Posts Tagged 'Africa'

‘Scared’ free eBook Download – A Novel Idea that’s Helping Kids

– Extended for Two Final Days! Share Scared with your friends & Download a Free Copy ‘Till July 15! –

In 1896, Charles Sheldon wrote In His Steps, a novel telling the story of a group of people committed to living out God’s dreams for love & justice amid an indifferent world. The publishers failed to properly register the copyright of this book, making it go ‘viral’ as eager readers and unscrupulous other publishers alike spread unauthorized copies around like wildfire. [Tacky WWJD bracelets in the 1990s being one of the lingering and unfortunate side-effects. But I digress…]In_His_Steps

113 years later, author and activist Tom Davis has released Scared: A Novel on the Edge of the World. It, too, tells a true-to-life story of West-meets-global south; a compelling and all-too-likely scenario of orphan children in Swaziland and across the African continent, with a tantalizingly-possible (and hope-filled) conclusion. It’s a page-turner, and the perfect summer read.

ScaredFreePDfScared’s copyright is secure, but Davis and his publisher, David C. Cook, are tapping into the viral spirit of In His Steps: from now until July 10 15, you may download an full-length copy of Scared, free of charge, if you share the free download news with three friends.

[Your three friends will get a one-time email inviting them to also download & share; their email addresses are not stored and they will not receive further communication if they do not download the book. Spam = Evil.]

I’ve been privileged to be part of this ‘global street team’ for Scared. We hope you’ll like – perhaps ‘like’ is the wrong word, be compelled by –  the download so much that you’ll buy a physical copy (or two) at your local bookstore, to read and share with friends. Why? In addition to being a terrific read, Davis’s nonprofit, Children’s HopeChest, is raising $1 million to support educational projects in Swaziland. They are also running a contest for Swazi orphans! The grand prize? A university scholarship. Your purchase will help this effort.

But first – give Scared a free read and tell your friends! You can do both right here. And if you’d like, you can also spread the word on Facebook via Scared‘s just-minted Fan page.

Searching for a Better God?

Frankly, I am. But how to get there? It was probably in reading Brennan Manning that I first pu words to the need to ‘heal my image of God’ – to renew my inner (and social) imaging of God from sub-divine images of domination and spite and terror that had unwittingly accumulated around it throughout my life and upbringing. Everything from the churches we attend to the TV preachers we watch to the ways we read the Bible can warp our view of the God whom the author of 1 John exclaims “is love.” Healing this image has for me involved loving fellowships, grace in strangers’ presence, more attentive reading of Scripture, and time spent in the fire and darkness of contemplative silence.

With that said, voices like Peter Rollins remind us that graven ideologies are just as insidious (and idolatrous) as graven images when allowed to harden into certitude; talk about God can only be provisional at best, seeing as God is inscrutable, ineffable, and dwelling in a light unapproachable to our consciousness. Even the revelation of God in Jesus obscures as much as it discloses. This critique against holding too-tightly to one’s view of God holds equally to calloused, fearful legalists as it does blissed-out grace heads. As Walter Brueggemann says, “God is irascible.”

It is with both of these powerful perspectives that Wade Bradshaw’s important new book Searching for a Better God argues. It’s brand new from the always-eclectic Authentic Media.

For previous generations, the key question among spiritual quest-ians was ‘Does God exist?’ Christianity’s apologia, sermons, and defenses were geared to this one question. For the current generation, however, the question is shifting: It’s not always so much ‘Does God exist,’ but ‘Why does God matter’? And, ‘What kind of God is God?’ For a generation aware of human trafficking and AIDS ravaging Africa and Tsunamis that kill thousands at random, the question of God’s goodness, or God’s morality takes center stage. Is God good or is God cruel?

There are, of course, many ways of approaching this question. In Searching For A Better God, Bradshaw argues that the God we think we know is a mistaken caricature and his nature is misunderstood. So far, so good eh? Manning, Marcus Borg and Paul Young would agree. But Bradshaw takes God’s questioners to the task in a somewhat different way. He feels that God’s interlocutors have concluded that they are actually morally superior to God and that God is less than adequate.  Even some in the church, Bradshaw charges, have begun to suspect this same thing.

Bradshaw, who is Reformed in spiritual orientation, does not equivocate: “This growing suspicion that God exists but is not worthy of our affection or devotion is subtly robbing the world of its one true hope.  God cannot be a source of hope, not because He isn’t real, but because He would not be good to know and to live with forever.  This is what I call the New Story.”

