Archives For Norman Wirzba

 

A Captivating Vision
for the Christian Life

 
A Feature Review of
 

Way of Love: Recovering the Heart of Christianity
Norman Wirzba

Hardback: HarperOne, 2016.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]   [ Kindle ]

 

Reviewed by Andrew Camp
 

Having celebrated Easter, the church will soon be settling into what she has traditionally called Ordinary Time—the time between Pentecost Sunday and the first Sunday of Advent. Like Peter returning to fishing after the Resurrection, we are called to descend from the mountain top experience of Easter and return to the ordinary, mundane living of our Christian faith.

As we find our bearings in this Ordinary Time, we, through the power of the Holy Spirit, train ourselves to see that the mundane activities we once thought were boring are actually fraught with the love the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Our hearts are captivated by God’s love and we begin to see the primacy of love in all that we say and do.

Rediscovering the centrality of love in the Christian life is Norman Wirzba’s main point in his new book Way of Love. He writes, “Our way into the fullness of life is the way of love…. Love is the eternal ‘yes’ to life’s possibilities and promise. It is the form of protest that says ‘no’ to all the forces in our world that diminish and degrade life” (page 7). Wirzba longs to see the church take her place as the “training camp for love” (7), where in the context of community we are apprenticed in love, unlearning our false visions of love and relearning God’s grand vision of love, most visibly seen in Jesus Christ.

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Here are a few new book releases from this week that are worth checking out:

(Where possible, we have also tried to include a review/interview related to the book…)

 

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City

By Matthew Desmond

Read Barbara Ehrenreich’s review in the NY Times.

NEXT BOOK >>>>>

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Fred Bahnson responds...Our new print issue features two reviews of

Making Peace with the Land: God’s Call to Reconcile with Creation.

(Resources for Reconciliation Series)

Norman Wirzba and Fred Bahnson.

Paperback: IVP, 2012.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

Chris Smith’s appreciative review is available only in the print magazine.
Brent Aldrich’s semi-critical review (click here to read – PDF) challenges us with the question of how our eschatology shapes the ways in which we pursue reconciliation with the land.

We gave Fred Bahnson the opportunity to respond to Aldrich’s review and he was kind enough to do so…

In response to Brent Aldrich’s review of our book Making Peace With the Land, I wish to clarify what I believe are some fundamental misunderstandings and elisions on the part of the reviewer.

Mr. Aldrich’s main bone to pick, it seems to me, is his claim that our book exhibits an “overly-ruralized eschatology.” I think this is a mistaken accusation. First of all, the examples I wrote about were explicitly chosen to show how we might reconcile with the land in variety of places, both rural and urban. From the deserts of the Sahel to church gardens to a suburban farm (ECHO, just North of Ft. Lauderdale) to inner city Curitiba, a city of 2.1 million people, I tried to present the full spectrum of possibilities even in such a short book.

Despite the wide spectrum presented, Mr. Aldrich accuses us of a rural bias, which he dismissively calls “pastoral,” bemoaning that we don’t give enough attention to cities. If a city of 2.1 million people isn’t urban enough for him, then there’s not much I can say about that. But regardless, he is correct to say that we do focus more on making peace with rural land rather than urban land, and that’s not so much a bias as it is a declaration of an ecological reality: cities depend on the countryside much more than the other way around.

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Center for Reconciliation at Duke Divinity School - Summer Institute 2012Editor’s note: In June 2010, I had the opportunity participate in The Summer Institute put on by Duke Divinity School’s Center for Reconciliation.  The week that I spent at Duke, was wonderful time of nurturing friendships with old and new friends and learning from many people who are engaged in the Kingdom work of reconciliation around the globe.  I participated in a seminar group lead by Norman Wirzba, and one of the things that came out of that group was the writing of the BP Oil Spill Lament, which got a fair amount of attention that summer.  I highly recommend the Summer Institute, for anyone wanting to learn and grow deeper in their faithfulness to Christ’s way of reconciliation.


The Duke Divinity School Center for Reconciliation is now accepting applications for the 2012 Summer Institute, “The Ministry of Reconciliation in a Divided World,” to be held May 28 – June 2 on the campus of Duke University.  The Summer Institute is designed to nourish, renew, and deepen the capacities of Christian leaders in the ministry of reconciliation, justice, and peace. Participants will experience in-depth teaching by world-class theologians and ministry practitioners, prayer and worship, shared meals, vibrant conversations, and opportunities to reflect on their own vocation and setting. In-depth seminars are designed for participants with a range of expertise and experience, and include specific seminars for leaders in congregations, denominations, and academic institutions.

Among the seminars offered will be  “Making Peace with the Land: God’s Call to Reconcile with Creation,” taught by Norman Wirzba and Fred Bahnson, “Writing as a Vocation of Reconciliation,” taught by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, and “Reconciliation in the Context of Prisons,” taught by Sarah Jobe and Madeline McClenny-Sadler.

