October 4, 2011
Thanks to our online publicist, Adrianna Wright, for contributing this post!
Isn't it a relief when you meet someone who just gets it? Someone who isn't afraid to ask the hard questions and willing to be honest about his failings. Someone who cares deeply about Scripture and also has a fantastic sense of humor. Someone who seeks to be obedient but has a tender heart.
So describes my friend Jamie Arpin-Ricci. Jamie has blogged for a number of years, and it's through his blogging that I first came to know him. Over three years ago, Tom Sine recommended that I send a copy of his book New Conspirators to some Canadian bloggers, so I reached out to Jamie to see if he'd be interested in receiving a review copy. Indeed he was, and thus our relationship began.
Given my job as online publicist, I spend a decent amount of time staying in touch with bloggers about book requests and (hopefully!) ensuing reviews, so much of my interaction with Jamie followed along these standard lines. Yet after a while, another thread began to emerge in our communication. In the summer of 2009, Jamie offhandedly mentioned that a few of the books I'd sent (Following Jesus Through the Eye of the Needle and How to Inherit the Earth) had been "very influential in my own book (in process)".
Well forgive me, but I work for a book publisher, and when someone whose writing I respect just happens to say that a book might be lurking within, I jump all over it! And so it was that I learned Jamie was working on a book about St. Francis as "a timely and timeless example for the church in a post-Christian world." Hmm ...
Fast-forward to January 2010, when Jamie wrote to apprise me of a number of reviews that he'd written and to request a few more books. He also let me know that he "had to shelve the St. Francis project temporarily, as I am finalizing a volume on the Sermon on the Mount as missional and communal formation."
So I responded in typically professional fashion with, "Ooh, the book you're working on sounds yummy. Do you think it would be a good fit in our Likewise line?"
Well, over the next few months Jamie began to finalize his proposal. After he sent me the first draft of the proposal, I decided it was time to hand it over to Dave Zimmerman, who as an editor, actually acquires manuscripts ... So in May 2010, we officially acquired Jamie as an IVP author and slated The Cost of Community for November 2011!
In June this year, I finally had a chance to meet Jamie at the Wild Goose Festival, and I'm pleased to report that Jamie in person is exactly like the Jamie I had come to know through his writing. In short, Jamie gets it, and you should get his book.
"The familiar terrain of the Sermon on the Mount yields fresh insights and challenges in this grace-filled book. Wisdom gained from St. Francis and from life in the Little Flowers Community illuminates Jesus' central teachings in ways that help us see clearly their beauty, relevance and possibility."
--Christine D. Pohl, Ph.D., professor of social ethics, Asbury Theological Seminary
July 26, 2011
Thank you to Rachel Neftzer Snavely, IVP editorial assistant, for taking the time to share her experiences from Wild Goose Festival in North Carolina.
I have a problem. Many, I'm sure, but the one I'm referring to is that I love to be right. Not so bad in itself, I suppose, if it weren't accompanied by a more devious character flaw: I love it when I'm right, someone else is wrong, and I can prove it.
I'm not so hard on myself as to think that I'm the only one who suffers from this hubris. It's human nature, and followers of Jesus are not exempt. In fact, I sometimes wonder if we are not more prone to it than the general population. In any case, it's a serious challenge facing the modern church.
I remember exactly when I realized I had this defect. I was a freshman in college, and had proudly declared my major in Bible and theology. I was telling my boyfriend (who is now my husband) all about what I was learning in one of my theology classes. I excitedly delved into some theological minutiae--something about the economic and immanent Trinity, I think--and spoke very eloquently about all the interesting things I had learned. At the end of my trinitarian sermon, my not-yet-husband asked, "So ... why does all that matter?"
He repeated the question. "Why does it matter? I mean, how does it affect our lives?" I don't know, I thought, suddenly frustrated with his practical nature.
I realized then that being right, or knowing facts simply for the sake of knowing them, wasn't sufficient for the faithful follower of Christ. Right thought (orthodoxy) and right action (orthopraxy) have to be connected. Being right--or smart, or informed--is worthless if it isn't connected with obedience and action. In fact, it can be destructive. The book of James says as much. Jesus, too.
