“Church after the rain,” Frankfurt, Germany

Rape Culture #6: Rape Doesn’t Happen Only in Dark Alleys

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Part six in a series by Joy Pedrow Skarka  Rape can happen to anyone, anywhere. An abuser can be an acquaintance, friend, spouse, date, or family member. In fact, the majority of victims know their perpetrators. Research reveals that 7 out of 10 rapes are committed by someone known to the victim. Most children and teen victims know their perpetrator. Of sexual abuse cases reported to law enforcement, 93 percent of juvenile victims knew their perpetrator. Rape is more common when it is with people known to the person violated.*             Anyone can be a rapist—even trusted family doctors. In 2018, Dr. Larry Nassar was convicted of sexually assaulting numerous young women on the national US gymnastics team. More than 150 victims publicly confronted him during a seven-day hearing and shared their stories of abuse, including well known Olympians Aly Raisman and Jordyn Wieber. Credit goes to Rachael Denhollander, a Christ-follower who first…

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Rape Culture #5: “Why I Didn’t Report”

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Part five in a series by Joy Pedrow Skarka  After my rape, I was not planning to report him to authorities. Then I heard that he “slept” with another girl. Thinking about how he probably had raped her too, and wanting to protect future women, I went to my university’s Center for Victim Advocacy and reported my rape. I was paired with an advocate, and she helped me decide what to do. I had three options: reporting to the police, reporting to my university, or both. If I reported my rape to the police, my case would go through the criminal justice system and the perpetrator could face legal sanctions or jail time. If I reported it to my university, he could have faced expulsion.              I decided to report to my university and press charges through my school’s Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities, but not through the police. We…

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Rape Culture #4: Rape Culture and Consent

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Part four in a series by Joy Pedrow Skarka  The big debate in America right now: what counts as sexual assault and harassment? In a recent Barna study, Americans say that sexual harassment is most often about being touched or groped or being forced to do something sexual—but also includes mostunwanted sexual behavior. The question then becomes, how do we know when the act becomes “unwanted?”             The #MeToo Movement created dialogue around a new standard of consent and confused the hook-up culture. Magazines once filled with sex tips are now filled with consent tips. There is a debate over where the line of consent ends and where sexual assault begins. Some people believe that, “no means no,” and “yes means yes,” however, it is more complicated than that. Because of the #MeToo movement, many people enter hookups with fear and anxiety. Although this series is written for a believing audience, it…

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Rape Culture #3: Victim-Blaming and Slut-Shaming

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Part three in a series by Joy Pedrow Skarka  Victim-blaming and slut-shaming silence survivors. We sat on the couch, and I told my friend, “I was raped.” In shock, my friend asked a few questions that I don’t remember anymore, but I’ll never forget how the questions made me feel in that moment—that the rape was my fault. Questioning a victim is a very common response when someone first hears about a rape—questions like: “What were you wearing?” “Were you drinking?” “Did you lead him on?”  Why do people ask these questions? In a rape culture victims are not innocent. They must have played some part or had some responsibility for their rape to happen. Consequently, people question the victim. And questioning the victim has the same effect as blaming the victim. The questioner makes excuses for the rapist’s actions based on the victim’s actions. The message is this: the victim…

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Rape Culture #2: The #MeToo Movement

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Part two of a series by Joy Pedrow Skarka Today in part 2 of the Rape Culture series, we consider the relationship between the much-debated #MeToo movement and the underlying issue of rape culture.              Raped my freshman year of college, I joined the 321,500 victims (age 12 or older) who experience rape and sexual assault each year in the United States. As a victim of sexual abuse, I joined the many women who spoke out in the #MeToo movement. In October 2017, the #MeToomovement went viral, and I posted on Facebook and Twitter. It felt empowering to think others struggle too.             This was not the first time I posted online for the whole world to see about my abuse. I am a blogger who often writes about my abuse. But for what felt like the first time, I was joined by others in speaking out. Friends I had known for years spoke out for…

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Rape Culture #1: Introduction

