Archives For Hope

 

Another of the best theology books released this month is: 
 

The Pietist Option:
Hope for the Renewal of Christianity

Christopher Gehrz / Mark Pattie III

Hardback: IVP Books, 2017
Buy Now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

 

Like Rod Dreher’s Benedict Option, released earlier this year,
Gehrz and Pattie invite the church into a timely new way of being…

 

The four instincts that are at the heart of The Pietist Option:

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Encouragement in the Struggle

A Feature Review of 

The Light Is Winning: Why Religion Just Might Bring Us Back to Life
Zach Hoag

Paperback: Zondervan, 2017
Buy Now: [ Amazon ]  [  Kindle ]

 

Reviewed by Leroy Seat.

 

The present day often seems like a rather discouraging time for many Christians. Those who are in the “moderate” camp are embarrassed by many of the things conservative evangelicals say and do. But the moderates are also unhappy with the way many of the progressives/liberals deny or downplay some of the most central aspects of the Christian faith. Additionally, many of today’s Christian denominations—whether conservative, moderate, or liberal—seem to be in decline.

This new book by Zach Hoag, who self identifies as “an author, preacher, and creator from New England,” speaks a word of hope into these discouraging times through sharing his own story and some ongoing theological reflections.

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This week marked the birthday of theologian Martin Buber… 

In the fragmented world driven by social media, Martin Buber’s words give us the compelling hope of being in conversation and being present with others. They orient us toward the shalom that God intends for creation.

Here are 5 important passages that illuminate the virtues of conversation in the present age…

 

The Most Acute Symptom
of the Pathology of our time.

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JohnTheSilent

A glimmer of hope on this Inauguration Day. 

American society has been rapidly fragmenting over the last century, and amidst this crumbling edifice, we have elected a president that conservative pundit David Brooks has called “professionally unprepared, intellectually ill informed, morally compromised and temperamentally unfit.” Today is not our nation’s finest day.

And yet, in this season of chaos and uncertainty, our hope runs deeper than the future of an empire. Since the election, I have been finding hope in the quiet-yet bold folk music of John the Silent, the nom de plume of Orthodox priest Joel David Weir.  Weir’s keen songwriting bears witness to the hope we find in vulnerability, friendship, mutual care.

Here are a couple sample songs for you to check out…
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Where (and With Whom) We Stand

A Review of 

How to Survive the Apocalypse: Zombies, Cylons, Faith, and Politics at the End of the World
Robert Joustra and
Alissa Wilkinson

Paperback: Eerdmans, 2016.
Buy Now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Rob O’Lynn

 

In many ways, this excellent book can be divided into three components:

1) A philosophical introduction where the umbrella—or arc—themes are funneled down into their base components.  This will be discussed below, however it is important to note here that this is extremely helpful for the reader who is not well versed in cultural theory (especially those of Charles Taylor, upon which most of the discussion is based).  The authors take great care in throughout this book to continually connect Taylor’s theories to the cultural artifacts that they use to illuminate our present social condition.

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Beauty-2016-Social

Part 1: Our Greed, the Nemesis of Beauty

by C. Christopher Smith,
ERB founding editor

 
I’ve recently been listening to the audiobook edition of John O’Donohue’s Beauty: The Invisible Embrace, and have been struck by the insights that the late Irish poet offers to our present election season in the United States. I first encountered O’Donohue’s work through his On Being interview with Krista Tippett, which I highly recommend if you are not familiar with his work.

Over the course of a few posts, I will reflect on O’Donohue’s thoughts and their relevance to the current presidential season.

CAVEAT: Although I will be deeply critical of both major party candidates, I urge readers to vote (or not) according to their conscience, asking which course of voting would most likely promote the possibility of beauty and flourishing in the years to come. But even more, I am advocating for a politics of beauty that would saturate our engagement in all levels of politics and transform the ways we think about the ends toward we our communities and nations are moving, and the virtues and practices that are driving us in this direction.

NOTE: For those who want to read along, I will be working from the audiobook edition, which varies slightly from text editions of the book. 

