Archives For Faith

 

Learning to Let Go.

A Feature Review of

The Sin of Certainty: Why God Desires Our Trust More than Our “Correct” Beliefs
Peter Enns

Hardback: Harper One, 2016.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

 

Reviewed by Bob Cornwall.

 

The book of Hebrews declares that “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). The author of Hebrews tells us that our spiritual ancestors received approval for their faith, even though they could not see their hopes come to fruition. To live by faith is to trust your life to a God who remains unseen. Nevertheless, many of us have a need more certainty than this. There is a need on the part of many for a bit more definition of the faith. That leads to a desire for what Peter Enns calls “correct” beliefs. Whether those correct beliefs emerge from Scripture or from tradition, they offer a sense of certainty. Peter Enns learned the hard way that this can be dangerous. Thus, he concluded that the search for certainty is in itself a matter of sin.

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Today marks the anniversary of the death of Charles Schulz, creator of the Peanuts cartoon…

Schulz’s Christian faith played an important role in his work.  This new book explores his faith.

A Charlie Brown Religion: Exploring the Spiritual Life and Work of Charles M. Schulz
Stephen Lind

Hardback: UP of Mississippi, 2015
Buy now:  [ Amazon  ] [ Kindle ]
 
*** Browse collections of Peanuts cartoons
 

Here is a brief video interview with the author…

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God Dwelling in the Commonplace

A Review of

Playdates with God: Having Childlike Faith in A Grownup World
Laura Boggess

Paperback: Leafwood, 2014.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

 
Reviewed by Zena Neds-Fox.

 
Laura Boggess starts her spiritual memoir Playdates with God with one of the most resonant spiritual dilemmas.  Sehnsucht – a German word best translated as nostalgia or a deep longing for a far-off home.  Or as CS Lewis puts it, “our best havings are wantings.”  The blue flower – the desiring of some lasting, perfect thing to fulfill us.  The hum in each person that reminds them, whether or not they want reminding, that they were made for more.  That propulsion towards God is the journey Boggess takes us on; how she recognized it, how she entertained it, and what it has taught her, going down the roads it lead her to.
 
Playdates is quite readable, and though Boggess cites philosophical sources as her inspirations, she writes in an uncomplicated way that makes walking with God seem as plain as everyday potatoes.  She’s a simple girl, admittedly so. When trying to locate what it is that will satisfy her soul, she lands at falling in love and all the giddy feelings that come along with it.  She sets out to fall in love with her creator, over and over again, through a series of, as she calls them, playdates.

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Wise and Comforting Words

A Review of

The Grand Paradox:The Messiness of Life, the Mystery of God and the Necessity of FaithKen Wytsma

Hardback: Thomas Nelson, 2015
Buy now: [ Amazon ]   [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by C. Christopher Smith
 
This review originally appeared on The Slow Church Blog on Patheos.

 
In my early years of college, I went through somewhat of a crisis of faith, questioning who God was and how God relates to humanity. It was a pretty bleak time, but eventually through long series of conversations with friends and through reading certain works of writers in the Christian tradition like C.S. Lewis, Madeleine L’Engle and Frederick Buechner, I eventually grew into a deeper, more resilient understanding of God, and of how God is at work in humanity.

This crisis in my own life came to mind as I was reading Ken Wytsma’s new book The Grand Paradox: The Messiness of Life, the Mystery of God and the Necessity of Faith. I suspect that had it been in existence over two decades ago, when I was in college, I would have found this book immensely helpful and comforting amidst my struggles.

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Our Book Trailer video of the week…

 

The Grand Paradox: The Messiness of Life, The Mystery of God and the Necessity of Faith
Ken Wytsma

Hardback: Thomas Nelson, 2015
(Book releases January 27th)
 
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]
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Journey Before Destination

 A review of

Down from the Mountaintop: From Belief to Belonging

Joshua Doležal

Paperback: U of Iowa Press, 2014
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Sam Edgin

 

It may be the case that the highest praise a book can earn within the confines of a sentence is this: “I read it in one sitting.” Six words, seven syllables, and wrapped within them the praise equivalent to mountains of gold. A book that was read in a single sitting, a book that breathed deep and swelled its breast to engulf a person until it was done with them, is special kind of book. Most people know the pull of such a thing, and they chase after it.