Bradshaw depicts this New Story in three questions:

  • Is God Angry?
  • Is God Distant?
  • Is God a Bully?

Shockingly, for Bradshaw the answer to all three may indeed be yes, but this very divine passion serves us well.  Bradshaw highlights a need for revelation rather than reimagination.

In the author’s estimation, the Church Universal today is responding to culture’s three questions in one of three ways. One group doesn’t want to listen to the suspicions of the New Story at all, thereby refusing to pay them any attention. (The fundamentalists and conservative Evangelicals – and presumably some in his own Reformed camp – would fit here) The second group, persuaded by the New Story, sees the need to modify the old teachings and bring them into line with what is considered obviously moral today.  (I think he’d put emerging and progressive Christians in this camp) But, there is a third path that Bradshaw claims is the Christian way because it follows God’s example…the culturally-savvy Calvinista that produces such incognito delights as Paste Magazine and Asthmatic Kitty records, for instance. Not to mention more-overt ordinary joes like Why We’re Not Emergent authors Ted Kluck and Kevin DeYoung, the latter of whom emailed me the other day and is the first ever person to ask for his church (University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan) to be removed from’s church directory! Oh, the unrepentant emergent sinners that must have been darkening their door! But I digress…

“The third path,” to return to the matter immediately at hand, “listens to the morality of the day and questions its common sense. Our task is to answer the many suspicions of the New Story and to find out where the suspicions and questions are coming from.  This hard way is the Christian path to wisdom and hope.”

[An aside: Its interesting just how many different people can utilize the idea of the third way.]

I think most of my blog readers will find Searching for a Better God a challenging read, particularly if you’re not a conservative Calvinist. But don’t let this keep you from opening the book. You should know that Bradshaw’s brand of Reformed faith comes out in the tradition of L’Abri, the 1960s family of Christian communes set up by winsome evangelical intellectual and cultural critic Francis Schaeffer. Schaeffer’s analyses of culture-at-large make me break out in hives, but I can’t fault time for not going out into culture, asking questions, and posing questions in return from a stance of (presumed) Christian orthodoxy. While I may not agree with his cultural theology, I can’t fault the overall L’Abri process. Bradshaw is a worthy standard-bearer to this approach, and deserves to be listened to.


Capturing the Low Ground by Wade Bradshaw

Not Your Father’s L’Abri in Christianity Today

Pheonix Rising review

Apologizing for God – a review at Sensual Jesus

Agapetheism by Kevin Beck

L’Abri compatriot Udo Middelmann‘s The Innocence of God.  A similarly-provocative L’Abri-related tome from Authentic, attempting to balance Calvinism and Open Theism with regards to God’s character and activity in the world. I helped edit this one; it was quite the experience.

Two Urgencies for Generosities

It’s 2008, and two needs have come to my attention that I would like to bring up with you, kind zoecarnate ‘blog readers.

The first comes from Adam Walker Cleaveland of Pomomusings. A fellow classmate’s brother, Aaron Reibe, has a rare form of cancer that their insurance is refusing to pay. They need to raise $120k. Adam blogs about this (and you can donate) here and here.

The second comes from Claude Nikondeha from Amahoro Africa, an emergent friendship there. As you may be aware, Kenya has suffered massive civil unrest in the face of recent elections. I will include here the full-text of emails I’ve received from Claude, as I can’t find them anywhere online.

Prayer for Kenya


Friends – It’s been a rough start of the year for several countries in Africa. My hope is that we take time to pray for Africa this week and maybe even send a note of encouragement to friends in Africa or Africans who are outside of the continent of Africa.

Let us remember Kenya, in particular, as they are amid struggles this very hour: The presidential election results of last week were very close between the incumbent Mr. Kibaki and the opposition leader, Mr. Odinga. Although Mr. Kibaki was declared the winner, irregularities in the vote count have been found, and the final outcome is in question. The election process has fueled a violent response in many parts of Kenya. More than 300 people have been killed, many houses burned, and several stores have been looted. Our dear friend and partner, Edward Simiyu, has been up dating us on the situation. You will recall that Edward works in the slums of Nairobi offering support to AIDS victims and others who are downtrodden due to poverty and the like. This is today’s email from Edward:

“10:59am. I dropped Beatrice, my wife, to work at 8.00 am this morning and she has just called to inform me that they have been asked to close the bank due to the looming showdown at Uhuru park (10.59am). She works in downtown Nairobi. I am on Valley office some 800 meters away from the planned opposition meeting and can hear gunshots and tear gas canisters intermittently. Traffic is flowing scantly and one hopes that the madness will stop so that Kenyans can go about their lives normally.

