St. Olaf College | News

Barbour publishes novel about new religious movements

St. Olaf College Professor of Religion John Barbour has published Renunciation: A Novel.

The book tells the story of two brothers involved with new religious movements in the 1970s, showing how their family relationships and religious commitments conflict, intertwine, and shape each other.

The developing relationship between the two brothers dramatizes the theme of renunciation, as expressed both in explicit religious vows and in other choices they make. Acts of renunciation reveal a longing for sacrifice and self-transcendence, and sometimes also a dangerous and destructive urge.

The novel has a number of connections with St. Olaf, including scenes in Northfield and in locations visited by the college’s Global and Term in Asia programs in India and Thailand. The cover photo is by Jenn Olson Cheesebrow ’05.

Barbour is the O.C. and Patricia Boldt Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Humanities at St. Olaf. He is the author of numerous scholarly essays and four books, including Versions of Deconversion: Autobiography and the Loss of Faith and The Value of Solitude: The Ethics and Spirituality of Aloneness in Autobiography.

Renunciation: A Novel is published by Resource Publications, an imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers.