Tag Archives: Ambrose University

A Canadian author tackles the life of David in upcoming novel: A FT mini-interview with Mark Buchanan

Readers of the Jul/Aug Faith Today were treated to a take on King David that we might not have read before. “You anoint my head with oil: What a Bronze Age warrior-king can teach us about friends and enemies,” is an inspiring essay that looks at the friendships in David’s life, and how they might help us with our own.

But Mark Buchanan (MB) is working on more than that angle of David’s life. Deeply immersed in the writing process for his upcoming novel based on the life of the warrior-King from the Bible, one of our fave Faith Today (FT) writers took a few minutes out of his writing schedule to tell us more about the book, and his creative process.

Mark Buchanan’s essay in the Jul/Aug issue of Faith Today examines the role of friendship in David’s life. Buchanan is working on a novel about the warrior-king’s life.

FT: Mark, tell us about the novel you’re working on about David. What do readers need to know?

MB: I explore David’s story and character from multiple perspectives of those who know him well – his wife Michal, his nephew and general Joab, his priest Abiathar, and so on. I weave these multiple viewpoints into an overarching narrative that traces David’s life from birth to death. And, of course, I salt the whole thing with snippets of Davidic psalms. I am hoping that the overall effect captures both the sweep and grandeur of the story and the depth and complexity of the man.

David’s central and lifelong quest revolves around his longing for the father’s love. That explains nearly everything about him – from his astonishing intimacy with God to his failures as a husband, to his aloofness and yet indulgence toward his own children, especially his sons. It explains his military feats and his domestic fiascos. So I’ve made that quest – to find the father’s love – the deep story of the novel.

FT: What have you learned about David and his story that surprised or moved you particularly?

MB: That David is no hero. He’s a flawed and conflicted man who keeps throwing himself on God. He’s a king who needs a King, a father who needs a Father.

FT: We tend to think of you as a non-fiction writer. What has writing fiction been like for you?

MB: Wonderful. Terrifying. Deeply satisfying. Tormentingly hard. And it is borderline insanity to try to tackle a story so loved and revered – there are so many ways to mess this up. So we’ll see…

FT: What is your hope for the book?

MB: That it invites those who know the story well to reimagine it and reengage it, and invites those who don’t know it at all to explore the source material.

FT: What is next? Or are you thinking of that yet?

MB: Another novel – about a pastor who is a kind of modern day David.

FT: Thanks Mark!

MB: And you as well. Thanks for indulging my obsession.

Mark Buchanan is associate professor of pastoral theology at Ambrose University in Calgary. He is author of several books including Your Church Is Too Safe: Why Following Christ Turns the World Upside-Down(Zondervan, 2012). Spiritual Rhythm: Being With Jesus Every Season of Your Soul (Zondervan, 2010) and the forthcoming David: A Novel (Watch for news of its release this Winter).

Faith Today loves to tell stories of the creative Christian arts in Canada today.  Subscribe now for a regular dose of inspiration. 

What counts as a flourishing congregation in Canada?

by Joel Thiessen

What counts as a flourishing congregation in Canada? What are the indicators of a flourishing congregation?

FlouishingCI LogoWhat would you say? Membership, baptism, conversion, or attendance figures? How “well” churchgoers love others? Good leadership? Strong community presence?

These are common and anticipated questions that our research team receives as we launch the new Flourishing Congregations Institute at Ambrose University.  In reality, flourishing is a combination of all of the above, plus a series of other variables.

Our team recently facilitated two expert panel gatherings with nearly 20 church and denominational leaders of flourishing Catholic, mainline and conservative Protestant congregations in Calgary. Soon we will travel coast to coast, speaking with 50-75 additional leaders of flourishing congregations – and later in the study we will conduct in-depth case studies of some congregations, followed by a national survey with leaders and members of flourishing congregations.

In our initial explorations we ask leaders this open-ended question: “What comes to mind with the phrase “flourishing congregation”?” We also summarize and then solicit their response to five traits that emerge in the literature on healthy and vibrant churches: a clear self-identity; strong and committed leadership; a culture that desires growth (numeric as well as spiritual); a hospitable community;band vibrant spiritual life (see our earlier article in Faith Today)
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Running With New Possibilities in Canadian Seminaries: Jo-Ann Badley Shares

by Jo-Ann Badley

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Jo-Ann Badley is dean of theology and professor of New Testament at Ambrose University in Calgary.

I just got back from a meeting of Seminary Academic Deans in Chicago where I met Anna Robbins, one of the other academic dean featured in the Faith Today article by Patricia Paddey. It was such fun to meet her in the flesh, having met her in Paddey’s words.

I would like to build on some of Anna’s comments in the Faith Today interview. She said that she was excited about her work at Acadia Divinity College because she didn’t think what’s coming, is going to look anything like that came before, except that it will be all about Jesus. She called for engaging the culture rather than hiding away in holy huddles. I would have agreed with Anna before I became Dean, but my work in these last few months has made this more obviously true. Let me explain.
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Disagreeing Well: And Why It Matters Deeply

By Gordon T. Smith

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Gordon T. Smith wrote “How to disagree…graciously” for Nov/Dec Faith Today

A number of months ago I was approached by the folks at Faith Today with the question: would I do a piece for the magazine on how we manage our differences?

My first thought was:  “Sure — I’ll do this.  I should welcome an opportunity to write for this Canadian Christian magazine . . . on whatever the topic.”

But then when I actually looked at my computer screen and began to write, I realized that this topic matters to me, and it matters to me deeply.

And it seemed that as I wrote my fingers flew across the keyboard. Sure, there was editorial revision work to do. Certainly. But I was amazed at how just below the surface of my consciousness I had been thinking about this — mulling it over. And now I had a chance to put something in writing.

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