June 15 BeHolden All Things New


Week of June 15 | Holden 2020 | Sustenance for our journey


I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
– Isaiah 43:19

Our Earth community faces enormous challenges. How do we meet the human-induced threats to the environment, to our very survival? They transcend politics and economics. Why are we here? Are we part of a greater whole? How do we find it within ourselves to love the other? These are questions about meaning and purpose, and about what matters. At their core, whether we recognize it or not, these are religious questions.

The world’s religions make wholes out of fragments, and all religions must grow and redefine themselves. Dialogue among religions – as well as dialogue with scientists, technologists, and economists – is essential to fostering a future of shared life.

Can we find a way in the wilderness by ourselves? No individual owns the answers. Each holds only a piece of the story. It would be wise to heed the bold and obvious invitations to listen, to engage, to be open, and to love each other. After all, this creative, wonderful mystery of love was revealed long ago in the fullness of the cosmic Christ.

In this issue of All Things New, you will find the prophetic sounds of composer, songwriter John Hermanson. Holden Village also offers you our first-ever webinar with Mandy Brobst-Renaud. Wherever you may be reading and listening to this, we hope that you find inspiration and sustenance for these days of uncertainty. May you be safe, may you be well, and may you be held in love.

With good courage,

Peg Carlson-Hoffman + Chuck Hoffman
Co-Executive Directors


There are many invitations afforded us in times such as these. Invitations to listen, to engage, to be open, to love and remind ourselves that we don’t own the answers. In the spirit of our Summer Conversation, All Things New, this summer will be a different kind of summer. Holden will continue to be a light — just in a new way. In this new world we’re all inhabiting, we're sharing insights from some of our originally scheduled summer faculty.


Featured Summer Faculty

JohnHermansonweb.jpgJohn Hermanson

Songwriter and Composer

John Hermanson is an American songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and record producer based in Minnesota. He grew up in Bozeman, Montana, and graduated from St. Olaf College in 1993 with a self-designed Interreligious Dialogue major. He is a member of the acoustic duo Storyhill and co-owner of Egg Music, a music house specializing in creating original music for film, television, advertising, and public art. Egg Music produces the acclaimed short film series “Motion Poems,” now in its eighth season. John has composed a large and growing catalog of liturgical and worship music. His latest album, “Isaiah,” draws from the books of Isaiah and Micah. In 2010 Hermanson composed a liturgy called, “Is This the Feast of Victory?” which is rooted in the traditional Lutheran liturgy, that has been used by a variety of worship communities around the country. John lives in St. Paul, Minnesota, with his wife, Bettine, and three children – Ella, August, and Isak. He spent several weeks as the village musician during the summers of 2017 and 2018. To learn more about John and his work go to johnhermanson.net

MandyBrobstRenaud-web.jpgMandy Brobst-Renaud

Teacher and Pastor

Amanda “Mandy” Brobst-Renaud is Assistant Professor of Theology at Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Indiana. She is an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and served as a parish pastor for five years in Malone, Texas.

Mandy’s teaching and scholarly work is in the New Testament, specifically, the Gospel of Luke. Her particular interest in rhetoric – how the biblical authors communicate – undergirds the question of why the authors chose to communicate the ways they did. Ultimately, it is her curiosity about the Bible and the ways in which it engages ancient and modern audiences alike that drives her research. The parables hold particular interest for Professor Brobst-Renaud, especially how these stories possess the capacity to engage and transform their audiences.

Music for Your Day


By John Hermanson

John’s album is based on the Book of Isaiah as it now appears in the Old Testament. “A lot of the songs are paraphrases of texts, but as much as possible I tried to stay true to the actual text.” John calls it a form of meditation and a chance to really get lost in lyrics. “I find myself reflecting on it during the day and becoming much more a part of me,” he said. “One of my favorites is the last song on the album, from Isaiah Chapter 11, which is just this beautiful poetry. It’s hard for me to recite it without singing it. It centers me a little more, it feels really good.” John’s hope is that his songs give a new way to reflect during this season. “I hope that the words provide the same kind of hope and comfort to other people that they provide to me.” LISTEN HERE

New_AudioArchive_LOGO.jpgHolden Fireside Concerts

I started writing this song after sitting through a couple weeks of mind-blowing sessions... and thinking about creation as an ongoing process. It's called, "Are the Morning Stars Still Singing?" LISTEN HERE

Summer Faculty Webinar Registration

Moral Formation and Re-Formation: Listening to Our Stories in New Ways

With AMANDA Brobst-Renaud

5:00 – 6:00 p.m. PDT  |  7:00 – 8:00 p.m. CDT  |  8:00 – 9:00 p.m. EDT

How do stories form us? What is the role of new and old stories in our lives? When you think of your story, who is the narrator?

In this session, participants will learn of behaviors expected in the ancient world and the ways Luke re-formed these expected behaviors for the purpose of creating more generous communities. We will engage Aristotelian notions of generosity and place them in conversation with the parable of the Prodigal Sons and Their Loving Father (Luke 15:11-32). We will assess the ways that Luke de-constructed and then re-formed expectations for behavior, advocating for reckless generosity in his audiences. Participants will have an opportunity to re-narrate this story in small groups and will gain tools for learning how we might de-construct and re-form our own stories in the light of God's reckless generosity.


Summer Faculty Book Recommendations

TheBookOfDelightsweb.jpgThe Book Of Delights

by Ross Gay

In The Book of Delights, one of today’s most original literary voices offers up a genre-defying volume of lyric essays written over one tumultuous year. The first nonfiction book from award-winning poet Ross Gay is a record of the small joys we often overlook in our busy lives. Among Gay’s funny, poetic, philosophical delights: a friend’s unabashed use of air quotes, cradling a tomato seedling aboard an airplane, the silent nod of acknowledgment between the only two black people in a room. But Gay never dismisses the complexities, even the terrors, of living in America as a black man or the ecological and psychic violence of our consumer culture or the loss of those he loves. More than any other subject, though, Gay celebrates the beauty of the natural world--his garden, the flowers peeking out of the sidewalk, the hypnotic movements of a praying mantis.

OnBeing.jpgOn Being: Ross Gay Tending Joy and Practicing Delight

In this unsettled moment, we’re returning to the shows we’re longing to hear again. Among them is this 2019 conversation with writer Ross Gay. The ephemeral nature of our being allows him to find delight in all sorts of places (especially his community garden). To be with Gay is to train your gaze to see the wonderful alongside the terrible; to attend to and meditate on what you love, even in the midst of difficult realities and as part of working for justice. LISTEN NOW



Prayer of Jesus

Ground of all being, Mother of life,
Father of the universe
May we know your presence here,
seeking your will upon earth.
Grant all your creatures food for today
and strength for our families.
Pardon our falseness as we forgive
those who are untrue to us.
Do not forsake us in our need
but lead us to new birth.
For the glory of life and the light of life
are yours forever. + Amen

– John Philip Newell

A Way in the Wilderness
Photo by Chuck Hoffman

This series, All Things New, will explore in part the conversation originally scheduled for summer. In this new world we all inhabit, may you find sustenance for your journey.