Thursday, January 12, 2012

I am a Follower


by Leonard Sweet published by Thomas Nelson.

Some of the best things said were in the prologue of the book. The author talks about the overemphasis on leadership in our day and the need to become ‘first followers’.
“We have been told our entire lives that we should be leaders, that we need more leaders, leaders, leaders. But the truth is that the greatest way to create a movement is to be a follower and to show others how to follow. Following is the most underrated form of leadership in existence.”

The author uses Jesus declaration in John 14, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life…’ to establish his general outline of the book. And to encourage the fact that we are followers of Jesus not man. However, the book never seems to hit its mark. I expected and was disappointed in that the author fails to really show the problem of our modern push of leadership in the church and how that ‘leadership’ promotion hinders in developing true followers.
The author in sharing some things regarding his pre-conversion quotes Jean-Paul Sartre who defined sin as the “systematic substitution of the abstract for the concrete.” I felt this book seemed to lean more to the abstract than to the concrete.

I have read many of Leonard Sweets books and always look forward to his new ones. This was the worse one I have read. If this is the first of Sweet you have read and feel disappointed as I did, don’t let that hinder you from picking up and reading some of his other books eg. ‘Nudge’, ‘Post Modern Pilgrims’ and ‘Aqua Church’

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Become Sacriligious

Sacrilege: Finding Life in the Unorthodox Ways of Jesus by Hugh Halter
Published by Baker Books.

Two stories that the author shares hooked me with this book and from then on I had a hard time putting it down. The first was in the introduction where he shares his experience of going to the Holy Land but leaves disappointed because of his inability to find Jesus there. “…Religion, religious people, pious performances and massive stone impediments blocked me from…” seeing Jesus.
The second story, in the first chapter, he shares about a hard core neighbor who was giving him the finger ( ‘flipping him the bird’) while the author was mowing his lawn. Not sure how to handle it he decided to stop the mower, lifted both hands in the air and return the finger with both hands, he gave him the ‘double bird’. From that point on they became good friends and the neighbor was part of their faith community.
The author committed what he calls sacrilege, the act of taking what is deemed sacred and to disrespect, disregard, and be irreverent toward it. The author states that Jesus was the most sacrilegious revolutionary of all time and he calls his followers to be like him. Jesus was able to influence those around him because of his sacrilegious ways and thus the author uses the beatitudes to help us become like Jesus.

In the second beatitude “Blessed are those that mourn…” the author brought in those verses in Ecclesiastes which tell us that mourning is better than pleasure. Suggesting that for us to be sacrilegious we must risk being with those who hurt and those who are sick. He used the example of the monastic communities in the middle ages how they would move into areas where there was pain instead of moving away from it. The church would move out of areas where there was disease or plague but the monastics moved into those places. Living in Florida, I have sometimes wondered about our push to move away from the oncoming hurricanes when we know that there will be some who will not be able to move. Should we not stay to be able to help those who were unable to move?

This is just one example that the author uses to help us to realize that to be sacrilegious we must begin seeing things from a different perspective. A Jesus perspective. This is a good book and a easy read.