Archives For Imagination


The Human Desire to Love and Belong
A Review of 

Today Will Be Different: A Novel
Maria Semple

Hardback: Little, Brown and Co., 2016
Buy Now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]
Reviewed by Abram Kielsmeier-Jones
Eleanor Flood’s day is about to be different—but not in the proactive way she had committed to. Today she wants to be her “best self,” because “the other way wasn’t working” (7).

A writer and illustrator, Eleanor lives in Seattle with her eight-year-old son Timby (Timby?), a forgotten and forgettable dog Yo-Yo, and her husband Joe, well-loved hand surgeon to the Seattle Seahawks.

The book begins with the kind of vow busy parents will immediately identify with:

Today will be different. Today I will be present. Today, anyone I speak to, I will look them in the eye and listen deeply. (3)

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Inspiring to Your Imagination
A Review of 

The Face of the Deep:
Exploring the Mysterious Person of the Holy Spirit

Paul Pastor

Paperback:  David C. Cook, 2016
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]
Reviewed by Rebecca Johnston
In this debut book from author Paul Pastor, the author sets out to explore the person and work of the Holy Spirit. Paul Pastor is an editor pastor, and professor. He lives in Oregon and throughout the book it becomes obvious that he loves his home state and his life, adventures, and home provide stories that frame the backdrop of this narrative on the Holy Spirit.  For a debut, Pastor has made an admirable step into a deep and complex topic. His insights are often profound and thought provoking and he is willing to wrestle with difficult theological and faith principles. Throughout the book there is a tension between finding a distinct answer within The Face of the Deep and allowing the conceptions of the Holy Spirit to remain mysterious and reverent.

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A Gloriously Impractical Invitation

A Review of

Teaching and Christian Imagination 
David I. Smith and Susan M. Felch

Paperback: Eerdmans, 2016
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  
Reviewed by Dan Schmidt


As one who’s been pastoring for a while, and more recently adjuncting at a local college, I’m on the lookout for ways to improve what I bring to the classroom and sanctuary. One of my strategies has been to pay attention to those who are really good at what they do.
So when the opportunity to review Teaching and Christian Imagination, by David Smith and Susan Felch, came along, I jumped. Yes, I saw “Imagination” in the title, and I read the back cover blurb—but I figured that sooner or later, the authors—specialists as classroom teachers and theorists—would get down to bullet points and portable techniques. It only took a few pages of reading, however, to realize that this wasn’t that kind of book. Instead, Smith and Felch (along with several others) want to draw readers into the what if’s more than the how to’s. What impressed me as I read was the sense that by giving attention to the former, one is much better prepared to manage the latter.

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Top 50 Books

Here are the top 50 books that are slated for release in 2015 and that we think will be beneficial for Christians.  Our focus is the life, health and flourishing of God’s people and we especially focus on the themes of Community, Mission, Imagination and Reconciliation.

Also note that there are many more books here from the first half of the year than from the second half, as many publishers have not released their full summer and fall catalogs yet.

We’ve broken this list up into the Top 10 books and the remaining 40, which are sorted into four categories: Christian, Non-Fiction, Poetry and Fiction…

What books are you most looking forward to in 2015?

Now Available:
[ Two-Page Printable Guide ]

[ Top 10 ]   [ Christian ]  [ Non-Fiction ]  [ Poetry ]  [ Fiction ]

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Our most anticipated new book release this week is:

Imagining the Kingdom: How Worship Works.

James K.A. Smith

Paperback: Baker Academic, 2013.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

This is the second book in the Cultural Liturgies Series.  The first book Desiring the Kingdom was one of our 2009 Englewood Honor Books.  [ Read our Review…]

*** Other Books by James K.A. Smith

Excerpt available through Google Books…
(Sorry, it won’t let us embed the excerpt right now…)

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Willie Jennings - The Christian ImaginationThere’s hardly a week that goes by here at Englewood Christian Church that I’m not thinking about, re-reading or talking about Willie Jennings’ book The Christian Imagination (which was our theology book of the year in 2010).
[Read my review ].

