I came upon this fascinating blog entry by a Catholic blogger. In it, he relates how a passage in the Old Testament sounds to him very much like a description of the division between Catholicism and Protestantism.
Archive for September, 2010
Book Review – The Gospel According to America: A Meditation on a God-Blessed, Christ-Haunted Idea by David DarkSeptember 28, 2010
Listening is more and more a lost art. In an age where people can plug in their ear buds and tune out anything and anyone they don’t like or don’t agree with, how does dialog occur? What are the dangers of losing touch with those who disagree, and building your life on the assumption that you have an air-tight lock on truth?
David Dark takes on this topic admirably. This is not an easy book to read because of Dark’s particular prose style, which while affable is oftentimes convoluted. Particularly, Dark wonders, shouldn’t Biblical Christians find themselves called to a different form of behavior than the pop culture of talking-heads? Aren’t Biblical Christians called to testify to a truth that we only know in part – a truth that we see at best only “dimly”? And if our grasp on truth is so dim, shouldn’t we be too careful about demonizing those that are earnestly attempting to describe truth yet coming to different conclusions? How would Jesus talk?
Dark utilizes politicians, authors, songwriters, and popular culture figures who call us towards a deeper honesty that rejects the sound-bite sized truth as inadequate and every bit as dangerous as a lie in many cases. Truth is a slippery thing we can never get an adequate grip on, and this should drive us towards the humility and love that are to be hallmarks of Biblical Christians.
Dark’s writing is one challenge in reading this. Another is the particular cultural elements that he chooses to draw into the discussion. If you aren’t much of a reader or into blues singers, you may find that a lot of his analysis eludes you. This may mean you end up skimming or skipping most of the second half of the book. Don’t feel bad. That’s exactly what I did a few years ago on my first read through this book. While I forced myself not to skip over it this time, I can’t say that the second half of the text was particularly enlightening or helpful beyond the most general of themes. Some of it I got because I was familiar with the stories or authors or singers he chose to illustrate his points. Much of it went by me because I haven’t read or followed what and who he talked about.
The other problem I have with this book is that the core theme could be stated pretty well in just a few pages. Dark’s introductory comments go on for more than a few pages and adequately address the topic. The rest of the book is explication, and not necessarily a lot of value-add (at least for me) given how hard it is to wade through his prose. His suggestion that our large-scale national dialogs ought to be conducted more like a meeting of friends at the Waffle House who sit and talk and may not agree but disagree with politeness and love (and with great passion) because they know they’ll be talking to those people again the very next week is well taken and highly important. I wish he had incorporated this metaphor more consistently.
If Truth is out there, it’s going to take the best in all of us to make the most sense out of it, and even then we’re still going to fall far short. In the meantime, how we treat one another is every bit as important (or more so) than the particular solutions we seek to implement. Polarizing thought and commentary ultimately is counterproductive because it effectively keeps us from hearing the Truth as it might possibly be found or expressed even by those we don’t like or disagree with profoundly in some areas. A little humility more clearly lives out the American ideas of “all men created equal” than insisting that only those who think like me are equal.
Time to hit the books. Again.
I wasn’t going to bother commenting on the Sesame Street/Katy Perry controversy, but I found a few interesting things to comment on beyond the actual event itself.
The recession, I mean.
An interesting essay in the Wall Street Journal on the disparity in reading abilities between boys and girls, and the pitfalls of how to lure boys to read more.
Another opportunity to listen to NPR this morning on my way in to the office (yes, pastors work more than just a half day on Sunday. We also often work a half day on Saturdays. No no, no need to thank us. We’re glad to sacrifice those two days of the week in the service of the Lord and to have the other five days off).
A colleague posted this short but thought-provoking blog entry today.
This time of year begins the ritual of school starting up again (yes, I’m late on this, but it’s close enough). Having been in and around academia all my life, I’m pretty attuned to this ebb and flow of the year. Having children in school also reinforces this (even if they’re schooled at home).
Growing up in Arizona, I’m used to seeing citrus trees. I always wondered why so many of the trees had fruit on them that nobody ever picked. I was stunned when I learned that there are actually purely ornamental fruit trees – they’re bred specifically so that the fruit is inedible. What in the world sort of sense does that make?!