I have thought about how I would like to blog about my thoughts as I read this book and I think I am going to post the questions from the aforementioned study guide and my responses to them...so here goes.
1. What impact did the barrage of questions at the beginning of this chapter have on you? How many of the questions have you asked yourself?
Since I was reading out loud to Lauren it was kind of starting to piss me off only because it was getting weird reading aloud all those questions, but that's just me being weird. Seriously though, I love questions especially those that challenge and call into question the "typical" churchy thinking...typical postmodern reaction right? The one question I absolutely love and am excited to read how McLaren fleshes it out is this:
"What if Jesus' secret message reveals a secret plan? What if he didn't come to start a new religion - but rather came to start a political, social, religious, artistic, economic, intellectual, and spiritual revolution that would give birth to a new world?" pp. 4
I love the idea of a revolution...not of fighting and violence but a revolution of the mind! Just the other night Lauren and I re-watched Moulin Rouge and I just love it when John Leguizamo's character Toulouse-Lautrec screams about being children of the revolution.
2. "It doesn't matter what you believe as long as you're sincere." Respond to this statement, and to Brian's analysis of it.
When Lauren asked this question to me the other night my first was response was that I thought it was horseshit. Yeah I know harsh. I only respond harsh because I relate that phrase to the statements praising President Bush that he is a man of conviction and he stands by those convictions no matter what and that if a person changes their opinion about something they are labeled a "flip-flopper". What good are convictions if they are wrong. Just because the President stands by his decision to invade a much weaker country doesn't make him anymore right and he sure as hell shouldn't be praised for it...but I digress.
McLaren's response may be a little better than my own:
"A lot of people say, "It doesn't matter what you believe, as long as you're sincere." They're partly right: sincerity is a precious thing, and arguments about who has the correct beliefs have too often led to arrogance, ugly arguments, and even violence. But believing untrue things, however sincerely, can have its own unintended consequences.
For example, try believing that God will be pleased if you fly an airplane into a tall building, that you can get away with embezzling funds, that you have a personal exemption from sexual propriety, or that your race or religion makes you superior to members of other races or religions. You will become someone nobody respects, including (eventually) you.
But seeking to believe what is true - seeking to see things as closely as possible to the way they really are, seeking to be faithful to what is and was and will be - puts you increasingly in touch with reality and helps you become a wise and good person. It can also make life a lot more meaningful, and enjoyable." pp. 6
I'll give McLaren this one, his response is better than mine. :-)
3. Brian talks about the potential message of Jesus being understood by Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and others, in addition to Christians. You may wish to invite members of various religions to be part of your group, if they aren't already. What might their presence add? Why might Christians need outside perspectives to help them understand the founder of their own religion?
Well, since Lauren and I are reading this book as a couple it might be a little weird to invite somebody else into this intimate moment between a husband and wife. Okay, poor attempt at humor. Anyway, I fully acknowledge that outside perspectives should be welcomed with open arms into a group discussing anything.
In this part of the chapter McLaren discusses how important it is to understand the Jewishness of Jesus since he, himself was Jewish. This may be a no brainer for some people, but growing up in the South in an Independent Fundamental Baptist Church (yeah that's a mouthful) this never occurred to me. I mean we were never outright told that Jesus was a pasty white boy who held to the exact same beliefs and practices as we did, there at a predominately white American church...it was more subtle or maybe it was just what they didn't teach us. It has only been within the last few years that I have realized and come to appreciate the Jewishness of Jesus and how knowing that information creates a completely different image of my Savior.
So that concludes this chapter. I am totally digging on McLaren's gentleness, and shepherding voice...not like an overbearing, over emotional, self-rightious pastor preaching at you but rather a brother who is still on this same journey and just wants to share it with you.