For those of you who have been checking my blog and wondering when I was going to get around to regular posting again, I think I am back. I still have a trace of a cough and I'm struggling with fatigue (especially yesterday, for some reason). But I am getting back to normal. I promise to post more regularly again.
As a substitute teacher, I have a tote bag of "goodies" that I take along with me when I am out on a job. In addition to a bottle of water, an whistle (for recess duty), a bottle of tylenol, a sudoku book and pencil, and a koosh ball (for those last few minutes before dismissal when a game of Quiet Ball is in order), I often carry along with me a book that I'm reading. During each day, every teacher gets a "prep" period when the kids are not with them (usually they're in music, art or PE class) during which time the teacher does "prep" work like writing lesson plans, making photo copies, etc. Being a sub, I have no "prep" to do so I have a 30 minute or so break. This gives me an opportunity to do some reading.
Right now I am carrying around Brian D. McLaren's book a Generous Orthodoxy
. This book has been on my "to be read" list for months now but I could never get my hands on a library copy and didn't want to spend the money on it. Well, finally I decided that if I want to read this book while living in an area whose public library generally doesn't own books with a liberal view of Christianity, I was going to have to spend the money and buy it myself. To be honest, this is one of those books that I would probably want to buy anyway just because 1) it speaks to the Big Picture that I've noticed forming and making up my individual spiritual path and 2) it is so packed with information that I know I will want to reread and readdress many points several times. And I'll probably want to scribble my own thoughts in the margins.
At this point I am not quite done so I am not at a point where I could post any kind of review. But I have already come across several ideas that stand out to me and have me saying to myself, "Yes! Yes! Yes!" A couple of his statements actually brought tears to my eyes as I was struck by their Truth.
By way of summary I will paraphrase here some of the noteworthy ideas from part I: Why I Am a Christian:
* I have synthesized much of what McLaren says into the idea that a big problem with Christianity is in the language we use to describe what it means to be Christian and its subtle differences in interpretation.
* He identifies 7 different Jesuses he has known (i.e. different perspectives on Jesus) and provides food for thought about how we have been taught to perceive Jesus and whether there might be other ways to interpret Jesus' significance in ways that are more authentic and meaningful and closer to their original intent.
* He illustrates that Christianity has largely become a religion of individuals and "us vs. them" thinking and searching for "the right way to do it". This has served to pit "believers" against "non-believers" rather than focusing on Jesus' ultimate goal - to bring the Kingdom of God into the world.
* He delves into the question of salvation and Jesus' role in it. He suggests that Jesus came to save the entire world (as opposed to individuals) by bringing his message of the Kingdom of God, the spirit of Christ within each of us, and our responsibility to shine the light of Christ out into the world in order to bring about the Kingdom of God. We have gotten all caught up in individual thinking as in "am I in (heaven) or out?" which has distracted and detracted from the original message. He suggests "[a]fter his death and rising, Jesus sends his Spirit to continue the process of teaching us, creating a community across generations and around the world that is learning to live life to the full" (p.106).
* He suggests that Son of God is a phrase that means the "ultimate embodiment of God" and that Son of Man (Jesus' own name for himself) means the "ultimate embodiment of humanity" (p.80).
* He discusses the dichotomy of very differing images of God: God A = "a single, solitary, dominant Power, Mind, or Will" and God B = "a unified, eternal, mysterious, relational community/family/society/entity of saving Love" (p.84-85).
* He asks "Would Jesus be a Christian?". Here is a direct quote: "The more I study the bible and reflect on the life and teachings of Jesus, the more I think most of Christianity as practiced today has very little to do with the real Jesus found there" (p.87).
* He says, "We retained Jesus as Savior but promoted the apostle Paul (or someone else) to Lord and Teacher" (p.94). And we decided the most important thing about Jesus was his death rather than his life.
These ideas are just from part I. In part II he begins looking at various aspects of what it means to be a Christian (and the language we use to describe it). There are so many more ideas from part I, not to mention part II, that I'll have to post more in a separate post. There are so many issues to think about and figure out where you are in the discussion. Love it, love it, love it!
Labels: Books, Lent, My Spiritual Search