Archives For C. Christopher Smith

 


The new Lent 2017 ERB print issue has been mailed recently…

 
Featuring interviews with Dorothy Day’s granddaughter Kate Hennessy and author Tish Harrison Warren, reviews and articles by Andy Whitman, C. Christopher Smith, David Wright, and Elizabeth Dark, two new poems by Marci Rae Johnson, reviews of new books by Makoto Fujimura, George Saunders, Roxane Gay, and MORE.
 
 
Click the cover image above to view a larger version.
 

[ DOWNLOAD A FREE SAMPLER FROM THIS ISSUE ]

 

I’ve had several people go out of their way to say that they appreciated my editorial for this issue, so I thought I’d reprint it here…

 

I write this editorial mere days before the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States. I’m less than excited about the prospect of a president so impetuous and unprepared to take the helm of our nation. Who knows what will happen? Will the Trump presidency rapidly implode from one of the many scandals that seem to follow in his wake? Will he finish off the American nation that is already deeply fragmented and on the verge of collapse? And, of course, there are many other, less dramatic, ways in which this presidency might play out.

Continue Reading…

 

An Open Letter

 
on 
 

Reading for the Common Good:
How Books Help Our Churches and Neighborhoods Flourish
C. Christopher Smith

Paperback: IVP Books, 2016
Buy now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]
 
By Ragan Sutterfield

 

Dear Chris,

I couldn’t write a straight review of your book.  I know you too well and I couldn’t really be objective (not that that is an ideal).  Instead I want to offer a kind of open letter, a way to reflect with you about the book and invite others into the conversation.

There are two things that guided my understanding of Reading for the Common Good.  The first is that, like you, I cannot conceive of my faith apart from reading.  As a child my faith was formed by fiction—Narnia, A Wrinkle in Time, and so many others.  Later, it broadened to include philosophy and theology, the classics of the spiritual masters, and profound fiction such as The Brother Karamazov.  My reading now is steady and varied, this year I’ve enjoyed books about microbiology and woodworking, Christian ethics in a time of climate change and a novel about a community in the midst of a fracking boom.  All of it has something to say to my life as a Christian because such a life is lived through the God who is the creator and sustainer of all things.  This is something you get and communicate so clearly in Reading for the Common Good.  You share this deep love and dependence on books and you make that alive to the reader.

Continue Reading…

 

101-TransformativeBooks - MEDIUMAs a companion to his new book Reading for the Common Good, ERB editor Chris Smith has also published a companion ebook, 101 Transformative Books for Churches to Read & Discuss (which is available for FREE for those who subscribe to our email digest).  This companion ebook organizes its book recommendations into 12 questions. Over the next month or so, we will be featuring each one of these questions, and listing the recommended books (without annotations, you will have to get the ebook to read those), as well as some more recent books on this question that are worth discussing.

 

Previous Questions:    [ One

 

Question #2:
How do we live faithfully as the people of God?

A careful reading of scripture will reveal that the people of God – first ancient Israel and then the church grafted onto the tree of Israel (Rom. 11) – are at the very heart of the reconciling work that God is doing in the world. Given this conviction, what does it mean for us to live faithfully together as God’s people? How have churches in past eras understood this calling and structured their lives together in order to cultivate the fruits of the Spirit and bear witness to the love and reconciliation of Jesus? Amidst the prevailing individualism of our day, these books will help stir our imaginations about what it might mean to share life together as the community of God’s people in the twenty-first century.

 

Classics listed in the ebook:
(With links to FREE ebook editions)

 
Continue Reading…

 

101-TransformativeBooks - MEDIUMAs a companion to his new book Reading for the Common Good, ERB editor Chris Smith has also published a companion ebook, 101 Transformative Books for Churches to Read & Discuss (which is available for FREE for those who subscribe to our email digest).  This companion ebook organizes its book recommendations into 12 questions. Over the next month or so, we will be featuring each one of these questions, and listing the recommended books (without annotations, you will have to get the ebook to read those), as well as some more recent books on this question that are worth discussing.

 

Question #1:
What is the nature and character of God?
What is God up to in the world?

These questions are essential to our identity as Christians. The Bible goes a long way in helping us answer them, but like any text, it must be interpreted, and it has not always been interpreted the same way across the wide diversity of churches throughout the two millennia of church history. The books I have selected here don’t offer definitive answers to these questions, but together they do serve as a guide to addressing important struggles that the church has had throughout her history.

Classics listed in the ebook:
(With links to FREE ebook editions)

Continue Reading…

 

101-TransformativeBooks- SMALLThe BRAND NEW ebook:

101 Transformative Books
For Churches to Read & Discuss

by ERB Editor Chris Smith

is now available.

 

This ebook is a companion to Chris’s new book Reading for the Common Good: How Books Help Our Churches and Neighborhoods Flourish. (Read an excerpt of RFTCG)  It is available for FREE download to readers who subscribe to our email digest.
 

Working under the convictions that 1) God is reconciling all things (cf. Col 1:15-20), and 2) that God’s reconciliation is at the heart of the gospel to which our churches bear witness, I want to encourage churches to read broadly and to create spaces in which they can discuss together what they are reading.  This annotated list of 101 books reflects the broadness of the life and work into which we have been called as God’s people.

 
Continue Reading…

 

Yesterday, Relief Journal released the podcast episode that ERB editor Chris Smith recorded with them about his new book Reading for the Common Good and also his previous book Slow Church.

