Archives For Story

 

St. Ignatius of Antioch

Today is the Feast of St. Ignatius of Antioch, who was martyred near the end of the first century.

Here is the story of his martyrdom, from The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Volume 1).
[ Which is available as a FREE ebook from CCEL ]

This story was told and recorded for the encouragement and empowerment of the Church of that day, who were faced with widespread persecution.  Not all details in this story should be taken as factual, although the basic story of how Ignatius is martyred is usually accepted as fact.

 

The Martyrdom of
St. Ignatius of Antioch   

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Rachel Marie Stone

[ Editor’s Note:  I was honored to be part of a panel conversation on Slow Reading and Slow Writing, at last week’s Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin College.  The other panelists were Rachel Marie Stone, author of the award-winning Eat with Joy; John Wilson, the heralded editor of Books and Culture; and Leslie Leyland Fields, author of many books including Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers[/easyazon-link].  As Rachel was traveling back to the US from Africa just prior to the festival, she wrote out her talk ahead of time and graciously gave us permission to run it on our site.]

Slow Reading
A Story
by Rachel Marie Stone

 

Sometime in the late 1940s or early 1950s, my great-grandmother Katherine somehow saved up a few thousand bucks to buy a little sandy plot on the corner of Jacqueline Road and Surf Drive and there she built a little beach cottage among the open sand dunes.

It was a five-minute flip-flop walk to the roaring Atlantic, and a wonderful, wonderful place to read; cozy couches and bookshelves lined the walls; no television pulled anyone’s gaze from the page.
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“Recovering What Has Been Lost
in the Industrialization of Christianity

A review of
The King Jesus Gospel:

The Original Good News Revisited
by Scot McKnight.

Review by Chris Smith.


KING JESUS GOSPEL - Scot McKnightThe King Jesus Gospel:
The Original Good News Revisited
Scot McKnight.
Hardback: Zondervan, 2011.

Buy now:
[ ChristianBook.com ]
[ Amazon – Kindle ]

[ Read an excerpt from this book… ]

One of the major problems of the modern, industrial era is that of reduction.  In pursuit of efficiency, complex objects are reduced to basic essential parts.  A chair, for instance, is typically no longer the attentive handiwork of a craftsman as it was in ages past, but rather a set of mass-produced parts of the cheapest materials possible hastily assembled in a factory somewhere.  Foods also have been reduced to prepared substances that can be popped into the microwave; eating has been reduced to the acquisition of basic nutrients.  And Western Christianity is not immune to similar sorts of reduction: God’s reconciliation of all creation is reduced to saving souls; evangelism is reduced to persuading people to assent to a particular convictional statement.

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A Brief Review of

Picket Line: A Graphic Novel.
Breena Wiederhoeft.
Paperback: Easel Ain’t Easy, 2011.
Buy now:
[ PicketLineBook.com ]

[ Listen and Download the superb,
and FREE, soundtrack to accompany the book!!! ]

Reviewed by
Chris Smith.

I don’t typically read many graphic novels, but Breena Wiederhoeft’s Picket Line came recommended by a friend and featured in the latest issue of Generate magazine.  I also was sucked in by the Northern California context in which the story unfolds, amidst environmentalists picketing the destruction of a redwood forest.  Thankfully, however, the storyline is much more complex than most graphic novels that I’ve read. There is one character who is consistently evil, the filthy rich developer who plans to raze the redwoods and build condos, but other than that the characters are more realistic, people who seemingly do both good and evil and who struggle to know how to live in our twisted world.  Continue Reading…

 

A Brief Review of

Teaching Through Storytelling:
Creating Fictional Stories
that Illuminate the Message of Jesus
.
Jon Huckins.
Paperback: Zondervan, 2011.
Buy now:
[ Buy a Signed Copy from the Author ]
[ Amazon – Kindle ]

Reviewed by Chris Smith.