This is one of the reasons I was so interested in being a part of the first annual Wild Goose Festival in Shakori Hills, North Carolina. The wild goose is a Celtic metaphor for the Holy Spirit, and this festival was all about gathering together and discussing how the Spirit is moving in our time, and how we can enter into the movements of God. The festival was oriented around the themes of justice, spirituality, art and music, and was intentionally inclusive--all were welcome regardless of age, race, gender or religious commitment.Continue reading "Reflections from Wild Goose Festival"
Posted by Leah Kiple at 8:30 AM
June 27, 2011
Thanks to Mark Scandrette, author of Practicing the Way of Jesus, for this inside look at how he strives to integrate the teachings of Jesus into the details of his life.
So many people feel a pull toward a more embodied path for spiritual formation. But as one leader recently observed, "There is a lot of radical noise in the church today with little radical action." I wrote my latest book, Practicing the Way Of Jesus, to help address this gap between how we want to live and how we actually live. In the book, I suggest that followers of Jesus have always been formed best by taking tangible steps in solidarity with others, to live into a vision of life in the kingdom of God. I like to call these risks of obedience, "experiments," because we learn to integrate the teachings of Jesus into the details of our lives through creative trial and error. An easy way to get momentum is by inviting a friend into a short-term shared experiment.
Over the phone last week my friend Nate made an offhand comment about how his electronic communication devices were crowding out his awareness of God and attention to people. He said, "Its gotten out of hand when I reach for my device before kissing my wife good morning." Nate and I both spend a lot of time using communication technology in our work (smart phones, email, etc). These are compelling and useful devices for getting things done and staying connected; however, we've both noticed a tendency to be compulsive, jumping up to check email before having a few moments of prayer in the morning or replying to email or status updates at the breakfast table when we should be giving our full attention to those we love. We asked each other, "Why do we do struggle with this?" Partly its the little 'hit' you get when email arrives in the inbox. But we surmised that on a deeper level, it's because we have a fear of missing out or worrying that if we unplug we might lose some of our power to control what happens in the world.
How do the teachings of Jesus speak to these issues? He invites us to trust and not worry, to "welcome children" and to pay loving attention to the people nearest us. Nate and I decided to do a a seven-day experiment together to pursue these things, using principles of abstinence and engagement. We made a commitment to do the following each day: (1) engage face to face with another person and read something on paper before turning to our devices; (2) limit checking email to twice a day-- once in the morning and once in the late afternoon); (3) When going through text messages and emails, pause momentarily to pray, "Your kingdom come, your will be done..." for each person represented before hitting "reply" or "delete."
Nate and I both experienced dramatic shifts during the week. Clarifying boundaries between work and rest made us more available to our families. Pausing to pray for each person we messaged elevated the task of correspondence to a sacred appointment. And by adopting voluntary limits, we both felt less stressed and hurried. During the week, I struggled to pray mindfully before hitting "send," and once or twice Nate checked his email an extra time. But in general, we found it easy to keep these commitments because we were doing it together. We learned something tangible about what it looks like for us to practice the way of Jesus in the messy details of our lives.
For more on Mark and his other experiments in the way of Jesus, visit www.jesusdojo.com.
Posted by Leah Kiple at 8:08 AM
June 17, 2011
This weekend is a time of joy and celebration for some, but for others, Father’s Day can be a reminder of painful memories and disappointments.
Whether you have a significant relationship with your father or not, the Heavenly Father has already given his life out of love for you. In the book, The Girl in the Orange Dress, author Margot Starbuck recounts her search for a father who does not fail. What she finds is a vastly loving God who says, “I am for you.”
Now, two years after the book’s publication, Margot reflects on her life and the redemption she’s now found through her Father God. Read “Searching for Abba on Father’s Day” on Christianity Today’s blog her.meneutics. Margot’s words are a reminder that the God of the Universe is also the Father who never fails.
Posted by Leah Kiple at 12:04 PM
April 22, 2010
Pop quiz: Do you know what today is?
Well as you might guess, the answer to the quiz is D, all of the above.
And as to why you should care, to celebrate Earth Day and empower people to do good to our planet, TODAY AND TODAY ONLY you can download a free copy of Julie Clawson's excellent book Everyday Justice: The Global Impact of our Daily Choices.
All you have to do is go here to download a copy of the ebook FOR FREE!
And if you don’t have a Kindle to read it on, you can simply download an app and read it on your PC. Happy Earth Day from IVP!
Posted by Adrianna Wright at 9:27 AM
May 7, 2009
For the National Day of Prayer, here’s an op-ed piece by the authors of Becoming the Answer to Our Prayers:
Let Us Pray And Act
By Shane Claiborne and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove
Millions of Americans will gather today in hotel ballrooms and on town squares, in church buildings and on campus lawns for National Day of Prayer. Millions of other Americans will, no doubt, look on this public religious act with some suspicion. Is National Day of Prayer a hang-over from the days of the Religious Right? Are those who gather protesting President Obama’s assertion that we are not a “Christian nation,” but a democracy that welcomes and protects the practice of diverse faith traditions?
