Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Jesus for President
Monte's Book Club Reading
Section 1 of 4 (pp. 1-63)

I love the mosaic-styled cut and paste visual layout of the text interlaced with images and the millenial-inspired vernacular with which the authors write and interpretively articulate their theologically shaped world-view. The best way to experience this is by reading the introduction to the book. The best way for me to share that was to make a slideshow (see below) for you to experience it yourself. [I also included photos of some other pages and the uber-visual bibliography. Buy the book so I don't go to jail for copyright infringement - plus it's good!]

This first section of the book is a brief summary and effective introduction to the global metanarrative of the Hebrew Scriptures of the Bible. From the creation narrative to slavery in Egypt, from the Exodus to the Exile to the Prophets the writers lift out the reoccuring motif that the Israelites are called to be the People of God through whom God is liberating the world to truly be human. They are called to remember this unique identity as a people whom God was protecting and redeeming, not because of genetic superiority, moral excellence, or intellectual royalty - but because they stood out as poor, enslaved, despised, overlooked and underestimated - the perfect test-tube demonstration of God's power, purpose and passion for humanity. This whole process of liberation from economic oppression, physical slavery, sur-indebtedness, imperialism, and foreign domination was meant to set them apart (which is what the word "holy" means in Hebrew). Their contrasting calendar, customs and culture were intended by God to remind them of their communal identity as this people of God and to even be a direct confrontation with the customs, powers, and economies of the nations and empires they lived among and under. Their culture rooted in this monotheistic belief in the God of the Bible, the God of Abraham and Sarah, of Moses and Myriam, of Elijah and Ruth, of Sabbath and Jubilee was intended to be a "regularly scheduled revolution" which would embody the plan and hope of God for creation.

The two principal questions they ask in this section (pp. 54-55) and I imagine the entire book as a sort of thesis conversation starter) are:

1. What is it that sets the people of God apart as a "holy nation" for God?
2. How has God branded and marked our lives and communities [today]?

Good questions in particular in our time of revolt against an evangelical-named dominant culture in our nation that has been subverted or hijacked (take your choice) by political parties, economic multinational powers and imperalistic media movements to further other ends. What is actually Christian about us and our communities? What is unique about our worship gatherings founded upon a communal following of Jesus when many of them our shaped by Hallmark inspired holidays, imperialistic nationalism, and/or economic trends? If we're really called to holiness, to be set apart, it doesn't seem (at least in the majority or dominant forms of Christianity in the USA) to be all that visible? And when it is - it's either under the radar - or upfront and centered and twisted around like the ministry of Jeremiah Wright. Time for a revolution. Or at least to address the one that has already emerged.

What do you think?

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