The Weekly Hit List: January 18, 2013

Broken HallelujahsBroken Hallelujahs by Christian Scharen was reviewed by Homiletic Journal.

Broken Hallelujahs is another foray by Christian Scharen into the age-old question about the division between the sacred and the secular or, as the premise of the book might state, the divisions between culture and the cries of God.

Building upon his previous work, One Step Closer: Why U2 Matters to Those Seeking God, Scharen drills deeper into the connection between God’s cries through the culture and ways in which the church, particularly evangelical groups like Focus on the Family, have responded to the more difficult messages coming to us from and within the words, concepts, subjects, and visuals of popular culture.”

Read the rest of the review here.

 

Quick Hits:

A Public Faith by Miroslav Volf was included as one of Tim Høiland’s favorite books of 2012, saying, “I wish everyone would read this book.”

The Vampire Defanged by Susannah Clements was included in an post by Jess Peacock: “Religious Iconography and the Popular Vampire Narrative.”

 

Ebook Specials and Other Offers:

January ebook specials are currently running for multiple Brazos Press and Baker Academic titles. All of these are at least 40% off.

Commentary on the New Testament by Robert H. Gundry
The Character of Christian Scripture by Christopher R. Seitz
Creator Spirit by Steven R. Guthrie
Dictionary of Scripture and Ethics edited by Joel B. Green
Genesis (BTCB) by R. R. Reno
Flawed Families of the Bible by David E. Garland and Diana R. Garland
Cross-Shattered Christ by Stanley Hauerwas
The Forgotten Ways Handbook by Alan Hirsch with Darryn Altclass

The Vampire Defanged Ebook- $1.99

With the latest film in the Twilight series – Breaking Dawn Part 2 – on top of the U.S. box office for two weeks straight, it seems clear that vampires continue to be a fascinating phenomenon in popular culture. Beyond the Twilight books and films, vampires seems to be everywhere – True Blood, The Vampire Diaries, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer.

It seems timely that through the end of November Susannah Clements’ Brazos title The Vampire Defanged: How the Embodiment of Evil Became a Romantic Hero is only $1.99 as an ebook.

Bringing her literary expertise to this timely subject, Clements reveals the roots of the vampire myth and shows how it was originally immersed in Christian values and symbolism. Over time, however, vampires have been “defanged” as their spiritual significance has waned, and what was once the embodiment of evil has turned into a teen idol and the ultimate romantic hero. Clements offers a close reading of selected vampire texts, explaining how this transformation occurred and helping readers discern between the variety of vampire stories presented in movies, TV shows, and novels. Her probing engagement of the vampire metaphor enables readers to make Christian sense of this popular obsession.

The Vampire Defanged is just one title among many ebooks that are on sale through November. To see the entire list, visit www.bakerpublishinggroup.com/brazospress/l/ebook-specials

 

The Weekly Hit List: January 27, 2012

Peter Enns’ new Brazos book The Evolution of Adam has received a lot of attention this week. As we mentioned earlier in the week, Enns posted an article on The Huffington Post titled “Once More, With Feeling: Adam, Evolution and Evangelicals”.

At the “Jesus Creed” blog, RJS posted on Enns’ book and HuffPo article.

Be sure to also check out Peter Enns’ blog where he has been posting about The Evolution of Adam.

 

John Polkinghorne’s Testing Scripture: A Scientist Explores the Bible continues to generate some excellent discussion by RJS at the “Jesus Creed” blog. The most recent post is titled “Why Would a Scientist Believe the Virgin Birth?”

Previous posts by RJS:
Testing Scripture 1 (RJS)
Testing Scripture 2 (RJS)
Testing Scripture on Creation and Fall (RJS)
Is There Ambiguity in the Bible? (RJS)

Testing Scripture was also blogged about over at “The Internet Monk”: “The Bible, through a Scientist’s Eyes”

Psalms for All Seasons: A Complete Psalter for Worship debuted this week at the Calvin Symposium on Worship.

It was featured in an article in the Grand Rapids Press.

Check out the website for the psalter.

 

 

 

The Englewood Review of Books recently featured reviews of two Brazos titles:

Broken Hallelujahs by Christian Scharen

Be Not Afraid by Samuel Wells

The Vampire Defanged Ebook $2.99!

For just a limited time, you can purchase an ebook copy of The Vampire Defanged: How the Embodiment of Evil Became a Romantic Hero by Susannah Clements for only $2.99.

It is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Christianbook.com.

The Evolution of Adam Blog Tour and Giveaway

All next week we will be hosting the Evolution of Adam blog tour.

For a list of participants, click here.

