Magazine article International Bulletin of Mission Research

Reading a Different Story: A Christian Scholar's Journey from America to Africa

Magazine article International Bulletin of Mission Research

Reading a Different Story: A Christian Scholar's Journey from America to Africa

Article excerpt

Reading a Different Story: A Christian Scholar's Journey from America to Africa.

By Susan VanZanten. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2013. Pp. 144. Paperback $19.99.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

This is a beautiful book that begins by telling stories of Susan VanZanten's childhood days in an insular Dutch Calvinist community in the Pacific Northwest and ends by briefly celebrating the stories of the acclaimed Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. The narrative between is a memoir of a Christian literature professor's intellectual and personal development through graduate school and four different Christian colleges in the United States. While not a work of literary criticism, this well-written book nonetheless provides the reader with glimpses of a scholar's love of literature as it turned from American novelists Faulkner and Melville to African writers Gordimer, Coetzee, Achebe, and others. Readers unfamiliar with these works--American or African--are given just enough of a taste of VanZanten's appreciation for them to want to investigate them further.

Theological seminaries, Christian colleges, and other educational institutions in the Global North still struggle to reconfigure their curricula to take into account the southward shift of world Christianity. VanZanten's intellectual autobiography provides a set of signposts for such reconfiguring. As befits a memoir, these signposts are of a personal rather than a prescriptive nature, but they are helpful for academics in North America and elsewhere who find themselves at institutions that, amazingly, still largely teach Christianity as though Africa, Asia, and Latin America were mere footnotes to a Mediterranean and European story.

Graduate students and younger faculty members at North American Christian colleges will find VanZanten's book especially helpful as a way of reflecting upon their own growth as scholars and teachers. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.