Hey, with all my connections (yeah, right) in the big publishing world (ha) do you think I could score an advanced copy of Doug Pagitt’s forthcoming book? I’ve been his pal on Facebook, not to mention in real life, joined up with his promo team, and asked the officials at his otherwise friendly publisher. But nooooooooooooooo, as Belushi used to say. No dice. So it is now released, just came today and I’m not hip like the other hipster reviewers with a leg up.
Maybe it’s bad karma because I harbor a secret dislike for the title, a dislike that is secret no more. What? Real, orthodox, ordinary, historic, decent faith, like the kind of my mother and father, ain’t believable? Maybe Dougie doesn’t know the right people, solid and good and utterly orthodox in belief and lifestyle.
Okay. Got that off my chest. I probably wouldn’t have had time to read an advanced copy anyway, and I’m really not that peeved by the title, just wary of an implied jab, which I suppose it may be, of old school faith. Nevertheless, I am very excited it is here, and, provocative title or no, it is gonna be a late night. I can’t wait to start reading this thing, eager to ponder and dream and hope and probably be convinced that the title is just fine. I hear it is a bit autobiographical, too, and I love a good testimony.
Anyway, any book with such a great subtitle has to be taken seriously; listen to this: A Christianity Worth
Believing is Hope-filled, Open-Armed, Alive-and-Well Faith For the Left Out, Left Behind, and Let Down in Us All. So there ya go, the new book by one of the leading voices of the open-ended emergent conversation about the nature of faith in our time, pastor of Solomon’s Porch, author of Church Re-Imagined and Preaching Re-Imagined, and an odd little prayer book called Body Prayer (yep, check that out if the sacred-secular dualism weirds you out or if you’ve heard that God somehow dislikes our bodies.) CWB is for anybody who feels left and or let down. Excellent.
I like Doug as lot. He has a little reputation for being a bit of a loose canon, maybe even with a big mouth, albeit one that laughs a lot. So? As my friend Vince used to say, “It takes an agitator to get the cloths clean.” I’ve always found Doug to be a caring gentleman, a fun speaker, an engaged spiritual leader, winsome and sincere. I have no idea what he will say here, but I suspect he’s going to be saying things that need saying; as a pastor of an informal church that invites the mixed up to feel safe and a part of the community, I suspect that the theology he’s doing here will be contextualized to the hurting and disaffected, the needy and, well, left out. He will say it in creative ways, relish in the calling to make us think, and I am confident he will interact with Scripture. Maybe he will overstate some things, or understate some things, I don’t know. I just hope folks give him a chance and that those fearful of this edge of the Body of Christ don’t overstate their critique. He’s an honest brother, hanging out in the Kingdom of God, offering what Phyllis Tickle says is “emergence Christianity at its clearest and best.”
Check out Pagitt’s own description of this, his most ambitious book yet, here. It is a very, very nice introduction to the project, how and why he came to write it, and his awareness of the complexities of it all. (Just don’t click on the silly corporate links at the end, but come on back here, please.)
So, come on, join me and many others this week in finding time to read this must-read book, to think, pray, ponder, and, if the Spirit uses it to work a change in your heart, you will be that much more passionate and alive, reaching those who perhaps haven’t yet seen a Christianity Worth Believing. Or for whatever reason have grown sour on faith as they used to know it. Maybe you’ll give a copy or two away to somebody who needs just this approach. May God be pleased to use it well. I am sure nothing would make Doug happier.
A Christianity Worth Believing: Hope-Filled, Open-Armed, Alive-and-Well Faith for the Left Out, Left Behind, and Let Down in All of Us Doug Pagitt (Jossey Bass) $21.95
A Christianity Worth Believing
Hearts & Minds 234 East Main Street Dallastown, PA 17313 717.246.3333