 

So when I say that I read Joshua Doležal’s Down from the Mountaintop in its entirety on a sunny Monday morning, I mean it as high praise. Doležal weaves his words with sincerity, managing to convey genuine emotion in his reflections. He has an uncanny knack for detail, and constantly leaves simple beauty shimmering behind our eyes. Images like him and his father playing catch in their uneven and violently sloped front yard, his mother reading to him and his sister on a blanket beneath a tree and the swing of his mattock as he works trails in the mountains in summer heat stick with the reader. His prose is masterful, and turns the story of his relatively ordinary life into a beautiful adventure.

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January 15 marks the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Mainstream American culture tends to have a narrow view of King’s work, limited primarily to his leadership in the Civil Rights movement. However, King’s vision was rooted in the desire for a beloved community in which not only were all people equal, but in which all violence, poverty and injustice were abolished — a vision that flowed from King’s deep faith in the life and teachings of Jesus.  In the following slideshow, we introduce the breadth of King’s prophetic faith, by means of 15 memorable quotes.

Please download and share these slides on Facebook, Pinterest, etc. as you see fit…

[ The Essential Box Set of King’s Speeches and Sermons ]

Martin Luther King

 

NEXT – QUOTE #2   >>>>>>

Which of these quotes from Martin Luther King
speaks to you most powerfully?

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Conversatio: The Work of Everyday Life

A Feature Review of

Atchison Blue: A Search for Silence, a Spiritual Home, and a Living Faith
Judith Valente

Paperback: Ave Maria Press, 2013
Buy now:  [ Amazon  ]  [ Kindle ]
 
Reviewed by Heidi Haverkamp
 

The stained-glass windows of the Mount Saint Scholastica Monastery chapel are a striking grey-blue. They were made in the mid-20th century by a German immigrant and artist who intended an altogether different shade of blue. But the fierce wind and sunshine of eastern Kansas bleached that color into “Atchison blue,” a shade of blue which “exists nowhere else” (2) according to author Judy Valente. (I wish I could find a photo of the color of these windows – I’ve looked online to no avail.)

 

The windows, of course, are a metaphor of Valente’s own journey with the monastery and also of Benedictine life. Benedictines make vows to conversatio morum: often translated as “conversion of life” or allowing the self to be changed over time by monastic life and the Holy Spirit. They also make a vow of stability, or a commitment to remain in one place and be committed to that place for their entire lives, no matter what. The stained glass of “the Mount” has gone through its own conversatio, shaped and transformed over time by its stability and steadfast exposure to Kansas weather!
 
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Food and Faith in Christian Culture - Albala / EdenThe Centrality of Food
Within The Christian Tradition

A Review of

Food and Faith in Christian Culture.

Ken Albala and Trudy Eden, eds.

Paperback: Columbia UP, 2012.
Buy now : [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Alden Bass.

Why is fish not considered a meat during the Lenten fast?  This is just one of the questions about food practices which is answered in the new collection of essays entitled Food and Faith in Christian Culture. Unlike Norman Wirzba’s recent volume by the same name, these essays survey Christian attitudes toward food in the early modern and modern eras. As Ken Albala, one of volume’s editors, observes: in the early modern period, “[f]ood…was at the core of the average person’s concept of religiosity” (44). Although the essays are quite diverse, the collection is unified by four major themes, which Trudy Eden names in her Introduction: “commensality, fasting, the sacrament, and bodily health” (5). The essays are ordered chronologically, beginning with the eating habits of fourteenth century Florentine monks and concluding with the fasting practices of contemporary English Benedictines. Despite the monastic bookends, the essays investigate practices in a wide range of Christian communities, from Greek Orthodox to Brethren in Christ, from Lutheran and Reformed groups to the bizarre sect of the Unity Society of Practical Christianity.

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Samuel Wells - Be Not AfraidInto Engagement
with the World and With God.

A Review of

Be Not Afraid:  Facing Fear with Faith

Samuel Wells

Paperback: Brazos Press, 2011.
Buy now:
[ ChristianBook.com ]
[ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Jennifer Burns Lewis

Sam Wells’ new book, Be Not Afraid, is a powerful antidote to the fear-based news and views so prevalent in our time.  These short essays read like sermons – very good sermons – grounded in scripture and bringing to life some important insights and reminders about courage, authenticity and candor.  A person seemingly acquainted with despair and fear, Wells writes from a heart-felt place of deep reflection that would invite even the most intractable soul to reconsider what it means to live in the world today as a person of faith.
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