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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read for Cockburn fans, old and new
Confession time: Before reading this book, I was vaguely familiar with Bruce Cockburn, and may have only heard his music a handful of times. Not by intent, but somehow missing the connection between my listening ear, and the radio stations play lists.

Think of your favourite (favorite for my American brethren) musical artists. Now think of the first time you...
Published on December 26, 2011 by Michael Levitt

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars For the Cockburn fan looking or hoping to explore his songs in depth...keep on looking.
Have you ever had the experience where you were sitting in a stuffy college class with late springtime bursting with beauty and surprises and melodious sounds just outside the shut-up window where you could catch glimpses but could not hear it, smell it, taste it, or touch it? All the while you were sitting inside that stuffy classroom on a hard seat listening to your...
Published 17 months ago by THowerton


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars For the Cockburn fan looking or hoping to explore his songs in depth...keep on looking., September 11, 2013
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This review is from: Kicking at the Darkness: Bruce Cockburn and the Christian Imagination (Paperback)
Have you ever had the experience where you were sitting in a stuffy college class with late springtime bursting with beauty and surprises and melodious sounds just outside the shut-up window where you could catch glimpses but could not hear it, smell it, taste it, or touch it? All the while you were sitting inside that stuffy classroom on a hard seat listening to your professor drone on and on while a light on the rising ceiling sputtered and buzzed as it decided whether or not to give up the ghost and your classmates were scattered around the room shifting sleepily in their seats as they lazily tooled with their phones and the second hand on the clock seemed to have a hard time pressing forward? Well, if you have, then you have a sense of what I experienced as I trudged through the first two chapters of Brian J. Walsh's book "Kicking at the Darkness", a book that I was so looking forward to reading and then almost put down before finishing the second chapter. What kept me going you might ask? Only snippets of Cockburn's wondrous lyrics occasionally reproduced that were able to sing in my memory and make me long to open that classroom window.

Walsh, to be sure, is a man who is passionate about the topics that he presents in this book (Cockburn, a particular epistemological perspective of Christianity, and how art as expressed through an "unrestricted imagination" can act as a sometimes prophetic glimpse into something greater and more true). While he uses Cockburn's art and lyrics as a springboard his primary concern is that of expressing and exploring a particular Christian worldview that he has found embedded in Cockburn's work. Walsh (painfully at times, as if you are in a lecture hall listening to a professor describe his research model) takes pains to carefully explain in the first two chapters what he is setting out to do in his book and that he is not necessarily representing Cockburn's beliefs as they actually are but as he believes they may be. In the rest of the book he explores some ultimate questions (where are we? why are we here? who are we? et cetera) and passes through not a few of Cockburn's songs to draw out a specifically Christian worldview that takes the suffering of humans and nature alike as that which will be redeemed by a Creator God. Walsh approaches his subjects in repetitive and reflective fashion and while you may read some of Cockburn's poetry that is produced here to expound upon Walsh's thesis and be reminded of how fantastic a poet and wordsmith that Cockburn is you will also find that trudging your way through Walsh's explanatory narrative is difficult and dry.

Walsh himself expresses how the art and imagination of Cockburn and the literary expressiveness of certain biblical passages have encouraged him to dive into poetry (he often blends the two: Cockburn and biblical passages) but the result, I'm afraid, is rather painful. At least it is as presented within the context of this work which is scholarly in tone and teeth. The regurgitation, repetition, and frequent recall that Walsh employs just makes for a heavy hand when exploring something like Cockburn's poetry, even within the context of presenting a worldview. I was a bit disappointed with the read but for Walsh does use the byline of the book to notify us ("Bruce Cockburn and the Christian Imagination") so I guess we were somewhat warned.

There were two things that helped me make it through this book and ultimately made it worthwhile of my time and attention: 1) the frequent references to Cockburn's lyrics helped them sing pleasant melodies in my mind, punctuating it like a respite of finding a cool pool with some lazy fish flitting about in the midst of a dry desert and (2) a reminder that we all need to possess a vision of what can be and not settle for what is. I was reminded of this very important point and it left me wondering when and where I had forgotten it.

