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CMU theology professor to celebrate publication of new book at launch event

‘Take and Read’ includes essays reflecting theologically on books

Canadian Mennonite University invites the public to a launch event celebrating the release of Take and Read: Reflecting Theologically on Books, a new book written by Dr. Paul Doerksen, Associate Professor of Theology and Anabaptist Studies.

The event takes place Sunday, December 4 at 2:00 PM in the Atrium at McNally Robinson Booksellers (1120 Grant Ave.). Admission to the book launch is free, and all are welcome to attend.

Take and ReadPublished by Wipf and Stock, Take and Read is a collection of essays first presented as oral theological reflections on books, written to stimulate conversations among diverse groups of readers.

These reflections introduce and offer samples of theological readings of a variety of books. The result is a collection of essays addressing a wide range of topics from food security to violence, from dementia to indigenous issues.

“I hope that anyone interested in joining conversations about any number of issues will read this book, because it really is a series of conversations with other books which address various topics,” Doerksen says.

Take and Read takes its name from a theological book discussion group that Doerksen has led since 2004 as part of CMU’s continuing education initiatives.

The group has included farmers, physicians, teachers, poets, novelists, scientists, people involved in business, finance, relief work, and many other walks of life, ranging in age from 20-something to 80.

Dr. Paul Doerksen, author and Associate Professor of Theology and Anabaptist Studies at CMU

Doerksen’s prepared reflections for these gatherings are never meant to draw conclusions about the books themselves, or about the topics addressed by the authors. Rather, the reflections serve as a starting point for the group’s conversation.

Reading the literary works that Doerksen discusses in his new book is not a prerequisite for enjoying the volume.

“My hope is that if you haven’t read the book and you read the essay about the book, it will drive you to it,” Doerksen says. “If you have, I hope the essay brings up connections and questions, and some evaluative dimensions in response to the book.”

Ultimately, Take and Read is a theological enterprise. The book is perhaps best described as an invitation to joining a conversation about books, and more importantly, about God.

“I hope that in reading the book, people join a conversation about something that is meaningful to them, and that they find something theologically meaningful in joining that conversation,” Doerksen says.

A professor at CMU since 2011, Doerksen has a PhD in Western Religious Thought from McMaster University. He also holds degrees from Conrad Grebel University College, the University of Winnipeg, and Briercrest Bible College.

He is the author of Beyond Suspicion: Post-Christendom Protestant Political Theology in John Howard Yoder and Oliver O`Donovan (Wipf and Stock, 2009).

About CMU

A Christian university in the Anabaptist tradition, CMU’s Shaftesbury campus offers undergraduate degrees in arts, business, humanities, music, sciences, and social sciences, as well as graduate degrees in theology, ministry, peacebuilding and collaborative development, and an MBA. CMU has over 800 full-time equivalent students, including those enrolled in degree programs at the Shaftesbury and Menno Simons College campuses and in its Outtatown certificate program.

For information about CMU visit

For additional information, please contact:
Kevin Kilbrei, Director of Communications & Marketing; 204.487.3300 Ext. 621
Canadian Mennonite University
500 Shaftesbury Blvd., Winnipeg, MB  R3P 2N2

Articles Faculty Profiles

Faculty: In Their Own Words – Dr. Paul Doerksen

PaulDoerksenOct2016Dr. Paul Doerksen, Associate Professor of Theology and Anabaptist Studies, has taught at CMU since 2011. His new book is Take and Read: Reflecting Theologically on Books (Wipf and Stock, 2016).

What are you teaching right now that most excites you?

Theological Ethics. I’ve got just under a dozen students who are really bright, articulate, interesting, and willing to really go after questions that are raised by other students or by the readings that we pursue. Every class, it feels like there’s something at stake. That’s exciting.

What are you researching and writing right now?

I’m working on what I hope will be a book-length project on moral patience. The heart of the project is a line from Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatics where he writes that God grants us the space and time to become who we were intended to be. That’s a wonderful way of thinking about God’s relationship to humanity, but then I wonder if there’s something in there for the way that humans can get along with other humans. My kids think it’s hilarious and ironic that I’m writing about patience.

What are you reading for enjoyment?

Some of the specific books include Silence by Shūsaku Endō. It’s about a Jesuit priest being persecuted in early modern Japan, and is a take on martyrdom that is absolutely fascinating. Martin Scorsese directed an adaptation that’s finally coming out within the next few months, which I’m looking forward to. I just started reading Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett. It’s really good. And, I’m looking forward to David Bergen. He’s got a new one out that I don’t have my hands on yet.

What do you most long for in your work?

I hope that my work, and the work of CMU more broadly, can be part of encouraging the church and the academy to be faithful Christians. I hope that we appreciate each other’s contributions and understand that we’re involved, at very deep levels, in the same project – namely, trying to figure out what it means to be faithful to Christ.

Do you have any interesting projects underway in the broader community or church?

My Take and Read theology book discussion group continues to be a delight. Thirty people get together four times over the winter to discuss four different books over dessert. It keeps me reading and thinking in ways that are different from the classroom or formal research. My new book is a collection of reflections I’ve written on various books we have discussed at Take and Read over the years. I’m looking forward to being independently wealthy because of the royalties.

What saying or motto inspires you?

The Catholic theologian Gerald O’Collins once said, “Theology is watching our language in the presence of God.” I think about this a lot. We believe that watching our language means not cursing, but there’s much more at stake here than impolite language. All of the Christian life is, in a sense, learning more and more how to talk about God and use that grammar of faith. It doesn’t come naturally, at least not to me. I need to be trained in it and I need to keep working at it.