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Winter 2009
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Baylor Alumni

Life Stories

Making meaning out of pain

Stories from the Edge: A Theology of Grief
By Greg Garrett
Westminster John
Knox Press
Louisville, Kentucky
ISBN: 978-0-664-23204-7
131 pages, $16.95

For two decades, Dr. Greg Garrett has taught literature at Baylor, but he is also a recent graduate of and writer-in-residence at Austin's Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest and a lay preacher in the Episcopal church. He combines all these roles--writer, teacher, preacher, and lover of stories--to write his latest book, Stories from the Edge: A Theology of Grief.

The stories he recounts in this book were gathered during the twelve weeks that Garrett served as a chaplain in Austin's Seton Hospital system as part of his seminary experience. He writes in the book's introduction, "Although I have lived a life that has taught me plenty about pain and suffering, I had never experienced the kind of unexpected trauma--and the results of it--that I observed and hoped to soothe that summer." In order to do that, he drew from his belief in the power of story to give meaning to human experience.

Garrett suggests that all of us have stories--both personal and cultural, some of which we fully embrace and some that remain unexplored--and we use them to understand the events of our lives. We put God in a box, Garrett suggests, and delineate God in such a way that life in general and our lives in particular seem to make sense most of the time. And, he says, we keep God in that box for as long as we can, "until something comes along that tears the box open and lets all of the meaning we thought we'd accumulated leak out."

It's true that no "box" is big enough to hold God, but Garrett believes that by recognizing what we have created and owning the stories we have made our own, we can begin to move toward a more expansive understanding of God and a greater sense of what we can rightly expect when suffering comes.

"Life is shaped of loss, from the moment we leave the warm darkness of the womb and enter this bright loud world," he writes in the book's final chapter. "It is how we deal with those losses that ultimately matters, and that is why without a resilient story that incorporates continuing change, we ourselves are lost.
"And that should not--must not--happen in a universe established by a loving God," he writes. "Review your stories for false premises and faulty plots; seek a story that incorporates suffering but encourages hope; stand alongside those who suffer, who grieve, whose stories have fallen apart. This is the good work that is given to us today in the only story that truly matters."


Hometown Favorite
By Bill Barton and Henry O. Arnold
Revell Publishers
Grand Rapids, Michigan
This novel's main character, Dewayne Job, is a rare and gifted athlete who grew up in small-town Mississippi, with a loving single mother, two best friends, and his high school coach for a family. As hard-working as he is talented, and with physical abilities matched only by his integrity, he excels at USC before becoming the first-round draft pick and embarking on a professional career. With a wife and child and a string of endorsement contracts, life seems to be set for him, when out of the blue, he is blindsided by a series of events that would bring any man to his knees.

This story, co-authored by Bill Barton, MBA '91, is as much about Job's response to the upheaval in his life as it is about the events that led up to it. Sure, he's talented. But does he have the character and the faith to hold up when he's thrown to the turf?

The authors asked Chris Sanders, a third-round draft pick by the Houston Oilers and former wide receiver for the Tennessee Titans, to authenticate the details of professional football. "All my life people have told me what I cannot do," Sanders writes in the forward to the novel. "Just like everybody else, I have had my share of 'Job-like' experiences." But Sanders says the novel demonstrates something  he has witnessed time and again: "With God's help and a lot of work, anything is possible."


Beyond 2020: Envisioning the Future of Universities in America
By Mary Landon Darden
The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group
Lanham, Maryland

"Academia traditionally moves with glacial deliberation to organize, ponder, assimilate, and eventually disseminate information," writes Mary Landon Darden in the introduction to Beyond 2020. And while that slow pace has been a good thing in the past, she acknowledges, a plodding approach can prove fatal in today's information age. "To move into this brave new world," she concludes, "the academic animal needs additional tools."

In her research, Darden, MSED '91, EdD '06, consulted nearly two dozen scholars, including university presidents, on everything from university libraries of the future to the students of tomorrow. Through their collective wisdom and years of experience, these men and women present some fascinating and, at times, troubling pictures of higher education twenty years from now. They explore both the amazing opportunities for growth within higher education and the changes needed for America's educational institutions to compete in the twenty-first century.


Sleep, Little One
Baylor University Women's Choir
Waco, Texas

Under the direction of Michele L. Henry, the Baylor Women's Choir has released this collection of lullabies, including traditional favorites like "Hush Little Baby" and "Jesus Loves Me" and a few unexpected tunes. Also included are songs from other cultures, like "Tengo Sueño" and "Kokiriko Bushi," with piano, flute, and guitar solos adding variety and depth to the women's voices. Funding for the project was provided by the Baylor/Waco Foundation and the Baylor School of Music.

Also of Note

Dr. Mike Frisch, Baylor psychology and neuroscience professor, is co-author of Creating Your Best Life: The Ultimate Life List Guide, released by Sterling. []

Baylor law professor Mark Osler has written Jesus on Death Row: The Trial of Jesus and American Capital Punishment, published by Abingdon Press. []

John Wood '53 is the author of God's Errand Boy, released by Leading Edge Publishing. []

Eerdmans Publishing has released Lost Treasures of the Bible: Understanding the Bible Through Archaeological Artifacts in World Museums by Dr. Clyde Fant '56. []

H. Wayne Walker Pipkin '61 has written Scholar, Pastor, Martyr: The Life and Ministry of Balthasar Hubmaier, released by the International Baptist Theological Seminary. []

William Brown '69, PhD '79, is the author of Menahem Pressler: Artistry in Piano Teaching, published by Indiana University Press. []

Tyndale House Publishers has released The One-Year Women's Friendship Devotional, cowritten by Cheri Heath Fuller '69, MA '76. []

Dr. W. Hulitt Gloer '72 and Perry L. Stepp, PhD '02, have cowritten Reading Paul's Letters to Individuals, published by Smyth & Helwys. []

Gail Young Shelton '75, MA '81, has written her sixth book, New Blood, published by Tor Books under her pseudonym, Gail Dayton. []

Keith Branyon '81, JD '83, is the author of Texas Probate Forms & Procedures, published by James Publishing. []

Chalice Press has published Misbegotten Anguish: A Theology and Ethics of Violence, written by Cheryl Kirk-Duggan, PhD '92. []

Nancy deClaisse-Walford, PhD '95, has written two books: a revised edition of an introductory textbook, Biblical Hebrew, and Introduction to the Psalms: A Song From Ancient Israel, both published by Chalice Press. []

Elizabeth Morten Oates '99 has written Dealing with Divorce: Finding Direction When Your Parents Split Up, released by Zondervan. []

Hannibal Books has released Fit to Serve, written by Stephanie Dean '05. []

If you've recently had a book published, a CD released, or a video produced, send a copy for consideration c/o "Under Review," Baylor Line, One Bear Place #97116, Waco, TX 76798-7116.

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