Learn more about The Faith at www.Zondervan.com/TheFaith.
Learn more about The Faith at www.Zondervan.com/TheFaith.
I’ve always liked the way God involved mothers in his clean-up program for planet Earth. It’s rather inspiring to me to read that when Eve failed, God didn’t shove her out of the way. Instead God treated her as if she was capable to handle her own judgment and responsibility. Embedded in God’s words to the snake and to Eve, we find both pain and hope that a mother, I’m sure Eve hoped it would be her, would bear someone capable of crushing the evil one.
Thousands of years later, many disappointed mothers later, God chose a young, girl, probably no older than a seventh grader, as the chosen one to bear the Messiah in her womb. We don’t know that much about Mary. She was young. She was engaged. She was untried in her mothering skills. She probably never went to a class on what to expect in labor or how to prepare for a baby’s first year. She was relatively poor, a second-class citizen to the Romans, a refugee by the time she gets to Bethlehem. She was, in the eyes of many of us today, a gamble. But God chose her.
God continues to choose women to birth new life into this world and that itself feels like a gamble. (Are you sure you want more people on this earth, God? I mean, things don’t seem to be getting better.) But I believe God knows that there’s something to women, something in our strength and our image-bearing capacities that we don’t always see.
In the beginning, God created Eve for reasons we often miss. God thought planet Earth needed a woman, not to do the laundry or to give Adam another dependent, but because all his creation needed a female human image-bearer, another way of being human. It’s almost like God knew, later on, we might doubt men and women are the same species (ahem, Mars/Venus) and so purposively makes Adam from earth and Eve from his body signaling how interconnected men and women are, from the start. He thought we could both make it on the same planet.
I love how God was not ashamed of creating Eve to reflect him on earth. God is not afraid of being identified with femininity. Even in the stereotypical “mothering” tasks of laundry, home-making, cooking and sheltering, God is the first one we find doing each of these. God was the first tailor, clothing Adam and Eve with skins. God cleans up the mess of Noah’s neighbor’s wickedness by putting the earth on what could be called, and I don’t want to sound flippant, a rinse cycle. God makes earth fit for life, giving water to every animal, providing food right on time (Ps. 104: 10-13 and 27-28). God is a great housekeeper of this planet, as the Psalmist says, he spreads out the heavens like a tent, covering the deeps with water as with a garment (Ps 104: 2 and 6). These pictures have awakened me to the many mothers in my life, women who are living cameos of God.
I have two grandmothers, one tall and one short. When my short grandmother notices I’m tired and brings me a cup of lemongrass tea, she shows me God’s sensitive awareness. For God is quick to sustain his people, just think of the years of manna, the bread and meat to Elijah in the wilderness, the angels sent to minister to us every day. When my tall grandmother took time to awaken my mind to the world of reading and new ideas, she reflected God’s desire to cultivate our minds. God longs for us to love him with all our minds, to demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, to renew our minds in truth.
And my own dear mother has shown me so much about God. Since I can remember she would ask me to share my ideas to her, giving me a chance to interact and even affect her thoughts. She was a picture of how God is eager to wrestle with us, willing to let our prayers change his ideas, eager to interact with us, young, inexperienced, naive as we are. I guess I’ve seen how my mom has taken a gamble on me, even though she denies that it was a gamble. Even as my mom believes in me, I hear echoes of what kind of God we serve, one that is quick to give us a do-over, quick to remind us that we are made in his image. Though our feet are clay, God is quick to invite us again into his plans for this good earth.
Jonalyn Grace Fincher is author of Ruby Slippers: How the Soul of a Woman Brings Her Home. She offers a distinctive voice as a female apologist. Holding a master's degree in philosophy of religion and ethics from Talbot School of Theology, as well as double bachelor's degrees in English and history from the University of Virginia, she is one half of Soulation (www.soulation.org), a husband/wife apologetics team. For the last three years Jonalyn has been lecturing, speaking and writing on how women are distinctly and fully made in God’s image. Her work has appeared in Radiant, Fullfill and UnChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity. She regularly updates her blog (www.jonalynfincher.com) sharing her insights about womanhood and the soul. Jonalyn and Dale love to take walks with their three Welsh Corgis in their new hometown of Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
Academy Award winners Joel and Ethan Coen are the subject of a new book to be published by Zondervan and written by award-winning Chicago Sun-Times columnist Cathleen Falsani.