Don’t forget to enter our giveaway where you could win The Evolution of Adam and other books from Brazos Press. Enter here.

Today Only: Free “The Vampire Defanged” Ebook

We are running a special promotion today, offering a free ebook of Susannah Clements’s The Vampire Defanged: How the Embodiment of Evil Became a Romantic Hero.

 Get a digital copy at:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

CBD

Sony

Animated Corpses as Romantic Heroes?

Here is the final post in our series from Susannah Clements, author of The Vampire Defanged.

Animated corpses might not be likely romantic heroes, but recently they have become so. Writers like Bram Stoker used to use vampires to tell stories about sin and how to defeat it. Sometimes they still do. But the most popular vampires today are telling us a very different story.

Stephenie Meyer’s the Twilight Saga wasn’t the first story to turn vampires into objects of romantic desire. Romance novels with vampire heroes and television shows featuring vampire love interests like Buffy the Vampire Slayer have been around for several decades. But the huge popularity of Twilight has focused the popular romantic imagination around the figure of the vampire in a way it never was before.

Instead of an ugly, animalistic vampire like Count Dracula, Edward Cullen in the Twilight Saga is pale, beautiful, and sparkly like a diamond. He is invested with all of the power, charisma, and brooding angst of a hero in any romance novel—amplified by his superhuman characteristics. It’s no wonder he has become the embodiment of so many romantic dreams.

The Twilight books and movies have certainly had their critics in recent years, but their popularity should be no surprise to us. In addition to giving us two deeply attractive romantic heroes (a vampire and a werewolf, to suit readers of diverse tastes), they’re also telling us other stories we want to hear. They tell us a story of how an average person can get pulled into drama, romance and excitement beyond her wildest dreams. They tell us a story of how our free will is so strong it can determine the fate of our lives, often without any lasting negative consequences. They tell us a story of how family can offer us eternal security. They tell us a story of how the life of an unexceptional girl can be transformed by the love of a powerful man.

Not all of these stories are true – but we desperately want to hear them. So the Twilight Saga speaks to us powerfully. It also develops into a gripping plot in the last half of Breaking Dawn, where Meyer demonstrates her best quality as a writer.

Vampire books and films used to tell a true story—not that vampires exist, but that sin exists and can be defeated only through Christ. The Twilight Saga tells us stories we want to hear, but it doesn’t tell that story anymore.

 

Mars Hill Audio Interview with Susannah Clements and Book Excerpt

We have been posting a series of blog entries from Brazos author Susannah Clements featuring new content on themes developed in her book The Vampire Defanged: How the Embodiment of Evil Became a Romantic Hero:

post #1 - “Why Are We So Attracted to Vampires?”

post #2 - “The Best Weapon against Vampires Has Always Been the Cross”

This will culminate with a final installment this Friday (the opening day of the new Twilight film, we might add).

 

 

Our good friends at Mars Hill Audio Journal recently published their latest volume which features an interview with Susannah Clements. They have graciously provided an excerpt of that interview for The Brazos Blog readers. You can listen to it here:

MARS HILL AUDIO is committed to assisting Christians who desire to move from thoughtless consumption of contemporary culture to a vantage point of thoughtful engagement.

They release an “audio journal” featuring over 90 minutes of interviews on each bi-monthly CD or MP3 edition. For more information on Mars Hill Audio, visit www.marshillaudio.org

Additionally, we thought it might be fun to provide an excerpt from The Vampire Defanged for your reading pleasure. Here is the Table of Contents and the first chapter:

Click here for the excerpt

The Best Weapon Against Vampires Has Always Been The Cross

Here is the second post in our new series from Susannah Clements, author of The Vampire Defanged.

The best weapon we have against a vampire has always been the Christian cross.

Until recently, at least.

In traditional vampire stories, the cross and other Christian symbols are effective against vampires because only the power of God can overcome the forces of darkness. Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula is shaped by Christian theology. Because Stoker popularized the vampire story in Western culture, we can look to Dracula to see how the vampire story used to be Christian.

Stoker used the vampire—the monster with a mostly human face—as a vivid representation of sin. As Jonathon Harker encounters Count Dracula in the first chapters of the novel, the vampire is associated with traditional sins. Dracula explodes in fits of wrath. He gorges on blood until he is bloated and lethargic. He hoards gold and lets it molder in his castle.

But, as the novel continues, this picture of sin becomes even more complex. Dracula’s darkly hypnotic power shows the dangerous lure of temptation. Once infected by a vampire, human victims like Lucy and Mina are helpless against the evil that slowly overtakes them. There is nothing they can do to save themselves, to make themselves good again. And the consequence of a vampire’s bite is always death.