2.5 stars.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read for Cockburn fans, old and new, December 26, 2011
By 
Michael Levitt (Toronto, ON Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Kicking at the Darkness: Bruce Cockburn and the Christian Imagination (Paperback)
Confession time: Before reading this book, I was vaguely familiar with Bruce Cockburn, and may have only heard his music a handful of times. Not by intent, but somehow missing the connection between my listening ear, and the radio stations play lists.

Think of your favourite (favorite for my American brethren) musical artists. Now think of the first time you ever listened to your favourite artist. For many of us, that first moment was a virtual explosion of emotion and nerve-tingling excitement.

Brian Walsh's chronicles of Cockburn's musical journey provides a window into those nerve-tingling experiences. Dr. Walsh describes Cockburn as a modern-day theologian (we need more of them!), and Bruce's lyrics provide the bridge between us, and God.

Dr. Walsh didn't write this book over a summer holiday. It took him years to compile, journal, reflect, and gather insights into what Cockburn was attempting to show us, through his artistic gifts.

If you're a long-time Cockburn fan, this is a book that will help you dig deeper into the true meaning of Cockburn's music. If you haven't (yet) experienced Bruce Cockburn and his four decades of musical blessings, this book should wet your appetite.

Blessings!
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19 of 29 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Sad, Confused, Vague, and above all.....lacking a Thelology of any kind..., January 1, 2012
By 
J.P. Randall (Waterford, Wisconsin United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Kicking at the Darkness: Bruce Cockburn and the Christian Imagination (Paperback)
I've loved the music of Bruce Cockburn for nearly 35 years now. I've always enjoyed Bruces music, his arrangements, magnificent playing and his voice. This book by Brian Walsh, however, seems more to be an attempt at idol worship and approaching the object of his passion with answers, no, not answers, insights, but suggested insights, but maybe not the insights of the writer, blah, blah, blah......Buy Bruces CDs, enjoy them, keep them and if you want a sound theology....spend your time elsewhere, and you'll begin to understand where "we are"......Bob Dylan said more in his quote..."You don't need a weatherman to see which way the wind blows" , than this author did in this absolutely dry , vague and boring volume. Bruce Cockburn is a gift to us, but the comparisons to prophets, especially Biblical ones, is way ridiculous....Everyone can "claim" a theology, most are simply opinions...like this review. Unless grounded in something substantial, they don't weigh much. JPR
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5.0 out of 5 stars a positive kick for "kicking at the darkness", February 1, 2013
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This review is from: Kicking at the Darkness: Bruce Cockburn and the Christian Imagination (Paperback)
I loved this book about Bruce's work, although the jump to the premise that Bruce's work somehow rekindles the "Christian imagination" was at times a bit much. I do appreciate that the author did mention several times that Bruce no longer declares himself to be only a Christian. digging into the songs and the mysteries of Bruce's work was fascinating. I recommend this book for any Bruce Cockburn fan, but also advise reading Jim Heald's "World of Wonders" which takes a more open view of interpreting BC's spirituality expressed in his songs.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Window into Bruce Cockburn's Worldview, December 27, 2011
This review is from: Kicking at the Darkness: Bruce Cockburn and the Christian Imagination (Paperback)
A friend of mine once said that there is no such thing as 'Christian music' or 'non-Christian music.' Instead, there is only 'good' or 'bad' music. After reading this book, I believe that my friend's preference for the good/bad music paradigm does not go far enough. Good music has to be creative, authentic, and reflective of life. This book is a fascinating commentary cum theological engagement with one of Canada's most celebrated musician and Christian thinker, Bruce Cockburn.

Brian Walsh has offered the literary world an profound work that engages our modern world with biblical insights, through the works of Bruce Cockburn. The title of the book is extracted from the lyrics of one of Cockburn's most popular songs, called 'Lovers in a Dangerous Time.' Walsh uses four main questions to helm his reflective interactions (21).

