Monday, May 17, 2010

Shaking Like a Wet Dog

Someone recommended Dallas Willard’s books to me with “[I] keep thinking of you as he's dealing with a lot of the same concepts/issues.  He agrees that a lot, if not most, of the ways modern "fundagelical" Christians read/interpret/understand the bible and put it into practice have nothing to do with what the bible is actually saying.  He has some interesting ideas about what he thinks it is actually saying, that seem pertinent to your search.”  So I browsed Google Books version of The Divine Conspiracy and checked The Great Omission out of the library.  I thought the first book wasn’t too bad several months ago when I browsed it but didn’t find it inspiring enough to search it out at the library.  The second I’ve had here at the house long enough to read three other (big, fat) books between reading attempts.  Today I forced myself to read more than a couple paragraphs and got as far as page 15 before I slammed it shut in frustration. 

Now you have to understand that I read faster than anyone I know and generally will read every book I pick up cover to cover—from intro, preface, and acknowledgements, to endnotes, and bibliography.  I even read books I thoroughly disagree with just for the pleasure of mentally arguing with the author on every point.  For me to have such difficulty with this book is hugely unusual.  And frustrating because I think (from what I was able to read) that I would actually agree with him that Christianity is a commitment to a life lived on Jesus’ model and not just some fire-proof ticket through the Pearly Gates. 

I just can’t get past his language.  The intro and first chapter that I struggled through are peppered with words like
obedience, need, must, and command; trigger words for me.  Worse, the presentation of why we “must” follow Jesus' “commands” in “obedience” made me feel like there were a lot of shoulds, oughts, and if you’re a true Christian you will.  To be sure I didn’t slight poor Willard, I just skimmed the pages again and he actually doesn’t say “should”, “ought” or delimit Christian-hood, quite.  Perhaps I’m too sensitive—having been beat over the head with the Christian stick too often—but I just don’t think I’m going to be reading any more Willard books any time soon. Maybe there’s a Cliff Notes version I can skim?

Okay, breathing deeply, shaking it off…

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