“Two weeks to flatten the curve” has become “two years…to something,” but even amidst all the disruptions of yet another Covid-impacted year, I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to continue teaching, writing, researching, and catechizing.
This year’s major project was the completion of Teaching for Spiritual Formation, my new book on the intersection of Christian education and patristic teaching that will be published next month by Cascade. While I was able to complete the manuscript in the spring, some completely understandable delays pushed editorial work on the manuscript from summer to fall, with the final indexing work being completed just before Christmas. Having now published two books with Cascade, I can confidently say that their team is a delight to work with, and would highly recommend them to friends looking for a publisher. I’m particularly grateful to David I. Smith for kindly providing a foreword to the book, and to Dan Beerens, Brett Edwards, and Bruce Lockerbie for their gracious endorsements. I pray that the book resonates with Christian educators across a wide range of schools, stimulating new ways of thinking about what it means to teach in such a way that we are forming our students more into Christ’s likeness. The pre-order page should be live within the next week or two, and the book will be broadly available for order from retailers such as Amazon by the end of January.
Related to this book, I was invited to submit an article to a special edition of the International Journal of Christianity and Education, which is scheduled for publication in the spring 2022. This article, “Teaching Ascesis: Recovering the Neglected Center of Early Christian Pedagogy,” aims to recover the foundational importance of training in ascesis for Christian education. For early Christian pedagogues such as Basil of Caesarea and John Chrysostom, education was not seen so much as the transmission of information as it was an invitation to a life of virtue and faith; to this end they especially encouraged teaching that would promote an ascetical lifestyle and therefore greater communion with God. By examining two key patristic texts connecting pedagogy and asceticism, the article outlines an approach that can enable modern Christian teachers to engage their students with ascetical practices that will contribute to their spiritual formation and counter-cultural witness.
It is interesting to me that the most-viewed pages on this site continue to be those about prosopological exegesis, which was the subject of my doctoral dissertation and featured in much of my early research. Looking ahead to 2022, I think it might be time to go back to this subject and do some more work, especially with respect to how prosopological exegesis contributed to the development of early Christology. I hope to have more news on this front soon. Happy New Year!