In their new book, The Theological Turn in Youth Ministry, Andrew Root and Kenda Creasy Dean argue that the youth group in churches can be a place for significant theological reflection and engagement with God’s mission in the world (Watch for our review of this book in our next print issue). One of the key pieces of this task however, is introducing students to, and immersing them in, the biblical story.  In this vein, comes Jon Huckins’s new book Teaching Through the Art of Story Telling: Creating Fictional Stories that Illuminate the Message of Jesus.  For a number of years now, Huckins has been engaging the youth of his church by telling modern day parables that spur reflection and invite students into the way of Jesus.  In this new book, Huckins explains why he has been drawn to storytelling, as a compelling way of engaging the hearts and minds of the youth in his church, and he also explains how he creates and tells such stories.  In the final section of the book, he provides several sample stories that he has used.  Huckins’s work here is refreshing in that he shows a deep understanding that humankind lives by stories and forms his practice around the ways that he has seen stories work in the teaching of Jesus, as well as in contemporary culture.  He says: “There’s something about stories that engage not only the mind, but also the heart.  We become part of the story.  We picture ourselves living out this life that’s being revealed to us, and subconsciously we relate it to our own.” Continue Reading…

 

“Vitality that can never be Killed off”

A Review of

Unfamiliar Fishes.
By Sarah Vowell.

Reviewed by Chris Smith.

Unfamiliar Fishes - Sarah VowellUnfamiliar Fishes.
Sarah Vowell.
Hardback: Riverhead, 2011.
Buy now: [ Amazon – Hardback ] [ Amazon – Kindle ]

Although Sarah Vowell’s name might not be a familiar one, you will likely recognize her voice, AND especially if you are an avid NPR listener.  Vowell was a contributing editor for the wildly popular NPR show This American Life for over a decade (1996-2008); she also provided the voice for Violet in the animated Pixar movie The Incredibles.  Although she might be most recognized for her distinctive voice, Vowell is also a gifted writer and avowed history buff.  She has previously written five books, and in each of them, history plays a significant role.  Her sixth book, Unfamiliar Fishes, has recently hit the shelves of bookstores, and it follows in the footsteps of her previous books, crafting in a way, a sort of people’s history of Hawaii that depicts the story of how the island land was colonized by New England missionaries and of the eventual fall of the monarchy and the annexation by the United States.  Although its focus is on a different context, the book is an unexpected but fitting follow-up to her 2008 book about the Puritans, The Wordy Shipmates.  Several generations after the Puritans settled in New England, their ancestors were sending out missionaries all over the world, including – of course – Hawaii.

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Just got our review copy of this book in the mail today, and it looks like a lot of fun!

Watch for our review in the near future:

Moby-Duck: The True Story of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost at Sea
and of the Beachcombers, Oceanographers, Environmentalists,
and Fools, Including the Author, Who Went in Search of Them
.
Donovan Hohn.
Hardback: Viking, 2011.
Buy now: [ Amazon: Hardback ] [ Amazon: Kindle
]

 

“Returning to Our Senses

A review of
Becoming Animal:
An Earthly Cosmology.

by David Abram.


Reviewed by Marilyn Matevia.


Becoming Animal:
An Earthly Cosmology.

David Abram.

Hardback: Random House, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

BECOMING ANIMAL - David AbramIn his thought-provoking 1996 book, The Spell of the Sensuous, David Abram argued that the emergence of phonetic writing fundamentally changed the nature of human perception and human interaction with other beings and the earth.  In Western hands, written words were combined to    abstract, symbolize and ultimately sever contact and engagement with the rest of nature, leaving us disenchanted, disembodied and disconnected.  In his new book, Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology, Abram combines words in rich, wild, sometimes surprising ways in an attempt to help us return to our senses.  Abram aims for “a new way of speaking, one that enacts our interbeing with the earth rather than blinding us to it. … A style of speech that opens our senses to the sensuous in all its multiform strangeness.”

