David G. Benner was recommended by Kathy Milans on Soul Care Collective.

Nonviolent Action by Ronald J. Sider was reviewed by Chris Woznicki.

 

Ebook Specials:

The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn’t Say about Human Origins by Peter Enns is only $2.99 (83% off) from participating retailers through March 13.

The Weekly Hit List: January 23, 2015

Rejoicing in Lament by J. Todd Billings received a starred review from Publishers Weekly.

“An exploration of complex, age-old questions about suffering and God’s nature leads Billings to extol the beauty of mystery and the limits of human wisdom: ‘humans don’t have an answer to the problem of evil, and we shouldn’t claim that we have one.’

“Along with disclosing his wrenching questions, fears, and hopes, Billings explores ‘the ways in which God’s story intersects with the cancer story.’

“His poignant insight into the role of lament in faithful Christian living makes this a work of both astute scholarship and powerful testimony.”

Read the entire review here.

 

Quick Hits:

The Justice Calling by Bethany Hanke Hoang and Kristen Deede Johnson (July 2015) was recommended by Relevant Magazine as one of “12 Books We’re Excited About This Year.”

Dangerous Passions, Deadly Sins by Dennis Okholm was reviewed by Denver Journal.

Kingdom Conspiracy by Scot McKnight was reviewed by Chris Hennessey and by Johnny Walker.

Scot McKnight was appointed by Bishop Todd Hunter as a Canon Theologian for the Diocese of Churches for the Sake of Others.

Craig Detweiler, author of iGods, spoke at Calvin College’s January Series on “Apple, Google, and other ‘iGods’.”

Generous Spaciousness by Wendy VanderWal-Gritter was recommended on Hearts & Minds Books and reviewed on Anabaptist Redux.

A Beautiful Disaster by Marlena Graves was recommended on Hearts & Minds Books.

Presence and Encounter by David G. Benner was recommended by Eddie Olliffe.

A Public Faith by Miroslav Volf was reviewed on The Christian Mind.

The Brazos Press Best of 2014

Many of our titles received awards and were included in “best of” lists in 2014.

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

 

Can We Still Believe the Bible? by Craig Blomberg won Christianity Today‘s Award of Merit in the Apologetics/Evangelism category.

iGods by Craig Detweiler won a Top Shelf Book Cover Award from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association.

iGods also won an IndieFab Book of the Year Award in the Popular Culture category.

Of Games and God by Kevin Schut won in the Culture category of the 26th annual Word Awards.

Kingdom Conspiracy by Scot McKnight was included on The Englewood Review of Books “Best Books of 2014” and Missio Alliance‘s “Essential Reading List of 2014.”

Presence and Encounter by David G. Benner, PhD, was included on LeaderKick‘s “Top Books of 2014.”

 

Happy 2015!

The Weekly Hit List: December 12, 2014

Presence and Encounter by Dr. David G. Benner was reviewed by Englewood Review of Books.

“For being a relatively short book, it is contains a deeply powerful message. Although at times what Benner writes is complicated because of some philosophical language, it is challenging nonetheless.

“Most are seeking life change, and most seek it by adding more to their lives. We are told that that if we only had this thing or went to this seminar, then we could be changed. The truth is, true transformation starts with being present and will lead us to encounter with the divine. . . .

“Presence is such a powerful idea, but most of us miss it everyday. David Benner’s book presents us with a message that we all need to hear.”

Read the entire review here.

 

Quick Hits:

Scot McKnight, author of Kingdom Conspiracy, was quoted extensively in “The Painful Lessons of Mars Hill” in Leadership Journal.

Generous Spaciousness by Wendy VanderWal-Gritter was reviewed in Christian Courier and on Disembodied Beard.

Wendy VanderWal-Gritter spoke at Trinity Western University.

The Bible Made Impossible by Christian Smith was reviewed on One Theology.

 

Ebook Specials:

Creating a Spiritual Legacy: How to Share Your Stories, Values, and Wisdom by Daniel Taylor is only $1.99 (88% off) from participating retailers through December 13.

