Saturday, 19 March 2016

Calvinism and The Future: Two Forthcoming Very Short Introductions

As some of my readers will know, I’m a fan of Oxford University Press’s Very Short Introductions. I find them useful for acquainting myself with core themes of disciplines and subjects I don’t usually engage, and I’ve also put some of them on the reading list for the module I co-teach for the Diocese of Rochester, as I believe they’re also useful for undergraduate-level students. Anyway, here are two forthcoming contributions to the series that look interesting, at least to me:

Jon Balserak (forthcoming December 2016 – just in time for Christmas!)

In this Very Short Introduction, Jon Balserak explores major ideas associated with the Calvinist system of thought. Beginning during the Protestant Reformation in cities like Zurich, Geneva, and Basel, Calvinism (also known as Reformed Theology) spread rapidly throughout Europe and the New World, eventually making its way to the African Continent and the East. Balserak examines how Calvinist thought and practice spread and took root, helping shape church and society. Much of contemporary thought, especially western thought, on everything from theology to civil government, economics, the arts, work and leisure, education, and the family has been influenced by Calvinism. Balserak explores this influence. He also examines common misconceptions and objections to Calvinism, and sets forth a Calvinist understanding of God, the world, humankind, and the meaning of life.

Jennifer Gidley (forthcoming November 2016)

From the beginning of time, humans have been driven by both a fear of the unknown and a curiosity to know. We have always yearned to know what lies ahead, whether threat or safety, scarcity or abundance. Throughout human history, our forebears tried to create certainty in the unknown, by seeking to influence outcomes with sacrifices to gods, preparing for the unexpected with advice from oracles, and by reading the stars through astrology. As scientific methods improve and computer technology develops we become ever more confident of our capacity to predict and quantify the future by accumulating and interpreting patterns form the past, yet the truth is there is still no certainty to be had.

In this Very Short Introduction Jennifer Gidley considers some of our most burning questions: What is “the future”? Is the future a time yet to come? Or is it a utopian place? Does the future have a history? Is there only one future or are there many possible futures? She asks if the future can ever be truly predicted or if we create our own futures - both hoped for and feared - by our thoughts, feelings, and actions, and concludes by analysing how we can learn to study the future.

They’re on my Amazon wishlist – are they on yours?


  1. Please find five references which give a very sobering DIVINE Assessment of the DARK future of the humanly created world-MUMMERY if the current trends/patterns/momentum continue to their inevitable conclusion.
    The first three are on the universal SCAPEGOAT "game" at the root of western culture in both its secular and "religious" forms. SECTION THREE

    Not Two Is Peace & the Signs of the Times

    1. I look forward to reading Adidam: A Very Short Introduction when it's published.