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A new series by Joy Pedrow Skarka [Trigger warning] Day three of my freshman year of college, I had said, “No,” countless times. I went to his apartment (totally sober), not realizing the possibilities of what could happen. As the night progressed, I started to understand his plan.             “No, no, I don’t want to have sex.”             “Are you sure?” he persisted.              “I haven’t had sex before. I should go.”             “No, don’t go, stay with me. I promise we won’t have sex.” He put his hands around my hips and pulled me close to him. It happened late at night, and I had just moved into my new dorm days earlier, so I had no idea how to get back home. “Okay, I’ll stay the night. But we should go to bed.”              We laid there on the tiny twin dorm bed. I drifted off to sleep.             Groggy, I woke up to…

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New Author, Good Blood

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Today I’m happy to introduce you through Q and A to my former student, K Pastore, who recently published the novel  Good Blood  (Wipf and Stock). Your main character is a girl caught in a culture of patriarchy and violence. How do you think she would respond to today’s political and religious misogyny? Rosie goes from a place of ignorance to restraint and fear to activism. She’s definitely an activist, but not like in the writing-blog-articles or speaking-winsomely-in-front-of-a-crowd kind of way. She is very localized. She sees unjust actions done in front of her and names them as evil. But she doesn’t just condemn the individuals who act unjustly. Her main goal is redemption, redeeming the perpetrators from evil and leading them back to goodness. And sometimes that means arranging judgment and harsh consequences. I suppose today she would do just as she did then—love her enemies. Good Blood takes place…

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Interview with Jenny McGill, author of Walk With Me

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Meet my friend Jenny McGill (PhD, King’s College London), a pastor’s wife and university dean who loves to explore countries and cultures. She has a new book out that I endorsed—heartily! Tell us a bit about the book and its intended audience. Written as a series of letters in a conversational tone, Walk with Me: Learning to Love and Follow Jesus is an interactive tool designed to help those in a spiritual mentoring relationship. It summarizes four areas in following Christ: the beliefs of a Christian, living like a Christian, habits of a Christian, and exploring the Bible. As a ministry leader and pastor’s wife, I want to encourage and bolster women in their Christian faith, addressing some difficult subjects in a down-to-earth fashion. Walk with Me is a discipleship guide for all believers, no matter how long they have walked with Jesus. Why a book on discipleship? Sadly, because I see…

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Teaching Teens: Thoughts on Modesty and Rape Culture

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Today I have a guest contributor, Laura Hercher, one of my students, talking about something that has certainly been in the news—rape culture. Her thoughts address the intersection of rape culture and what churches teach teens about modesty and personal responsibility. As someone in a ministry position and involved in a church, I find there are many ways I could work to combat rape culture. But the biggest way is to prevent it from continuing into the next generation by teaching youth how to think about these issues. I think one of the most powerful ways we can do this is by changing the way we teach youth about modesty. Often, well-intentioned youth leaders say or imply that girls need to dress modestly because if they don’t, they are “making” the boys lust after them. Such thinking is rape culture in a slightly less severe package. It communicates the idea…

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On Narratives and Central Propositions

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Someone asked me this question recently: “Do authors (of classic literature, broadly, and the Bible, specifically) have an agenda/thesis/big idea/etc. in mind before/when they write? Or do they start writing and let an agenda emerge?” And I said I think it depends on the genre. If someone picked up a modern hymn book and tried to find a thesis, they’d be hard pressed to do so. Yet they would find a certain organization. I think the same is true with the Psalms. The psalms are a collection. Same with Proverbs. People look for outlines and central ideas on those books and…nada. That may even be the case with Song of Songs. For sure I think those who see a beginning-middle-end structure to Song of Solomon are pressing a later Greek storytelling structure on a 10th-century-BC book that was more likely chiastic if there is actually even a story to it. I…

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Vixens makes INDIE Finalist List!

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Vindicating the Vixens has made the finalist list in the Foreword INDIE awards’ non-fiction religion category. Thousands of books are entered each year, and Foreword’s panel of more than 120 librarians and booksellers “take part in the judging, narrowing it down to a group of finalists and winners that represent the best books, all independently published, in over 60 categories.” Vixens is in heady company with other finalists coming from Stanford University Press, Notre Dame Press, SUNY, and other reputable independent publishing houses. Winners will be announced in June.

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Biblical Womanhood: What Is a Woman?

