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Kicking at the Darkness: Bruce Cockburn and the Christian Imagination

3.84  ·  Rating Details ·  49 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
For forty years, singer and songwriter Bruce Cockburn has been writing beautifully evocative music. Bestselling author and respected theologian Brian Walsh has followed Cockburn's work for years and has written and spoken often on his art. In this creative theological and cultural engagement, Walsh reveals the imaginative depth and uncompromising honesty of the artist's Ch ...more
Paperback, 217 pages
Published December 1st 2011 by Brazos Press
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Glen Grunau
Sep 23, 2012 Glen Grunau rated it really liked it
I have been closely following the music of Bruce Cockburn for most of my life. I attended my first Cockburn concert at the Memorial Center in Red Deer when I was around 20 years of age. One of the songs during this concert particularly captured my attention but I could not remember the name of it. I was compelled to keep purchasing Bruce Cockburn vinyl LPs until I finally re-rediscovered this song. By then I was hooked.

I confess that I was a rather shallow connoisseur of music during my youth,
...more
James Thompson
Nov 10, 2014 James Thompson rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderfully in-depth look at Bruce Cockburn's entire body of work. Be forewarned about two things: The book presupposes that you are familiar with Bruce's work to a fairly substantial degree, and, the book also is written from a Christian perspective. Walsh brings to light the inspiration, grace, and beauty of Bruce's works in a touching and reflective way.

If you're a Christian or a lover in dangerous times, you will enjoy this book.

If you're a big Bruce fan and a Christian, this boo
...more
Bill Huizer
Jul 06, 2013 Bill Huizer rated it liked it
Brian J. Walsh is certainly a big fan of Bruce Cockburn. Cockburn's music has helped challenge his theology and has been a part of wonderful memories throughout the past forty years. Each chapter in this examination of Cockburn's lyrical themes is loving rendered, most likely written over a fairly long period of time. This is both the book's strength and its fault - sometimes it's just too gushing, and feels like a Cockburn love-in, rather than a critical examination of the spiritual themes in h ...more
Jason Postma
Feb 15, 2012 Jason Postma rated it really liked it
I am not a fan of Bruce Cockburn.

This is not because I don’t like his music, but rather because, other than “Lovers in a Dangerous Time”, I simply don’t know it. To be honest, I’m more familiar with the Bare Naked Ladies cover of “Lovers” than of the original, which is to say that until I learned that the song was a cover, I assumed that it was a BNL song. Although I am not prone to displays of patriotism, I suppose my ignorance of all things Cockburn could be considered an insult to my fellow C
...more
Ludwig V
Aug 24, 2012 Ludwig V rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. However, the author writes from a standpoint that will be anathema to many more conservative Christians--his approach is explicitly post-modern, anti-hegemonic, post-colonial, and not exactly pro-American (should be no surprise to those familiar with Cockburn's work, of course). Definitely on the "progressive" side of politics and theology, despite coming from a publishing house with roots in an evangelical/Reformed tradition. I found myself nodding in agreement on almost ever ...more
Tim Hoiland
Jul 19, 2013 Tim Hoiland rated it really liked it
While his lyrics contain words not often heard in church, and while this can be unsettling, you can’t really begin to understand what makes Bruce Cockburn tick without considering the role faith plays in his life.

Brian Walsh, a university chaplain and professor of theology of culture in Toronto, wonderfully explores the intersections of these themes in Kicking at the Darkness: Bruce Cockburn and the Christian Imagination (Brazos). It definitely helps to be acquainted with Cockburn’s music before
...more
Kevin
Jan 21, 2012 Kevin rated it really liked it
If you are a fan of Bruce Cockburn this is a must read book. Walsh explores Cockburn's lyrics with depth and insight. Despite the fact that I have some rather serious disagreements with Walsh's politics, I really enjoyed the way he provocatively explored Cockburn's work through the eyes of scripture and faith. He examines Cockburn as a prophetic voice and psalmist offering laments and praise in equal measure.

If you are not a fan of Cockburn, or familiar with his work, I am not sure you would enj
...more
Ken
Oct 03, 2013 Ken rated it really liked it
Like the author Brian Walsh I have listened to the music of Bruce Cockburn since my early 20's. I am reading this slowly as it is so well written and I want to savour each page. Cockburn's lyrics are sheer poetry...Bono has called him a modern psalmist. Walsh's book is not a biography but rather "a conversation with his art". This is a book I know that I am likely to read many times! If Bruce Cockburn's music and lyrics resonate with you I would highly recommend this book.
Kristen
Dec 29, 2011 Kristen rated it really liked it
Shelves: theology, borrowed
A really interesting book, particularly for those who love Bruce Cockburn or like to see the glimpses of redemption and God's story in art. If you are the type who watches films, reads books, listens to songs or sees visual art and finds all the Christ-pictures, Walsh is in the trenches with you, and probably taking it two steps farther than you would. As a gifted theologian, he makes it work.
David
Dec 20, 2011 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Brian Walsh uses postmodern methodology that is a bit questionable at times. I love the music of Bruce Cockburn as does Brian Walsh, however, he appears to be trying to write like Bruce and doesn't pull it off well. An informative a thought provoking book on the lyrics of Bruce Cockburn.
Rick
Sep 26, 2015 Rick rated it really liked it
This was a difficult read as I am not a poetic kinda guy seeking the deeper meanings of lyrics. I almost put it down but as I got into it it became fascinating. Cockburn is definitely seeking the Divine.
Connie
Jul 17, 2012 Connie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Cockburn has been my favourite artist since 1973; reading this was like having the BEST conversation ever about him. I think both long time admirers and those new to Cockburn would enjoy this read. It's a conversation-meditation that opened up my ears and heart even wider to his lyrics.
Wayne
Oct 13, 2012 Wayne rated it it was amazing
One of the very best treatments of a truly gifted muscician/muse/psalmist/Christian that is available. Highly recommended as an entryway into the life, thought and activism of Cockburn.
Mark Kornelis
Dec 18, 2011 Mark Kornelis rated it it was amazing
Excellent. Beautifully written. Many thanks to the author for writing this book - for his time spent thinking about and connecting the dots among Bruce's provocative and powerful lyrics.
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“A cold commodity culture in which everything is reduced to its market value will blasphemously obscure our vision that “all this earth is hallowed ground.” 2 likes
“Specifically, I want to bring these songs and texts to bear on the ecological crisis. It seems to me that the environmental crisis is, at heart, a failure and a perversion of the human imagination. Our imaginations have been taken captive by an ecocidal ideology of economic growth that invariably will render us homeless in a world unfit for habitation. If imagination is the issue, then a redirection of our lives toward creation care will not emerge out of statistics of ecological despoliation, as important as those statistics might be. What we need is liberated imagination, imagination set free to envision an alternative life, an ecological imagination that engenders a life of restorative homemaking in our creational home. Cockburn’s art, especially when interpreted in dialogue with biblical visions, is a rich resource for funding such an imagination.[206]” 0 likes
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