In 1840 Alexander Campbell, one of the founders of the movement that gave birth to my denomination, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), establIn 1840 Alexander Campbell, one of the founders of the movement that gave birth to my denomination, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), established a college near his home in what was then Bethany, Virginia. He did so out of a belief that citizens and Christians need to have good well-rounded educations. In an age when most institutions were church-related, what made his somewhat unique was his decision to try to go beyond the classical education (Greek and Latin language and literature) to bring in the sciences, as well as Scripture. His belief was that education could contribute to the moral and intellectual development of young people.
The result of his endeavours, which had to compete with numerous other religiously affiliated institutions from his own movement, was an institution that has had its ups and downs, and while evolving over time, over its nearly 175 years of existence (the oldest institution of higher education in the state of West Virginia) it has sought to retain that balance between liberal arts and sciences and vocation. What has changed, rather dramatically, over time is the role of religion. While Bethany was not founded with the need to train clergy as its focus, its primary target audience was other Disciples. Today, the Disciple presence is relatively small -- dwarfed by that of Roman Catholics, and religion is considered private -- mandatory chapel was abolished in the 1960s.
Duane Cummins, a former president of the College, a long-time leader within the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and a historian takes us on a journey from the beginnings in 1840 to the present. He sets the story within a broader story -- the development of educational policy and practice in the United States -- especially the trend that moved education from private to public providers, along with its original religious context.
This is a book with a number of audiences. It will appeal to Bethany College alums as they prepare for the college's Sesquicentennial in 2015. It will be of interest to persons seeking to understand the role of the liberal arts college in american education. It will also be of interest to those who seek to better understand the denomination in which they find themselves. I'm not an alum, but I do have interest in the role of the liberal arts (I'm of the opinion that the move away from liberal arts to professional arts is one of the reasons why our nation is so divided -- we don't know our history and culture). I'm also a Disciple historian and pastor who wants to understand this part of our story. I will add, that one of the Presidents -- Perry Gresham -- was the second pastor of the church I now serve as pastor.
It's a good book written by a Disciple historian and educator who served the college. He understands the full range of realities that have faced the college through time. From my vantage point I'd like to know more about the religious elements, especially over the past century. If at the turn of the 20th century the school was dominated by conservative factions within the movement, how did it ultimately move away from that perspective -- one that seems to have rejected higher criticism and evolution. Was it pragmatic or was there a theological reason for moving away?
I do have a question/concern. Cummins writes as an insider, having participated in the story. Therefore, I found his use of the third person in the chapter where he is featured disconcerting. That might just be me, but I think the story would be better served if he had switched to the first person in describing his own era, especially since it is a rather lengthy chapter.
In any case, if you're interested in Bethany, higher education, or the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) you might find this book of interest! ...more
This is a collection of short stories, some of which have appeared elsewhere, authored by one who has been honored by the National Book Award and theThis is a collection of short stories, some of which have appeared elsewhere, authored by one who has been honored by the National Book Award and the Newberry Award (children's lit). As I'm not a big reader of fiction, I had been putting aside the book sent to me as a review copy by WJK Press. But, having read recently Cornelius Plantinga's book "Reading for Preaching," and being convinced that I should broaden my reading choices, I picked it up and began reading. I must confess that I was amazed at what I found.
This is a collection of stories, most having to do with Christmas. They range from the humorous to the sad. While I didn't connect with all of the stories, quite a number not only proved enjoyable, a number proved quite moving -- spiritually and emotionally.
If you are looking for a book that captures the Christmas spirit -- I think this will be a good choice.
A novel, in which a retired preacher writes to his child, sharing his life story. Much spiritual insight, especially regarding the life and ministry oA novel, in which a retired preacher writes to his child, sharing his life story. Much spiritual insight, especially regarding the life and ministry of preachers....more
I was asked to read this book so as to write a review for the Christian Century. So, you must await my full review till it is published there.
Let meI was asked to read this book so as to write a review for the Christian Century. So, you must await my full review till it is published there.
Let me say that I am a preacher. I am also a reader (as you can see). In part due to my taking on the role of reviewer and due as well to interests my focus tends to be on books on theology, Bible, and ministry issues. I enjoy biographies, but I find it difficult to fit them into the schedule. As for fiction, I enjoy it, but I've never been a big reader of such literature. And as for poetry -- well let's just not go there.
So what of this slim volume by the former President of Calvin Theological Seminary? I entered it with fear and trepidation that I would feel under attack for my reading choices. I did come away recognizing that my reading patterns aren't as broad as they should be, and that by broadening my choices I can improve my preaching. But I didn't feel shamed into it. I simply found myself being given permission to broaden things out. It's not just about sermon illustrations, mind you, it's about becoming people of wisdom.
More commentary on the book will come in the Century, but let me just say here -- this is a keeper for all preachers....more
Miller writes a book that will be encouraging and helpful to men, whether they are young men growing up without a father and seeking a sense of purposMiller writes a book that will be encouraging and helpful to men, whether they are young men growing up without a father and seeking a sense of purpose for life or fathers seeking to understand their own role in the lives of their children (especially the lives of their sons). It is also a book to be read by men who sense the call to mentor fatherless young men and boys. Finally, it is a word to men who need to let go of resentments. In a final chapter entitled “pardon” he describes meeting his father for the first time in years and finding it possible to forgive. Finally, however, he found wholeness in his embrace of the idea that God was fathering him. The divine Father, he writes, does not abandon us. Ultimately, though, his hope for fatherless men is that rather than becoming “arrogant victims,” they can become “wounded healers.” Whether one agrees with all that he writes, this is a book that should prove helpful to fatherless men, and to fathers who seek to be true to their calling to share in the lives of their children....more
Although this isn’t Hemingway or even Dan Brown, it’s an interesting story that raises interesting historical questions in a “novel” way. And if you nAlthough this isn’t Hemingway or even Dan Brown, it’s an interesting story that raises interesting historical questions in a “novel” way. And if you need another view than mine, consider that of Richard Baukham, who says of the book – on the back cover -- that each of these “archaeological thrillers is more enthralling than the last.” Baukham may be a bit biased, as the book is dedicated to him and he is mentioned as an authority, I think it’s worth considering his esteemed judgment (especially since I’ve not read the previous two installments). As I noted in my review of the Borg volume, Jesus scholars understand better than most the value of story in communicating ideas. The Witherington’s, like Borg, should be commended for picking up this genre. Writing novels isn’t, I expect, as easy as some might think. And they do a commendable job, making this a book worth reading....more
If you are a Big Bang Theory (TV show not the scientific theory) then you will like this book. In fact, you don't have to be a big philosophy fan to eIf you are a Big Bang Theory (TV show not the scientific theory) then you will like this book. In fact, you don't have to be a big philosophy fan to enjoy the book -- you just have to have an interest in the show and its characters. So, did I like it? Of course, I'm a big fan of the show.
This book is part of a series of books that use essays to explore philosophical topics through interacting with an expression of popular culture. In this case The Big Bang Theory.
In the course of 17 chapters gathered into four sections, we engage philosophical topics that range from the nature of the intellect to friendship. Each chapter is a separate entity and so they don't build on each other. Thus, this is the kind of book you can dip into whenever and however you wish. If nothing else you'll gain a greater appreciation for the complexity of the characters, even if at times they are stereotypes.
As one might supposed the central character in the book is Sheldon Cooper and to a lesser extent -- Penny, though all the primary characters figure prominently.
So, if you want to do a bit of philosophy and be entertained all at the same time -- here's a book for you (and me!).
I'm not a big reader of fiction, but I want to commend Jerry taking up the task of writing fiction. This is a first novel and it has that sense to it,I'm not a big reader of fiction, but I want to commend Jerry taking up the task of writing fiction. This is a first novel and it has that sense to it, but he has tried to tell a good story that mixes in the challenge of living in this world, while seeking to be in touch with God. I may not follow him in his desire to mix his religious options (my sense of being interfaith is different), but he has attempted to provide a point of conversation on issues we need to discuss....more
I read this after seeing the movie. I thought the movie was very good, but the book makes more sense of the realities of the movie. It is a clarion caI read this after seeing the movie. I thought the movie was very good, but the book makes more sense of the realities of the movie. It is a clarion call to recognize tyranny and act in a way, not just of rebellion, but to be true to one's self. It is also a protest against imperialism and violence.
It's a good book, though not for small kids. ...more
In the 1960s Harvey Cox made news with the publication of The Secular City. As he has made clear in "The Future of Faith," he jumped the gun. In thisIn the 1960s Harvey Cox made news with the publication of The Secular City. As he has made clear in "The Future of Faith," he jumped the gun. In this edited volume a wide spectrum of scholars from the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, speak to the reality that we now have entered the era of the Post-Secular City. What is clear is that religion is playing interesting roles in the current and future state of the city.
In the introduction to the book, editors Justin Beaumont and Chris Baker write:
The postsecular city, by contrast to the utopian liberal uplift of the secular city (in which the role of the church and theology is to act as force of social progressive change and a cultural exorciser against all oppressive practices which reinforce hierarchies of power and dependency), reflects a more contested space where hitherto distinct categories are increasingly converging within a postmetaphysical composite. In the postsecular city, the dividing lines (and hence) roles of religion and science, faith and reason, tradition and innovation are no longer rigidly enforced (or indeed enforceable), and new relations of possibility are emerging. (p. 2).
There is great pluralism in our urban centers and new ways for them to navigate this reality. Through a series of essays we're introduced to this new reality. Most contributors come from the social sciences, though some have theological training. Many are Christian, though not all. Worth reading, though its not easy reading!!...more
At a time when folks are occupying Wall Street, the gap between CEO and worker continues to widen, and more of the nation's wealth is centered in theAt a time when folks are occupying Wall Street, the gap between CEO and worker continues to widen, and more of the nation's wealth is centered in the pockets of a few at the top, it might be difficult to hear the voice of a corporate leader. It might be worth the time, however, to listen to Harry Kraemer, a former CEO and a professor at the Kellogg School of Management. It's a book about business leadership, but I think that clergy can learn from it as well.