stylish writing

While I was traveling, I was switching back and forth between Brian McLaren on my iPad and Robert Farrar Capon in a paperback.

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.

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3 Responses to stylish writing

  1. Silent says:

    I read Finding Our Way Again this fall and I want to go back to it again. I remember not being overly impressed, but at the same time, when I think of the congregation I serve in particular, I think that reading something like this as a group could lead to some meaningful conversations. It’s not earth-shattering, but the discussion questions could help me understand folks better. I think I know where many are coming from, but I don’t always know for sure. I think adding a third voice to the mix–as the one asking the questions–is good too. But I need to look at it again; I read it quickly in order to not have an overdue book!

  2. Have you read Capon’s Creation Story? It’s at the beginning of his book The Third Peacock, and I thought it was exhilirating. I found it here for you, but I’m going to copy it below, just in case:

    Let me tell you why God made the world.

    One afternoon, before anything was made, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit sat around in the unity of their Godhead discussing one of the Father’s fixations. From all eternity, it seems, he had had this thing about being. He would keep thinking up all kinds of unnecessary things — new ways of being and new kinds of beings to be. And as they talked, God the Son suddenly said, “Really, this is absolutely great stuff. Why don’t I go out and mix up a batch?” And God the Holy Spirit said, “Terrific! I’ll help you.” So they all pitched in, and after supper that night, the Son and the Holy Spirit put on this tremendous show of being for the Father. It was full of water and light and frogs; pine cones kept dropping all over the place and crazy fish swam around in the wine glasses. There were mushrooms and mastodons, grapes and geese, tornadoes and tigers — and men and women everywhere to taste them, to juggle them, to join them and to love them. And God the Father looked at the whole wild party and said, “Wonderful! Just what I had in mind! Tov! Tov! Tov!” And all God the Son and God the Holy Spirit could think of to say was the same thing, “Tov! Tov! Tov!” So they shouted together “Tov!” And they laughed for ages and ages, saying things like how great it was for beings to be and how clever of the Father to think of the idea, and how kind of the Son to go to all that trouble putting it together, and how considerate of the Spirit to spend so much time directing and choreographing, and for ever and ever they told old jokes, and the Father and the Son drank their wine in unitate Spiritus Sancti, and threw ripe olives and pickled mushrooms at each other per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

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