Sawdust and Soul

Sawdust and Soul

by William J. Everett, John W. de Gruchy


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An American ethicist and a South African theologian reflect on their work with wood and how it has helped them find creativity and meaning in experiences of both loss and transformation. Through their friendship, correspondence, and work together they have developed a rich narrative about the way this craftwork has shaped their relationships with family, friends, and their natural environment. Their conversation invites both craftspeople and religious seekers to join them on a spiritual journey toward fresh insight and inspiration.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781625644633
Publisher: Wipf & Stock Publishers
Publication date: 12/16/2014
Pages: 106
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.25(d)

About the Author

William J. Everett taught Christian ethics in graduate schools for over thirty years before turning to woodworking. In addition to his academic books and articles, he is the author of Red Clay, Blood River, an eco-historical novel, as well as Turnings, a collection of his poetry. He lives in the hardwood forest of western North Carolina with his wife, Sylvia, a liturgical artist in many media.

One of South Africa's most celebrated theologians, John W. de Gruchy is also a woodworker, with pieces in many churches, schools, and homes throughout the country and abroad. Among his recent books are Confessions of a Christian Humanist and Led into Mystery. He and his wife, Isobel, are members of the Volmoed Christian Community near Hermanus, South Africa, where he writes, gives seminars, and does woodworking, while Isobel paints and writes poetry.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

About This Book xi

Living with Wood 1

Johns Story

Bill's Story

The Enchantment of Trees

Wounded Whole

About the Sawdust

Working with Wood 21


The Workbench

The Toolbox

The Work of Mediation

Building with Wood 31

Bills Round Table

Finding the Grain

Knowing the Wood

Johns Octagonal Table

Remembering with Wood 53

Material Meditation

In Celebration of Olive Wood


Meanings In Wood 63

Fonts, Lecterns, and a Crosier

From Crutch lo Cross

The Healing Serpent

Safety First!

Connecting with Wood 73

A Short Glossary 81

Bibliography 85

About the Authors 89

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"The title and subtitle are exactly right. This is 'A Conversation about Woodworking and Spirituality' in which 'sawdust flies in all directions, but the soul also takes wings.' So, reader, prepare to pause often to reflect on your own life journey as you listen to Everett's and de Gruchy's. This is wisdom beautifully communicated. The added poetry, illustrations, and photos only enhance it."

—Larry Rasmussen, Reinhold Niebuhr Professor Emeritus of Social Ethics, Union Theological Seminary, New York City, NY

"This absorbing and often moving conversation about friendship, faith, and the woodworker's craft invites us to explore the inner journeys that accompany the working and shaping of wood. The obvious joy of the authors in their soul-deepening craft will strike an immediate chord with fellow woodworkers—and invite some who have not yet felt the warm texture of newly planed wood grain under their fingers to go out and buy their first tools."

—Peter Storey, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of the Practice of Christian Ministry, Duke Divinity School, Durham, NC

"In Sawdust and Soul, I felt like I was standing across a workbench from two friends reminiscing, philosophizing, and reflecting about woodworking—the influence it has on their lives and their relationship. The journey I experienced with Bill and John resonates with my own."

—Gregory Paolini, Director of Operations, Gregory Paolini Design LLC, World Class Woodworking, Canton, NC

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