Monday, December 05, 2005

Current Books

Well, I usually like to write a little review of the books that I have read. But I've neglected this duty and have read several books while not reviewing them...so that's what I'll do right here.

Generous Orthodoxy by Brian MClaren
A journey through his brain, going through his thoughts on different aspects of his Christian faith. He goes thru different traditions and brands of Christendom (Calvinism, Methodism, Catholicism...etc.), pulling out the strengths of them while warily pointing out their weaknesses. My favorite chapters were on being Biblical, Missional, Incarnational and Emergent. Each chapter presented a new angle on each topic that I hadn't totally considered.

A Long Way Down by Nich Hornby
A tale of four people who meet on top of a building where they had each planned on killing themselves. Hornby does an excellent job of showing the despair of each of the characters and also the hilarity of each of their situations. There were several points where I laughed out loud. Major tone of the book was how much humans need each other.

The Travelers Gift by Andy Andrews
An interesting journey through history, gleaning quality wisdom from different characters. The ending was close to, if not the worst ending I have ever experienced. This guys learns all these tidbits of wisdom and then launches into the future where he sees how wildly successful his life will be if he follows them. I liked that it was a modern parable, using a story to teach timeless truths, but the whole book lost any merit to me, because the end fed into a consumeristic success story where success is defined by power and money attained.

Absolute Truths by Susan Howatch
This is the final of Howatch's Starbridge series, which follows characters through the life of the church. This final book portrays Charles Ashworth dealing with his attachment to the Absolute Truths, and finding that the only thing that will always be with him is the only absolute, God. He had trusted in his previous understanding of God and country, when in reality those things had served as a pacifier for his deep desire for control. Honest and poignant.

Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell
Interesting. Mostly stuff from his sermons. But I liked it again. He writes like he speaks. What I took away from it was his take on Jesus coming to offer the best way of life, not a new religion.

I recommend all of these save Travelers Gift.

3 comments:

Kipper said...

Hope you don't mind me posting a long note here, but I couldn't find your email to send a private note.

So they think your theology isn't historically grounded, eh? Even McLaren's theology is grounded historically, perhaps more so than most theologies floating around out there at the moment. I find it rather interesting that most people define "historical" as "that which they/we have done for the span of our own memories". My former loathsome congregation wanted to do the "old hymns of the church". But the instant we pulled out Martin Luther's "A Mighty Fortress" ca. 1530, they whined and bitched to me, "No, no, the old hymns!"

It's rather ironic that some of our leaders - and though I haven't read Sweet, I still use that term somewhat sarcastically here - fall into the same traps. Here they are to determine the call of God on your life and all they can manage to determine is that your theology does not conform to their own. Well, take heart my friend - I still think of you as such - Wesley was criticized, Luther before him. Even one of my seminary professors, revolutionary for his time, and key in shaping the basics of my personal theology, was outcast for a time. But he held out and managed, I'm sure he'd cringe at this point, to produce absolute failures such as myself. See what you have to look forward to?

You might point out next time that you do not hold to a traditional theology, or that it is not important that you hold to an orthodox theology since Christ himself did not see it as important enough to establish one. You might, if you're feeling feisty enough, expose their theologies as hardly historical or at least not historically accurate. Or you might just bite your tongue like everyone else and accept the fact that you're only there for yourself, only there to get your ordination and venture forth on your own. Because I assure you, should you fail to conform, that's exactly where you'll find yourself.

daveapplegate said...

i like most of what bell has to say and i haven't read 'velvet elvis,' but i can't help but notice your summation of the book concerns me. bell says that Jesus came to offer the best way of life? it makes it sound like that way is not Jesus himself but rather what Jesus did, but i'm sure i just misunderstand. i think His primary reason for coming was not to show us religion, but i also think it wasn't to show us how to live. i think, rather, that He came to give us Life with Him. blah blah blah. i know that i often forget this, so i only assume that other people do the same. i thought i should just say.

Josh said...

In response to Dave...

Jesus said, "I am the Way, I am the Truth, I am the Life."

So, what does that mean?

What does it mean to have "life with him"?

Rob would suggest that life with him is the best way to live. That when I am living the best way of life, I am connected to Christ, because that is His way of life. I cannot do this without Him, He is living in me. But to live is to do.