Scheduled for release in Spring 2009, The Dude Abides: The Gospel According to the Coen Brothers will look at the filmmakers’ presentation of serious existential and theological questions using the dark, intelligent humor and epic storytelling that have been their trademarks in more than a dozen films during the past 25 years.
The Dude Abides will be a chronological examination of the Coen brothers’ oeuvre—every film they have directed together, as well as the films for which they have written original screenplays and those they have adapted from existing material. Falsani will investigate the theological, mythological, moral, ethical, religious and philosophical content and what their overarching message—their “Gospel”—might be.
Following the tradition of The Gospel According to the Simpsons, The Gospel According to Disney and The Gospel According to Oprah, The Dude Abides will turn a journalist’s eye on the Coen Brothers’ particular brand of popular culture to explore “the moral and existential questions and answers—God-stuff, really—put forth in scenarios and situations where some folks might say God isn’t supposed to show up,” Falsani says. “I see a large audience of avid fans who want to explore the transcendent depths of the Coens’ work, as well as those readers who are simply interested in the intersection between popular culture and spirituality.”
From their 1984 debut, “Blood Simple,” through their most recent work, “No Country for Old Men,” which recently was honored with 4 Oscars, each of the Coen Brothers’ films probes ethical and spiritual quandaries.
• “Blood Simple” is the story of a man with serious doubts, and what happens when he attempts to discover what the “truth” is.
• In “Barton Fink,” the title character, a successful New York playwright turned Hollywood screenwriter, mortgages his soul as he struggles with terminal writers block among the residents of, what may be, hell—fire, demons and all.
• “The Big Lebowski” chronicles the misadventures of the Dude—stoner, pacifist, philosopher —as he attempts to right some wrongs and vanquish the powers of nihilism and moral turpitude.
• “O Brother Where Art Thou” follows the odyssey (spiritual and otherwise) of three convicts, a skeptic searching for his way home and two seeking redemption from their sins.
• “No Country for Old Men” is an epic, prophetic journey that tackles one of theology’s most daunting conundrums, theodicy—if God is good then why doesn’t God intervene to stop unrelenting violence—and surmises that we don’t really know what God is thinking.
Cathleen Falsani is the Author of The God Factor and Sin Boldly: A Field Guide for Grace. She is an award-winning religion columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times. A graduate of Wheaton College, Falsani holds masters degrees in journalism and theology. She lives in the Chicago area with her husband and fellow journalist, Maurice Possley.
Moe Girkins, President and CEO of Zondervan, is presenting at the ECPA Executive Leadership Summit on Tuesday, May 6th at 3:30pm. Her presentation is titled "Online Strategies: the Use of Internet Communities and the Blogosphere." This session will examine the use of internet communities and the blogosphere, for the purpose of discerning the best options which Christians have to use this media to be effective agents of redemptive change and the role Christian publishers can play.
In conjunction with Moe's presentation, we invite everyone attending the ECPA Summit to play this simple puzzle game below. Please post up in the comments section of the blog below the time in which you completed the puzzle the first time you played it. The fastest 5 times will receive a prize related to the puzzle. Please make sure you provide an email address in the comments form that you fill out below so that we can contact you if you win. Your email address will not be displayed publicly on this blog. (6/4/08 Update - Zondervan employees, please feel free to post up your times in the Comments section below too.)
NOTE: You may have to sit through a 10-second ad before playing the game, below. Don't click on the ad. Wait for the ad to run until you see the headline "Discover the picture!" Then click Play. Instructions on playing the game: Click on a block to move it. Line up the blocks in the number order you'll see in the lower right-hand corner.
Zondervan is pleased to announce the first National Pastors Convention 2009 speakers: Rob Bell, Shane Hipps, Margaret Feinberg, Shane Claiborne, Ruth Haley Barton, Christopher Wright, Scot McKnight, David Anderson, and AJ Jacobs.
More speakers will be announced every week on the brand new NPC Blog, so check there often. We are already getting excited for NPC 2009 and want to make sure you are a part of it. Don't miss your chance to hear these great speakers (and even more). Sign up before May 15th for our Best Deal rates and save up to $170!
So here we are in Eastbourne on the next leg of the An Agenda For Change tour - at Kings Church, a large church here on this south coast seaside town. We arrived after a two-hour drive along some wonderful coastline in a fine, warm spring day. One of the best things about going on tour is the chance to take time to talk and get to know the people that you are with; the camaraderie is probably the best compensation for being away from home so many nights.
