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Conversations with Poppi about God: An Eight-Year-Old and Her Theologian Grandfather Trade Questions [Paperback]

By Robert W. Jenson (Author) & Solveig Lucia Gold (Author)
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Item Number 63664  
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Item description for Conversations with Poppi about God: An Eight-Year-Old and Her Theologian Grandfather Trade Questions by Robert W. Jenson & Solveig Lucia Gold...

What happens when one of the world's most respected theologians talks theology with his eight-year-old granddaughter? In Conversations with Poppi about God, you are invited to listen in.

The conversations begin one night when Robert Jenson and his granddaughter, Solveig Lucia Gold, sit talking in front of the fireplace long past Solveig's bedtime. In their unscripted, spontaneous talks, Solveig questions Poppi about creation, the Trinity, church seasons, liturgy, and other mysteries of faith and life. Eventually, they cover everything from the profound to the ordinary. She asks:

-What does God look like?

-How can God pick who goes to heaven and hell?

-What is the Holy Spirit?

-How did Santa become part of Christmas?

-Well . . . what about how everybody sips from the same glass during Communion even though many people have germs and things?

The result is a charming and enlightening book that reminds us all we have a lot to learn from theologians and from children. Conversations with Poppi will appeal to parents, grandparents, pastors, teachers, and anyone looking for a refreshing perspective on the mysteries of Christianity.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Brazos Press
Pages   160
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 6.8" Width: 4.5" Height: 0.6"
Weight:   0.35 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Apr 30, 2007
Publisher   Baker Publishing Group
ISBN  1587432161  
ISBN13  9781587432163  

Availability  0 units.

More About Robert W. Jenson & Solveig Lucia Gold

Robert W. Jenson Robert W. Jenson is an American Lutheran systematic theologian and Professor Emeritus of Religion at St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN. Currently he is a professor of religion at the Center for Theological Inquiry at Princeton Theological Seminary.

Jenson attended Luther College and Luther Seminary. Between his years as a college student and a seminarian, he studied philosophy in Paris as a Fulbright scholar. At Luther Seminary Jenson was assistant to the famous Orthodox Lutheran theologian, Herman Preus. Preus infused with Jenson a strong belief in Orthodox Lutheran understanding of predestination. Against the majority of the staff at Luther Seminary at that time, who believed that God merely foreknew who would have faith and who not, Preus held that God had decreed the salvation of a definite number of the elect, without a decree of reprobation.

Later Jenson went to Heidelberg where he became familiar with the theology of Karl Barth, and, under the supervision of Peter Brunner, he wrote his doctoral dissertation on Barth's doctrine of election. Jenson then began teaching at Luther College, where he continued to study Barth and also became increasingly interested in the philosophy of Hegel. The staff of the Religion Department at Luther College grew impatient with his teaching and charged him with teaching heresy. They threatened to resign if Jenson was not fired, but the college's president supported Jenson, and several professors subsequently left the college.

Throughout this period he became increasingly interested in ecumenical theology, and in the 1980s and 1990s his theology moved in a progressively Catholic and ecumenical direction. With Braaten he founded the Center for Catholic and Evangelical Theology. The Centre publishes the journal Pro Ecclesia, and it has produced several books on ecumenical theology.

Robert W. Jenson currently resides in Princeton, in the state of New Jersey. Robert W. Jenson has an academic affiliation as follows - Princeton University.

Robert W. Jenson has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching & Preaching
  2. Interpretation: Resources for the Use of Scripture in the Church
  3. Radical Traditions (Paperback)
  4. Systematic Theology
  5. Systematic Theology (Oxford Hardcover)

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Reviews - What do customers think about Conversations with Poppi about God: An Eight-Year-Old and Her Theologian Grandfather Trade Questions?

But there is something here for all Christians --- or skeptics --- from adolescents to grandparents, who read for insight  Jun 6, 2007
What a good premise for a book: an eight-year-old precocious child carrying on a theological conversation with her 73-year-old grandfather --- not just any grandfather but a noted "Reverend Canon Professor..." who has edited a volume on Christian dogmatics. In an introduction, Solveig Lucia Gold explains her book's origin: "It all began on a dark, chilly night, sitting by the fireplace long after my bedtime at [my grandparents'] home in Princeton, New Jersey. I had a theological question to ask my grandfather (Poppi)... Poppi gave a lengthy reply that led me to ask him more theological questions." The next morning her grandmother suggested that further conversations be taped and transcribed "to turn them into a book."

