Introducing Chosen Nation

With the work of the wonderful folks at Wipf and Stock Publishers, my book is now out and about! Chosen Nation: Scripture, Theopolitics, and the Project of National Identity is a study of nationalism within the church, and the ways in which we distort the theopolitics of Scripture in order to imagine a nation compellingly holy enough to command our loyalties.

In the book, I first take a look at theological work that has been especially formative for me and examine it to see to what degree and in what ways it takes account of nationalism, which I understand as particularly problematic for faithful discipleship. Finding this theological work helpful but insufficient, I then discuss the relationship of Christian theology to nationalism throughout the centuries, and especially in more recent contexts. I then undertake a study of the theopolitics of Scripture, which forms the theological heart of the book; from this study we get a picture of the church we are called to be (especially in relation to biblical Israel). The last part of the book then examines Christian nationalism in the context of the Christian Right (in which I used to be quite active) and in certain contemporary political theologies.

The discussion covers literature in political theology, nationalism studies, history, political science, and biblical studies. It would be particularly useful in an academic setting discussion political identity and religion, political theology, etc. It would also be useful in a congregational setting, with particular attention to Chaps 2 and 4-6.

If you are interested in the book, you can order a copy here, here, or here. If you are a reviews editor or blogger and would like a review copy, please let me know or contact Wipf & Stock directly. If you are simply interested in discussing the book personally, please contact me as well. I would be happy to do so.

Returning Home to Eighth Day

As you might have read in the description, this blog is about theological reflection amidst the uncertain journey of life and vocation, along with rediscovering my hometown of Wichita, Kansas. I have the privilege in this “inaugural” post to write about both at the same time!

In James Sire’s Habits of the Mind, the author relates a particular angst common to those of us occupied with the written word: “When I first visit a great bookstore–say Eighth Day Books in Wichita or Blackwell’s in Oxford–I am exhilarated. So many of the books I have always yearned to read are there. What a joy! But before I leave, a mild form of despair creeps over me. I will never have the time” (p. 171). I’m well acquainted with this despair, since, as you just read, Eighth Day is a prominent feature of my hometown.

This bookstore, owned and operated by the incomparable Warren Farha, is a treasure trove of classical literature and works by the Inklings; Patristic studies and Eastern Christian mysticism and spirituality; works of theology and biblical studies, philosophy, history, and local interest; children’s literature; works by (often award-winning) local authors; and antique texts.

I cannot communicate to you here the smells of books upon books mixed with old paper and a bit of coffee, or the soft sounds of string music playing in the background as the visitor indulges in the space and experience that is Eighth Day, but perhaps a few more images (click on any to enlarge) will give you some sense of the richness of this place that not only holds so many stories of magical realms, but could belong in them in the role of home: that place of comfort and refreshment to which characters in the midst of uncertain journeys so long to return.

If you have the time, enjoy Eighth Day’s website. If you ever have the opportunity, though, come to this wonderful bookstore in person. Enter into this very special space, and stay a while if you’d like. They won’t mind.