From, my direction, both ways will have to take me past Uhuru Park the rally venue in order to reach Beatrice. I asked her to find here way to the Central Police Station near the University of Nairobi where I can then pick her. A group of 6 youths who seem to have been repulsed from entering the park were walking back to Kibera and have said (Mzee,a name for a respected elderly man) told them if they are repulsed, they should go back and they shall be given vehicles to take them back to the park.

4.00pm. thankfully, we have made it home safely.

My contacts tell me that Kibera Laini Saba side is calm. I am aware though that Kibera 42; adjacent to Ngong Road is where skirmishes are going right now. I am concerned that more venting of anger may be experienced tonight with more houses being torched after the meeting aborts. I see us responding to a huge humanitarian crisis. We are in fact late for our people in Kibera and late for the over 250,000 displaced internally. No access to the slums due to tension. The Red Cross is overstretched. My thoughts go out to the churches outside Nairobi in the North Rift my home where people have taken refuge to escape ethnic cleansing without food and blankets. Road blocks have been erected along and vehicles are being stopped and people asked to produce IDs which of course betrays ethnicity. This is of course a repeat of Rwanda if we don’t stop it right now. Please pray for my beloved country.”

Let’s pray for Kenya. And let’s raise our voice in solidarity and urge our representatives to express an outrage at the behaviour of the Kenya government and issue a call for a re-count which will then help stop the killings. For more news on Kenya and other African countries, visit

We are in contact via e-mail, text messages and cell phone with many of our Amahoro friends in Kenya. Some of them have been pushed out of their communities, others temporally headed to Uganda for safety. If you want to help them financially in this particularly hard time as they find themselves and their families seeking refuge, not knowing when they will go back and what they will find at home, please click here to make your donation. 100% of it will go to families who need it most during these uncertain day.
Claude Nikondeha

Dear Amahoro Friends,

The last week has been filled with tragedy, confusion, chaos, anger, and disappointment for people across Kenya. Tens of thousands have been displaced, hundreds have lost their lives, and millions have been affected in innumerable ways. The rapid descent into chaos has shocked Kenya to the core. Seeing widespread ethic killings and the ghosts of the Rwandan genocide occurring within the Kenyan boarders is not something that we had ever dreamed possible.

We know many of you have been closely following the story in the media if you have not been living it here inside Kenya’s borders. Thankfully, both of us and our families are safe. We want to thank all of you have sent words of encouragement and expressions of concern in this difficult time. Unfortunately, many people were not as lucky.

Kenya 2
We believe that it is times like these that people across Kenya need to know that they are loved by others outside of their ethnic groups. They need to be reminded that the love of Jesus knows no boundaries.

What we would like to propose is that a caravan of vehicles drive from Nairobi to Eldoret, which has seen some of the most extreme violence and division, to deliver crucial aid of food stuffs, blankets, clothes and medicine. On the trip, we plan to stop and spend time with youth manning checkpoints on the roads who are looking for people of the opposing ethnic groups on which to take revenge. We would like to remind these youths that they are loved and that there are better ways to respond to this crisis. The two of us have committed to each driving a vehicle for the 5-7 day trip.

To have the greatest impact for people in Eldoret, we need your help. We are looking for:

People willing to make the trip with us or join/support us along the way

4WD vehicles (preferably White Land Cruisers that are known to be used in humanitarian aid responses)






We believe that this activity is just the sort of practical intervention that the church should be making at this crucial time and very much along the lines of our discussions at the last Amahoro gathering.

If you have any of those items that you would like to contribute to this mission, please contact either of us as soon as possible.

Your brothers in Christ,

Edward Simiyu & Aaron Sundsmo

If you’d like to donate funds to Amahoro on behalf of the Kenyan people, you can do so here. If you’d like to go yourself or donate any of these other items, let me know and I’ll put you in contact with the appropriate people.
2008 is upon us, friends. There is much to be done, but I am full of confident hope (more on this tomorrow). Please donate to either or both of these if you can, and forward this blog post to whomever you care to–or create your own.
Talk to you soon!

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