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Kicking at the Darkness: Bruce Cockburn and the Christian Imagination

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  64 ratings  ·  16 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
Aug 06, 2012 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,
Feb 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
"While reading this book," Bruce Cockburn told the author, "I was deeply affected by the feeling of having been understood. Doesn't happen every day."

Now that I've read it, I know a bit of what that might feel like.

I'd enjoyed some (not all) of Cockburn's more widely popular songs for decades. Though I'd purchased only one or two of his dozens of records, I regarded him as a poet of insight well beyond all but a few artists selling records. I'd taken the news of his being Christian as something
James Thompson
Nov 10, 2014 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
Corey Herlevsen
Jul 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
One of my favorite writers (Brian J Walsh) writing about one of my favorite postmodern prophetic Psalmists (Bruce Cockburn). What's not to like? The book is remarkably evocative, deeply biblical and exceedingly familiar with Cockburn's vast repertoire. In fact, he alludes to songs both popular and obscure so often and so pervasively that the book might be a hard slug for those not very familiar with Cockbutn. It may have been better to thoroughly exegete a few songs than to scatter thematic refe ...more
Jan 23, 2012 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
Dec 21, 2011 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
Aug 23, 2012 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
Jan 04, 2012 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
Dec 17, 2011 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
Nov 27, 2011 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.
Dec 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: borrowed, theology
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.
Dec 20, 2011 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.
Sep 26, 2015 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.
Jul 17, 2012 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.
Sep 28, 2012 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 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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