ERB, Vol 1 , #12

The Englewood Review of Books

Vol. 1, No. 12    21 March 2008

Diving for pearls in the endless stream of books (Eccles. 12:12B)

Chris Smith, editor

 

 

 

“Jesus is Lord!

Jesus is President?”

 

A Review of  

Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw’s

Jesus for President.

By Chris Smith.

 

As we celebrate Holy Week and the resurrection of Jesus, lifting up our proclamation that “Jesus is Lord,” it seemed like Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw’s new book Jesus for President would be an ideal book to review this week.  After all, we do need to be reminded often that proclaiming Jesus as Lord was, in its original context, a political statement.  This new book is a beautiful reminder that the proclamation “Jesus is Lord” is rooted in a story that is unfolding in human history, a story in which God is the Creator of all and thus sovereign over all parts of the creation. (The adjective “beautiful” is doubly appropriate here, as the book not only features Chris and Shane’s poignant story-telling, but also is filled throughout with the lovely artwork and edgy design of Ryan and Holly Sharp, a.k.a. sharpseven design and a.k.a. the musical duo, The Cobalt Season.  Kudos to Zondervan for shelling out the extra money for full-color design, it is one of the book’s strongest assets.)

            The first section of Jesus for President spans the history of the Hebrew Scriptures, telling the story of the Israelite people and the setting of the stage for the coming of Jesus, the Messiah.  The story highlights the political elements of the Hebrew story: creation, God’s calling of a people in the descendents of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Israel’s rejection of God in wanting a human king and the role of the prophets in counter-balancing the kings.  Shane and Chris make the Hebrews scriptures come alive as a single unified story that is driving toward the coming of Jesus Christ.

            The book’s second section focuses on the life and teachings of Jesus.  The most helpful part of this section was the exploration of the language that Jesus used and how that language paralleled common terms of Imperial Rome.  Terms that have a strong religious connotation in American culture today – like Gospel and Lord – are explained as having very specific political meanings within the context of the Roman Empire.  In a similar vein, later in this section, the authors describe the parallels between Caesar’s coronation and procession and that of Jesus.  This section of the book provides a superb demonstration of why questions of allegiance are so important to disciples of Jesus.

            In the third section of the book, the authors trace the theme of the Kingdom of God through Church history and particularly highlight eras in which the Church was, to a great extent, assimilated to surrounding culture.  The prime example of this assimilation was the era of Constantine in which the Church and the Empire became one. The authors also provide a concise, but excellent, treatment of the assimilation of the Church in the culture of the United States, and in particular how our imagination in recent decades has been held hostage as much by economic demons as by those of the state.  This section concludes with the poignant stories of two former U.S. soldiers who have resigned from their military roles as a result of their commitment to Jesus Christ.  As we have seen clearly demonstrated in The Irresistible Revolution, Shane’s writing is most captivating when in story-telling mode, and these stories are brilliant examples of the sort of cultural resistance that the authors have built an historical case for in the first three sections of the book.

            It is once again the stories that shine in the final section of the book, the theme of which is an examination of what it means for us to follow in the radical way of Jesus that has been traced through history in the book’s first three sections.  These stories embody the Gospel that the church has proclaimed in her faithfulness throughout the centuries, and it is in them that we are reminded that Christian discipleship is not just for our own individual salvation, but rather for the reconciliation of the whole violently rebellious creation.  Here we collide again with Shane’s frequent assertion that another world is indeed possible, a world in which the way of Jesus reigns supreme.  The book concludes with a series of mini-essays, variations on the theme “(For the sake of our continuing conversion into the way of Jesus,) we need new…”  The authors eloquently and pointedly contend that God’s people today need new celebrations, new language, new rituals, new songs, new liturgy, new eyes and new holidays.  It is by submitting our church communities to serious reflection on themes like the ones offered in these final pages of Jesus for President, that we will continue to be converted out of the bondage to the “pattern of this age” (Rom. 12:2), and into the way of Jesus.

            The book also offers several wonderful appendices at the back of the book.  The authors also cleverly provide copies of the appendices and a couple of additional ones on the book’s website: www.jesusforpresident.org  Of particular interest in the appendices is the authors’ examination of Romans 13, a biblical passage that has often been used in defense of unquestioning cooperation with the government.  Also of note is the “bookshelf,” in which books that elaborate on the themes of Jesus for President are creatively displayed.  It was encouraging to us that many of titles on this shelf are ones that we at Englewood have been encouraging other churches to read.

            Jesus for President is a wonderful book, a meaty follow-up to Shane’s The Irresistible Revolution.  The content and design of the book lend themselves well to use by younger – i.e., High school or college audiences.  How wonderfully appropriate it would be if youth, college and young adult groups in churches across our land would read and discuss this book during the Easter season of this election year, a time when the Church has traditionally celebrated the lordship of Jesus!  Although the book’s first three sections might not be the most stimulating for readers who have already wrestled with the theological work of thinkers like Jacques Ellul, John Howard Yoder or Gerhard Lohfink (who are all, by the way, featured on the bookshelf at the end of the book), the book’s artwork and the challenging stories of the book’s final section are well worth the book’s price tag for any follower of Jesus! 