The church was much bigger than the previous night – one of the larger churches in the area – with a sports court, showers, conference rooms, café, and lots of staff members. We were all made to feel just as welcome as last night, and I was again impressed by the willingness of people to help out and be flexible to whatever is needed. You really get to see the cooperation that is at the heart of the church.
Many people too the opportunity to talk with Joel and get their book signed, and there was some great discussion during the question and answer session. Joel spoke again using the cathedral metaphor – that we are about building something lasting in society, and like a cathedral we may only get to see the foundations built but the structure could last a thousand years if it is done properly. People responded and, as you can see, the cathedral is now starting to take shape.
A bit of a break now until Leicester on the 6th May – time for some normal work!
An Agenda for Change for kicks off!
So here I am after the first date on the Joel Edwards tour, An Agenda for Change. This tour, where Zondervan and the Evangelical Alliance (www.eauk.org) are working together taking the conversation about the book across the United Kingdom, looks set to become a memorable one if the first night is anything to go by.
We all arrived at the venue, St Andrews United Reformed Church, full of excitement and nerves. As the first night, we had no idea if the presentation would work, would people turn up, would they be interested in the book and the whole discussion about the future of evangelicalism. The evening started with a leader’s event and some food. Church leaders from Anglican, Reformed, Charismatic and Baptist denominations all gathered to share food and listen to Joel share some thoughts and discuss questions about what the future holds and how we can make an impact in the 21st Century.
Following an interview with New Frontiers magazine (see www.newfrontiers.xtn.org), ready for their leader’s conference in June where Joel is also speaking, we were ready for the main event Joel looked at public perceptions of Evangelicals (with some great vox pops which we will be posting soon for you to see); the current church situations, with a great analysis of the division between left and right – and how each needs the other; and the absolute centrality of Jesus to our mission – the EA’s mission is to ‘present Christ credibly’. During the interval people were able to browse the bookstall, and fill out a commitment form to be part of the agenda to change society with the Kingdom of God. In return for the form everyone got a small colored brick which they were able to write on their own personal mission or commitment. These were built into the start of a ‘Cathedral’ that we will be building throughout the tour – here is the first wall!
The evening ended with a fantastic question and answer session, with Joel opening up the discussion to the whole room, and many great stories shared. After this Joel spent time talking with people and signing books – the feedback was great and the commitment of ordinary followers of Jesus to see change in their communities is both exciting and humbling.
Off to Eastbourne tonight!
The New International Version of the Bible is by far the most preferred translation of the Scripture, according to a new survey of US evangelical leaders.
More than 65% of the participating leaders named the NIV as their preferred Bible in a survey conducted by the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) in light of the NIV's 30th anniversary this year.
"New Bible translations face large competition to gain a foothold in churches and homes but once established they have long staying power," commented Leith Anderson, president of the NAE, which claims to represent 30 million evangelicals. "And, the NIV has maintained popularity and influence since it was published in 1978."
The survey questioned the 100 members on the NAE board of directors, which included heads of evangelical denominations with about 45,000 local churches, executives of para-church organizations, and heads of Christian colleges.
In the survey, evangelical leaders were asked, “What is your preferred English Bible translation?” and were left to write in their response rather than being given a list to choose from.
Nearly half (49%) of those surveyed named only the NIV as their preferred translation, while another 18% listed a second translation along with the NIV for a total of 67% selecting the NIV in the survey.
Among those who chose two translations, the other version listed included the New Living Translation, The Message, the New English Bible, the New Testament in Modern English (J. B. Phillips, 1962), and the King James Version of the Bible.
One denominational leader listed the NIV, the New King James Version, and the Contemporary Parallel Bible which shows multiple translations side-by-side for comparison.
But among those that do not prefer the NIV Bible, there was no clear preference in translation that dominated the field. Translations that were most mentioned were The New Living Translation, the New American Standard Bible, the Revised Standard Version, the English Standard Version, and the New King James Version. There was also one response each for the Amplified Bible and Today's New International Version (TNIV).
"Evangelicals agree that the Bible is the authoritative Word of God but have a long list of translations to pick from," said Anderson. "Translations come and go but the Bible lasts forever."
The NIV is the most popular modern English translation of the Bible in the world. It celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2008 with more than 300 million copies in print worldwide. (Source: The Christian Post and the National Association of Evangelicals)
Click on this link to listen to an April 15, 2008 podcast of Rob Bell speaking about his upcoming book with Don Golden titled Jesus Wants to Save Christians: A Manifesto for the Church in Exile.