i have been thinking a lot lately about people and things i am interested in. the books i am reading, music i listen to, people i am interested in, etc.
so, i have added a couple of boxes to the side of this site to show what i am currently listening to and reading.
some of these might be shocking to some. for instance, "blue like jazz" has a huge following in two ways.
one group has read it and has taken miller's self-deprecating thoughts on his own spiritual pilgrimage to be the new orthodoxy, and they want to do a way with anything "fundamental", "conservative", or "doctrinal".
the other group may or may not have read the book, but they are convinced that it is venom from satan himself.
rather than being lumped into the second group, i bought it (on sale, half price) and read it.
my conclusion? for the genre of the book , personal narrative, its not bad. in fact, i actually enjoyed it.
miller does have some ideas and thoughts that i disagree with, but as a whole, his book is refreshing. i am not going to throw out the proverbial baby with the bath water, but hopefully i will seek to love people more after having read his book.
another book i have read recently is mark driscoll's "confessions of a reformission rev.".
driscoll is somewhat of a polarizing personality, and the pastor of a 4,000 member plus church in seattle. some of his methods are less than popular with the conservative resurgence crowd, and so he is villified bu them. other of his methods are seen as too archaic by the emergent church groups, so they dismiss him.
again, as i read his book, i disagreed with parts, laughed when he spoke plainly about certain ideas and attitudes, and was encouraged by a man who knows he has made and will continue to make mistakes. i probably wont change my overall ministry philosophy after reading this book, but i did gain insights and clarity that i would not have if i had not read his book.
on the music front, some people may be surprised that i often listen to "secular" music more than "christian".
by 'christian music" i mean the music that is only played on christian owned radio stations, produced and distributed by labels that only record artists that play in churches and christian festivals. you know, the stuff that if played on a "regular" radio station, people would change the station because compared to even some of the most mediocre music on those stations, "christian" music sounds oddly inadequate, like a high school drama department doing "macbeth" on broadway.
in my opinion, and on a sheerly technical level (production, originality, creativity, lyrically) "christian music" as a whole is awful.
because a person may or not be a professing christian does not dictate whether or not their music is good. i would venture to guess that most people dont buy all of their clothes at christian clothing stores, buy gas at only christian owned gas stations, or buy groceries at christian supermarkets. when you go to the dentist, ill bet your dentist does not engrave you fillings with a cross, and your plumber does have "john 3:16" written on his crescent wrench. so why do we demand that anything "worth hearing/viewing/etc." be christian?
i have no idea.
obviously this has its limits. we should never endorse that which is contrary to the teachings of scripture, especially if it is conceived and received in order to replace the truth of the gospel, or even to compromise it.
we should not be conformed to the image of the world, but by scripture.
but when a lost person sings about having a bad day, or being in love, it does not make jesus like me any less because it speaks to me more than a song by a christian artist who has never written a song about having ever had a day when he felt like he wasnt already in heaven.
but we can learn from and think through ideas and thoughts in light of what we know to be truth. when patty griffin sings her song about the suicide of a homsexual classmate, i think through the people in my life that i never asked " how are you".
we cannot be salt and light to world we have removed ourselves from. and god forbid that we become so arrogant as to think we cannot learn anything from people who are not christians. we may not get our theology from them, but we certainly can learn more about the human experience, and how it is lived without christ. and this should produce a reaction of love and empathy for them, and result in prayer for them. not exclusion.
now i am rambling, but i do have a point. we should not be so quick to judge by our predetermined categories.
back in february, i was present to hear a lecture given by a professor at my own seminary about miller's book, "blue like jazz". i hadnt yet read the book, but i had heard a lot of talk about it, some loving it and others hating it. so i went to hear what i thought would be a fare and balanced review and critique.
overall the seminar was negative, but seemed to be fair as far as i could tell.
then i read the book, and i question whether or not the one speaking ever actually read the book himself.
i do not doubt that he opened the book and flipped pages, but i seriously wonder if he read the book. if he did, i wonder if his mind was made up to hate it before he read it.
when i read the book, i was prepared to disagree with it. and while i did on many points, i was shocked at how it had been so greatly misrepresented in that lecture i had gone to.
i was embarrassed by how willing i was to accept someone else's negative reaction(even to the point of telling others not to read it) without having read it for myself.
and i lost some respect for that professor.
by most accounts and standards, i am as conservative as they come. my heros are mostly dead theologians. i believe that the bible is god's word handed down to us and provides us with what he wanted us to know.
some people would call me a fundamentalist (though i would ask for clarification o f the term)
yet i find it odd that many people i know who are also conservatives would label me as liberal for saying miller's book is "pretty good".
what are we so afriad of? that someone who doesn't vote for the same party that we do might actually have insight into something we could learn from?
let us not be the kind of christian who speaks loudly and often about things because we perceive they are not "christian" enough. before we speak against anything, we should at least have studied it, or examined it. we are not winning anyone to jesus because we condemn that which we do not know.