It begins: Hope for the Oppressor (featuring a discount code)

Back in 2013 I started writing a book that focused on a liberation of the oppressors. The trek of writing this book has been accompanied by a heavy teaching load, without breaks, three different homes, and four different offices.

While that may have prevented a smooth or efficient process, each point offered its own insights.

Frustrations can often be a way God teaches. That doesn’t make them easier but does redeem the experiences.

The book is now published.  Hooray!

Though at a price ($130) that, frankly, shocks me, so I’m trying to navigate yet another frustration in the process.  That said, given the theme of the book I have hope even for Fortress Academic.

In the next while, knowing the price won’t get a lot of people “trying out” the book, I’m going to have a series of posts that highlight the key themes and moves I make. I know that academic books don’t often have a wide appeal, but I really do think this book reaches well beyond a narrow academic market and into the lives of so many of us. This is my way to get the discussion going even when the price frustrates readership.

Hope for the Oppressor deals with oppressing and oppressors, so anyone who deals with privilege or being overwhelmed by the privileges of others will find something to think about.

I do this in a way that intentionally moves away from the entrenched patterns of discussion that dominate our current dysfunctional political and social commentary.

I genuinely think this book would be interesting, even helpful, to those on very different sides of political discussions and offers an invitation to both sides to discover thorough liberation.

This book is categorized as “Liberation theology” and it is this goal of liberation that invites people to let go dysfunction and attempts to dominate, inviting everyone into a new pattern of life.

We need this. Academia needs this. Politics needs this. Law, Education, Entertainment needs this. Even, I have found, the publishing business needs this.

There’s a better way.  And that’s what I’m arguing for in this book.

Fortress Academic has offered a 30% discount if you buy from their website.
To get the discount, use code LEX30AUTH19 when ordering.

If you can’t afford it ( I can’t afford to buy it myself), please let those at the publisher know you’d like to see an affordable paperback release.  They’ve made the price impossible for individuals and even for many libraries outside North American and Europe, but a paperback would be priced to sell more broadly.

If you’re an academic or journalist, request a review copy or an exam copy.

Flyer discount LEX30AUTH19
To get discount, use code LEX30AUTH19
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Becoming human

“The real issue in our becoming fully human is not about us thinking big enough but rather it is an issue of us not being willing to think small enough. We fear insignificance by limiting our attention to those immediately around us, to take inclusive steps within the reach of our honest possibilities. It is easier to campaign for our favored national candidate than to reach out to our immediate neighbor. We want the grand transformation and lapse into an enervating despair when we fall short. We want to control others and fold them within our vision of life. We need freedom from this if we are to find our true self, if we are to be truly open to others, if we are to journey toward thorough liberation and come alongside others in this journey.”

Hope for the Oppressor, p242

(note that while the book is expensive, you can encourage your library to get a copy and also contact Fortress Press to encourage them to release a cheaper paperback version)

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Hope for the Oppressor

4 years ago I signed the contract.

The book, Hope for the Oppressor: Discovering Freedom Through Transformative Community is finally coming out on August 15.

I know, the price is high. When I signed the contract, I didn’t expect the selling price to be so high. I don’t think Fortress was pricing books like that then, and they control the price.

I know many can’t afford it or have better uses for their money. Two things: One, contact Fortress and let them know you’d like a paperback version:

If you’re faculty somewhere, request an exam copy. Let them know interested in the book and let them know the price is a barrier to adopting it.

Second, message me at and I can provide a big discount for those who are interested in reading the book. I want people to get a hold of this because I really do believe this offers a unique and empowering approach for our era.

That’s exactly where the hope I’m talking about comes into my own response to discouragement. When those in charge make decisions that interfere or even undermine our goals, we can get caught in despair. We can see blockages as permanent walls. We can even take it personally.

The way of hope, however, isn’t a trust in things as they currently are or trusting that things are going to continue to be frustrating. We have a resurrection hope. That’s hope that God brings life out of death, hope out of frustrations, peace out of chaos.

Even though I’m disappointed by the price Fortress set, the theologian of hope himself, Jurgen Moltmann, had this to say at the end of his foreword: “I am grateful to Patrick Oden: He picked up an idea of mine and carried it out in his own way splendidly.”

He has more hope for me than even Fortress does, and when it comes down to it, the hope that Moltmann has offered me keeps me excited about the book.

We are called to be people of this hope, who live out this hope in every part of our lives and resonate this hope to others.

We are invited to live in inviting ways, living in real freedom in which peace reaches into the depths of our being and forms communities that empower others to be who they truly are.

I have hope that God is doing a good work even when there’s a lot of frustrations around that seem to suggest all my efforts are bogged down or dismissed. I have hope that God is able to make a way for me, my family, my community, that celebrates open doors and awakened possibilities.

I have hope that God will lead us through this wilderness and bring peace. Even though I’m disappointed by the

That’s the hope which calls me to avoid frenzy, avoid diminishing others, avoid getting caught in jealousies or chaotic ambitions. That’s the hope that calls me to seek the best for others, to use my time to empower others, to seek stillness, peace, joy, patience, the whole fruit of the Spirit. That’s the hope that takes shape in community and calls me to share my gifts with others who are sharing theirs.

That’s the hope for the oppressors. Let freedom ring.

