Ushering in 2013 with a Book Review: The Awakening of Hope

Ever so slowly, life is beginning to return to a sense of normalcy for us.  It never ceases to amaze me just how significant an interruption the holidays are to our sense of time and routine.  2012 was an especially busy season for me, especially the past few months.  I enjoyed the many things we were blessed to share in but am equally excited to turn the page to a new day.  As my weekly teaching commitment has ended, I look forward to spending some of that freed up time blogging more frequently.  2013 hopes to be a season of inspiration and creativity for me as I look to put the finishing touches on my doctorate of ministry.  I hope to spend a week or two in New York City in August, with my family, and taking my final D. Min course.  I’ll be spending time at Redeemer Presbyterian Church talking about faith and vocation.  A great opportunity.  In addition, I’ll be putting together the framework for my thesis which is centered on sports and theology.  As part of that effort, I’ll be presenting a paper at the 2013 Christian Scholar’s Conference at Lipscomb University.  My friends Steven Bonner (professor of youth ministry, Lubbock Christian University) and Shawn Duncan (D. Min student, Theological Seminary) will be presenting papers as well.  We are excited to have Shaun Casey from Wesley Theological Seminary serving as our moderator.  I hope to post regularly throughout the year reflecting some of my research in this area.  I’ve ordered several books to get things rolling in this area and am eager to work through them.

However, to start 2013, I was sent a copy of The Awakening of Hope: Why We Practice a Common Faith at the end of 2012, and, though it is later than it is supposed to be, I felt that a first-of-the-year review would serve better than one that would get lost in the midst of the holidays.  As pastors and teachers are looking ahead to their topics for 2013, I would highly suggest taking a look at this great resource offered by Zondervan. 

My thanks to Zonderan for the product to review.  I received the book/DVD combination pack for review containing the book by Jonathan Wilson-Hargrove in addition to a 6 session small group DVD produced by The Work of the People (who do great stuff – check them out if you are not familiar!) 

I have come to really appreciate the writing of Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove (though his name is awfully long for the sake of review!)  Last year I picked up his little book on money and then read The Wisdom of Stability – a book in defense of not moving around.  Wilson-Hartgrove writes in the tradition of the monastics while striking at everyday, practical concerns.  What I appreciate about The Awakening of Hope is that he takes important, biblical principles regarding where we live, how we eat, how we view life, etc. and provides a jumping-off point for important discussion no matter what your life situation is. 

I think sometimes the message of people like Wilson-Hartgrove and Shane Claiborne (who helps out with the videos) gets lost on people who think that their message is only for “radical hippies.”  I’ve found that Wilson-Hartrove overcomes that stereotype and, as lovingly as wisely, challenges all of us where we are to consider a better way to live.

Of these three books I’ve read, they each speak directly to living out faith in the everyday realities of life.  Having been confronted in the first two with issues of how I spend my money, how I participate in the economy, and why I choose to live where I live and interact where I interact, this latest of Wilson-Hartgrove’s books continues to push me challenging me to consider my eating patterns, my commitment to other people, where I live and how I interact with my neighbors, and better understanding what Good News really is. 

After having read the book (which is a quick, but full book), the DVD series offers six great sessions that should provide any small group with plenty to talk about.  I look forward to using this series with our small group this year and hope to report back how that effort goes.  Overall, I think that the message these activist have to share are important and is too important for Christians to overlook.  I hope many choose to spend some time wrestling with these important matters of faith and life in the upcoming year. 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFC.