“A funny thing happened to me on the way to the pulpit today” is as familiar a remark in some churches as “It was a quiet week in Lake Wobegon” is on Saturday radio. Take the recent seminary graduate who comes to her first parish. Sermon after sermon includes a story about a seminary classmate, or about the place where she used to live or about how her wedding plans remind her of something in the epistle. Is there anything wrong with sharing one's life and experiences from the pulpit?
I have absolutely nothing new to say about the 23rd Psalm or the tenth chapter of the Gospel of John, and most readers have little need to rehash what they’ve already learned. What I don’t know much about, and what many of us fear to fully and faithfully confront, is the reading from Acts.
Marva Dawn's book is summed up by its title. Dawn opposes power, embraces weakness and fears that the church's embrace of power and fear of weakness has resulted in allowing all too little space in which God may tabernacle.
This is not another Jesus book!" says the jacket blurb on Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza's new work. But though this is not a "historical Jesus" book, it is very much about Jesus, and is informed throughout by the author's reconstruction of Jesus as the founder of an "egalitarian," "Jewish" "emancipatory basileia-of-God movement."
I am not an avid gardener. I like the outdoors but would rather hike or bicycle in it than work in it. So when I read, “Every branch that bears fruit [God] prunes to make it bear more fruit,” I think of my wife, whose approach to pruning is to “whack it down to the ground and see what happens.” Sometimes it works out, sometimes not.
The First Church of St. John, or “the community of the beloved disciple,” as the late Raymond Brown called it, seems a lot like the church around the corner when you read between the lines. Some of the faithful sound a little too sure of themselves. Others confuse the talk with the walk. Some members get mad and leave the church.
Living Jesus: Learning the Heart of the Gospel. By Luke Timothy Johnson. Harper SanFrancisco, 210 pp.
In an earlier book, The Real Jesus (1996), Luke Timothy Johnson criticized the style and self-promotion of the Jesus Seminar and questioned the methods and motives, if not the faith, of some of its members.