In a second introduction, Dr. Jenson explains that the conversations were "wholly unscripted" and edited ever-so-slightly. Topical subheads have been added (something less than chapter demarcations) to introduce conversational shifts. Occasionally the narration is so conversational that I had to read a sentence twice. But a heavier edit probably would have interfered with the spontaneous and playful tone of the mischievous child, who sometimes teases her grandfather and even brings up Dante and his view of purgatory (which Solveig's father has explained to her).

After starting at the obvious place, a discussion of "the beginning" --- the Genesis creation story, the introduction of sin, the fall of Lucifer --- much of the book follows the whim of a child's curiosity. Christmas is approaching, and Santa Claus --- or the bishop St. Nicholas --- wanders in and out of the conversation, as does the mysterious role and work of the Holy Spirit, as does the first line of a Lenten hymn, about Jesus's temptation in the wilderness: "Forty days and forty nights..."

And yet young Solveig isn't just running at the mouth. Here's her summary of the metaphysical discussion that starts with the question, "Could God make two and two equal five?": "Two plus two is four because God knows it, and he knows it because it is true... If God knows it is true because it is true, he knows that it is true because it is true. But he also knows that it is true because he knows it."

Ultimately Solveig isn't in control of the conversation. Grandfather sometimes cuts in with an authoritative statement, based on the scriptural account or theological tradition. When Solveig proposes that "Jesus has his own thoughts, and God has his own thoughts. They don't think alike --- they do think alike. But Jesus could be watching over one continent, and God could be watching over..." Poppi cuts in with "No, no, no!"

Eventually the book is less randomly structured than at the beginning. The conversation turns to the phrases of the Lord's Prayer and then the Nicene Creed, which Grandpa Jenson (a Lutheran) and Solveig (an Episcopalian) repeat as part of every Sunday service.

A few conversational points --- about seasons of the church calendar, for example, or the wording of the creed --- will be best understood by readers who attend liturgical churches. But there is something here for all Christians --- or skeptics --- from adolescents to grandparents, who read for insight as well as whimsy.

--- Reviewed by Evelyn Bence
What A Great Book!  Dec 9, 2006
I have read both volumes of Robert Jenson's "Systematic Theology" and many of his articles, and I can safely say that Jenson is quite difficult. In fact, I had to read, re-read, and then read again several chapters of Jenson's "Systematic Theology" in order to get a solid grasp of what he was communicating. However, this work brings Jenson down to the lay level and covers issues that are basic yet imperative that all Christians understand.

This book is great, not only because it is Jenson, but also because Solveig (Jenson's granddaughter) asks all the right questions. Moreover, Solveig is a brilliant child in that the questions she asks go right to the heart of the matter. The work is quite basic, but very important in terms of its content. The book covers issues such as Evil, God's Motives, Providence, The Messiah, Communion Practices, the Resurrection, The Lord's Prayer, Lent, the Christian Calendar, Advent, Santa Claus, The Nicene Creed, Prayer, and much, much more.

It took all of 30 to 40 minutes to read the whole text. It is engaging, fun, serious, and just plain educational on many levels. This was a brilliant idea. Moreover, we get a glimpse into the mind of one of the greatest theologians of the 20th century and how he would answer questions that at one time or another, we as Christians have asked. I highly recommend this book!
Christian Friendship and care of souls  Oct 23, 2006
Robert Jenson is one of the most important Theologians living in the United States. Unfortunately most of his writing is dense and difficult to understand for us mere mortals.

Back when I was in Seminary, I hated it when we were assigned anything by him because of this. However, I have started to enjoy reading short articles by him, even if his books usually make me give up in frustation. I learn a lot when I read his work and even find myself agreeing with him more often than not once I digest it.

So, when I saw this book advertized, I expected that it would either be very good if there was genuine communication or very bad if he talked over her (and our) head. It is with great joy that I report it is the former.

While I bought the book for "Jenson light", I found that while that is certainly there, something arguably more important is there as well. It is a model of Chirstian Friendship between the two authors. The Rev. Dr. Robert Jenson is obviously the senior partner here, but the two authors treat each other with respect, love, and humor as they deal with some very difficult issues. In short, Dr. Jenson treats his granddaughter as a fellow Christian, and not just as a sponge to absorb his considerable knowledge.

I pray that more of this goes on in the church and hope that this book helps serve as a model.
Delightful Conversations  Sep 10, 2006
One of America's foremost theologians, Robert Jenson is a wonderful writer whose work is always worth reading. This book, consisting of transcribed conversations with his granddaughter, is an absolute delight. It is warm and humorous, but also profound. It is sweet, but never condescending. Solveig holds her own in the conversations with her grandfather, and he both respects and encourages her thinking. Conversations with Poppi about God is careful theology at its most accessible level, with lots of affection and a twinkle in the eye.

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