I'm bummed this week.
Another book has been released in the world of Christianity. I haven't read it yet. I'm gonna. Apparently it's got some controversial ideas written in it.
I've read a few blog posts, a few reviews, watched an interview of the author. And once again I am so very disappointed in a couple of things.
First - People who voice immovable opinions without having read the book.
Some have suggested they had originally planned to read the book before forming an opinion, but then they saw an interview, and since they were certain the interviewer had pre-read the book, and since they were also certain that what the interviewer got from the book was what was intended, they no longer felt the need to read the book themselves in order to form an immovable opinion.
Others have started their comments with, "I have never read anything by this author, and don't know anything about him, but ...."
I'm not saying that one shouldn't watch interviews or read reviews, or whatever. I'm not saying that one should read every single book out there. (Good grief.) But for me ... if I'm going to have a really strong opinion about a specific book ... it just seems to me that I should probably read it for myself.
Second - People who attribute nasty motives or character defects to theological differences.
I don't know what I will think of this book. But I don't expect to come to the conclusion that the author is out to destroy people or undermine the worldwide Christian faith. I hope I don't make statements that accuse him of "never having read the Bible". I mean, come on - seriously?
If I'm honest, I will say that there are certainly a few (or more) authors / leaders / influential people in the Christian world with whom I really struggle. I've probably ranted a few times in private conversations. I wonder how on earth they can come to the conclusions they do. I think some of them need to deal with a few issues of their own before publishing books. I think that too often we refuse to allow people to do what followers of Jesus have been doing for centuries - asking questions, exploring possibilities, re-imagining traditions, genuinely attempting to understand and live by the essence of our faith.
I watched the author - who, incidentally, is exactly my age - in an interview that seemed to me to be set up against him from the beginning. I read comments by people taking personal, sometimes vindictive, satisfaction in "watching him squirm". And found myself mighty thankful that I wasn't in his seat. I like having a challenging conversation. I'm comfortable with talking about what I believe to be true. I'm passionate about my faith. But when someone tries to corral me into a 30-second "either-or" answer to a profoundly complex question, it ticks me off. I walk away.
Which probably doesn't work in televised interviews.
So I'm bummed.
Because I really do care about the ancient and mysterious and simple and everyday-world-engaging spirituality that finds its foundation in the story of Jesus, and in the sacred text of the Bible. It defines me (at least I hope it does). And I wish we were better at exploring, and talking, and even deeply, immovably disagreeing every now and then, while still treating each other with kindness.
I know it's idealistic.
But ... I guess ... so am I. And I kinda think the Church should be too.
isn't that the craziest thing.