Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Book Reviews

I have been trying to keep up on my reading of late. This was much easier when I was waiting on a baby, and just putting my CD collection into MP3s to add to my new iPod.

That was great. I finished two books in good order.

Oh Shit! It's Jesus!

The Shack

Some brief comments on the two books. (First off a hat tip to Gavin for turning me toward these books)

Re: Oh Shit! It's Jesus!
This was a pretty simple read, fast and relatively introductory theology. Author Steve Hughes sets out to make Christianity simple again. He rewrites several passages of scripture, all of which make Eugene Patterson and The Message seem to be first rate scholarship, and transposing of literary greek. However, the purpose is not to insert Hughes into the ranks of Bultmann and Augustine, but instead to reinsert Jesus into the world so many are familiar. If this brings about the understanding of persons to see Jesus as something other than what "religion" has made him out to be - vilified, and dehumanized, as well as completely understood, or foreign, then Hughes has made his mark. I believe that Hughes brings a sense of sanity to the discerning mentor or church leader, asking us to redefine the easy Jesus for the Jesus who causes us shock and wonder, and makes us backpedal to find safety in the very basics of relationship, with each other, with God, and especially with the one who feels like an outsider to the church.

Re: The Shack
Using images of the Trinity - God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit - that move one into uncomfortable territory, along with the image of a brutal kidnapping and murder to introduce one to relationship is definitely using the backdoor. The general imagery is that of broken relationships, contrasted to the perfect relationship of a unified God. In a world that is indeed lost and hurting, identifying the fear of isolation and its effects on familial relationships, as well as relationship with God will bring one to a heightened sense of awareness. I realized some of my own fears in the loss of a child, the isolation from family members, as well as the deepening sense of depression that often accompanies relationships being ignored for the sake of dwelling on the things we cannot change. I found this book to be helpful in holding a mirror to my life, and expect it would do likewise for many others. The hope that comes from relationship with God is primary, based on our relationships with one another right now in the world we share.

Ultimately, both books focus the reader back on aspects of true relationship, and centering God not just for the purpose of worship, but for helping to guide and teach relationships for our human lives.


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