There’s so much to discuss in this book. I’m not sure I realized when I started, just how many different discussions we could open up about it, all meaningful and worthwhile probably, but not all equally helpful to the stated goals of this group. And I think Susan Meissner’s comment from last time is the question I want to focus on now.
Why are so many people interested in this book?
I find myself agreeing with most who commented here and I’ve done a lot of thinking and talking about the reasons for this book’s uncommon popularity. Why are people so eager to talk about this book that most agree needed a good editor and breaks many rules about overindulging in attempts to philosophize and pontificate on points of theology in fiction?
When I first read the book, I only half-heartedly wanted to. I wanted to see what the big deal was (this was in December, 2007 before it really became a big deal). My buddy Mike Morrell was going apey about it and I figured I’d give it a shot. But still, I put it off, knowing it was probably the sort of self-published thing I normally rejected (you think I was being cynical here, but sadly it takes a lot for a book to push its way up my stack. Hmm. The Stack could make a good book. Anyway…). I actually asked my overachieving assistant to read it and tell me if there was anything worth discussing in it (I know, but like I said…sadly). She thought it was cool, little wiggy, but definitely not CBA material, so I let it slide a while longer until someone told me it was being released in hardcover and included the story of how it was initially published. I checked it out. That quickly became my favorite part of the book.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
We live in a nation that’s weary of heavy-handed, guilt-laden messages about God. Everywhere are examples of people wounded by the condemnation that comes from supposedly biblical sources. We talk about a personal relationship with Jesus, but we can’t allow ourselves to believe God really wants us to have that with him. We experience fear far more than we understand joy. I’d recently worked on Susan Hill’s book, Closer Than Your Skin (Buy it. Now.) in which her story says largely that: “there is more to this spiritual fulfillment stuff than what you’ve currently seen.” (Last chance.) Her book had a similar effect on me of opening my eyes to something I hadn't considered before. So I thought, That’s pretty cool. These guys had a message to get out that didn’t fit the gatekeepers, so they went around them. And that’s basically what got me through the book.
So now, all of you who have read the book, I want to hear what you think. And those of you who haven’t read it, think about the dialog it’s creating in the Christian community. Sacrilege, heresy, a breath of fresh air, or the best book ever, I see it opening up a conversation that was skimming beneath the surface for a long time. Who is God really? What’s he really like? And what does he really want from us? What’s required? And can we talk about this in fiction, or do we need to keep it strictly within Bible studies and church?
I think talking about this here may help us figure out some things, mainly, what is happening in CBA and some of the ways in which this book is creating a sea change for the way the gatekeepers do business.
Remember, there are no bad comments when phrased as a question. So let your voice be heard.