As evangelical Christians, we admit that our fellow Americans have good reason to be suspicious. Though evangelicals have often argued fervently for the separation of church and state, we have also blurred the dividing line when access to political power served our agenda (and our pocketbooks). Even when our churches have tried to serve as the “conscience of the state” that Dr. Martin Luther King challenged us to be, our concern has been too narrowly focused on issues of private morality, overlooking the problems of systemic injustice that King himself so boldly challenged. If we are going to pray in public, evangelical Christians must begin with a prayer of confession. We have shouted the gospel with our mouths more than we have showed the world good news with our lives.
But our confession cannot be that we have over-stepped the boundary between private faith and the public square. The problem is not that Christians have been too public with our prayer. What we must confess is that we have done too little to become the answer to the prayers we pray. So often when faced with the problems of our world we have asked, “God why don’t you do something?” without realizing that God might be saying, “I did do something I made you.”
When prayed by followers of Jesus, “God bless America” cannot be a divine endorsement of a political agenda or an excuse for inaction (as if we were asking God to bless others so we don’t have to). When we pray for God to bless anyone, we are challenged to see that we might be the hands of that blessing, for God has no hands but ours. When we pray “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done,” we commit our whole lives to caring for the least among us—the unborn and the undocumented. If Christians are praying with Jesus, we cannot stop praying and acting until we see the restoration of all that is broken in our lives, and in our streets broken political systems and broken families, polluted ecosystems and shattered lives.
So, rather than argue that National Day of Prayer is something that should go away with Jerry Falwell and the Christian Coalition, we say keep it. Let’s call Christians (and everyone else) to prayer. But let us also challenge ourselves to become the answer to our prayers. When we pray for the hungry, let’s remember to feed them. When we pray for the unborn, let’s welcome single mothers and adopt abandoned children. When we give thanks for creation, let’s plant a garden and buy local. When we remember the poor, let’s re-invest our money in micro-lending programs. When we pray for peace, let’s beat our swords into plowshares and turn military budgets into programs of social uplift. When we pray for an end to crime, let’s visit those in prison. When we pray for lost souls, let’s be gracious to the souls who’ve done us wrong.
None of us can do everything, but everyone can do something. To begin to act on our prayers with any seriousness is to remember why we pray in the first place—because anything worth doing is beyond our power to do alone. We cry out to God because we know we need help. But the God chooses to work in and through us. We have a God that does not want to change the world without us. So let us pray and let us act.
Shane Claiborne and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove are the authors of Becoming the Answer to Our Prayers: Prayer for Ordinary Radicals (InterVarsity Press).
For a list of “50 Ways to Become the Answer to Our Prayers” visit: www.jonathanwilsonhartgrove.com
Posted by Al Hsu at 7:59 AM
December 14, 2007
Recent years have generated much fruitful discussion about what it means for the gospel to be more fully embodied and holistic. Christians are rediscovering the sense that evangelism is not just about giving people an escape ticket to heaven, but mobilizing kingdom followers to be active in God's mission here on earth.
One of today's evangelistic pioneers is James Choung, the divisional director for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in San Diego. In his work with college students, James has found that some of the older evangelistic models and diagrams don't connect well with today's generation because the approaches are too individualistic and don't grapple enough with global justice issues. So James developed a way to explain Christianity that takes societal brokenness as a starting point and then invites people in both to personal redemption and salvation as well as cultural transformation and healing.
What's great is that this more holistic approach to witness is bearing fruit, with record levels of conversions and Christian commitment among InterVarsity chapters in the San Diego area and southern California. We're pleased to be able to share James's expertise in his forthcoming book True Story: A Christianity Worth Believing In, releasing in spring 2008.
Leonard Sweet says that James's gospel presentation and diagram "promise to be for evangelism in the twenty-first century what the 'Four Spiritual Laws' were for the twentieth century." The book uses a fictional narrative of two students (one a disillusioned believer, one a hostile skeptic) wrestling through whether Christianity is worth believing in. It's a fun read. There's also a companion booklet, Based on a True Story, intended for giveaway use.
The book and booklet will be available in a few months, but you can get a preview of James's approach with this three-minute YouTube video of The Big Story.
Posted by Al Hsu at 10:26 AM