Tag Archives: culture

Books too good to keep for myself

Sometimes books are so good and so important that I can’t see not sharing my copy with a friend. This is what happened this year with two books I received in on review.

 

Beyond Homelessness: Christian Faith In A Culture Of Displacement

By Steven Bouma-Prediger, Brian J. Walsh

Published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2008

ISBN 0802846920, 9780802846921

361 pages

 

The first book, Beyond Homelessness: Christian Faith in a Culture of Displacement by Steven Bouma-Prediger and Brian J. Walsh is a close look at our sense of home and place in North America and the ramifications for the way interact with the environment and those people who society calls dis-placed, or homeless. The authors illustrate that that homeless have much to teach us about what a sense of home should be. Through personal involvement in homeless shelters and relationships developed over time they try to bridge the virtual gap between those who seem to have everything, living in condos and gated communities, and those living on park benches or in the woods. They show us how the disparities we perceive and that we allow to separate us, seen rightly, can point us back to a deeper soul sickness that we’re inclined to cover up with everything in reach. Our culture is displacing us all, moving us further and further from any sense of home, place, or rest.

Beyond Homelessness is packed with cross-disciplinary tools: socio-economic, theological, ecological, and hermeneutical. It offers a wealth of material for those who will take the time to work through it slowly, and preferably, with a group of people excited to act it out. I passed my book onto others who work regularly with homeless people and formerly homeless people who are learning about renewable energy. They’re doing the work already, but this book helps connect the dots creatively in new ways.

 

Being Consumed: Economics And Christian Desire

By William T. Cavanaugh

Published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2008

ISBN 0802845614, 9780802845610

103 pages

 

The second book I shared was Being Consumed: Economics and Christian Desire by Bill Cavanaugh. This book has already seen a lot of attention in the theoblogging world. In my own writing I’ve picked up the topic of consumerism as it concerns Evangelicalism, so I wasn’t surprised by some of Cavanaugh’s other author source material like Naomi Klein, Vince Miller, and Tom Beaudoin. What Cavanaugh brings to the discussion that is unique and refreshing is the way he weaves the theological with the practical. He moves beyond the problem with what we’ve become to how we can think and act differently, citing specific local examples such as Church supported agriculture. There’s something about talking about faith and economics that immediately sounds elitist. It’s unfortunate, but it’s true. Cavanaugh gives us just enough education to demonstrate the impact on our faith, and then he shows how our faith is meant to consume us, changing our desires in keeping with our transformation into the image of Christ. There is no better time to read and share this book in your church. (If you’re protestant like me, don’t be alarmed by Cavanaugh’s appropriation of the Eucharist. God’s work can be applied in all of the ways we celebrate Christ together.)

Being Consumed is applied Christianity, in a social area where we’re too often tempted to ignore God, the market. Maybe this hour of financial crisis is the best time to share the good news that there is another way. We need not be slaves to money. Jesus’ resurrection is for godless places like Wall Street as well.

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a response to “An Evangelical Manifesto”

Those of you who know my blog know that in the past I have blogged quite a bit on the nature of Evangelicalism, and I think I’ve made it clear that I have no problem calling myself an Evangelical. At the same time, I hope I’ve made it equally clear that in calling myself an Evangelical I do not align myself with institutions that claim to speak for Evangelicals, for instance, the National Association of Evangelicals and the institution that is Christianity Today International. I laud and appreciate the work of many persons within these institutions, but as with anything else, commending and criticizing these persons and institutions does not mean that I feel they somehow speak for me.

I begin this way because CTi and the NAE are important institutions behind the recently penned work, “An Evangelical Manifesto.” The work confronts many issues I’ve brought up on my blog, (I’m sure not in answer to me personally) like whether to capitalize the “E” in Evangelical! So I feel indebted to answering the Manifesto. First, I think it is a mistake to use the word Manifesto instead of Credo. This manifesto begins by describing Evangelicalism theologically rather than culturally or politically, and yet it is a manifesto and not a credo. Francis Schaeffer did this in his “Christian Manifesto” as a response to the “Humanist Manifesto.” I for one find this decidedly mistaken.

Secondly, I disagree that anyone can claim that Evangelicalism is creedal and theological but not social. What this does in essence is seek to strip the Evangelical movement of responsibility historically and socially. And to me, that is impossible. We could really learn from Catholics in this regard. The Manifesto claims further that Evangelicalism predates Protestantism in its concerns. This just doesn’t work. To claim to transcend the interests of the Protestant movement, embracing an ecumenical agenda that is at once both based on sola scriptura and catholic in its scope is just plain silly. As a theological statement this is naive. I’m not saying many people aren’t doing it, I’m simply saying you can’t be both theologically Catholic and Protestant at the same time.

Now for what I like about the document. There is a lot of repentance in this work. There’s a lot of pride and repentance at the same time. For that reason I like it. It’s a very human document. I like that it wants to embrace the social concerns for the poor and human life that it does. I like that it wants the movement not to be hierarchal. (But I think honesty demands that we say that Evangelicals are not known for their love for the poor or their egalitarian posture. You can put in on paper and have all the PhDs you like sign it, but it won’t magically make it so.)

My final issue with the document is that at least a few of the names I see appearing (Kay Arthur, Jack Hayford) are unapologetically engaged in an enterprise known as Christian Zionism that blatantly ignores so many of the tenets of this document. Their welcome signatures displays what the manifesto won’t do, namely hold signatories accountable.

I’ve said some harsh things here. I should temper them by saying that I love the signatories as brothers and sisters in Christ. I’m personally grateful for the legacy so many of them leave. I cannot however sign on to this document any more than The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy or any number of other NAE public statements. While noting and dialoging with their concerns, I cannot publicly sign on.

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