My Bright Abyss

Meditation of a Modern Believer

My Bright Abyss

Seven years ago, Christian Wiman, a well-known poet and the editor of Poetry magazine, wrote a now-famous essay about having faith in the face of death. My Bright Abyss, composed in the difficult years since and completed in the wake of a bone marrow transplant, is a moving meditation on what a viable contemporary faith—responsive not only to modern thought and science but also to religious tradition—might look like. Joyful, sorrowful, and beautifully written, My Bright Abyss is destined to become a spiritual classic, useful not only to believers but to anyone whose experience of life and art seems at times to overbrim its boundaries. How do we answer this "burn of being"? Wiman asks. What might it mean for our lives—and for our deaths—if we acknowledge the "insistent, persistent ghost" that some of us call God? One of Publishers Weekly's Best Religion Books of 2013

Uncommon Prayer

Prayer in Everyday Experience

Uncommon Prayer

In Uncommon Prayer: Prayer in Everyday Experience, Michael Plekon wants to change our minds on what constitutes prayer. In doing so, he makes a theological claim that commonplace aspects of the Christian life are best understood as prayer, whereby encouraging us to see that everyday life carries religious import; prayer and the religious life are not restricted to special places and times, but are open to all believers at all times. Plekon examines the works of diverse authors, including many who have challenged the status quo of institutional churches. He asks us to listen to what poets, writers, activists, and others tell us about how they pray at work and at home, with colleagues, family, and friends, in all the experiences of life, from joy to suffering, sadness to hope. Among them are Sarah Coakley, Rowan Williams, Heather Havrilesky, Sara Miles, Thomas Merton, Mary Oliver, Christian Wiman, Mary Karr, Barbara Brown Taylor, Dorothy Day, Maria Skobtsova, Paul Evdokimov, Seraphim of Sarov, and Richard Rohr. Plekon argues that prayer encompasses a much wider variety of activity than formal and liturgical prayers and that, by recognizing such aspects of prayer, the believer is made more receptive to transformative aspects of prayerful attitudes.

Theology as Autobiography

The Centrality of Confession, Relationship, and Prayer to the Life of Faith

Theology as Autobiography

Autobiographical writings on faith frequently come from the lives of ordinary persons whose struggles with faith are often lived at the margins of the church, academy, and society. Yet these voices have the potential to reshape the ways in which each of these fields function. To find out what it means to stand before God with all of one’s humanity on display is to engage in not only the act of confession, but to demonstrate a bold theological reflection that needs to be more explicitly understood. By turning to spiritual autobiographies as theological source texts, we learn to place our emphasis where it matters most, on the people whose lives of faith move us deeply and cause us to re-examine our own lives in light of their witness. Moving through a range of ancient, early modern, and contemporary spiritual writers in order to demonstrate a profound connection that unites them all, this book portrays how a critical self-examination of one’s most personal, internal fractures (our “poverty” as it were) is the only way to develop a life of faith—the dual meaning of the word “confession,” which expresses both a revealing of one’s sins, or brokenness, and the articulation of what one believes.

Who’s Afraid of Modern Art?

Essays on Modern Art and Theology in Conversation

Who’s Afraid of Modern Art?

Modern art can be confusing and intimidating--even ugly and blasphemous. And yet curator and art critic Daniel A. Siedell finds something else, something much deeper that resonates with the human experience. With over thirty essays on such diverse artists as Andy Warhol, Thomas Kinkade, Diego Velazquez, Robyn O'Neil, Claudia Alvarez, and Andrei Rublev, Siedell offers a highly personal approach to modern art that is informed by nearly twenty years of experience as a museum curator, art historian, and educator. Siedell combines his experience in the contemporary art world with a theological perspective that serves to deepen the experience of art, allowing the work of art to work as art and not covert philosophy or theology, or visual illustrations of ideas, meanings, and worldviews. Who's Afraid of Modern Art? celebrates the surprising beauty of art that emerges from and embraces pain and suffering, if only we take the time to listen. Indeed, as Siedell reveals, a painting is much more than meets the eye. So, who's afraid of modern art? Siedell's answer might surprise you.

