Thursday, January 18, 2007

Yes, I realize I have had a scarcity of posts lately. I don't like it that way. I often really do feel that I am a writer at heart, and when I don't write for periods of time, all the stuff inside of me starts to back-log (for lack of a better expression). Then it becomes overwhelming and because I am a perfectionist in writing and only want to present clear, logically organized thoughts, I just shut down and don't even make an attempt. Not a great way to function, really.

So, what has been on my mind lately? Many things. But one thing I thought I might write a little bit about is a book I read recently, called "A New Kind of Christian." The author of this book (Brian McLaren) is quite a controversial figure within the Christian world and because of that, I want to be careful in what I write here. This is a book that would have greatly upset me, even just a few years ago (and there were definitely still parts in the book that I had trouble with, don't get me wrong!). So, my intention in writing about this is not to offend anyone, only to share what has been going on within my spiritual life with the help of this book. I was very surprised to find how helpful this book was in explaining much of what I have been going through for some time now.

So, that said, for me, the book was right on. It is not for everyone, but it paints a very active picture of what has been happening in me lately. I have known something wasn't right with me for awhile now, in my faith, my view of God, my role in the "church", my understanding of science/religion, of "witnessing"/evangelism, of loving my neighbor, etc etc etc. Many times as I was reading the book, I had "lightbulb" experiences that seemed to shout "No wonder I have been feeling/thinking this way!" , or "No wonder I have been having problems with these concepts/ideas/beliefs!" It all makes so much sense, and the best part about it is that it made me realize that I have not lost my faith (or even just gone "liberal" - a bad word in the evangelical conservative circles I grew up in!). The problem is, I am just unable to function as a Christian in a "modern" sense - the way I grew up, the way that is still practiced around me by many, the way that is still expected of me (even by myself). The world has changed, and that is not a bad thing. The wonderful news about this is that I am not alone in this - there are many, many Christians going through this.

The book talks much about "postmoderism" as opposed to "modernism". I realize that "postmodernism" can carry quite a negative connotation within the evangelical/conservative world, but the book really described it in a way that really made sense to me and was not offensive (perhaps because my thinking has been changing for some time now). My favorite thing about postmodernism (that is emphasized in the book, anyway) is focusing on a new way to think of things (hence the title "A New Kind of Christian"). That is, thinking outside the box, one of my (many) soapboxes over the last few years. The book is a (fictional) conversation between two friends who are discussing the changes of being a Christian when going from the modern way of thinking to the postmodern way of thinking. The first man, Dan, is a pastor who is trying to understand and enter this new postmodern world, and the second, "Neo," is a former pastor-now school teacher who has a really good grasp of postmodernism and who shares what he learns with Dan. So often in dicussions Dan would try to pin Neo down by trying to get him to take a stance on one of the many issues that are so prevalent today - say, homosexuality, pluralism, different denominations/religions, science/evolution, tolerance, politics etc etc. While Neo has opinions on these issues, and doesn't deny that there are important issues, the theme throughout the book, again and again, was: You're missing the point! This is the stuff that we get so tangled up in, but this is not why we're here! Neo often draws a line on a piece of paper and on one end has the "liberal" view and on the other end has the "conservative" view. He points out to Dan that the majority of modern man's thinking tends to be somewhere on that line, whereas postmodernism rises above that line and sees things in a whole new light.


I'll stop here. Perhaps there will be more later, perhaps not.