A Cross-Shattered Church: Reclaiming the Theological Heart of Preaching by Stanley Hauerwas is only $2.99 (85% off) from participating retailers through December 15.

Every volume in the Ancient-Future Bible Study: Experience Scripture through Lectio Divina series by Stephen J. Binz is only $0.99 (92% off) from participating retailers through December 31.

The Truth Shall Make You Odd: Speaking with Pastoral Integrity in Awkward Situations by Frank G. Honeycutt is only $1.99 (90% off) from participating retailers through December 31.

The Weekly Hit List: December 5, 2014

Scot McKnight, author of Kingdom Conspiracy, answered readers’ questions on Rachel Held Evans’ blog.

“Let’s agree that evangelicalism is almost uncontainable in a definition. But we can give a ballpark generic-package, lump-into-one-ball idea: evangelicalism affirms the necessity of personal faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior; it affirms the primacy of Scripture in forming beliefs and convictions; it affirms the centrality of Jesus’ life, death, burial, resurrection and rule.

“Yet evangelicalism transcends its core beliefs and has a history of its people and that means there’s some sociology or social description in this term so that it refers to America’s Calvinist and revivalist and holiness and Anabaptist impulses. Some are very evangelical and some are barely.”

Read the entire post here.

 

Other Kingdom Conspiracy Media:

Scot McKnight wrote “Kingdom: A Proposal,” “The Biggest Mistake in Kingdom Talk,” and “The Character of the King” on Jesus Creed.

Missio Alliance discussed and recommended Kingdom Conspiracy.

Joshua Reich recommended Kingdom Conspiracy.

 

 

J. Todd Billings, author of Rejoicing in Lament (February 2015), wrote “Deadly Healing Medicine” for Christianity Today‘s The Behemoth.

“Incurable cancer.

“I could hardly believe it when I heard the diagnosis. My wife and I had just celebrated our tenth anniversary, and our lives were spinning in joyful commotion with one- and three- year-olds at home. Initial testing brought back some worrying results. I had researched the possibilities, and I didn’t sound like a likely prospect for this cancer.

“The average diagnosis age is about 70; I had just turned 39. But here it was: an active cancer that had already been eroding the bones in my skull, arm, and hip.”

Read the entire article here.

 

Other Rejoicing in Lament Media:

Billings wrote “Undying Love” for the December 2014 issue of First Things.

Aimee Byrd recommended Rejoicing in Lament.

 

 

Dangerous Passions, Deadly Sins by Dennis Okholm was reviewed by Englewood Review of Books.

“[Dangerous Passions, Deadly Sins] earns its spot as a highly useful tool for understanding sin in our own lives, and in our culture.  In a tone that is gentle but frank, it’s full of useful observations and counsel, from both the ancients and the moderns.

“Okholm delves into the monks’ focus on concepts such as the importance of habits – habits for good and habits that degenerate into sin, or, seeing sin in the context of community and its counterproductive privatizing impact. There’s a strong pastoral and devotional impact to this volume, and while it’s aimed at Christians who assume that sin is essential to address, a great deal will be useful to all students of the soul.”

Read the entire review here.

Dangerous Passions, Deadly Sins was also reviewed by Philip Zoutendam.

 

Quick Hits:

Craig Detweiler, author of iGods, was interviewed by WORLD magazine’s Warren Cole Smith for Listening In.

Generous Spaciousness by Wendy VanderWal-Gritter was reviewed by Evangelicals for Social Action.

Presence and Encounter by David G. Benner, PhD, was reviewed by Leader Kick.

The Bible Made Impossible by Christian Smith was reviewed on Wineskins.

Marlena Graves, author of A Beautiful Disaster, was interviewed on Inside Out.

A Beautiful Disaster was recommended by Suzanne BurdenDorothy Greco, and Mark Votava.

 

Ebook Specials:

Every volume in the Ancient-Future Bible Study: Experience Scripture through Lectio Divina series by Stephen J. Binz is only $0.99 (92% off) from participating retailers through December 31.

