Book: The Last Word and the Word After That

Book: The Last Word and the Word after That: A Tale of Faith, Doubt, and a New Kind of Christianity

The third book in the New Kind of Christian trilogy (I’ve already read A New Kind of Christian and The Story We Find Ourselves In) takes an odd turn – it changes the name of the main “teaching” character from Neo to Neil, trying perhaps to make him seem more nomral. Additionally, in the second half of the book, we see the people who have inspired Neil/Neo’s thinking. Perhaps this is just a literary device so there can be a wider range of conversations.

The main “learning” character – Dan Poole – is a minister who is reconsidering his understanding of Christianity. At the end of the previous book, his church had put him on administrative leave so that they could investigate his doctrine more closely – it seemed that his church was starting to sense that his teaching was heading in the direction of heresy. I was expecting that this would be engaged with a little in the third book, but instead, a couple of caricatured “fundamentalist evangelicals” are introduced, and there’s a story arc around a falling out and a reconciliation.

The majority of the teaching elements in the book are around the concept of Hell, and the concept of church. Again, there are some interesting points being made on both topics, and the chapter of quotes on Hell from various authors seems a good starting point for further study on that topic, but overall, I thought this was the weakest of the trilogy.

lessons from a brief holiday

pretty beach - the view from the top of the stairs

(If you like the look of the above, you could move there and take over a cafe).

I’m just back from a relaxed few days staying (mostly) away from constant internet access. I’ve come back to over 400 unread RSS items, thousands of lost tweets and only tens of unread emails. It was good to be able to spend time with people undistracted by the constant hum of social media.

I asked twitter “what did I miss?” No-one responded with anything.

I love the insights, witty remarks, and the connectedness that comes with social media, but I’ve been reminded of the richness that comes from concentrating on a single thing at a time. Living in close quarters with people I have known for varying lengths of time has taught me afresh that it’s easy for me to be tolerant of people I don’t know very well, but much harder to keep that going when familiarity has kicked in.

It’s been a great few days. Let’s hope I’m able to put some of their lessons into practice.

Book: The Story We Find Ourselves In

Book: The Story We Find Ourselves In.

The second book in the “New Kind of Christian” trilogy by Brian McLaren. The first book – A New Kind of Christian – introduces the characters, and delivers a stack of different doctrinal ideas, many of which have been picked up by a range of people who have subsequently influenced me.

In this book, we have some new characters, including some non-Christian characters, and some more traditional conservative-theology Christians come in too. The purpose of the book is to deliver a stack of doctrine, and the narrative is to make it easier to digest.

It’s a good story – we have characters that we come to care about (perhaps some of the scenes are a little tough to believe), obstacles are overcome, but not everything goes completely smoothly – I suspect this is how we end up with a trilogy, but a little heavy going if you’re trying to read it for the story itself.

Again, I found some aspects of the book where I could agree: I liked the way that they were interacting with the idea of evolution. My main problems with the theology of the book were around the understanding of where Jesus fits into Christianity, and what happens to people who don’t believe.

Having read it, at least, I can see where the language of “story” and perhaps even “conversation” comes from in the emergent (not emerging) church movement.

Have you read it? What were your thoughts about it?

alley break cafe, cronulla

alley break cafe, cronulla

Mecca Espresso Coffee. With only one other restaurant between it and the water, this is a great spot to have a leisurely breakfast and take in some ocean air. Worth noting that it has been completely refurbished, and ownership has changed over since my last review here.

The new chef is from Danks St Depot, and as such, the menu is much more varied and up-market. Sure, the prices are a little higher, but this is a level of food that I haven’t encountered anywhere else in the Shire, much less in Cronulla – perhaps there are a couple of restaurants that are playing at this level, but no cafes.

vegetarian big breakfast at alley break

Coffee (the decaf is freshly ground, and they receive coffee deliveries three times per week to ensure freshness) is really good. They have a team who know what they’re doing, and it’s a good complement to the food on offer.

coffee at alley break

If you’re down at Cronulla looking for a place to actually catch a glimpse of the waves, while enjoying fantastic food and really good coffee, then I would look no further.

Movie: Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang

Movie: Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang

Not necessarily my first choice of film from what’s out at the cinema, but this was the agreed film choice, and Kermode liked it, so I thought I’d give it a try. Sadly, I felt one of the major cast members – Maggie Gyllenhaal – was miscast as the British mum: she still looked too young, and not flustered enough, and it threw me for a while before I could settle in and watch the rest.

It’s a solid, by-the-numbers kids film with a great emotional range, and the story arc is really well arranged for the target audience. We watched this film in a cinema with a range of young kids, and they lapped up all the content that I thought was a bit slow moving and tedious.

If you can get past a couple of words that you might not like your kids to say (all solid British words, though), then you might want to avoid, but in general, this is something that the small children in your life should enjoy.

Has anyone else seen it?