A Glorious Dark: Finding Hope in the Tension between Belief and Experience - eBook  -     By: A.J. Swoboda
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A Glorious Dark: Finding Hope in the Tension between Belief and Experience - eBook

Baker Books / 2015 / ePub

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Product Information

Format: DRM Protected ePub
Vendor: Baker Books
Publication Date: 2015
ISBN: 9781441222428
ISBN-13: 9781441222428

Publisher's Description

On Thursday as they ate the Passover meal with Jesus, the disciples believed that the kingdom was coming and they were on the front end of a revolution. Then came the tragedy of Friday and, somehow even worse, the silence of Saturday. They ran. They doubted. They despaired. Yet, within the grave, God's power was still flowing like a mighty river beneath the ice of winter. And then there was Sunday morning.

Real, raw, and achingly honest, A Glorious Dark meets readers in the ambiguity, doubt, and uncertainty we feel when our beliefs about the world don't match up to reality. Tackling tough questions like Why is faith so hard? Why do I doubt? Why does God allow me to suffer? and Is God really with me in the midst of my pain? A. J. Swoboda puts into sharp focus a faith that is greater than our personal comfort or fulfilment. He invites readers to develop a faith that embraces the tension between what we believe and what we experience, showing that the very tension we seek to eliminate is where God meets us.

Author Bio

A. J. Swoboda (PhD, University of Birmingham) teaches biblical studies, theology, and church history at George Fox Evangelical Seminary and Fuller Seminary, among others. He pastors Theophilus church in Portland, Oregon, and is the author of A Glorious Dark and coauthor of Introducing Evangelical Ecotheology.

Product Reviews

4 Stars Out Of 5
4 out of 5
4 out Of 5
(4 out of 5)
4 out Of 5
(4 out of 5)
Meets Expectations:
3.7 out Of 5
(3.7 out of 5)
of customers would recommend this product to a friend.
Displaying items 1-4 of 4
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  1. Midwest
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    Interesting concept...
    March 31, 2015
    Jen Pen
    Quality: 4
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 3

    Using the three days of Easter (Good Friday-Easter Sunday), A Glorious Dark explores life, faith and experiences. Based on the differences between belief and experience, many times it is hard to find the common ground. Through life situations, pain, grace and redemption, A.J. Swoboda connects understanding, insight and life occurrences to attempt to make sense of God


    Perfect during Holy week and the upcoming Easter weekend (Good Friday-Easter Sunday), I found this book to be both thought provoking and well-timed. Different than what I had originally expected, I read it at face value. Though not necessarily full of Bible verses, it contained more life experiences, actions and thoughts actually based on the scriptures. Perhaps not for the newer believer, it definitely could raise questions and discussion among those encrusted in their faith. May be a good Bible study, generational discussion tool, or even sermon topic. I did find the book to be creatively titled.


    3.5 (out of 5) pennies

    *I received a complimentary copy of A Glorious Dark from Baker Books for my honest review*
  2. Oak Harbor, WA
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: female
    3 Stars Out Of 5
    A variety of thoughts on Christian living
    February 28, 2015
    Oak Harbor, WA
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: female
    Quality: 3
    Value: 3
    Meets Expectations: 3
    Swoboda has organized his thoughts around the Easter weekend of Friday, Saturday and Sunday. He says we must enter into all three, embracing the pain of Friday, the silence of Saturday, and the hope of Sunday.

    He has included a number of stories, observations, and thoughts. I liked his thoughts on why God doesn't always answer our questions. Discerning God's will is like a Lewis and Clark exploration, he writes. They were able to draw the map of where they had been only after they got home. He also has a good discussion on emotions, entertainment and church.

    I am not sure what I think of this book. There are times when the author shows great insight. God is best understood by those who've experienced the death of their greatest desire. (85-6) Faith is working one's heart out yet leaning on grace the whole time for a miracle. (87) There are other times when I just cannot resonate with his writing. Everyone is addicted to something. Even God. (54) Jesus is pathologically loving. (54) Speaking of Jesus, He's got a tough gig. (64) In the first century, a little-known Jewish carpenter was executed for building something bigger than a shelving unit. (121)

    Swoboda frequently takes an example from current events or culture and likens God to it. For example, he tells the story of Smailovic, a Serbian cellist who played in the bombed streets of Sarajevo in 1992. Jesus is like that... (92) He likens God to Forest Gump in that he never stops chasing. Saying that the fictional character Roquentin reveals a great deal about the author Sartre, he writes, Similar to Sartre is the God of the Bible... (176) Later, Our lives are like Melville characters. (178)

    There were illustrations he used that I just did not understand. Faith should be an old-timey Polaroid it should be clearer the more shaken it becomes. (72) (I've talked with some old time Polaroid camera owners and they don't understand his illustration either.) And, The Trinity is the world's Chewbacca. (75)

    I am not used to his writing style. Rather than a sustained exploration of a subject, the writing style seems more like stream of consciousness. His jumping from one idea to another was frequently hard for me to follow. That, and his use of more illustrations from modern culture than the Bible, makes me think this book is written for a young generation with a short attention span and a general lack of biblical knowledge. As an older person, I prefer working from the truth of the Bible out to modern culture rather than the other way around.