Abram is an environmental philosopher, but Becoming Animal is an unconventional philosophy book.  If there is a thesis, it is a continuation of what he proposed in The Spell of the Sensuous: we deepen our alienation from the rest of the natural world when we mediate experience through the printed word, electronic/digital gadgets and other technological barriers and filters.  “Re-minding” (to borrow a particularly fitting phrase from Amory Lovins’ jacket blurb) ourselves of our connections to and dependence on other beings cannot help but have healing ramifications for the way we live on the planet.  But Abram spends very little time making that case, and much more on what he calls “a necessary work of recuperation:” enticing the reader back into touch with their animal capacities for sensation and perception through his lush descriptions of various settings and encounters.  For this book, the journey is indeed the destination.

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231899: On This Day in Christian History: 365 Amazing and Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs, and Heroes

On This Day in Christian History:
365 Amazing and Inspiring Stories
About Saints, Martyrs, and Heroes
.

Robert J. Morgan.
Paperback: Thomas Nelson, 2010.

Buy now: [ ChristianBook.com ]

Reviewed by Chris Smith.

Having a deep appreciation for Church History, I was eager to check out the new book On this Day in Christian History: 365 Amazing and Interesting Stories about Saints, Martyrs, and Heroes by Robert J. Morgan (Thomas Nelson 2010).  Although I appreciate history, I am not a big fan of daily devotional books.  However, I was pleasantly surprised by Morgan’s work here.  Each day contains a fully-formed (albeit brief) story focusing on a specific person or event.  Although Morgan is clearly working from a perspective that could be identified as “evangelical,” there are many surprises here that don’t fit the typical stereotype of evangelicalism.  Two stories deserve mention in this regard.  First, the story for September 15 is that of Antoinette Brown, the first regularly ordained woman minister in the United States, not a topic that I would expect most evangelicals to value.   Secondly, Morgan’s May 8th telling of the story of J. Frank Norris, “The Fighting Fundamentalist” who shot a man who took offense at a political statement he made in the pulpit, is the quirky sort of narrative that one does not usually hear from church history, and furthermore Morgan’s telling of it in a way that was open-ended and decidedly not moralistic – e.g., he ends with the quip “[Only] heaven knows whether he did more harm or good” – likewise does not seem to fit the typical mold of evangelicalism.

I sure if I was tasked with writing a book in the same format, most of the stories I would have included would have been different than those Morgan selected, but the fact that Morgan is a skilled storyteller and that he is not rigidly committed to any specific ideological perspective makes this an enjoyable read.  Additionally, the relatively brief format of the stories (one fairly text-heavy page each) would lend itself well to a daily oral reading in the home or possibly accompanying prayers in a church setting.

 

836321: The Story of God, the Story of Us: Getting Lost & Found in the Bible Review:

The Story of God, the Story of Us:
Getting Lost & Found in the Bible

By Sean Gladding.
Paperback: IVP Books, 2010.
Buy now: [ ChristianBook.com ]

Reviewed by Chris Smith.

For ten years now, Sean Gladding has been orally telling the biblical story with groups around the United States.  What started as a Bible study for a group of people who had little familiarity with scripture, Gladding has refined his telling of the scriptural story over the last decade and has now been published by IVP Books as The Story of God, The Story of Us: Getting Lost and Found in the Bible.   One of the big shifts that Gladding made early on in this narrative project was to move from talking about the biblical story to telling it as a story, and this change is one of the strengths of his work in book format.  The Old Testament story is told from the perspective of a group of Israelites suffering under the weight of the Babylonian exile.  A wise sage spins the tale of the history of Israel and all creation up to that time with the hope of encouraging younger Israelites who are struggles with the challenges of life in exile.  Gladding does a superb job of emphasizing the central theme of hope throughout the Old Testament story.  For instance, he concludes the telling of the Old Testament story: “The Old man takes the arm of the young musician and leaves with his people, who depart in near silence, nurturing the flame of hope that has been kindled in them, daring to believe that the story is not yet over.”

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