[ LISTEN NOW ]

Relief Journal’s podcast is relatively new, and previous episodes include interviews with Marilyn Chandler McEntyre and D.L. Mayfield. The podcast features Dan Bowman and Amy Peterson talking with writers and people of faith about life, art, the writing process, and the questions and passions that drive us to create.

 

Reading for the Common Good
will be available in the next two weeks. 

PRE-ORDER now and get a special bonus ebook.

(Also read an excerpt from the book at this link)

 
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The new book from ERB editor Chris Smith is almost here… 

(Copies arrived in our office today!!!
And will be available in bookstores and online within 2ish weeks…)

Reading for the Common Good: How Books Help Our Churches and Neighborhoods Flourish
C. Christopher Smith

Paperback: IVP Books, 2016
Order Now: 
Amazon ] [ IVP Books ]
 
*** Scroll down for a special offer when you order now!
 
*** Kindle and other ebook editions will also be available soon!

READ AN EXCERPT of this book…

What people are saying:

“C. Christopher Smith offers a fresh, rich and quite unfamiliar proposal concerning human renewal and church regeneration. He exposits the cruciality of reading, thinking and conversing in the community as a bedrock practice for a sustainable missional community. His project serves to awaken us from our numbing ‘electronic slumbers’ into a slow engagement with imaginative words. I suggest that this book can be a valuable reference for pastoral nurture and education in the church.”  – Walter Brueggemann

“Having devoted the entirety of my personal and professional life to the vision and practices laid out in Reading for the Common Good, I offer a hearty ‘Hear! Hear!’ This book will inspire, motivate and challenge anyone who cares a whit about the written word, the world of ideas, the shape of our communities and the life of the church.” – Karen Swallow Prior
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I read four poems during our “special music” time at Englewood yesterday. The first three were “Poet” by Liberty Hyde Bailey, followed by two short Sabbath poems by Wendell Berry. The fourth poem was one that I wrote for the occasion, that is my response to all the violence of recent months (especially after Ferguson), and the ways so many people today — on the Right and on the Left — dig their heels in and are averse to dialogue.

 

Our Only Hope
C. Christopher Smith

As you move through your everyday life
Look at the people surrounding you
The people God made and that God loves.
Who are those who most differ from you?

Vote differently.
Think differently.
Act differently.
Talk differently.
Love differently.
Continue Reading…

 

This brief essay by ERB Editor C. Christopher Smith,
originally appeared in the very first print issue of our magazine (Advent 2010)…

We reprint it here today in honor of Allen Ginsberg’s birthday.

Didn’t know that we have a print magazine?
Get more info and subscribe now

 

AllenGinsberg-AldrichHow Not To Be A Counter-Culture:
A few thoughts occasioned by a reading of Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg’s correspondence


Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg:
The Letters

Bill Morgan & David Stanford, editors

Hardback: Viking, 2010
Buy now:  [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

by C. Christopher Smith

 

I have long been intrigued by the works and lives of the Beat writers, the spontaneity and attentiveness of their works combined with their critiques of the stifling culture of post-World-War-II middle-class American Christianity have been particularly appealing to me. Although the term “Beat Generation” is commonly used to refer to wide array of American counter-culturalists from the mid-1940s to the early-1960s, Jack Kerouac’s assessment in the essay “The Philosophy of the Beat Generation” (Esquire 1958) that the “Beat Generation” was a short-lived phenomenon in the late 1940s among a tight-knit group of friends based in New York City is widely accepted today. In order to understand this movement, if we accept Kerouac’s definition, we would do well to examine the relationships between those in this seminal group of New York friends. Key among those friends are Kerouac himself and Allen Ginsberg, and there is no better way to trace the arc of their friendship than by examining their correspondence. Thankfully, for ones like myself who have an interest in this sort of study, the bulk of the correspondence between these two writers has recently been published by Viking Books. This volume, entitled Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg: The Letters, paints a vibrant picture of the counter-cultural movement spawned among Kerouac, Ginsberg and their New York friends and its infusion across the American landscape in the 1950s and early 1960s.

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C. Christopher Smith - Letters to Me - ExcerptHere is an excerpt from the letter I wrote for this new volume…

Letters to Me: Conversations With a Younger Self.
Dan Schmidt, Editor.

Buy now: 
[ Amazon Paperback ] [ Kindle ]

Other Contributors include: Margot Starbuck, Tamára Lunardo, David Baer, Seth Barnes, Lore Ferguson, Lyla Lindquist, Anita Mathia, Brian McLaren, Penny Nash, Wade Owlett, Kristin Ritzau, Aletheia Schmidt, Therese Schwenkler, Charity Singleton, Shawn Smucker, J. B. Wood, and Eric Sheridan Wyatt.

 

[ Read more about the book on the Slow Church blog… ]

 

 

The Violence of Impatience

Opening Paragraphs of my Letter to my Younger Self

C. Christopher Smith

Dear Chris,

 

I praise God often for the passion for truth and justice that you have. You want to see the shalom of God’s kingdom fully embodied here on earth and have deeply devoted yourself to this work. I am concerned, however, that in your zeal for these true and excellent ends, you have become inattentive to the ways in which you pursue these ends.

 

Perhaps your urgency to see the reconciliation of all things in God’s creation is causing its own sorts of divisions that will eventually need to be reconciled? My hope is that you will not cause new problems in trying to solve old ones. After all, we live in an interconnected creation; the greater the force we exert upon others, even with the noble intent of moving us all forward toward God’s shalom, the greater the pain that the whole creation will have to bear.

Continue Reading…