Professor Van Helsing and his small group of allies wage a war against Dracula using an arsenal of weapons, the most powerful of which are Christian symbols (the cross and the Host). These weapons are not random, disconnected objects. The characters use them to consciously invoke the power of Christ. They see themselves as Christian warriors in a spiritual battle against the enemy and against the power of sin. The only way to save Mina, who has fallen under Dracula’s curse, is to destroy the vampire itself. Sin must be defeated before salvation is assured, and victory in the novel comes only through faith.

Christian theology has continued to be an aspect of many vampire stories, although in later stories it is often a spiritual struggle within the consciousness of the vampire itself. Anne Rice’s Louis enters a cathedral to ponder his guilt and God’s existence in Interview with a Vampire. Angel, the vampire with a soul in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, acknowledges himself as a sinner and desperately tries to do good in the world.

Despite this long tradition, vampires are no longer representations of sin in many stories today. Often, they aren’t even afraid of the cross anymore. But the heart of the vampire story has always been a picture of what it means to be a sinner whose only hope for salvation is the finished work of Christ.

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Enter to win a copy of Susannah Clements’s The Vampire Defanged in our current giveaway.

 

The Weekly Hit List: November 4, 2011

Lee C. Camp’s Who Is My Enemy? was reviewed by Joe Canner on Scot McKnight’s Jesus Creed Blog. Check it out here

Also, as we mentioned last week, Who Is My Enemy? is positively reviewed in the Nov/Dec issue of Relevant. They call it “one of the truly essential books of 2011.”

Here is a link to that review.

Christian Smith’s The Bible Made Impossible was reviewed on the Patrol website. Check it out here

Tony Jones just included The Bible Made Impossible on his list of “Some Books I Plan to Read.” He intends to read through Smith’s book and post some blog entries on it – and he invites anyone to join him. We look forward to his engagement with this book!

Don’t forget to enter our current giveaway.

We will be giving away copies of Susannah Clements’s book The Vampire Defanged: How the Embodiment of Evil Became a Romantic Hero to five winners. To enter, fill out the form here.

Winners will be announced on next week’s Weekly Hit List.

For more on The Vampire Defanged click here.

Giveaway: The Vampire Defanged by Susannah Clements

As a part of a series of entries from Susannah Clements that we will be posting on The Brazos Blog, we are giving away five copies of The Vampire Defanged: How the Embodiment of Evil Became a Romantic Hero.

To enter, fill out the form below and look for the list of winners on November 11th.

For more on The Vampire Defanged, click here and keep checking the blog for more posts from Susannah Clements.

This giveaway has expired. See winners here.

Why Are We So Attracted to Vampires? (Happy Halloween!)

 We are kicking off a new series from Susannah Clements, author of The Vampire Defanged, leading up to the new Twilight movie, Breaking Dawn (you know you are going to go see it). In this first post she offers some important insight into why we are so attracted to vampires:

 With Halloween approaching, the stores have been filled with all kinds of vampire costumes—including classic Dracula outfits, Vampire princesses, rocker vampires with spiked hair and fake leather coats, and Twilight vampires for both boys and girls complete with twinkly lights so they sparkle like Edward and Bella.

 Vampire costumes have been more abundant in the last few years because of the vampire craze in pop culture, but vampires have always been a popular choice for Halloween. We’ve been telling ourselves stories about vampires for a really long time, and they give us a way to explore certain issues that are important to us as humans. The vampire is a monster with a mostly human face – kind of like us, but with a more pronounced darkness or a more uncontrollable appetite. As such, vampire stories are a powerful way of exploring what it means to be human.

 The vampire as a metaphor can mean what we want it to mean – which is why we keep going back to it. Although the vampire used to represent temptation, sin and evil, those traditional associations have faded recently as the vampire has become domesticated and even morphed into a romantic hero. Whether the vampire is portrayed positively or negatively in a story, it usually embodies some kind of craving, desire or need that must either be controlled or destroyed. That aspect of human nature strikes a chord in us, which is why I think we’re so attracted to vampire stories (and costumes).

 We see versions of vampires around us all the time now. Vampires are still featured on a couple of very popular television shows. Sexy, brooding vampires are still the most popular heroes of paranormal romance novels. Count von Count is still counting the bats in his castle on Sesame Street. And men, women and children will be dressing up like vampires on Halloween—wearing a cape and fangs, or a Victorian corset and fishnet stockings, or twinkly lights like the lead characters from their favorite novels.

 The pop culture phenomenon will almost certainly fade, but our interest in vampires isn’t likely to go away. We’ll keep telling ourselves stories about vampires because those stories have never been just about monsters. They’ve always been about us.