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What a woman is. She is an image-bearer. It was the first day of a class I was teaching on the role of women in the home, church, and society. Driving in to the seminary where I teach, I thought through the material I planned to cover, and honestly I feared that some of what I’d prepared to say was too elementary for graduate-level students. Many of them were raised in church and have heard messages all their lives. Did they really need to hear again that Genesis 1:26–27 teaches that both male and female were made in the image of God? Nevertheless, I determined I’d better make sure. So I repeated what I assumed they all knew. And sure enough, a woman present was thrilled when she heard my words! She was made in the image of God? And not only that—she did not have to marry to fully image…

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Happy International Women’s Day!

By Gender & Faith, Women 2 Comments

Forty-three years ago, the United Nations (UN) named 1975 as the International Women’s Year. Two years later, the UN General Assembly invited member states to proclaim March 8 as the annual day for women’s rights and world peace. My friends in Belarus send me Women’s Day greetings annually, and when I visited Peru, I saw costumes, posters, and a parade to mark the event. While some in the US observe International Women’s Day, it is much more popular in the southern and eastern hemispheres. In many places, men give their moms, wives, girlfriends, daughters, and female friends flowers and small gifts. In about 30 countries, including China, Cuba, Russia, Vietnam, and Zambia, International Women’s Day is an official holiday. In Bulgaria and Romania, it is observed as an equivalent of Mother’s Day; children honor their mothers and grandmothers with presents. In places such as Bosnia, Brazil, and Russia, women receive…

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Abuse: Rise Up, Church!

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Today I have a guest writer whose story you need to hear:  <<I’m not even sure if the Hebrew is correct. But it doesn’t matter. It means something to me. This is where girls would have scars from cutting themselves in attempts to escape the pain of abuse. But by the grace of God, and by His grace alone, my wrist doesn’t have cuts. It says “Daughter of the King.” There have been a few accounts and testimonies of abuse circling around social media lately, including the Larry Nassar case and sexual assault on campus in my hometown. And I want to help raise awareness for the sake of many victims and survivors of abuse who are being driven out of our churches. My mom worked in the sex industry. I have seen, heard, and experienced just about every type of abuse. That kind of life was my norm. People who know…

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Seminary Online: Isn’t That an Oxymoron?

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I confess, I’m a slow convert to distance education. But I’m coming around. My reservations have stemmed from my commitment to embodiment. Genesis starts with God’s dignifiying of physicality in the first chapter, and that theme runs clear through the Incarnation to the bodily resurrection. Isn’t our faith unique in its appreciation for physical presence? And if that’s the case, how can any kind of decent education happen without embodiment? How can people possibly learn about our God without engaging five senses in the content? Doesn’t the Eucharist include taste, touch, smell, sight, and sound? As does baptism. How can somebody grow in Christ without the senses? Yet, as I said, I’m coming around…. Of course, I still believe face-to-face is best. After all, the elder John wrote, “Having many things to write unto you, I would not write with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you,…

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How the Tamar Narrative Functions in the Judah and Joseph Narratives

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I’m happy to have Carolyn Custis James as my guest today. In Vindicating the Vixens, she contributed the chapter on Tamar. In November she served on a panel of contributors who talked about narrative analysis at the national meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society in Providence, Rhode Island. Here are some quotes from her remarks:  [In the Genesis narrative] just as the Joseph story reaches a fever pitch and readers are on the edge of their seats, instead of following Joseph into Egypt, the narrator follows Judah away from his family into Canaanite territory and into a salacious R-rated story involving prostitution with his daughter-in-law Tamar. From a literary perspective, the narrator’s choice seems counterproductive. From a pastoral perspective, this sordid story is problematic, unsuitable for a G audience, and devoid of any spiritual value. Pastors often skip it…. Far from being a literary gaffe, the narrator’s decision to include…

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Class in Multicultural Worship Arts