Applications for the Summer Institute will be accepted for rolling admission through April 1, 2012 at dukesummerinstitute.com.

 

Here’s an excellent video interview with Norman Wirzba, discussing his newest book, Food and Faith, which was our 2011 Book of the Year.

Norman Wirzba - Food and FaithThe video is almost an hour long, but is worth the time as it gives a rich sense of why this book is so important.

Food and Faith: A Theology of Eating.
Norman Wirzba.

Paperback: Cambridge UP, 2011.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

[ Read an Excerpt from the book… ] 
[ Read our review… ]



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[ This Best Books piece was featured in the Advent 2011 issue
of our print magazine, but we thought we’d also feature it here for all of our readers
. ]

Englewood Honor Books – The Best Books of 2011!

Every December, we pick the best books we’ve encountered in that year. Our primary criterion both for selecting books to review and for honoring the year’s best books is to choose books that are “for the life of the Church” – i.e., books that energize us to be the community of God’s people that God has called us to be and that nurture us to follow in the way of God’s reconciliation of all things.

*** 2011 Book of the Year ***

Englewood Honor BooksFood and Faith:
A Theology of Eating

By Norman Wirzba.
Paperback: Cambridge UP, 2011.

“[This book] is about trying to help each other, to be merciful to each other and together to start to eat in ways that are better.  By better, I mean ways that honor God’s creation, ways that facilitate or promote health among God’s creatures, ways that create better community among people.” (From our interview with Norman Wirzba, Eastertide 2011 print issue).

[ Read our review… ]  Purchase the book:  [ Amazon ]


Englewood Honor Books
Our Best Books of 2011!

(Books are Arranged alphabetically by author’s last name…)

This Day: Photographs.
by Robert Adams
[ Read our review… ]
Purchase the book:  [ Amazon ]


Who Is My Enemy?
Questions American Christians Must Face
About Islam and Themselves
.
by Lee Camp
[ Read our review… ]
Purchase the book:
[ Amazon ][ Kindle ]


Origin of Species: Poems
(*** Best Poetry Book )
by Ernesto Cardenal
Review in print issue #4.
Purchase the book:  [ Amazon ]


Making Healthy Places
Dannenberg / Frumkin / Jackson
[ Read our review… ]
Purchase the book:  [ Amazon ]


Year of Plenty
by Craig Goodwin
[ Read our review… ]
Purchase the book:
[ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]


Moby Duck
by Donovan Hohn
[ Read our review… ]
Purchase the book:
[ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

The Pleasures of Reading
In An Age of Distraction
.
by Alan Jacobs
Review in print issue #3.
Purchase the book:
[ Amazon ][ Kindle ]


The King Jesus Gospel
by Scot McKnight
[ Read our review… ]
Purchase the book:
[ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]


The Politics of Yahweh:
John Howard Yoder, The OT,
and the People of God
.
by John Nugent
[ Read our review… ]
Purchase the book:
[ Amazon ]


The Tiger’s Wife
( *** Best Novel )
by Tea Obreht
[ Read our review… ]
Purchase the book:
[ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]


The Bible Made Impossible
by Christian Smith
(*** Most important
theological work)
[ Read our review… ]
Purchase the book:
[ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]


A Public Faith:
How Followers of Christ Should
Serve the Common Good.

by Miroslav Volf
Review in print issue #4.
Purchase the book:
[ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]


2011 Englewood Honor Books
Runners Up:

Rumors of Water:
Thoughts on Creativity
and Writing.

LL Barkat
[ Read our review… ]
Purchase the book:
[ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]


William Carlos Williams
Of Rutherford

by Wendell Berry
[ Read our review… ]
Purchase the book:
[ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

Caleb’s Crossing:
A Novel

by Geraldine Brooks
Read our review
in print issue #4
Purchase the book:
[ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]


Seeing Trees
by Nancy Ross Hugo

[ Read our review… ]
Purchase the book:

[ Amazon ]

 

[Apologies to readers who receive the ERB via email, which came this week as two separate emails,
due to a technical error. This will not be a recurring problem! ]

“A Deep and Abiding Communion”

A review of
Food and Faith: A Theology of Eating.
by Norman Wirzba.

Review by Mary Bowling.

[ Read an excerpt from this book… ]

FOOD AND FAITH - Norman WirzbaFood and Faith: A Theology of Eating.
Norman Wirzba.
Paperback: Cambridge UP, 2011.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

At first glance, Food and Faith: a Theology of Eating might seem like the newest in the long and popular line of books for foodies, in which case the question would be “What now?”  Michael Pollan, Joel Salatin, end even Wendell Berry  have done an effective job of getting their point across, and have seemingly been able to foster in a growing percentage of the American population at least a recognition that the system that provides most of the country with food is flawed to the point of creating widespread disease instead of health in both people and places.  Anyone who would seek out yet another book related to the modern food and agriculture industry has likely already heard this information coming and going.  But as the subtitle suggests, Food and Faith is not really a food book for foodies. It is a theology book for Christians. Norman Wirzba is certainly sensible to agrarian thought and the works of many writers who would promote more healthful ways of living and eating, and has authored or edited several other related works. What he does here however is to take the subject of food and eating- a subject that many people feel strongly about, although maybe for somewhat vague reasons- and locate it firmly within the realm of the goodness of God’s creation.

