Fear of the Other: No Fear in Love, William H. Willimon, Abingdon Press, 2016.
True to form, Bishop Willimon approaches theological themes in a no-nonsense and gutsy matter. This little book (less than 100 pages) is the Bishop’s response to the rhetoric of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. “If not for them,” Willimon writes, “I would not have been asked to write this book.”
Willimon shows no fear in addressing current social topics. He covers it all. The desire for a bigger wall across the border to keep out Hispanics. The call to keep Muslims out of the country. The exclusion of LGBT individuals in the life of the church. And, he even takes on Jerry Falwell, Jr.
Last Call: From Serving Drinks to Serving Jesus, Jerry Herships, Westminster John Knox Press, 2015.
Jerry Herships is unlike any minister you have met before. His experiences alone before receiving his call to ministry are enough to fill a book. But add to that what he is doing in Denver and it makes this memoir even more compelling.
A former altar boy who had vast dreams of being the next Johnny Carson, Herships tended bar as he worked to make ends meet with his various comedy and game show gigs. These aren’t the usual experiences that one who is called to ministry is expected to have. But Jerry isn’t your typical pastor. His book tells his story of moving to LA to chase his dream of becoming the Carson for a new generation to forming a new faith community – a bar church – known as AfterHours Denver.
AfterHours is more than just a church that meets in a bar, it has decided to focus on the homeless in Denver by gathering in community and fixing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to give out to the homeless. This affirms that traditional church and traditional worship is not for everyone. Herships found a way to be in ministry with those who otherwise would not darken a church sanctuary. In addition to handing out food and water, this church shares in communion with 700+ people a week in Civic Center Park.
The Sky is Falling, The Church is Dying, and Other False Alarms, Ted A. Campbell, Abingdon Press, 2015.
Ted Campbell, a United Methodist clergy person and professor at Southern Methodist University, uses his position in the church as a historian to examine the claim that the church is dying. He addresses the myth, as he calls it, focusing on the mainline churches – or old-line churches – that seem to be suffering from a membership hemorrhaging. All while it appears that the more contrastive, evangelical churches are growing.
This has been a commonly stated problem for the mainline church, which Campbell identifies as United Methodist, Presbyterian (USA), Episcopal in the USA, United Church of Christ, among others, since Dean Kelley’s Why Conservative Churches are Growing was published in 1972.
Below is my sermon from yesterday, on Christian Education Sunday. It is a sermon in rhyme. As requested, the text is provided as well (though I probably have a few commas in the wrong places). If you use the Podcast app, you can listen by subscribing here.
In her book, “For the Love,” Christian writer, blogger, and DIYer, Jen Hatmaker provides a collection of essays ranging from helicopter parenting to the future of Christianity. The idea for her book comes from a phrase she acknowledges she says a lot: “For the love.” It’s like saying, “Good grief,” or “WTF?” in different situations. Each essay (chapter) covers something that she has encountered that has caused her to utter the words, “For the love.”
The target audience for this book is the large number of women readers that have been congregating around Hatmaker for the last several years thanks to successes like her book “7.” Having said that, I enjoyed reading this book (there were some sections I skipped over). Haymaker comes from an evangelical background, which she explains at different points, highlighting the good things that came from that and the more challenging things. At her current place in life, a 40-something writer, mom, and pastor’s wife, she recognizes that church no longer needs to be the way it was.