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DTS Offers a  New Winter Course on Ethnodoxology Jan 8–12 Check out this highly interactive and practical course, in which students will do the following: develop a biblical and missiological framework for arts in cross-cultural ministry gain practical tools for multicultural congregational contexts learn songs and experiencing the arts of a variety of world worship traditions integrate ethnodoxology principles into a community in which the student serves. This one-week intensive course is offered in partnership with Dallas Theological Seminary and the Global Institute of Applied Linguistics’ (GIAL) Center for Excellence in World Arts on the GIAL campus Jan 8–12, with online work through the end of January. See these comments from past participants: “I cannot imagine that any institution committed to evangelism and mission would not make an ethnodoxology emphasis an essential part of campus culture and academic life” (Dr. Mark Boughan, President, Emmanuel Bible College). “This course is rich and challenging,…

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Lots of Updates and Links

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November was a bit of a whirlwind. I signed a contract with AMG for another book in the Coffee Cup Bible study series—Earl Grey with Ephesians. I taped an episode on the Empathy for the Devil podcast comparing the queens Jezebel and Bathsheba and the sexualization of powerful women. Check it out. The Kregel Academic Book for which I served as general editor, Vindicating the Vixens: Revisiting Sexualized, Vilified, and Marginalized Women of the Bible, was finally released Yay! Took a long time to ship, but it has finally arrive in the hands of all those who preordered. An interview with me about the book appeared on the Christian Authors Network blog; on the Beyond Ordinary Woman site; on the Seana Scott blog; and in Fathom Magazine, where you can also read an excerpt—Eva Bleeker’s chapter on Rahab. I spoke on the same topic at an academic conference in Providence,…

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Fathom Magazine interview w/ me about Vixens

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This interview with me ran in the latest issue of Fathom Magazine.  Today we’re happy to have as our guest Dr. Sandra Glahn. Sandi earned her ThM at Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) and her PhD at the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) in Humanities–Aesthetic Studies. A professor in the Media Arts and Worship department at DTS, she teaches courses in writing, medieval art/spirituality, gender, and sexual ethics. She is the author of more than twenty books, including the Coffee Cup Bible Study series. But today we want to talk with her about her latest book Vindicating the Vixens: Revisiting the Sexualized, Vilified, Marginalized Women of the Bible (Kregel Academic), which just came out. Tell us about Vindicating the Vixens. Vindicating the Vixens has been on my heart and mind for more than a decade. As I studied history and cultural backgrounds at the doctoral level, I ended up revisiting some…

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Interview with a Charlotte Pastor/Author

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I’m happy to have as my guest today pastor/author Winn Collier, whose writing I love. His latest project is an epistolary novel—that is, a story told through the medium of letters written by one or more of the characters. It’s titled Love Big, Be Well: Letters to a Small-Town Church. SG: Did you have in mind any specific congregations as you wrote? Winn: I carried all the people and churches I’ve been part of my entire life. And of course, All Souls Charlottesville, the people I serve now, is so interwoven with my life that they are always with me. SG: Charlottesville has been at the epicenter of America’s culture wars in recent months. How has your church continued to be a voice of hope in the midst of such toxic events? Winn: The Klan rally in July, then the Alt-right rally in August, were horrific. I’ve never encountered such…

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Buy a Shirt/Help a Family Adopt

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If you know the Glahn family, you know our “son” Carlos and his wife Karla. They are in the process of adopting a little boy from China. And they are raising funds by selling adoption t-shirts. The styles include a long sleeved and a baseball raglan in addition to a typical t-shirt. Our grandson-in-love is 9 months old, and they have named him Asher (Gen. 30:13). They expect to travel in five to six months, though Carlos is praying for a miracle of January travel. Their adoption agency has asked them to get the remainder of their funds in order. Because or their friends’ generosity and spreading the word, they have sufficient funds to cover their final agency fees. But what they lack are  in-country adoption costs and travel expenses. The agency has stated that a good estimate of in-country + travel costs is $15,500. (This estimate includes official in-country…

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“No Greater Love” film headed your way?

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NO GREATER LOVE—the first theatrical documentary filmed and directed by an active-duty soldier—brings to vivid life the battles of the “No Slack” Battalion of the famed 101st Airborne Division in Afghanistan. And the battles he shows us didn’t just happen in the field. They continue after soldiers return home. One of the coolest parts about this for me is that its writer and that active-duty soldier/producer was one of my writing students. Friday, Nov. 10, for Veterans Day weekend, his multiple-award-winning NO GREATER LOVE premieres in select cities nationwide. NO GREATER LOVE, after one round of cuts, is still a contender for Documentary Feature in the 2017 Academy Award®. You can bring this excellent film to a theater near you. It takes less than 30 seconds to put in your request: REQUEST THEATERS TO SHOW NO GREATER LOVE IN YOUR AREA The film will help raise awareness about PTDS. Consider that:…

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#MeToo: Just Another Trend?