The Truth Shall Make You Odd: Speaking with Pastoral Integrity in Awkward Situations by Frank G. Honeycutt is only $1.99 (90% off) from participating retailers through December 31.

Between the Lines: A Conversation with David G. Benner, PhD – Part 2

We recently had the chance to talk with David G. Benner, PhD, about his book Presence and Encounter: The Sacramental Possibilities of Everyday Life.

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 who lives in Toronto, Ontario. He is a faculty member of The Rohr Institute’s Living School for Action and Contemplation, where he serves as a master teacher. Benner has authored or edited more than twenty books, including Soulful Spirituality and Spirituality and the Awakening Self. He lectures widely around the world and has held numerous clinical and academic appointments. For more information, visit his website at www.drdavidgbenner.ca or his Facebook page.

Part 1 of this interview is available here.

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What is a “clouded” presence? What are its causes and how does it manifest itself?

Personality is seldom clouded. Think of your circle of acquaintances. You don’t have to be a psychologist to be able to identify salient personality traits for each of them. But this is not their presence. The presence that shadows us all is deeper than our personality and yet often more difficult to discern. It is with us in every interaction and will influence others one way or another—even though most people will be unaware of it. It lurks and lingers but is easily ignored or missed. And the major reason for this is because it is so often clouded.

Clouded presence is hard to read. The waters of the soul are opaque and restless. We may sense that someone’s surface presentation does not tell their whole story, but the nature of that deeper story will be as unclear as their presence. Or we may feel uneasy with them and not understand why. But chances are good that the uneasiness we feel is justified and that the clouding of the person’s presence is because of the mask they wear. This mask obscures their motives and parts of themselves that they don’t acknowledge and, if they did, would not want others to see. We can, therefore, describe the cause of clouding of presence as hiding behind a persona. But it is important to realize that we are seldom aware that we are doing this and that the real cause can more simply be described as living out of a false self.

The core of a clouded presence is always limited self-knowledge and an unwillingness to be honest about what we actually do know about ourselves. You don’t have to be perfect to have a clear and unambiguous presence. But, pretense will always confuse it. Pretense compromises our grounding in reality. It also produces the complexity that complicates knowing how to relate to such a person and the confusion you feel when engaged with them. This confusion is only clarified when you understand the ulterior motivations and needs that are opaque to them. But, because the person who is hiding behind a persona believes he or she is that public face, the presence that is their soul signature is clouded and confused.

 

What is “luminous” presence, and how can we recognize or encounter it? 

Luminous presence is the natural state of being. Rocks, trees, houses, and bridges are luminously clear in their presence to us, but we are seldom sufficiently present to notice. Although we don’t experience luminous presence often, perhaps you can think of occasions when the presence of something or someone was so clear and powerful that it broke through your preoccupations and distractions and pulled you into presence for at least a moment.

When we encounter this sort of presence in a person it shines through them with such luminosity that it can be quite dazzling. You might easily assume that it is the person who is dazzling. But what you are encountering is not simply the other person but the Presence they mediate. This transcendent source of all presence lurks behind all encounters. The other always brings us in potential contact with the Ultimate Other, and all presence mediates—usually in a partial and imperfect way—Ultimate Presence. This is why presence to anything opens the door to presence to the transcendent.

In luminous presence we encounter the purity of simple being. Life is complex. Personality is complex. Mind, self, relationships, and experience are all complex. But being has about it a singularity that marks it as pure.

The best example of this purity and luminosity of presence is Jesus. The Gospels describe him as speaking with amazing authority. I think what people were noticing was his presence, not his personality or his elocution. They were noticing the power and influence that comes from the simplicity and purity of being that we see in Jesus who Christians understand to be the perfect personification of Luminous Presence.

 

Why have mystics been so concerned with presence and encounter? What can we learn from them about encountering God and how it can change us?

The mystics understand that both spiritual transmission and transformation are through presence and encounter. And they know that encountering anything—particularly God—is something quite different from holding beliefs or having information about someone or something. They understand that authentic encounter is always potentially transformational because it calls us into presence and invites us to return to our center—our being in the Ground of Being. But they also understand that we miss the potential for encounter because of our lack of presence. So, presence and encounter are right at the center of the life and teaching of the mystics.