The challenge is that the book is pretty intense, and probably not one that everyone would pick up. So, I was delighted to stumble across the above video from Luther Seminary yesterday.  The video is almost two hours long, but it is worth every single second and is a superb introduction to Jennings’ work…  Included in the longer video is a 30 minute overview of the book (see the start and end times below), as well as a compelling Q/A session that helps to flesh out the basic themes of the book.

If you don’t have time to watch the whole video right now, at least get a taste for it by watching this 5 minute segment on “How to Be the Church in a Place” (Starting at 1:24:08 through 1:29:37).

Then, if you want to get the overview of  The Christian Imagination, it runs from 24:35 through 52:15.

I hope that you find Willie Jennings’ work as compelling and mindblowing as I do!


On Imagination
Phillis Wheatley

( Wheatley was freed from slavery
on this day in 1775.)

Phillis WheatleyTHY various works, imperial queen, we see,
   How bright their forms! how deck’d with pomp
     by thee!
Thy wond’rous acts in beauteous order stand,
And all attest how potent is thine hand.
From Helicon’s refulgent heights attend,
Ye sacred choir, and my attempts befriend:
To tell her glories with a faithful tongue,
Ye blooming graces, triumph in my song.
    Now here, now there, the roving Fancy flies,
Till some lov’d object strikes her wand’ring eyes,
Whose silken fetters all the senses bind,
And soft captivity involves the mind.
   Imagination! who can sing thy force?
Or who describe the swiftness of thy course?
Soaring through air to find the bright abode,
Th’ empyreal palace of the thund’ring God, Continue Reading…


An excerpt from

The Permanent Revolution: Apostolic Imagination and Practice for the 21st Century Church
(Jossey-Bass Leadership Network Series)
Alan Hirsch and Tim Catchim.

Hardback: Jossey-Bass, 2012.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Watch for our review in the near future…

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“The Red Wheelbarrow, Imagination,
and the Christian Poet”

A Review of Spring and All
by William Carlos Williams

Review by Joel E. Jacobson

SPRING AND ALL: POEMS - Wm. Carlos WilliamsSpring and All: Poems.
Facsimile Edition
William Carlos Williams
Paperback: New Directions, 2011.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]

At some point in their academic career, most liberal arts college students will be required to read William Carlos Williams’s poem about the red wheelbarrow:

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white
chickens (74)

My own experience proves to be no different, as I first met the red wheelbarrow as a college freshman. My professor blathered on for 45 minutes regarding the essential images and the mastery of sound and syllables in the terse lines. My response was typical of many students I have worked with since: the red wheelbarrow is pointless; what a stupid little poem.

Years later I find myself reading as much of Williams as possible, being repeatedly drawn to the same poem I so despised as a student. I realize now that my professor failed to contextualize the poem as part of a larger, groundbreaking work exploring imagination and creativity, context which, when missing, beheads the chickens. Thus, evaluating the greater work of Spring and All leads us to a better understanding of the wheelbarrow, creativity, and the origins of both.

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A review of

Creator Spirit:
The Holy Spirit and the Art of Becoming Human.

Steven R. Guthrie.
Paperback: Baker Academic, 2011.
Buy Now:
[ Amazon – Paperback ]
[ Amazon – Kindle ]

Review by Sarah Winfrey.

While working on my novel the other day, I had an unusual experience. My characters were talking along, when one of them said something profound. It wasn’t the profundity of her words that surprised me, but rather the fact that what she said wasn’t something I knew, or at least wasn’t something I could have articulated before she said it. In fact, her words seemed to come from someplace other than myself, somewhere outside of me.

Artists and other creative people, as well as those who enjoy their works, have long touted the close relationship between spirituality and creative endeavors. This is especially true among Christians, who like to talk about creativity coming directly from the Holy Spirit, as one of His many gifts. According to these people, what happened with my character wasn’t as unusual as it felt in that moment, but is actually commonplace among those who spend much time practicing art.

In Creator Spirit, Steven R. Guthrie attempts to examine these creative experiences, not necessarily to illuminate the creative process, though some of that happens along the way, but to see what we can learn about the Spirit through these experiences.

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