Merry Christmas everybody. I am enjoying the break so far. It's good to spend time with family and friends and curled up with a book and no deadline and no competing responsibility (although, come to think of it, there are a few other things I need to accomplish.... whatever.)
So what have I been reading? First Blue Like Jazz (thanks Kent for the lender.) I started out skeptical, Miller's voice seemed a little heavy-handed to me, but once I got used to him I became rather fond of him. And I really liked the things he had to say about the role of the church and about community. Miller reminded me of something that seems obvious, but is also profound: being a christian (and being a human, maybe) is not about ME. It's about loving God and loving other people because God loved us first and being authentic about it. In fact, both Miller and McLaren (in my next reading adventure) really care about relationship and authenticity. And those are ideas that have been bouncing around in my head for several years now, but got articulated more fully by these writers.
Now, I've always been a big fan of community. Community is what I love about my churches (both the one I grew up in and the one I choose to attend now) and a lot of what I love about Calvin. I really like the way Donald Miller talks about faith happening in community - we work together to find out more about who God is and how we're supposed to live. I had always sort of thought of community as the place faith gets acted out instead of the place it gets developed, and it is surely both. But the idea of developing your faith through dialogue and discussion and reading books and talking about them or maybe posting about them on your blog is so consonant with the way I actually do develop and learn. This seems fairly obvious to me now that I've typed it, but also important. There's other good and interesting ideas in Blue Like Jazz too, but this is the one on my mind right now.
And it's an idea that shows up in A New Kind of Christian too. Although it's less central to that one. I'll keep on thinking about that book (I just finished it tonight) and maybe grace both of my readers with some thoughts on that soon.