Earlier this month, I told you about the book I’m writing and teased you with the promise of more excerpts. Never being one to go back on my word (okay, “never” is a bit strong), here is a little more:
On on the title of the book:
“I’ve wanted to write a book for quite a while, but to say it’s a daunting task is a
massive understatement. When I decided to do this, I thought “I’ve written a blog for a year and a half, how hard can it be?” Can you say famous last words? It took
me over two weeks to start and over 6 months to finish. It’s hard to pinpoint the actual genesis for this book; it wasn’t a specific incident that triggered it, things never work out that way for me. No, the ideas here came together over a span of time; months, maybe years. Take the title, for example. It’s a mash-up of two quotations I really like.
I found the first one the way I find a lot of things, wandering the interwebs. This happened far enough back in the mists of time that I don’t remember what I was looking for or where I found it, just that I found it: “Love God, love your neighbor. Nothing else
matters”. The second half comes from ethicist and theologian Stanley Hauerwas. While being interviewed about his book Hannah’s Child: A Theologian’s Memoir, the reporter asked him to sum up what his all books have been about. Hauerwas thought for minute, and then answered “Jesus is Lord and everything else is bullshit.” I know that’s strong language coming from a man of God, but the good Dr. Hauerwas is known for that. While
we’re on the subject of language, it’s a good thing that you were exposed to that kind of talk early on; when I feel it’s necessary to make a point, I’ll use similar language. If that’s
a deal-breaker, maybe this book won’t be for you. I hope you’ll look beyond it, though…”
On weird stuff in the Bible:
If weirdness is your thing, there’s always Balaam’s talking donkey. I’m not sure what’s more odd, the fact that the donkey talks or that Balaam doesn’t blink when it does and
even carries on a conversation with it. I don’t know about you, but if a donkey struck up a conversation with me, I’d be more than a little freaked out. Makes you wonder if old Balaam was smoking the good stuff, doesn’t it? If that’s not weird enough for you, there’s Saul’s bride price to David for his daughter Michal: 100 Philistine foreskins. Of course,
Saul is trying to get rid of David because he realizes the boy is a threat to his power, figuring that, in the process of gathering the foreskins, the Philistines will kill him. But, David, ever the overachiever, goes him one better and brings back 200 foreskins. And, of course, my twisted mind wonders who had to collect the foreskins after David killed all
those Philistines? That’s a detail that makes KP look like a day at the park.”
On American Christianity:
We live in a Christian nation where 1% of the population holds almost 40% of the wealth; a Christian nation that spends 30% of its annual budget, $1,372 billion, on defense while working to cut social programs that benefit the poor. A religion founded on peace, love and helping those in need has morphed into the Church of FuckyouImkeepingmyshit.
Some of the people arguing the hardest in favor of this situation do so from not just from “bully pulpits”, but actual pulpits in real churches. Listen to me because I want you to understand this: leaders of the faith founded by Jesus, who told his followers to feed the hungry, clothe naked, care for the sick, visit the prisoner and welcome the stranger stand before their congregation and say “Screw the poor! Let the lazy bastards get jobs and work like the rest of us!” They say “Don’t expect me to sacrifice any of my security so your family can have basic medical care. That’s not my responsibility.” They say “Damn criminals. They’re getting just what they deserve.” They say “Illegal immigrants are
ruining this country and their rights don’t matter. We need to ship them all back where they came from!” Granted they don’t say quite that way, but the message is the same. Shane Claiborne once said”Christianity is at its best when it is peculiar,
marginalized, suffering, and it is at its worst when it is popular, credible,
triumphal, and powerful” and we prove the truth of this statement everyday
I’m hoping to have it ready for publishing by the middle of February. In the meantime, I have to decide whether to submit it to a publisher or self-publish. I’ll keep you posted on further developements.