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From Latvia, with parables

Rubenis uses parables to point the way

Juris Rubenis made his first trip to the U.S. this spring to talk about parables—Jesus’ and his own. His are compiled in a small book called Finding God in a Tangled World: Thoughts & Parables (Paraclete Press). It’s the first in English for the pastor of the 4,400-member Martin Luther Church in Riga, capital of Latvia, a country of 1.5 million with 250,000 Lutherans. (Translator is Paul Valliere, a longtime friend and professor at Butler University, Indianapolis.)


Juris Rubenis
But it’s not his first book: Rubenis, 48, has written 20 in the last 18 years. Many have topped 100,000 in sales in Latvia, besting both Stephen King and John Grisham titles. All are issued by a secular publisher, which, the pastor-author believes, gives him the chance to reach more people. The legacy of Latvia’s Soviet domination during four decades following World War II is a generation raised without exposure to Christianity. He is one of them, though his parents also were openly anti-regime.

Rubenis was a well-known—and popular—political activist before he started to write. In 1988 he was a founder of the Latvian Popular Front, which worked to gain the country’s independence. Two years earlier he helped launch Rebirth and Renewal, an association of Lutheran pastors calling for religious freedom in the Soviet Union.


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