February 3, 2013

The emerging Christian Way - ed. Michael Schwartzentruber

Yet another "required reading" for the Lay Worship Leader course!  This one is a series of essays from a variety of writers, all writing from a liberal Christian tradition.

Like any collection, there was variety in the different essays, despite all of them having the same liberal bias.  Some of them I felt more drawn to, some of them I found myself resisting, some of them were unmemorable, and some of them had me adding authors to my list of books that I want to read!

There were a few essays that made me sit back and think.  One entitled "Consider the Lilies of the Field:  How Should Christians Love Nature?" by Sallie McFague gave me a better understanding of why I need to spend time outside.  Another, simply titled "Spiritual Discernment" by Nancy Reeves I found to be enlightening, since this is something that I struggle with.  How do I know if it is God that wants this, or just me?  I hope to read her book on the topic at some point.

Other essays had me resisting them, but I think that it was mostly because of the style of the writing.  "Experience:  The Heart of Transformation" by Tim Scorer I found myself skimming, probably because the author wanted the reader to play along and do an activity while reading the chapter, while I just wanted to read!  Another chapter on "Christian Education and the Imaginative Spirit" by Susan Burt I found to be to unfocused and ramble-y to get anything out of.

And then of course, the chapters on "Radical Inclusion" (Anne Squire) and "Social Justice and a Spirituality of Transformation" (Bill Phipps) had me nodding in agreement all the way through; but I found that I didn't get anything from them since I already agreed with what the authors were saying!

The chapter that troubled me the most was "On Being a Post-denominational Priest in a Post-denominational Era" by Matthew Fox.  For the most part, I agreed with what he was saying, since I myself identify myself as a Christian before any denominational associations; but then when he started listing off the faults of specific denominations (especially the Roman Catholic Church - the author was very hurt by the Roman Catholic church), I felt very uncomfortable.  I thought that I was going to add him to my list of authors that I want to read more of, but by the time I had finished the chapter, I had removed his name from that list.

Anyways, an interesting read nonetheless, for the variety of perspectives presented and topics covered!