This collection of my essays from 1971 to 2003 traces the main contours of the development of my thought. At the core of this development has been the rich concept of covenant, with its many expressions in theories of federalism, the dynamics of reconciliation, and ways of knitting together our “oikos” of work, family, faith, and the land.
The essays begin with my struggle to re-imagine images of church and society as “bodies” through the lens of emerging cybernetic theories. They then turn to relations of ecclesiology to social organization and my early engagement with the thought of Hannah Arendt. Ecological themes begin to emerge with an essay on covenantal approaches to land ethics. The covenantal perspective gains further expression in articles about marriage and family in relation to work and the land. Covenantal perspectives on constitutionalism and the dynamics of reconciliation then emerged in the democratic transitions of the early 1990s. The dynamics of reconciliation and their contexts in wider cultural memory take us into the final essays.
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In this book I lay out the main way of thinking that has emerged out of my personal experience and cultural environment over the course of my life. I call it an “expository memoir” because it focuses on a succinct description of my patterns of thinking as they have developed over time. Through it I have tried to become more self-conscious about the way my origins in Washington and at my family’s farm in Virginia, my education, my experiences in marriage and family, and my teaching and research here and abroad have shaped my concerns and thought.
Woven all through this long development were concepts of covenant and federalism, public and reconciliation, and the ensemble of the “oikos” connections of work, family, faith, and land. Themes of ecology steadily shaped my thought in the last thirty years, while a turn to working with wood and constructing worship furniture spoke to the connection of worship and ethics that has flowed through my work.
I hope this memoir not only offers a kind of summary overview of my thought but stimulates readers to reflect on their lives and they ways they have thought about the world around them. I am pleased that the publishers chose to use Sylvia’s stunning tapestry “Terrifying Joy” for the cover. It offers an opening into the light so brilliant we cannot see what it holds. Our journeys always contain elements of both feelings, even as our sometimes frantic hopes urge us on our way. You can find Making My Way in print and digital formats at Wipf and Stock publishers, Amazon, and through your local independent bookstore.
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In my teaching career I authored eight books and numerous articles in social ethics and religion. After over thirty years of academic work — in Germany, India, and South Africa as well as in the United States — I wanted to turn my hand to writing that was more poetic and expressive. I also wanted a more viable balance between my work with words and my work with wood, especially furniture for worship settings. For more about my woodworking, go to www.WisdomsTable.net, where you will also find galleries of artwork by my wife Sylvia, whose ancestors were the original inspiration for Red Clay, Blood River. READ MORE...