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My post for October 24 on the Engage blog at bible.org: A lot of people think it all started on October 5, 2017, when the New York Times first broke the story accusing Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment. Actually, as far as I know, the real first “Me Too” movement started a decade ago by the African-American activist Tarana Burke. And ten years from now, we’ll probably still need one. But about the recent one… Ten days after the NYT story hit, actress Alyssa Milano tweeted, “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.” Soon, the #MeToo hashtag took over social media. Twitter alone had more than 500,00 uses. But Facebook had 12 million. Twelve. Million. I almost didn’t put the following post on Facebook. But I mustered the courage to hit “return”:  “So many have been groped, objectified, threatened, stalked, or…

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My thoughts on history, Las Vegas, and Texas evangelical women

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An organization for women called IF:Gathering, the brainchild of Jennie Allen, offers lots of resources, primarily for a Millennial audience. I’ve been filming some short commentary for their series on Church History with my colleague Glenn Kreider. And here’s one that ran this week: AD2 W3D1 – The Crusades Commence from IF : Equip on Vimeo. Also,  an article on how to minister in the wake of violence in Las Vegas and the string of natural disasters, ran on the Pastor Resources site as well as on KCBI radio’s blog. Then I got quoted in what I thought was going to be an article about Texas evangelical women, but it ended up really focused on Jenn Hatmaker for Texas Monthly magazine. And KCBI-Dallas radio station interviewed me for an on-air audio segment about suffering in the wake of the Las Vegas tragedy. It aired October 3 and was edited for release…

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Help Yourself to Mental Health

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Carrying a lot of stress? There are lots of ways you can help yourself cope. Tell yourself the truth. Treat yourself with the same grace you would extend to others. If you make an error, instead of berating yourself, replace, “I’m an idiot,” with “Oops. I took a wrong turn.” Confess. Quit living with guilt. Acknowledge sin to God and apologize to people you’ve wronged. Make appropriate reparations. Care for your body. Take walks, jog, hit the gym. Physical health and aerobic exercise have a direct effect on mental health. Snack on veggies. Good nutrition affects physical health and outlook, too. So replace chips and sour cream dip with crackers and hummus. Sleep. Get to bed on time and transition off technology well before you need to be falling asleep. Get regular check-ups. See a doctor for hormone and mood checks and to monitor health conditions. Live in community. Even…

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Rape Culture Series

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Did you catch the series I ran on rape culture? If not, here are links to all the posts. Part 1: Rape Culture 101 Part 2: Victim-Blaming and “Slut-Shaming” Part 3: Saying “Yes” Isn’t Enough Part 4: Consent vs. Non-Consent Part 5: Rape Doesn’t Just Happen in Dark Alleys Part 6: Popular Culture and Rape Culture Part 7: Films and Rape Culture Part 8: Books and Rape Culture Part 9: Rape Culture and Language Part 10: Rape Culture and Government Part 11: Rape Culture and Our Schools Part 12: Rape Culture and the Media Part 13: Rape Culture: It’s Bigger Than We Think Part 14: Rape: It’s a Weapon Part 15: Rape Culture: A Sense of Entitlement Part 16: Rape Culture: Almost Every Woman Has a Story Part 17: Rape Culture: What Can We Do? Part 18 of 18: Resources on Rape Culture

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I post on the Engage blog for women in leadership at Bible.org every other Tuesday.

On the Nightstand/In My Kindle
Silence, by Shusaku Endo; Silence and Beauty, by Makoto Fujimura; The Discarded Image: An Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature, by C. S. Lewis; The Image of God in an Image Driven Age, ed. by Beth Felker Jones and Jeffrey W. Barbeau; Wearing God: Clothing, Laughter, Fire, and Other Overlooked Ways of Meeting God, by Lauren Winner.

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