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Dragons Take Flight at An Unexpected Journal

An Unexpected Journal Celebrates the Release of Summer Issue on Dragons with a Livestream Launch Party June 25th

From the earliest days, dragons have captured the imagination. They feature as the ultimate enemy in children’s stories and “taming your dragon” is seen as the ultimate feat. An Unexpected Journal is celebrating the launch of the with a livestream launch party on Saturday, June 25th, from 2 pm to 6 pm CDT.

In its fifth year, An Unexpected Journal is quarterly publication dedicated to cultural apologetics. Each issue explores themes of redemption, good and evil, and life’s purpose through a Christian lens. ”AUJ is different than most apologetic journals that you will find,” explains managing editor Dr. Zak Schmoll, “Most apologetic books focus solely on reason and arguments, our work also engages the imagination.” 

While contributors to the journal are spread not only across the U.S., but across the world, the publication has roots in Houston springing from the masters program in cultural apologeticsat Houston Baptist University.  Schmoll, a Vermont native, in the second cohort to graduate from the program and the first to do so as an entirely online student. Schmoll's first visit to the state of Texas and first taste of Texas BBQ was for his graduation from the masters program. Schmoll continued on and earned a PhD in Humanities from Faulkner University and is now an adjunct professor in the program where he was one of the first students. 

Beyond the unique approach to apologetics, focusing on what noted 20th century apologist C.S. Lewis referred to as "mere Christian," another distinctive of the HBU program is the tight community and network of relationships among the students that continue after graduation. After graduating in 2016, it was in one of these community conversations that the idea for An Unexpected Journal was born. "It started as a Facebook post," Schmoll said with a smile,"There aren't a lot of outlets to publish the type of work that we did in the program. Someone said, 'We should start one." So they did. That conversation took place in November 2017. The first issue launched in April 2018, and one year later the Texas registered nonprofit received its 501(c)3 tax exemption.  

Since its launch in 2018, over one hundred writers have contributed to An Unexpected Journal, growing beyond its HBU base and the work, which is provided under open access on the journal website, has been read online in 184 countries. While writers for the publication have grown beyond the original founding group from HBU, Texas representation is strong in the issue with contributions from C.M. Alvarez of Kingwood, Jacqueline Wilson of Houston,, Donald Catchings of Conroe, Adam Brackin of McKinney, Alex Markos of San Antonio, and Melissa Cain Travis of The Woodlands.

The issue on dragons is the 18th issue and is a perfect display of the cultural apologetic approoach with a blend of reason and imagination. The imaginative focus in the summer issue  is evident with creative works by published Christian fantasy writers such as Carey Green (The Dragonslayer Chronicles), Azalea Dabill (The Falcon Chronicles and Fantastic Journey), and Donald W. Catchings, Jr. (The Time Sacrifice series). The issue also includes an excerpt from the upcoming release, The Chaos Spiral, by Adam Brackin, as well as creative pieces by George Scondras, Jacqueline Wilson, and Alex Markos.

Imagination is combined with reason in essays exploring the portrayal of dragons in literature, myth, and history. Archaeologist Ted Wright bridges the gap between fiction and history with a historical survey of accounts of dragons beginning in the Ancient Near East to today, while C.M. Alvarez shares the key a dragon holds to understanding the book of Job. Elizabeth Martin, Junius Johnson, Clark Weidner, and Melissa Cain Travis reflect on different aspects of C.S. Lewis’ well-loved work, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and the hope it gives for the redemption of humanity. Christine Norvell and Tracey Leary plumb the depths of the human heart illustrated in a children’s book and an alternate history fantasy, respectively. Pastor Jesse Baker wraps up the issue by highlighting the Biblical portrayal of dragons from Genesis to Revelation and the surprising hope it brings.

Readers can hear the thoughts behind the works by joining the livestream event on the Facebook page or YouTube channel for An Unexpected Journal. The livestream will begin at 2:00 pm CDT and the four-hour event will include six 30-minute sessions with contributors as panelists. Live giveaways will be held throughout the event. For more details and a full schedule, visit https://anunexpectedjournal.com/events

About An Unexpected Journal

An Unexpected Journal is a quarterly publication dedicated to Christian cultural apologetics. To learn more about the journal, visit https://anunexpectedjournal.com. To buy a copy of the journal, visit the journal website or your local Christian bookstore.

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