“Our times are riven with anxiety. The natural innocence and trust that we had in our sensibilities in the Western world has been broken. The innocence is lost, and we know now that anything can happen from one minute to the next. We live in very uncertain times. Politics cannot help us because it has become synonymous with economics. Religion has got into the mathematics of morality. And economics itself, as the presiding world ideology, has become radically uncertain.  I believe that now is the time to invoke and awaken beauty because in a sense there is nowhere else left to go and because the situation in which we are in has actually been caused substantially by our denial of beauty. In a way, all of the contemporary crises can be reduced to a crisis about the nature of beauty itself. When you look at postmodern society, it is absolutely astounding how much ugliness we are willing to endure.”  – John O’Donohue

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A Parable of Authenticity and Hope
 
A Feature Review of 

Jesus, Bread, and Chocolate: Crafting a Handmade Faith in a Mass-Market World
John J. Thompson

Paperback: Zondervan, 2015
Buy now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Jennifer Burns Lewis

 

John J. Thompson’s Twitter profile describes him as a “music lifer from the faith-fueled underground to Capitol CMG publishing in 20 short years.”  Thompson’s first book, Jesus, Bread, and Chocolate is part autobiography, part Christian living, part cultural commentary. It is a thoughtful and reflective parable of authenticity and hope.
 
Conversational in style, Jesus, Bread, and Chocolate reviews Thompson’s personal journey as a son, a spouse, a parent and a follower of Jesus. A musician by background and vocation, Thompson has found both meaning and delight in so much of what adds zest and a holistic appeal to the organic, “homemade” movement. With chapters that compare homemade bread, small batch chocolate, home-roasted coffee, craft beer, gardening and artisanal music with faith and American trends in worship.  Rooted in his own experience as a child and young person healing from the hurt of domestic violence in his family of origin, Thompson recalls the role of the Church and the faith of his mother and step-father in moving him towards music, and a faith he could claim as his own.  We journey with Thompson from a difficult childhood toward a fulfilling and challenging career in the music industry, a personal relationship with the God he meets in Jesus Christ, and the family he creates with his spouse and children.

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Moving us from Vision to Action

 

A Feature Review of

Hopecasting: Finding, Keeping and Sharing the Things Unseen
Mark Oestreicher

Paperback: IVP Books, 2015
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

 

Reviewed by Danny Wright.

 

In Hopecasting, Mark Oestreicher stresses that hope cannot be earned, but can only be given as a gift, and that gift is given along the road of suffering. He offers a new definition for hope and explains that it is “faithful confidence that God continues to author a story that moves us from vision to action.”

 

Hope begins when we find ourselves lost, confused and desperate in exile. We are far from home, or what we want to be home, and need to recognize and name our dissatisfaction while choosing to honestly cry out to our Creator. There are barriers to this hope that God wants to break in and offer. Sometimes the barriers show up as cynicism, attempting to find and practice the proper technique, buying the right resources, choosing false optimism or staying busy long enough for things to change. These methods will only increase the madness because true hope can only be found in Christ.

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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.
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Stanley Hauerwas

Today is the birthday of theologian Stanley Hauerwas!

Although I don’t always agree with him, Stanley Hauerwas’s work (and that of his many students, e.g., Phil Kenneson and others associated with The Ekklesia Project) has been absolutely vital to the Slow Church book that John Pattison and I co-wrote.

In honor of his birthday, I pick out 10 brief video clips of Hauerwas talking about key virtues and practices related to Slow Church. If you want to read one book by Stanley Hauerwas that is most compatible with Slow Church, I suggest Living Gently in a Violent World (co-written with Jean Vanier).

Several of these clips were made by Travis Reed of The Work of the People. Be sure to visit his website, check out other extraordinary videos he has created and contribute generously to his work!
*** Check out the full catalog of TWOTP’s Stanley Hauerwas videos
 

Enjoy these short videos with Stanley Hauerwas:

Prayer/Waiting | Presence | Church Growth Movement
Patience | Formation in the Church  | The Whole Church  | 
Joy
Hope is Presence | Engaging Evangelicals  | Community and Conflict

Prayer and Waiting:

“If prayer has taught me anything, it has taught me how to wait.”

 




 

NEXT (Presence) >>>>>>

Image Credit: From the cover to Hauerwas’s memoir Hannah’s Child… (Buy it now!)

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