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Read an excerpt from Norman Wirzba’s excellent new book…

We recommend chapter 5, “Eucharistic Table Manners”,
though Google should let you look at other parts of the book too.

Food and Faith:
A Theology of Eating
.
Norman Wirzba
Paperback: Cambridge UP, 2011.
Buy Now:  [ Amazon ]

 

“Living the Incarnation”

A Review of
Wendell Berry and Religion:
Heaven’s Earthly Life

Edited by
Joel James Shuman and L. Roger Owens.

Reviewed by Ragan Sutterfield.

Wendell Berry and Religion:
Heaven’s Earthly Life
.
Edited by Joel James Shuman and L. Roger Owens.

Hardback: University Press of Kentucky,  2009.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

Wendell Berry and ReligionWendell Berry has been in the news a lot these days from his visit to Washington with fellow agrarian agitators to Michael Pollan’s homage to Berry in The Nation’s food issue.  This attention is very good on the one hand, it is certainly a welcome development that more people are reading Berry and heeding his call to eat locally, but there is certainly cause to worry about this new attention.  The worry is that Berry will be painted, as many have already done, as a “father of the local food movement”—a key voice in a big trend.  Berry has written some of the best critiques of the industrial agricultural system and he has certainly advocated eating local food grown by farmers one knows, but Berry, as a thinker and writer, is concerned with problems and ways of living much bigger than any movement (a reduction he himself critiqued in his essay “In Distrust of Movements”).  It would be a tragedy if Berry’s legacy were to be left to the advocates of local food alone.

Thankfully we don’t need to worry too much about such a reduction because Joel Shuman and Roger Owens have put together a varied and deep collection of essays that engage Berry with the full complexity and breadth his work requires.  Wendell Berry and Religion: Heaven’s Earthly Life has been a long time in the making and it is a book that is still unfinished.  That’s a good thing, because as Joel Shuman writes in the introduction, this book represents “contributions to an ongoing conversation” with Berry’s work—a conversation “among a particular group of persons, over time and in a particular place.”  Such a conversation can never hope to be finished, only interrupted and picked up again—but here we have a very good beginning.

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A Brief Review of
Transforming Philosophy and Religion: Love’s Wisdom,
Norman Wirzba and Bruce Ellis Benson, eds.

by Chris Smith.


Transforming Philosophy and Religion: Love’s Wisdom, a new book from Indiana University Press edited by Norman Wirzba and Bruce Ellis Benson, is a fine collection of essays that “call our attention back to the fundamental role that love plays in being wise” (10).  The essays here explore the role of love in philosophy, theology and a host of social issues from justice to gender to bioethics.  Norman Wirzba opens the collection with a compelling argument for the “primacy of love” in philosophy (lit. the love of wisdom).  Consider his poignant conclusion:

“The history of Western culture demonstrates that philosophers have wanted to be rulers far more than they have wanted to be lovers.  Rather than offering ourselves up in a loving response to the world – in ways that would promote mutual flourishing – we have instead sought to bring others within our control.  The result has been the world’s and our own destruction or disfigurement.  More than ever before, what we need is a transformation of philosophical practice so that an affirmation of others in their integrity can take place” (25).

 

I was pleased to see that a number of these essays engaged Kierkegaard’s works, most notably Amy Laura Hall’s “You’d Better Find Somebody to Love,” which maintains that Kierkegaard’s Works of Love may shed some light on the bioethical quagmires of the present.  Two other excellent pieces were that of John Caputo, who examines the meaning of the biblical concepts of “love” and “law” in the present age of postmodernity, and that of Tyler Roberts, who addresses the question of whether Christianity embodies Slavoj Zizek’s notion of a “militant love.” 

            However, the best piece in this collection is Edward Mooney’s “Love, This Lenient Interpreter,” in which he examines the possibility of a hermeneutic that is characterized primarily by love.  Taking as an example, two recent studies of Kierkegaard’s life and works, Mooney contrasts these two works to illuminate the importance of how we read a text (love vs. suspicion or mistrust).  This piece is one that should be read and discussed early on in the academic career of any aspiring philosopher or theologian in the Church.

            Taken together, these essays in Transforming Philosophy and Religion offer a resounding affirmation of St. Paul’s proclamations about the emptiness of knowledge without love (I Corinthians 13).  Given its contributors (esp. Caputo and Wirzba) and the topics that they engage (e.g., Paul, Zizek, etc.), it will be of particular interest to the aspiring theologians of the emerging church.

Transforming Philosophy and Religion: Love’s Wisdom,
Norman Wirzba and Bruce Ellis Benson, eds.

Paperback: Indiana UP, 2008.
Buy now:   [ Amazon ]