    I recommend this book for young people who don't really have much knowledge of the Bible. Mature (older) Christians may be a bit frustrated as I was. But I give Swoboda the benefit of the doubt. I think younger Christians will like his writing style and content.

    I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.
  3. Fredericksburg, VA
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: female
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    Unexpected Good Read
    February 27, 2015
    Fredericksburg, VA
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: female
    It wasnt until I was well into the first chaptersomewhere around Scooby-Doothat I realized it wasnt an old theologian speaking, but a young mans voice I was reading. Author A. J. Swoboda is a Pastor and Professor from Portland, Oregon who was unknown to me before I read A Glorious Dark. The title and cover piqued my interest as I am someone who sometimes struggles with, the tension between belief and experience.

    From the back cover:

    On Thursday as they ate the Passover meal with Jesus, the disciples believed that the kingdom was coming and they were on the front end of a revolution. Then came the tragedy of Friday and the silence of Saturday. They ran. They doubted. They disappeared. From their perspective, all was lost.

    Yet, within the grave, Gods power was still flowing like a mighty river beneath the ice of winter. And there was a Sunday morning.

    In A Glorious Dark, Swoboda reflects on three Holy Days and how Christians walk out their faith in reference to each day. In Part I, he speaks to Friday Christianity which he describes as the, religion of those whove chosen to find their identity in a spirituality of defeat, death, and loss. Swoboda addresses the Saturday Christian in Part II. He suggests this is, for those of us whove come to consider doubt and ambiguity as final destination rather than conduits through which we actually enter into resurrection. Lastly, in Part !!!, Swoboda address Sunday Christianity. This is a very popular Christian walk at this moment in time. It is the victory and prosperity walk.

    I have lived a little as a Friday Christian as I walked through a similar situation with infertility as Swoboda shares in Part !. My husband and I had to go to great lengths to have children and it was a dark time in our lives. Although it has been many years, reading his account brought back memories of how miserable life can be.

    I also enjoyed Swobodas thoughts on resurrection community, and the need for Christians to belong to a body of believers. With so many churches offering online service opportunities, many people opt to watch from home and never attend in person and in turn, miss out on becoming part of a community of believers.

    In the end, I appreciate the overall message of this book. The idea that the Christian life is meant to be lived in and through all three Holy Days. This is a book I will pass along to a friend with confidence it will be enjoyed, dog-eared, and highlighted. I was given a complimentary copy of this book by its publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I have not been compensated.
  4. Warren, Maine
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    One Weekend in History
    February 17, 2015
    Michele Morin
    Warren, Maine
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    For years I celebrated Easter as if it were a stand-alone holiday, singing Up from the Grave He Arose without giving much thought to the horror of the Dying or the silence of the Dead. Providentially, my early efforts to incarnate and to enliven an invisible God in the hearts of four sweet boys found a way into the obtuse heart of their mother as well. Therefore, this Lenten season, I will be re-reading A Glorious Dark, a book about believing which confronts the loss and defeat of Friday and the awkward silence of Saturday with Sunday morning resurrection truth. Where memoir meets theological pondering, author A.J. Swobodas story winds through his faith journey, with the bonus of startling spotlight quotes which he aims at himself and at all of us who say that we believe. Heres one of the dozen or more: Many envision faith as a kind of hall pass for laziness, excusing them from a life of action, doing, and working hard. Ouch and amen.

    What we believe about one weekend in history, the three days journey from Golgotha to the garden tomb, impacts our whole experience of the Christian life. A Glorious Dark challenges the reader to enter into Friday, to own up to our part of the evil in the world. This involves trusting for the lavish grace to have our emptiness filled, our requests denied, and our fatherlessness remedied by the Father. On Friday, we turn our faces away from our sponge of choice and embrace our identity as pilgrims, lifelong seekers of the will and the voice of God.

    With candor, Swoboda describes the bleak-hearted rising of post-crucifixion Saturday, and because much of the Christian life is lived under Saturday-like conditions, it is helpful to hear that we must sit in Saturday; we must squat in the tomb in order to enter into the grief and disappointment of the original disciples. Saturday is our opportunity to remember our own mortality, to remember that we live with Jesus in his death. On Saturday, we evict ourselves from the center of the universe by embracing the gift of waiting, and by mourning our failure to see others and their grief.

    Resurrection Sunday not only verifies all that Jesus claimed, but it points to his future coming, the ultimate surprise which will serve to further verify all that we hold true. As the church meets to celebrate the resurrection every Sunday, we also reenact the resurrection, celebrating the mystery with people we normally wouldnt love, [who] breathe down our necks, [but who] hold our feet to the fire of our beliefs. Sunday faith perseveres when my theology cannot account for the chaos I see around me.

    A Glorious Dark reveals a God who stand[s] tall above human history and invites (rather than scorns) the questioning heart. After all, of the thirty-one questions Jesus posed in the Gospels, He answered only three. When God does not break into history to rectify the list of problems set forth in my latest memorandum/prayer, it will be helpful to remember the messy way in which that one weekend in history played out for those who were on the scene. Once again, the life of Jesus will be made manifest, a glorious life emerging from a glorious dark.

    This book was provided by Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, in exchange for my unbiased review.
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