the importance of being foolish
this is a book i found sitting on a table at my mum's house and decided to take with me.
brennan manning is a franciscan priest best known for his book 'the ragamuffin gospel' (which i also have in my possession - review sometime in the future). faced with the choice of reading this book and 'the ragamuffin gospel', i decided to read this one because i like the cover design...
in the event, it turned out to be one of the most impacting christian books i've ever read.
manning begins by emphasising the toughness of the christian calling - as found principally in jesus' sermon on the mount. he notes that christianity has watered down the magnitude of what jesus has called his followers to. his point is that although jesus' teaching is a hard teaching, we should nevertheless still aim to fulfill what jesus has called us to, rather than making excuses for it.
manning goes on to describe the way in which western society is addicted to security, pleasure and power. he describes western christians as 'schizophrenic', and says that we have become expert at sharing ourselves between material concerns and our spiritual calling, rather than letting our spiritual calling consume every area of our lives. serving two masters, he says, leads to anxiety and stress as we are pulled in two directions, constantly trying to cater for both masters.
the antidote for all this, says manning, is an awareness of God's love and an understanding of the cross and resurrection.
when you condense manning's message down like i have here, it sounds a bit confrontational and judgmental, but he has a peculiar knack for being able to deliver straight truths compassionately (a character trait that he has no doubt learned from jesus).
the title - 'the importance of being foolish' - is a little misleading at first. this book is a rewrite of an earlier volume called 'gentle revolutionaries' - which, i think, is probably a more accurate title. there are a lot of verses in the bible that make it clear that foolishness is not really the way to go. but the 'foolishness' that manning refers to is the variety found in 1 Corinthians 1:22-24: "Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God." it is what manning calls "resurrection wisdom" - an inverted kind of wisdom that doesn't make sense unless there has been an experience of God's love and sacrifice.
protestants and pentecostals shouldn't be put off by the fact that this is a catholic author - manning is first and foremost a follower of jesus, and so his message is entirely biblical.
so all in all, an excellent and impacting book. for more info on brennan manning, go to www.brennanmanning.com. highly recommended.
warandpeace-o-meter: 391/981 (volII, bookVI, chapXXIV)
on the stereo: 'green grass of tunnel' by múm, from the album 'finally we are no one'. www.randomsummer.com