i have a rather large pile of books on my desk that i have been sent to review...
life has been so hectic recently that i have hardly had time to blog let alone review books. but i am going to try and catch up in the next two weeks. i generally find that my problem is that i think i need to wait until i can write a hefty review. but i think i'm far better just giving quicker shorter reviews/pointers on the books and then they won't pile up!
so first up, brian maclaren's book everything must change (i got sent two of these so if you want a copy and you are in the uk add the first comment and it's yours).
this book sees brian articulating some of the journey that he has been on in recent years to try and join up what is happening with the postmodern shift in the west with global shifts. in particular he has been changed by his encounters with leaders in africa wrestling with what it means to be christian and follow christ in post colonial contexts. i welcome this global emphasis in his thinking as well as trying to get a shift away from salvation being about me and my personal future in heaven (what i call escapology theology) away from the earth.
to cut a long story short he suggests that we need to rediscover the christian faith as a framing story around the kingdom of god. this will give us a different imagination out of which to think and act. of course he's by no means the first to suggest this but it's a good emphasis. he makes a case for action and engagement in political life, environmental activity, and community involvement. to my ears this was welcome but it's nothing new.
but he is writing from an american context where maybe it isn't so obvious, or at least it's not if you are addressing an evangelical audience. one section that reminded me of the difference in contexts is where he draws a contrast between what he calls the conventional view of the christian framing story and the emerging view. he suggest that the emerging view is seen by many as 'heresy' compared to the orthodoxy of the conventional view. but to my ears the emerging view was just outlining pretty mainstream orthodoxy! i expected somethign that was at least controversial. but i don't think many people would question it in the uk. and the conventional view would just be seen as a bit of weird out of date evangelicalism that only a few dry right wing conservative types would hold to it...
so it's good but it seems to assume that it's more radical than in might be. certainly if you have been to greenbelt in the uk say, i think the idea that god is concerned with global issues, poverty, the environment, the transformation of life and culture, and that being a christian means getting involved in that transforming is normal. i hope so anyway.
it's great to see brian pushing and nudging the US readership who come from an evangelical background and making a case for engagement and the kingdom of god. but you may be like me and find it a welcome reminder to assumptions that you have lived with for quite a long time already. the challenge is to live them out and think through how they relate to the new global challenges.