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Kicking at the Darkness: Bruce Cockburn and the Christian Imagination Paperback – Nov 2011

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Publishing Group (November 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1587432536
  • ISBN-13: 978-1587432538
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.4 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 358 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #132,093 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

From the Back Cover

Christian Imagination and the Redemptive Work of Bruce Cockburn

"Kicking at the Darkness is a brilliant analysis of forty years of Bruce Cockburn's lyrics and their biblical and religious connections. Brian Walsh's explication is thoroughly researched and logical, and also compelling and entertaining. I read it from start to finish in one evening."
--Joel Goldberg, producer/director of Bruce Cockburn, Pacing the Cage

"Brian Walsh has offered us an enthusiastic celebration of Bruce Cockburn as a postmodern psalmist. Walsh engages in sustained reflection on Cockburn's sometimes dark and obscure lyrics and shows how they reflect a deep Christian sensibility that cherishes creation, groans along with the pain of a corrupted world, and yearns for the final revelation of beauty and justice. Longtime fans of Cockburn like me will find fresh shafts of light falling on familiar words; those who haven't yet discovered Cockburn will find themselves beckoned to encounter a world-changing artistic vision."
--Richard B. Hays, Duke Divinity School

"Brian Walsh is not just a theologian; he's a poet and a farmer, a father and a husband. He's an intellectual who likes good music; he's a lover of culture and a critic of culture. In this book, Walsh examines a musical legend and shows us how Bruce Cockburn's work can point us to God and to God's redemptive action in the world."
--Shane Claiborne, author, activist, and recovering sinner,

"I've been listening to Cockburn for three decades and reading Walsh almost that long, and I can hardly imagine surviving these times, let alone believing that joy will find a way, without the artistry and insight of both. This is an extraordinarily ambitious project, years in the making, and there is profound insight on every page. I recommend it with great enthusiasm and with immense gratitude."
--Byron Borger, Hearts & Minds Books

"What happens when one of the planet's leading Christian thinkers and writers engages with one of the planet's most brilliant songwriters and musicians? You'll find out when you read Kicking at the Darkness, Brian Walsh's new book about the music of Bruce Cockburn. I'm a dedicated fan of both of these men and I savored each page of this tremendous book."
--Brian McLaren, author of A New Kind of Christianity and Naked Spirituality

About the Author

Brian J. Walsh (PhD, McGill University) is the bestselling author or coauthor of several books, including The Transforming Vision, Truth Is Stranger Than It Used to Be, and Colossians Remixed. He is a chaplain at the University of Toronto and an adjunct professor of theology of culture at Wycliffe College in Toronto, Ontario.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Conrade Yap on Dec 28 2011
Format: Paperback
A friend of mine once said that there is no such thing as 'Christian music' or 'non-Christian music.' Instead, there is only 'good' or 'bad' music. After reading this book, I believe that my friend's preference for the good/bad music paradigm does not go far enough. Good music has to be creative, authentic, and reflective of life. This book is a fascinating commentary cum theological engagement with one of Canada's most celebrated musician and Christian thinker, Bruce Cockburn.

Brian Walsh has offered the literary world an profound work that engages our modern world with biblical insights, through the works of Bruce Cockburn. The title of the book is extracted from the lyrics of one of Cockburn's most popular songs, called 'Lovers in a Dangerous Time.' Walsh uses four main questions to helm his reflective interactions (21).

"Where are we? What is the nature of the world in which we find ourselves?"
"Who are we? What does it mean to be human?"
"What's Wrong? What is the source of brokenness, violence, hatred, and evil in life?"
"What's the remedy? How do we find a path through this brokenness to healing? What is the resolution to the evil in which we find ourselves?"

Walsh is generous with his praises. He calls Cockburn a modern 'psalmist,' 'prophet,' as well as a man with a 'certain storied perspective.' His music and lyrics stem from his strong Christian worldview, one that is able to grapple with the issues of the world with a theological imagination that does not diminish or dismiss the world with escapist music. Instead, Cockburn engages the culture, politics, postmodern paradigms, pluralism, and religion, with his brand of literary and musical prowess.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Rogers on Jan. 17 2012
Format: Paperback
In 1977 I was a 16 year old fascinated by the emerging music of the Jesus Movement. These were vinyl days when faith focused artists were emerging as proclaimers of the gospel.

I attended a music festival aptly named Jesus '77 at a campground outside Hamilton, Ontario. I heard some of the early Jesus culture prophets including Larry Norman, Randy Matthews, Mike Johnson, and Moose Smith.

From the handful of albums I had acquired, I was experiencing a renewal of my childhood faith and opening of imagination to the soul carnival found in concert venues and festivals.

In the Jesus '77 merch tent, I flipped through stacks of fresh vinyl endlessly searching for the next album to take home. In those days, I would spend $7 or $8 experimenting with new music. I would judge some of my purchases based on the album jacket and what I hoped would be matched sonically on both sides of the album.

When my eyes fell on Bruce Cockburn's 'In The Falling Dark', something mysterious happened. Without knowing fully why, the monochrome photo of Bruce and the song titles invited me to imagine another way of telling God's story.

From the first time the needle resonated in the groove of that album to this day, I revisit Bruce's discography the way some people return to a favorite cottage by a murky lake.

Now, about Brian J. Walsh's book; I say 'thank you, thank you, thank you!'

The book is subtitled 'Bruce Cockburn and the Christian Imagination'. Walsh treats the Cockburn fan to a rich exploration of themes found in Bruce's songs.

Bruce has an encyclopedia worth of recorded music (31 albums).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By JP on Jan. 3 2012
Format: Paperback
I am not a fan of Bruce Cockburn.

This is not because I don't like his music, but rather because, other than 'Lovers in a Dangerous Time', I simply don't know it. To be honest, I'm more familiar with the Bare Naked Ladies cover of 'Lovers' than of the original, which is to say that until I learned that the song was a cover, I assumed that it was a BNL song. Although I am not prone to displays of patriotism, I suppose my ignorance of all things Cockburn could be considered an insult to my fellow Canadians.

Brian Walsh would consider this less an act of treason and more an act of heresy.

When I began my graduate studies at the Institute for Christian Studies in Toronto, it quickly became clear that Cockburn's work was considered secondary literature in the biblical studies courses taught by Sylvia Keesmaat (who, by the way, is Walsh's spouse and co-author of Colossians Remixed, a book for which I was the research assistant). Although it was clear that Cockburn's lyrics were rich with poetic imagery and prophetic critique, I was never compelled to listen to or purchase one of his many CDs, operating under the assumption that since Cockburn has produced an album nearly every year since 1970 that such prodigious output was symptomatic of poor musical quality. This was an obviously ignorant assumption because, as I've since learned, Cockburn is, to put it mildly, an accomplished guitar player whose passion for the instrument is evident in his playing.

Anyone who knows Brian Walsh knows he is very passionate about three things ' the Bible, theology, and Bruce Cockburn.
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