The Other Journal: Evil

The Other Journal: Evil

THE OTHER JOURNAL: EVIL Description This world is a fallen place rife with suffering, oppression, and violence, a land of tsunamis and earthquakes, genocide and crime sprees. We are surrounded on all sides by brokenness, yet we have difficulty spotting its source. We see the effects of evil, yet we rarely grasp its true nature and breadth. In issue #20 of The Other Journal, our contributors analyze the haunting opacity of evil and call us to name and resist its insidious influence. The issue features essays and reviews by Brian Bantum, Gregory A. Boyd, Andrew W. E. Carlson, Jacob H. Friesenhahn, David Kline, Agustin Maes, Rebecca Martin, Branson Parler, Anthony B. Pinn, Dan Rhodes, and Lauren Wilford; interviews by Allison Backous, Brandy Daniels, Chris Keller, Ronald A. Kuipers, and David Kline with Richard Beck, J. Kameron Carter, Richard Kearney, C. Melissa Snarr, and Christian Wiman; and fiction and poetry by Mark Fleming, Chad Gusler, Jennifer Strange, and Kali Wagner Other Issues of The Other Journal The Other Journal: The Food Issue The Other Journal: The Celebrity Issue Other Books by The Other Journal Sects, Love, and Rock & Roll by Joel Heng Hartse The Spirit of Food edited by Leslie Leyland Fields Jesus Girls edited by Hannah Faith Notess God Is Dead and I Don't Feel So Good Myself edited by Andrew David, Christopher J. Keller, Jon Stanley Remembering the Future edited by Chris Keller, Andrew David

Parables of Parenthood

Interpreting the Gospels with Family

Parables of Parenthood

Jesus told simple stories about common items; yet his parables profoundly address our hearts and minds. We offer an interpretation, not only about what we read, but also what we think and feel. Parables of Parenthood presents modern biblical scholarship in an accessible writing style in order to model how these ancient stories continue to enrich life in the twenty-first century. Andrew Taylor-Troutman closely analyzes each parable with deep appreciation before applying these interpretations to his life, because he believes the genius of the parables offers a glimpse of the kingdom of heaven in our everyday experience. By interpreting from the author's head and heart, Parables of Parenthood gives new luster to well-known, narrative gems about sowing seeds and lost sheep through personal insights about anxiety and hope. Lessons about wise builders and wicked tenants are illustrated with anecdotes about a baby's food and a grandmother's rocking chair. Through interpretations of other parables, moments as diverse as a beach trip and an ultrasound appointment invite movement from fear to faith. Through the combination of his informed Bible study and practical life experience, Taylor-Troutman empowers readers to connect the teachings of Jesus to our world in comforting and challenging ways.

Buzz Books 2013

Exclusive Excerpts from Top New Titles:Spring/Summer

Buzz Books 2013

A sampler of 28 forthcoming titles to coincide with Winter Institute 8

True Paradox

How Christianity Makes Sense of Our Complex World

True Paradox

Foreword Review's 17th Annual INDIEFAB Book of the Year Finalist (Religion) How do we explain human consciousness? Where do we get our sense of beauty? Why do we recoil at suffering? Why do we have moral codes that none of us can meet? Why do we yearn for justice, yet seem incapable of establishing it? Any philosophy or worldview must make sense of the world as we actually experience it. We need to explain how we can discern qualities such as beauty and evil and account for our practices of morality and law. The complexity of the contemporary world is sometimes seen as an embarrassment for Christianity. But law professor David Skeel makes a fresh case for the plausibility and explanatory power of Christianity. The Christian faith offers plausible explanations for the central puzzles of our existence, such as our capacity for idea-making, our experience of beauty and suffering, and our inability to create a just social order. When compared with materialism or other sets of beliefs, Christianity provides a more comprehensive framework for understanding human life as we actually live it. We need not deny the complexities of life as we experience it. But the paradoxes of our existence can lead us to the possibility that the existence of God could make sense of it all.

He Held Radical Light

The Art of Faith, the Faith of Art

He Held Radical Light

A moving meditation on memory, oblivion, and eternity by one of our most celebrated poets What is it we want when we can’t stop wanting? And how do we make that hunger productive and vital rather than corrosive and destructive? These are the questions that animate Christian Wiman as he explores the relationships between art and faith, death and fame, heaven and oblivion. Above all, He Held Radical Light is a love letter to poetry, filled with moving, surprising, and sometimes funny encounters with the poets Wiman has known. Seamus Heaney opens a suddenly intimate conversation about faith; Mary Oliver puts half of a dead pigeon in her pocket; A. R. Ammons stands up in front of an audience and refuses to read. He Held Radical Light is as urgent and intense as it is lively and entertaining—a sharp sequel to Wiman’s earlier memoir, My Bright Abyss.

Survival Is a Style

Poems

Survival Is a Style

Survival Is a Style, Christian Wiman’s first collection of new poems in six years, may be his best book yet. His many readers will recognize the musical and formal variety, the voice that can be tender and funny, credibly mystical and savagely skeptical. But there are many new notes in this collection as well, including a moving elegy to the poet’s father, sharp observations and distillations of modern American life, and rangy poems that merge and juxtapose different modes of speech and thought. The cumulative effect is extraordinary. Reading Survival Is a Style, one has the sense one is encountering work that will become a permanent part of American literature.