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The concepts described in this book have great value and for that alone it’s worthy of a skim read. However it is very definitely set against issues with the US right wing fundamentalist Christian views which frankly are not quite as relevant to a U.K. readership. The book could have delivered its core content in half a dozen chapters. Sadly the author meanders on for many more!
This is a book that may need a second read through! It brings to light an issue that many are likely struggling with - even though the struggle may be in secret! Some parts were more difficult to grasp than others (thus the need for a second read). Thank you Brian McLaren for hitting on such topics. Very much needed in our ‘churchy’ world.
This review is perhaps more about my mindset than the author’s writing or the overall quality or value of his work. He provides a model to help understand his thesis and if it is a valid model, I would be ass deep in Stage 3, Perplexed, with a bucket load of caution - which probably smells more like cynicism With a slight degree of self awareness, I know this is not an objective review. I often found the chapters to be “wordy.” The chapters reminded me of a weekly sermon series and although there are gems of wisdom sprinkled about, I was like looking at my watch wondering if I was going to miss the Sunday football game “kick off” by about halfway of each chapter. Still I kept reading because, well, it touched my heart many times. Toward the last few chapters, though I started almost resenting what the author was proposing and retreated even deeper into what he describes as Stage 3. I was asking myself, “How much money does he make selling his model?” Is he just a hypocrite, just like me? When I got to the Afterword, I was like, “What? More??” Well, that Afterword was powerful in its humbleness and honesty and would have made little sense to me unless I had struggled with the previous chapters. At the conclusion, I bowed my head and felt my eyes get moist. What makes a book a 5 star review? For me, it is if I can say, “I am sure glad that I read this book. I know I will read it again.” I can say all that.
This book started out strong, delving into having faith AND doubt, and how both can occupy the same space and that is okay. He lost me about halfway through when the author started delving into politics. What could have been a great book is just a good book, and that is too bad. Worth a read, but beware it gets political.
When we feel doubt regarding “The way things are done” and “The things we believe” it’s a lonely place. We are hesitant to speak out, buck the leaders, make waves. And then you find a kindred spirit and everything changes. You can speak your heart, even if it’s just to one other person. When you learn of people like Thomas Merton, Richard Rohr and Brian McLaren, and read their writings, it’s as if you finally found your true self.
I do not identify as a Christian, but I loved this book. It gives me hope that a new Christianity will emerge that is not based in doctrine and dogma but rather in love. I have struggled with belief, when belief involved swallowing “truths” that teachers may or may not have believed themselves, but felt obliged to pass on to me. I have struggled through seminary and have been been rejected by the gatekeepers, but my faith in God (whatever that may be) is strong. This book helped me let go of a little bit of my resentment (and to feel a little bit of compassion) for those who are stuck in stage two, who judged me for not being in stage one or two myself. Stage two is appealing. I love to research. I love to question. Reading this book comes out of stage two for me. Stage three is painful and frustrating and feels like giving up....but McLaren gives me hope that in letting go of the fight I may pass though to a stage that is freeing and open and one where I am connected with others. I’m not giving up. I’m recommitting to faith expressing itself in love.