 

Jesus For President: Politics for Ordinary Radicals.

           Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw.  Paperback.  Zondervan.  2008. 

              Buy now from:  [ Doulos Christou Books $13 ]      [ Amazon.com ]

 

 

[ A note on buying books: We offer you the opportunity to buy the books listed here, either directly from our little independent bookstore (Doulos Christou Books), or through amazon.com.  The prices listed for our bookstore do not include shipping or Indiana sales tax.  Local folks can arrange to pick up their books from either our Lockerbie or Englewood stores.  If you want to buy a book and are having trouble with the links in this email, drop us an email – douloschristou@gmail.com – and we’ll see that you get the book(s) you want. ]

 

 

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Anyone can obtain a free subscription to THE ENGLEWOOD REVIEW by sending an email with the words “SUBSCRIBE ERB” in it to: DoulosChristou@gmail.com

 

Used Book Finds

 

The bread-n-butter of our bookstore business is the sale of used books, and we do a fair amount of scouting around for used books each week.  In this section we will feature some of the interesting books that we have found in the past week.  Generally, we will only have a single copy of these books, so if you want one (or more) of them, you’ll need to respond quickly.

 

 

What Would Jesus Buy?

Reverend Billy.

              Trade Paperback.   2006.

            Good /Fair Condition.  Clean Pages.  X-library copy. Moderate to Heavy Wear.

            Buy now from:  [ Doulos Christou Books $3 ]

 

 

The Ballad of the White Horse.

            G.K. Chesterton

Paperback.  Catholic Authors Press.  1950.  Good.

              Clean pages / Moderate wear.

            Buy now from:  [ Doulos Christou Books $6 ]

 

 

A Heart for the City: Effective Ministries to the Urban Community.

            John Fuder, Ed.             

Hardback.  1999. Like New.

             Clean, crisp pages / Very minimal wear.

            Buy now from:  [ Doulos Christou Books $10 ]

 

 

Reviewed Elsewhere

 

Byron Borger of Hearts and Minds Books

reviews several recent books on racial reconciliation.

 

http://www.heartsandmindsbooks.com/booknotes/race_racism_reconciliation_and/

 

“LOTS of people are talking about Obama’s speech about race, his relationship to his pastor, Jeremiah Wright, and other ways in which race (and gender) have shaped the Democratic primary and, by extension, the civic discourse over recent weeks.  I, too, have been emailing friends and talking—for hours and hours over the several days—sharing my own interests and concerns and opinions about racial justice, Martin Luther King, and the charges against Rev. Wright.  It has reminded me of much that I hold dear, and I feel very raw about it all.  I have been through a little bit on this stuff, from the late 60s onward, but have no special insight, really, although [geek alert:] I have read more than your average person on this matter.  And so, it is only natural that I share a few titles with you now, my contribution to the on-going conversations about race, multi-culturalism, ethnicity and the legacy of American’s original sin.

I’ve compiled other similar bibliographies, other times at the website, and we have a very large selection of books on racism and multi-ethnic ministry here at the shop.  Few churches, sadly, are truly working on this, so there they sit.

 

Read the full review:
              
http://www.heartsandmindsbooks.com/booknotes/race_racism_reconciliation_and/   

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove. 

Free to Be Bound: Church Beyond the Color Line. 

             Paperback.  NavPress.  2008.

            Buy now from:  [ Doulos Christou Books $10 ]      [ Amazon.com ]

 

George Yancey.  

Beyond Racial Gridlock: Embracing Mutual Responsibility.

Paperback. IVP. 2008.

            Buy now from:  [ Doulos Christou Books $12 ]      [ Amazon.com ]

 

 

Greg Boyd reviews Chuck Colson’s God and Government.

            http://gregboyd.blogspot.com/2008/03/review-of-colsons-god-government.html

“… Chuck Colson is one of the most respected, influential voices in the modern Evangelical movement. His book God & Government is an important one, for in this work we find Colson’s seasoned reflections on the relationship between Church and State.

Having heard Colson speak on many political matters on his daily radio broadcast (“Breakpoint”), I was frankly surprised by how much I agreed with this book. Whatever else one might think of Colson’s perspective, one can’t deny that he is extremely informed, sophisticated and nuanced in his understanding of culture and politics. At the same time, there is much in this book I found troubling. In fact, as will become clear, the part that troubled me also puzzled me, for it seemed to me to be inconsistent with all the material I agreed with.

I’ll first outline two areas of Colson’s book that I agreed with and then discuss the aspect of his thinking I disagreed with and found puzzling.…”

Read the full review: 
         
http://gregboyd.blogspot.com/2008/03/review-of-colsons-god-government.html  

Chuck Colson. God and Government.
            Paperback.  Zondervan. 2007.
               
Buy now from:    [ Doulos Christou Books $12 ]       [ Amazon.com ]

Greg Boyd. Myth of a Christian Nation.
          
Paperback.  Zondervan. 2007.
            
Buy now from:    [ Doulos Christou Books $12 ]       [ Amazon.com ]

[ Oddly enough, these two books were released in the same month by Zondervan… ]

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