DAYS OF AWE AND WONDER
How To be a Christian
in the 21st Century
by Marcus Borg
Preface by Marianne Borg
HarperOne, Toronto, ON
March, 2017. 271 pages. $29.55 CAD.
Showcasing some of his most enduring and insightful writings, including many previously unpublished works, a concise and illuminating introduction to Marcus J. Borg, the late spokesman for progressive Christianity and one of the most revered and influential theologians of our time.
In his acclaimed books, classics such as Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time, The Heart of Christianity, Speaking Christian, and Convictions, Marcus J. Borg helped shape an enlightened modernist view of Christianity. A leading scholar of the historical Jesus acclaimed for his ability to speak about Christianity in the context of contemporary society, Borg offered profound wisdom and inspiration – a new way of seeing and living the Christian life – for believers, students, and lay readers. Ultimately, he taught that by forming a deeper understanding of Jesus and the New Testament, we can discover a more authentic way of being.
Yet Borg himself was always conscious of a greater truth beyond what he could explain: the wonder of God.
Now, two years after the liberal theologian’s death, comes The Days of Awe and Wonder, a selection of his writing, including many never before published works, that explores the Christian faith and what it means to be a Christian in the twenty-first century. Provocative and uplifting, this anthology illuminates Borg’s explorations of the miraculous and wonderful, his understanding of conviction and fulfillment, and his contention that we must keep an open mind and question assumptions and certainties in all our religious journeys.
Marcus J. Borg (1942–2015) was a pioneering author and teacher whom the New York Times described as “a leading figure in his generation of Jesus scholars.” He was the Hundere Distinguished Professor of Religion and Culture at Oregon State University and canon theologian at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Portland, and he appeared on NBC’s The Today Show and Dateline, ABC’s World News, and NPR’s Fresh Air. His books have sold over a million copies, including the bestselling Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time, Reading the Bible Again for the First Time, Jesus, The Heart of Christianity, Evolution of the Word, Speaking Christian, and Convictions
Wikipedia Bio With Publications List:
Foreword by Marianne Borg:
For as long as there have been Christians there has been
considerable debate about what it means to be a Christian…
… the twenty-first century has seen even more dramatic change
for Christianity. Old assumptions about, and images of God no
longer hold. Christianity is no longer considered essential for
“salvation.” It no longer provides an unambiguous moral compass…
We are in a post-Christian era.
How important is Christianity in the twenty-first century. What
does it mean to follow Jesus across a terrain that is both trampled
and uncharted? Does being Christian really matter anymore? …
(We live in a time of doubt and of love.)
(I believe that out of our doubts and loves) Christianity is being
Marcus Borg’s journey reveals the fruit and labour of doubts and
loves. In this collection of thoughts and ideas, taken from a
diversity of sources – from his dissertation written at age twenty-
seven to his final book written at age seventy – you will find a
companion for your doubts and loves. And you may discover
what it means to be a Christian in the twenty-first century…
Marcus is arguably one of the clearest, most accessible, insightful
Jesus scholars and voices for Christianity in this century. He
addressed many of the current questions and helped us to fall
in love with Christianity again, as if for the first time.
This volume is an opportunity to meet Marcus. For some, it will
be chance to meet Marcus again, as if for the first time, and for
others it will truly be for the first time.
I would like to identify a few of the book’s themes:
Given all of life’s ambiguities… our existence is remarkable,
wondrous. It evokes awe and amazement… we need to pay
attention to the awe and wonder that fills our days…
Jesus is significant, then and now. He is the embodiment of
human possibility. He shows our capacity for “knowing God,”
our capacity for courage, loving-kindness and doing justice.
Context matters. (The first century world was fraught with
injustices) but Jesus dedicated his entire life to the welfare
of others… How do we respond to the complexities of the
context of our lives? What is real? How then shall we live?
There is a “way of life” that is sustainable… It is the way
of compassion. Compassion is at the heart of all the great
religious traditions. Each tradition is like a prism or lens
that gives us a distinctive perspective. We see only in part.
Together, we can find the way.
(Our age is a pivotal time… ours is one of awe and wonder,
of a magnitude not known before. But we also have an
unprecedented capacity for self-destruction. Not only of
humanity but also the planet.)
Why be a Christian in the twenty-first century? Because it
gives us a vision. And a hope. And a way… Transformation –
individually and collectively – is the key ingredient for (our)
liberation. (Out of this) the kingdom of God will come. It
is up to us, and we are not alone.
This volume will explore the (above) themes and others.
May the discoveries give us hope, like the flowers of
spring that emerge from a season that looks to some
Marcus Borg’s doubts and loves plowed ground. His life
and work helped him to rediscover the heart of Christianity.
For himself, and for us. With new eyes and yes, a new
heart, being Christian in the twenty-first century can make
the world a better place.
– Marianne Borg, the Last Sunday in Epiphany, 2017.
Review by Dr. Wayne Holst
Marcus Borg was, and continues to be, through his example
and his books, a pastor and a theologian. My own life sought
to be both, and I lived for some decades before encountering
a soul-mate like Marcus. I discovered that even though he
never was ordained, he was always very pastoral. As a
professional theologian, however, he always tried to be a
good communicator. For the many students he taught, and
the congregations before whom he preached, he worked
hard to be both a good thinker and a person of the heart.
Those gifts are rare. I have not encountered many like him
in my life, and that is why our friendship meant so much. I
believe that our mutual early formation in the Lutheran
Church played an important part. For both of us, theology
and the Bible were important. But applying the truths of
Holy Scripture (from cover to cover, and not selectively)
was something we both cherished.
We were both ‘former Lutherans’, as well. We found
community in other Christian churches. Marcus was a great
help in supporting me through a life-changing transition from
the community that nourished and formed me to the community
that gave me a place to stand and to serve.
As a pastor, he helped me move past resentments to a new
place and an acceptance of how my life evolved. As a teacher,
he kept me challenged to continue growing as a Christian when
I was tempted to lose patience with new partners in faith. He
taught me that life is a series of transformations, not just
one big one! “Bloom where you are planted, and don’t waste
time thinking about what might have been” – he would say.
Why am I making this introduction to his (last?) book so
personal? Because that is what I believe you will also
discover by reading “Days of Awe and Wonder” for yourself.
Each of you has your own story of transformation to tell.
I do not assume that your life is like mine. But I do believe
that you will encounter both a pastor and a theologian in
the late Marcus Borg by reading this book.
So I highly recommend that you secure a copy.
Buy the book from Amazon.ca:
Borg Books Available from Amazon.ca:
Dr. Wayne Holst teaches religion and culture at the University of Calgary and helps to co-ordinate Adult Spiritual Development at St. David’s United Church in that city. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Colleagues List, Vol. XII. No. 26, April 2, 2017