My new books are finally here: 100 copies of The Cross in the Midst of Creation. The official launch day is June 14, but I ordered these from Fortress, and they were delivered early. Hooray!
Although I signed the contract for this book in May of 2020, it has been in the works for years. In 2017 I published a Lenten blog series, A Lenten Call to Resist, with posts that included summaries of several of its primary themes. From then on, even as I was publishing and giving presentations on my other books, I returned to this writing project as my spiritual focus and discipline each year during the season of Lent.
But my passion for the topics in this book go back much farther than that. The scriptural foundation for this work, the first two chapters of First Corinthians, is also the foundation of my spiritual journey and my life. These are the passages that triggered in me a spiritual experience that propelled me directly into preparations in the United Methodist Church for ordained ministry, with a specialized focus on peace, justice, and the healing of creation. These passages motivate me to continue seeking “God’s wisdom, secret and hidden” (1 Cor 2:7) and to challenge the “wisdom of this age” and “the rulers of this age” (1 Cor 2:6) as Jesus did in his day, although it led them to crucify him (1 Cor 2:8). If you read this book, you will see how these themes are integral to a participatory view of the gospel that leads to both personal and social transformation.
If you wonder whether you want to read this book, read a short summary here. Also, check out several initial endorsers here. They include climate activist Bill McKibben, theologians Catherine Keller and Ched Meyers, Sojourners Editor Rose Marie Berger, and many others. If you read it and think others would find the book valuable, please help me get the word out:
Write a two or three sentence review on Amazon, Goodreads, or other online sites.
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Because the Café focuses on faith perspectives on climate change, this conversation will center around Chapter 4, “Creation Crucified: The Passion of the Earth.” I will present some of the key themes of this chapter, including reconciliation of all creation (2 Corinthians 5:17-18), deep incarnation, the existential significance of our time, ecocide (“undoing creation”), the passion of the earth, why a theology of creation and a theology of the cross must go together, and new creation. I plan to present these ideas briefly so that we can enjoy an interactive discussion that will stimulate our ongoing growth in sensitivity, understanding, and motivation for action for our beloved creation (which includes our human family).
Overall, this book addresses the multiple challenges facing our world today from a progressive Christian perspective. It explores confusion and disagreement among Christians about the meaning of the cross, the primary symbol of Christian faith. It links a theology of creation with a theology of the cross and argues that for Christians these two aspects of faith need to be integrated into the heart of the Christian gospel. The book makes the case that the crucifixion is ongoing as institutionalized powers like the ones that put Jesus to death are still at work today in the violence and injustice perpetrated against our human family and creation itself. At the same time, the resurrection is ongoing as people from varied spiritual and philosophical perspectives rise in courage and move in the direction of God’s intended world. Other themes include: a critique of Christian nationalism and the “theological cruelty” that makes it possible, a survey of biblically based views of the cross that focus on the God of love who was revealed in Jesus (not just in his death and resurrection but also in his life and teachings), what it means to live in the presence of the Risen Christ today and to follow Jesus into the heart of the struggle for a transformed world.
Several other book launch events will follow the one on June 14, as well as book studies and action opportunities. To stay connected, follow me on Facebook or sign up to follow my blog. You can contact me here to order signed or bulk copies of my books, to ask me a question, or to just say “hi.”
Earlier this Spring, a Robin built a nest on a mature grapevine right outside our front door. What a gift it was for Guari and I and our daughter Serena and her grown kids who live with us. As we watched the care with which she built the nest, we decided to block off the front deck and come in and out the back door so we would not disturb her.
At first the mother spent time away from the nest–even overnight. (Out with her boyfriend?) More recently, the mother bird has been so careful–sitting on the nest through unseasonably cold weather (we lost the early fruit on the grape vines and fruit trees) and keeping a watchful eye when we come to the window or near the front deck, which we have pretty much abandoned. Now, just a few weeks later, the first two eggs have hatched. We are waiting for the last one.
The devoted mother has been acting differently now, sometimes nesting with them, sometims standing over them and putting her head down, apparently feeding them. Meanwhile, the father is around more. He’s been vigilant, standing on a nearby wire or, when the mother is away, on the edge of the nest. He even brought back a worm, but then he flew away with it. Evidently both parents are trying to figure out how this works and what to do.
Having this little bird family here and being able to observe them so closely reminds me of how much they are like us, or perhaps how much we are like them. We may get the idea that we humans are removed from the natural world, with our towns and cities and busy lives, but we are not. We are mortal, made from the same elements that make up the rest of creation here on earth. We are part of the interconnected and interdependent community of life. These birds, along with the skunks and foxes and deer and quail and other creatures around us, are our brothers and sisters. They care for their young, as we do. Even in the midst of the many disasters taking place all around, there is still so much beauty left to be saved.
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