It was the winter of their discontent. David Fitch and Geoff Holsclaw (co-pastors of a missional church in the northwest suburbs of Chicago) found themselves left out in the cold, disappointed with the “third-way” paths beyond the conservative-liberal theology wars of North American Evangelicals. The Emergent path (McLaren, Pagitt, Jones, Bell) initially offered a sense of hope for conversations that “challenged existing assumptions and sought new ways of moving forward” (xxi). Yet, as helpful as those conversations were, they ultimately left participants feeling uneasy, unable “to enter confidently into God’s living presence” (xxii). The Neo-Reformed path (Piper, DeYoung, Mohler, Carson, Keller) offered a necessary corrective to this disquiet, reminding Evangelicals that one can be missional and committed to gospel proclamation. But these commitments were often articulated dogmatically, focusing more on being “right” than being in right relationship. Was there an alternative to these dead-end options? Was there a path that could be both thoroughly committed to the proclamation of the gospel and radically sensitive to the cultural realities of real people in our post-Christian world? Fitch and Holsclaw believed there was, so they collected their notes, blog posts, and essays in an effort to articulate a new way by which Evangelicals could move out of the patterns that kept them “trapped within a bygone cultural consensus of Christian dominance that no longer exists” (xxiv). Prodigal Christianity is what emerged from their reflections.
The question at the heart of the publication of a book such as The Rule of Taizé is not whether we should read it, but why it was published at all. Surely the rule of a monastic community in rural France, a rule intended to order the lives of about a hundred monks, coincides very little with the lives of those of us who, instead of praying and laboring, commute to work, buy groceries at big-box stores, and collapse onto couches at the end of the day to tap and scroll on tiny screens. Even the most pious of us are hardly eager to hold all our possessions in common.
If you feel overwhelmed by the violence of today, disconnected from creation, and disheartened by the inequalities in society, Snake Oil will heal your heart and rebirth a much-needed hope inside.
When I first picked up Snake Oil, I thought it was going to be just another book about some do-gooder starting a non-profit. I was wrong. This is a book that pulls apart the layers of the story of a priest starting a program for abused women. Each layer unfolds in a beautiful way. Organic. Heartbreaking. Hopeful.
Tomorrow is the birthday of Ralph Waldo Emerson, born 25 May 1803
A subtle chain of countless rings
The next unto the farthest brings;
The eye reads omens where it goes,
And speaks all languages the rose;
And, striving to be man, the worm
Mounts through all the spires of form.
This is fabulous! Novelist John Green gives the commencement address at Butler University, May 11, 2013.
John starts his speech at 3:15.
Lovely tip o’ the hat to Fred Rogers.
“We are taught that the hero’s journey is the journey from weakness to strength, but I’m here today to tell you that that story is wrong. The real hero’s journey is from strength to weakness.” (start at 8:00 for context)
“You are probably going to be a nobody for awhile” (11:45)
“In learning how to be a nobody, you will learn how NOT to be a jerk”. (11:55)
Dave Harrity’s Making Manifest had two strikes against it by the time I had finished the introduction (“to begin” on pp. xi-xv). First, it is arranged as a combined group study and personal devotional. This form – a youth group staple – specializes mainly in covers splashed with either neon or explosions, faux-edgy graphic design swirling about cool praying teens, and a troubling overuse of phrases like “chew,” “the meat,” and “on-fire.” It also has an unhealthy preoccupation with the almighty “you,” and with writing on pre-printed lines at the end of each day/chapter.
My second – and I admit, needlessly personal – issue with Making Manifest is that latter feature. I hate writing in books. Anything that mars the original condition of a book flares compulsion within me. Dog-earing is a cardinal sin; highlighting, an offense to nature. I read trade paperbacks through a thin V of pages in order to avoid breaking spines. Within the introduction of Making Manifest Dave Harrity asked me to do all those things. “There’s space for you to write… crack the spine so the book rests flat, dog-ear, sketch and scratch,” He says (xiv). I almost flipped the book to the floor in frustration.
There are two temptations when engaging works from a previous generation. The first is a persnickety tendency to elevate the perspectives of those with whom we resonate in a way that prevents us from seeing where their contributions leave room for further development. At the same time, we also face the temptation of a naïve ahistorical hubris that blindly critiques our predecessors for failing to fully conform to our common sensibilities. Such are the dual challenges faced by Plummer and Terry in Paul’s Missionary Methods, which celebrates, extends, and deepens conversations initiated by Roland Allen’s Missionary Methods 100 years ago.
For the past century, Allen’s Missionary Methods has served as one of the central introductory textbooks for exploring a biblical model of mission, catalyzing a wide range of New Testament studies and contextualized mission conversations in the process. Allen’s reflections have empowered several generations of New Testament scholars, missiologists, and practicing missionaries to take not only the words of the gospel seriously but also to carefully consider the manner in which the Apostle Paul carried out his calling. Drawing together a strong cohort of evangelical scholars and practitioners, Plummer and Terry’s editorial work reasserts Allen’s argument for seeing Paul as the “exemplary model not for us to blindly follow, but to appropriate and replicate intelligently.”(28)