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In 1980 I was baptized at San Dimas Wesleyan Church by pastor George Jenewein. His signature is on my baptism certificate.

A very tiny bit more than 39 years later, I was ordained in The Wesleyan Church, and the signature on my pocket ordination certificate and one of the signatures on my official ordination certificate is Tim Kirkes, the current pastor of San Dimas Wesleyan Church (now called Hilltop Church), who is serving as the Pacific Southwest District of The Wesleyan Church.

I’ve done a lot of wandering in life, lived in a lot of different places, been a part of a lot of different communities. It’s been decades of not really knowing what the next year or even the next month would have in store.

That makes this recent realization all the more powerful for me. A journey that has gone many different places yet ties together my earliest statement of faith with my current calling.

I don’t have any profound interpretation other than it made me feel rooted in a way I rarely do and gives me even more hope that the journey is not in vain.

I look forward to the continued chapters.

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Christian Theology in a Pluralistic World

Christian Theology in a Pluralistic WorldVery excited Christian Theology in a Pluralistic World is finally out. I highly, highly recommend this as one of the best single volume texts on Christian theology for our era, engaging what it means to think theologically in light of contemporary trends, concerns, insights, and challenges.
Fully committed to historic Christian teachings while exploring how to think about these in light of a broad spectrum of traditions, global perspectives, other religions, and science.
We’ve been using a pre-publication version in my theology classes this past year and students have repeatedly given great feedback about it.
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Participation is an Invitation not an Obligation

Part of our whirlwind tour the last couple of weeks was visiting the church I attended and worked at for a number of years. The pastor, Grant Myles-Era, offered a wonderful sermon on participation in church and community.
He’s Fuller Seminary grad, and it shows in his thoughtful engagement with Scripture, theology, church history, and practical life.
As someone who is extremely frustrated by how leadership can often diminish or negate the gifts and personhood of those in the church–often while using lofty sounding goals–this was an especially encouraging message.
I love both his content and his heart, and am thrilled to see a church I threw so much of my heart, soul, strength, and hope into back on a healthy path.
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Happy 4th!

Without moments to celebrate unity and camaraderie, it makes it all the harder, even impossible, to talk about disagreements and past hurts. Celebrating our community at times is part of taking the issues we have more seriously not less.Odens on the 4th of July bike parade

It builds trust, it offers thanksgiving (a Biblical mandate), and it gets us out and about among the wonderfully diverse others who are celebrating.

That’s why I love how Christianity has long been in the business of redeeming not dismissing holidays of all sorts. Celebrate! Pray! Be the community you dream we can be!

The impulse to freedom is something to celebrate. The statements of human rights, the drive to give people a voice and a chance is a goal worth pressing on. We’re not celebrating a fixed land, a set of rulers or other outside force.

We’re celebrating an ideal and we’re celebrating each other, our friends, our neighbors, our families. We are the people, and it’s we who press on in shaping who we are to be today and who we are leading our children to be in the future.

I’m thankful for those who have given me and so many others, from so many different histories and places, a chance to work on this together.  I want to be someone who helps others find their freedoms, and their voices, and their callings. That’s why I celebrate today.

Happy 4th of July!

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the possible

Sometimes the challenge is to see that while a “yes” can make things a lot easier in the short term, a “no” can awaken more possibilities. Despair is seductive when feeling rejected, but stretching toward hope is like washing off the mud and looking to see there’s beauty on the horizon.

In his book on the Holy Spirit, Moltmann writes, “Faith awakens trust in the still unrealized possibilities in human beings—in oneself and in other people. So faith means crossing the frontiers of the reality which is existent now, and has been determined by the past, and seeking the potentialities for life which have not yet come into being. ‘All things are possible to him who believes’; and this being so, believers become what Musil calls ‘possibility people’.”

I want to be a possibility person.

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Today my parents celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.

Through ups and downs they have shown me how love, commitment, hope can lead us into the presence of Christ.

Through struggles in seemingly every direction they have helped me to know Christ, see Christ, hear Christ, respond to Christ.

Though not ordained, they are the best ministers I know. They pray. They counsel. They spend their lives working with those who society (and the church) often ignores.

All without acclaim, following faithfully the calling to help others find their voice and find new hope.

They have shared their love of Scripture with us, how to wrestle in prayer. They have inspired me through their love of beauty, truth, and occasionally silliness.

They have spent their lives fighting strongholds and defending their family against injustice and frustrations, bearing the brunt of much I know and much I don’t know, giving me a model of how I want to contend for my family and future generations.

I wish I lived closer to them. I miss seeing them and celebrating with them and for them today.  I wish I had the resources to throw them a lavish party and tokens of thanks and value that marks how much I love, appreciate, respect them.

I don’t have those resources and life is filled with uncertainty.

What I do have is what I have received from them: a faith and a hope and a dogged persistence in seeking after the fullness of the Spirit’s work.

I have a commitment to family that has shaped a lot of my decisions, calling me away from frenzy and into trusting God’s provision.

I have a lot of thanks for them, a lot of love, an ever present hope to keep pressing on, because time and time again I have seen them overcome and seen how it blossoms.

Happy 50th Anniversary, Mom and Dad.

I love you and I so value who you are and who you help others to be.

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