Wednesday, May 02, 2007

What I'm reading now

I'm reading Donald Miller's Searching for God Knows What. I've wanted the book for a couple of years now, and when I found it for $5 at a temporarily set up discount volume Christian bookstore at a mall in a nearby city, I snatched it up in a heartbeat.

A little over a year ago I read Miller's first "big seller" Blue Like Jazz. I bought it after having heard him at the Catalyst Conference in Atlanta. What impressed me about him at the conference (and in the book) was his unconventional approach to the truths of God that allows him to communicate more clearly to those ambivalent or antagonistic to the message of Christ because of negative experiences with people who grew up like I did in the heavily inculturated, southern version of the Baptist church. That's a concept I don't have time to unpack completely right now. I tried to give a few sentences to it as I wrote this, but it's just too complex.

I've always been frustrated by books (and sermons) that say something to the effect of "all you have to do to have a meaningful, fulfilling life with Christ is follow these 3 (or 5, or 17) simple steps." The authors usually give wonderful stories about how following those steps turned their lives around and ever since then they have been successful, deeply spiritual, confident, yada, yada, yada. Read what he says about it:
" really got me thinking that, perhaps, formula books, by that I mean books that take you through a series of steps, may not be all that compatible with the Bible. ... My life was fairly normal before I read them, meaning I had good days and bad days, and then my life was fairly normal after I read them too, meaning I still had good days and bad days. It made me wonder, honestly, if such a complex existence as the one you and I are living can really be broken down into a few steps. It seems if there were a formula to fix life, Jesus would have told us what it was." (p. 10)

And then:

"Jesus was always, and I mean always, talking about love, about people, about relationship, and He never once broke anything into steps or formulas. What if, because we were constantly trying to dissect His message, we were missing a blatant invitation? I began to wonder if becoming a Christian did not work more like falling in love than agreeing with a list of true principles. I had met a lot of people who agreed with all those true principles, and they were jerks, and a lot of other people who believed in those principles, but who also claimed to love Jesus, who were not jerks. It seems like something else has to take place in the heart for somebody to become a believer, for somebody to understand the gospel of Jesus. It began to seem like more than just a cerebral exercise. What if the gospel of Jesus was an invitation to know God?" (p. 46)

My next entry may focus on the concepts mentioned in the chapters entitled "Adam, Eve, and the Alien" and "Lifeboat Theory." That's enough to think about for now.



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