"Where are we? What is the nature of the world in which we find ourselves?"
"Who are we? What does it mean to be human?"
"What's Wrong? What is the source of brokenness, violence, hatred, and evil in life?"
"What's the remedy? How do we find a path through this brokenness to healing? What is the resolution to the evil in which we find ourselves?"

Walsh is generous with his praises. He calls Cockburn a modern 'psalmist,' 'prophet,' as well as a man with a 'certain storied perspective.' His music and lyrics stem from his strong Christian worldview, one that is able to grapple with the issues of the world with a theological imagination that does not diminish or dismiss the world with escapist music. Instead, Cockburn engages the culture, politics, postmodern paradigms, pluralism, and religion, with his brand of literary and musical prowess.

As I read through the book, at some point, I find Walsh's sustained reflection on Cockburn and Bruce Cockburn's lyrics are dancing to the same tune. Whether that is true or not, only Cockburn can tell. I like the way Walsh summarizes the nature of art.

"Art cannot save us, but it can shed a light. It can open our eyes." (190)

This is certainly true of this book. In a world of human drivenness, achievement-oriented technological world, and management strategies on how to get things done according to human ways, this book is an opportunity for humans to move from consumerism to appreciation of the world. This book is not an easy read. Those who dare to swim through it will reap rich dividends. I think I am going to really love Bruce Cockburn's music.

Rating: 4 stars of 5.

conrade

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Brazos Press, a division of Baker Publishing Group".
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5.0 out of 5 stars Yes., December 16, 2013
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What a great addition to the growing library of music and spirituality. "Christian imagination" is under-explored and under-appreciated. This volume is an excellent homage to a musical hero from a diehard fan. It is also a wondrous volume of theology.

Thank you for it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, August 27, 2014
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This review is from: Kicking at the Darkness: Bruce Cockburn and the Christian Imagination (Paperback)
Brian Walsh has great insights on Bruce Cockburn
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Familiarity breeds pleasure, July 18, 2012
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This review is from: Kicking at the Darkness: Bruce Cockburn and the Christian Imagination (Paperback)
If you are familiar with Bruce Cockburn , and Religion , this can be a very strong read! It's been very benificial in my "re-learning" experience ! Not a "best seller easy reed" either-but a good learning experience on several levels.
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5 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good writing but vague, January 3, 2012
By 
Joel Holtz (Vadnais Heights, MN) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Kicking at the Darkness: Bruce Cockburn and the Christian Imagination (Paperback)
Walsh does a credible job of cataloging Cockburn's music through the decades, but overall it's basically a music review of the singer's albums.

I'd agree with the one reviewer that it's a bit of a stretch to call Cockburn a modern day prophet..at one point, in fact, the author quoutes Cockburn from one of his albums where he says "..flying f--". And then, "what kind of language is that for an artist whos supposedly is a Christian? It's precisely the kind of language that we would expect from a prophetic voice." (pg.149)

HUH?? In a bit of irony, one of the best chapters in the book, chapter 5 called AT HOME IN THE DARKNESS also contains a profane word.. 3 times in fact on the last two pages of the chapter.

A bit disappointing, but am sure Cockburn fans will enjoy.
No real solid theology presented.
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3 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK, December 7, 2011
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This review is from: Kicking at the Darkness: Bruce Cockburn and the Christian Imagination (Paperback)
This is OK, but not as good as I anticipated. The book spends a lot of time worshiping Bruce's lyrics as if he is some kind of prophet, over adulation I think. Bruce is a briliant musician and nothing can take that away. I read about 100 pages of the book, and maybe if I put it down and then pick it up in a few months I'll be able to attack the work with a more fresh perspective.
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Kicking at the Darkness: Bruce Cockburn and the Christian Imagination
Kicking at the Darkness: Bruce Cockburn and the Christian Imagination by Brian J. Walsh (Paperback - December 1, 2011)
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