Geoff Dibbs offered an excellent homily this morning. It was a great exposition of the theology that we are called to live with passion the faith which we have been entrusted with. It set me into a reading frenzy that would not let up till a couple of hours ago. I picked up and read a book this afternoon called Not the Religious Type; Confessions of a Turncoat Atheist. It was a good read. The author Dave Schmelzer is pastor of an evangelical church in Boston. It is very lightly written and recounts this mans conversion from a non-believer to a believer. . I was not entirely impressed by it however. Nonetheless, I was glad to have read it.
Not feeling filled, given the challenge offered me by the preacher this morning, I turned to a book I picked up earlier in the summer entitled Growing True Disciples. It is a book by George Barna of the Barna Research Group. Having been tired out by the previous book, I only got to about 40 pages in, but I must say I found more of what I was looking for. George Barna builds the case for changing the hearts and minds of believers to be passionate disciples for Jesus. In this book, church leaders are encourage to worry less about programs, numbers, and budgets and focus more time and energy and getting the committed Christians that we have to take on the mandate that they have been given. He points out that while 4 out of 10 people surveyed say that they have a strong relationship with Jesus, not one of the people interviewed said that being a good follower of Jesus was one of their major goals. Here is the real kicker — those surveyed include clergy from all denominations! More for me to read yet but this appears to be a good book which calls congregations to put things aside that stall our ability to change lives and embrace the idea that each congregation is a great collection of people who can be great witnesses to Love which passes all measure of understanding. I’ll keep you posted on this one.
For a break from that stuff I began reading Why the Christian Right is Wrong, a book by Robin Meyers. In an election year in the US, this is a great book to be reading. Meyers is very animated about the need for Americans to take back what it means to be Christian. He gave an impassioned speech at Oklahoma City in 2004 after the religious right gave Bush the last election, primarily because Karl Rove had the smarts to place Gay Marriage on so many ballots thereby playing on the narrow-mindedness of Christian fundamentalists, the Christian Right. While the Christian Right and the Republican Party have claimed morality as their own, Meyers wrote this book as an avenue to expand on his speech and exposit the ways in which the actions of the Bush administration and those who put him there are far from moral, but a complete misuse of the name of the One who so desperately preached peace, respect, tolerance and life and would be appalled by what is happening in the world today and in America in particular. This looks to be a great read – very opinionated and very timely. I’ll keep you posted on this one as well.
Enough reading for one day – thanks Geoff for getting me motivated to read today.