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For more information on Dr. Benner’s new book, Presence and Encounter, click here.

Between the Lines: A Conversation with David G. Benner, PhD – Part 1

We recently had the chance to talk with David G. Benner, PhD, about his book Presence and Encounter: The Sacramental Possibilities of Everyday Life.

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 who lives in Toronto, Ontario. He is a faculty member of The Rohr Institute’s Living School for Action and Contemplation, where he serves as a master teacher. Benner has authored or edited more than twenty books, including Soulful Spirituality and Spirituality and the Awakening Self. He lectures widely around the world and has held numerous clinical and academic appointments. For more information, visit his website at www.drdavidgbenner.ca or his Facebook page.

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What can the story of Moses and the burning bush teach us about presence and encounter?

The story of Moses wonderfully illustrates almost everything I have to say about presence and encounter in this book, so this is a great question to start with. First, let’s notice Moses. On that day and in that moment Moses was present. Rather than being caught up in his own preoccupations or agendas for the day, Moses was aware of what was happening within and around him and open to his life being interrupted. The interruption came in the form of his curiosity. He noticed a fire and paid attention to it long enough and with sufficient openness that he allowed his curiosity to draw him into an encounter. The bush was present to him because presence is the default and steady state for everything in existence with the exception of humans. Only humans can be distant enough from their existence that they can—and regularly do—lose presence. But, like us, Moses could not notice the presence of the bush to him until he was first present to himself. In presence, and only in presence, do we become accessible to encounter.

But the story then brings us to a second really important dimension of this miracle of presence and encounter. What Moses encountered was not merely a burning bush but the Transcendent God. Presence to God also demands presence to self. There can, in fact, be no meaningful encounter with God apart from presence. But presence to anything is a potential doorway to an encounter with the transcendent source of all presence—God. This is why I speak of presence and encounter as sacraments of daily living. Nothing is too small, insignificant, or non-spiritual to fail to be a potential occasion of encountering Presence if we only dare to be present ourselves.

 

You speak of three laws of presence. What are they and what do they tell us about the nature of presence?

I didn’t receive these laws on tablets of stone on a mountaintop, nor did I derive them scientifically. So perhaps it’s a little presumptuous to speak of them as laws. But they do pull together some of the things that I think are important to understand about presence and how it opens us to the possibilities of encounter. The three “laws” are:

• Presence to anything starts with presence to self,
• Presence to anything is constrained by presence to everything, and
• Presence to anything can be a threshold to the Transcendent.

Being present isn’t something we do. Anything we simply do will always involve more pretense than presence. Presence isn’t something, therefore, that we can simply turn on like a faucet. Authentic presence is always grounded in authenticity. Being present is being real. It is really being in the here-and-now. This is why presence to anyone or anything always must start with presence to self.

But while presence to anything is built on presence to self, the presence that we will be able to offer ourselves will always be constrained by the presence we regularly offer to anything and everything. It is virtually impossible to sustain more presence to anything than we routinely offer to everything. This is because presence is an expression of our being, not simply a behavior. It is a soul posture of openness and attentiveness—not something we can turn into a command performance. The hospitality offered by the best hosts is never simply a way of behaving when guests are present. It is a way of being. Presence is a way of being that will characterize our relationship to everything or it characterizes our relationship to nothing.

Presence is a thin place. It is a place where we are particularly close to Transcendent realities that are normally beyond our awareness but that always surround us. Being present to anything opens us to potential encounter with the transcendent presence that is the Ground of Being. God is always present. It is us who are absent. Our absence is our lack of presence. Once we learn to be present we become aware of the truth of the eternal presence of the One who is present to us.

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Next week Dr. Benner will explain “clouded” and “luminous” presence, and he will illuminate mystics’ thoughts on presence and encounter, as well as what we can learn from them about encountering God.

For more information on Dr. Benner’s new book, Presence and Encounter, click here.