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Want to read a FUNNY book about Jesus? This is it! Imaginary Jesus is a novel, in which Mikalatos introduces us to various familiar versions of Jesus — King James Jesus, Testosterone Jesus, Magic 8-Ball Jesus, while he searches for the REAL Jesus.
I was a tiny bit disappointed at the end…real Jesus didn’t quite work for me. But overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and its reminder that we’re not always following the real Jesus, even (or especially) when we think we are.
My husband managed to snatch this book and read it before I did, and he posted his review a long time ago. He also included Todd Agnew’s song “My Jesus,” which totally fits with this book.
Finally, I’m proud to say that Matt Mikalatos is from our own Portland, Oregon. I look forward to reading more of his work.
Check out Matt’s imaginary website for Imaginary Jesus! You can even download and read a sample chapter there.
Disclosures: I received a free copy of the book through The Ooze Viral Bloggers in exchange for this review. I do receive a small commission for any purchases made through Amazon.com links above. Thanks!
Colors of God: Conversations about Being the Church was co-written by three authors/pastors: Quentin Steen, Dave Phillips, and Randall Peters. The three are or have been leaders of an emerging church called neXus in Abbotsford, B.C., Canada.
The book draws on their experiences working with an emerging congregation, but the three also come from an Evangelical background, which is reflected in their theology. In fact, the evangelical aspects were a little off-putting for me at first. I come from a Roman Catholic and United Methodist background, so I have a hard time with statements about “the finished work of Jesus Christ”, like “the gospel says that Christ has fully met all the expectations and requirements of God on my behalf.”
I think behind the language we probably do agree more than disagree, though. I do agree that we should not be worrying so much about whether we are pleasing God with our holiness. God is already pleased with us and loves us, and nothing can come between us and the love of God! And I do think we need to acknowledge our brokenness and our need for God’s grace. I just don’t necessarily believe in the theology of atonement that goes along with that.
Anyway. The book is divided into four sections. Blue represents Gospel Faith, Green is Healthy Living, Red is Inclusive Community, and Yellow is Cultural Engagement. These are the tenets that neXus is based on. In each section, the three authors carry out a three-party conversation, which is apparently to the sermons/teaching they do at neXus. This is followed by a chapter of question and answer with questions frequently asked by other people, and a chapter of additional notes on the topic, again in a conversational style.
I really enjoyed the conversational style and humor of the authors. In one of my favorite exchanges, Randall references Karl Barth on whether everyone goes to heaven (Barth says no, because some will choose not to), and Dave and Quentin respond.
Dave: By the way, let me say, I believe you just quoted a German theologian. I kind of think that makes you a dangerous liberal, but I’ll leave it at that.
Randall: He’s actually Swiss, by the way, not German.
Quentin: Nicely played.
The authors also refer constantly to scripture, and specifically to Jesus’ parables. They do look at Scripture a little differently. I thought their take on the Good Samaritan was a little odd (the injured man represents Jesus?), but I thought their look at Matthew 18 was interesting. Matthew 18 begins with the disciples asking “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” It then moves quickly from “unless you become like little children” to “If your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away,” and on to the parable about leaving the 99 sheep to look for the one lost one. This is followed by the instructions for what to do if your “brother” sins against you:
If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector. (NIV)
And then we get Peter asking how many times we must forgive someone (seventy times seven, says Jesus) and the parable of the unmerciful servant.
The interesting part to me is the authors’ interpretation of treating someone like a pagan or a tax collector. They point out that many churches use this passage as instructions for (or justification for) kicking someone out of the church. However, how did Jesus treat pagans and tax collectors? Levi/Matthew WAS a tax collector who became Jesus’ disciple. And Jesus was well-known for treating outcasts with love.
I think this book is great for anyone with a fairly orthodox theology who’s interested in the emerging church, or the future of the church in the 21st century and beyond. I found it easy to read, but also thought-provoking and spirit-stirring. I definitely recommend it.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a review as part of The Ooze Viral Bloggers program.
This is life: noisy, dirty, dangerous. And it’s the best we get in this fast-paced, hard-nosed, crazy-making world. But is there more than chaos, commotion and calamity? Is there some majesty even in the dust?
In this unique compilation of journey notes, new author Krista Finch asks these questions, speaking honestly about herself and the world around her. With curiosity and passion, she digs into ordinary moments for the truth about awakening and reawakening. Brokenness and beauty. Ruins and restoration. And what she keeps finding in the clumps and clods is nothing short of glory. Welcome to life as is – unfinished but beautiful.
As Is by Krista Finch is a well written series of notes and vignettes. It’s just not really my thing. I prefer to read something with an overall story and/or structure, and this is really just a series of short pieces. If you enjoy short, beautifully-written vignettes, you might really like this book. It just didn’t work for me.
I received a free copy of this book from The Ooze Viral Bloggers in exchange for this review.