By and large I like what McLaren has to say and, admittedly, the book I was reading, Finding Our Way Again, is an introduction to a series of books on Spiritual Practices, so it had a lot of introductory information that was written to convince the reader of a need for such things, but I found the following to be true of A New Kind of Christianity, too. It’s a little pedestrian. At times, his writing reminds me of some of the better evangelical sermons I’ve heard. (He is or was, after all, an evangelical preacher.) Everything is fair game for comparison so the spiritual life becomes Weight Watchers or fly fishing and I get distracted by the surface of what he is saying. And it’s not so much about digging in to what he is saying as trying to convince and convict that this is what we need to do. It’s more about the outcome than the process. I like process, and, I suppose, I just like more academic writing/conversation. (An Aside: It’s part of what draws me to the mainline over the evangelicals, I suppose. I know plenty of highly academic evangelicals and we can have great conversations, but that is not the focus of church and I never had a particularly academic evangelical pastor. Academics is not the focus of church with the Presbys, either, but it tends to come through more, at least in our particular church. And our Rev. Dr. is definitely an academic, even if she downplays that fact.) Anyway, I liked the beginning of A New Kind of Christianity and the chapters on the actual “Ancient Practices” in Finding Our Way Again, but I found myself just kind of wanting to finish the books and be done.
Meanwhile I was savoring a chapter here and there of Robert Farrar Capon’s The Supper of the Lamb. Now there’s some lovely writing. I found myself wanting to read passages out loud to Computerguy and wanting to recommend the book to friends. It made me laugh and think and mostly just makes me want to keep reading it, carefully, thoughtfully. And it’s all about the process.