Friday, June 30, 2006

Review: Lamb by Christopher Moore

It's just been in the past few weeks that I've become acquainted with the work of Christopher Moore. In all honesty, I'd never even heard of the guy until Marko remarked that he'd been reading Moore's newest work and that it was great. So, after a little Googling to see if it was the sort of stuff I might be interested in, I started keeping my eyes open. I found the one Marko was talking about in the bookstore but, well, it's new and new books are, um, expensive. At least the hardcover one's are. And I'm not exactly made of the money, you know? So, my head hanging low, I trudged off only to a few days later peruse my local Goodwill bookstore. That's right, our town is so happening we have a whole Goodwill store devoted solely to books! Woo hoo! Anyway, I thought to look for some Christopher Moore and lo and behold, I found Lamb and Fluke there for like six bucks total. Sweet.

Well, let me first give you the full title of the book. It's: Lamb - The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal. That alone ought to tell you something. My more conservative friends are thinking to themselves, "Yeah, it ought to tell you that it's a waste of time". Well, phooey on you. I really enjoyed this book. I'll admit, it is definately not for everybody. If you're easily offended or take issue with what some might call "colorful language", well, stay away. However, if you're up for a good laugh, and some stuff that at the very least makes you think, then check this out.

In the style of Douglas Adams, Lamb essentially sets out to fill in the gaps that the Gospel accounts leave open, namely the thirty or so years that go relatively unspoken of regarding Jesus' life and upbringing. Moore takes Jesus, or Josh as he is referred to here (which is accurate considering the Hebrew, Yeshua, is essentially our, Joshua) and his best friend, Levi who is called Biff, from about the age of five or six up through the crucifixion. Biff has been resurrected for the purpose of writing an additional Gospel due to some sort of anniversary of the birth of Christ. Well, Biff sets out to do just that. In the meantime, he sneaks a peak at the Gideon Bible in the hotel in which he and the angel supervising his work take up residence.

Biff takes issue with much of the Gospel accounts, considering them both insufficient and, well, a bit candy coated. Plus, they hardly mention him! So, Biff sets out to set the record straight. The story covers everything from the development of Josh's healing ministry to his learning how to multiply food. It has Josh and Biff travel to distant lands where the duo learn ancient secrets of wisdom, and kung fu, from the likes of the Three Wise Men. Through it all, despite what some might assume, Moore deftly deals with the purity of the Christ figure. While Moore's Josh is certainly not really our Jesus, nor does Moore fully intend him to be, Joshua is consistently the moral mover and shaker of the book. Biff, however, is not and is definately the ultimate comic relief within the whole work.

Christopher Moore has, self-admittedly, set out to craft an entertaining story that draws from the greatest story ever told. It is not intended to be fact nor is that stated anywhere unlike a certain Mr. Brown's work. And Moore has succeeded. Lamb is damn funny, and makes you think. It truly can be a driving force in helping one to ask some important questions about faith. Or, it can just be a good summer read. Either way, it's worth checking out.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

I Haven't Forgotten You, My Lovely Blog...

I haven't forgotten about this thing. I've just been swamped and/or tired. So, I can't blog right now. I just can't. But, perhaps tonight will provide the time and impetus necessary. For my reference:

Angelina Jolie
Sibling class
Christopher Moore

Thanks for indulging me this rambling. Something more coherent to follow soon!

Monday, June 19, 2006

If at First You Don't Succeed....

So, this past weekend, my wife suggested that we try going to a Saturday night church service. Now, I've been warming up to the idea of getting back into church and tried to be open as we headed off. It's a church whose Sunday services we've attended before. Anyway, we went.

I tried. I really, really did. But for whatever reason, upon opening the door to get out of the car in the parking lot, my defenses went back up. I questioned the happy faces that greeted us at the door. One gentleman, as he shook my hand, exclaimed, "Hey! Good to see you!" Now, I know that this behavior, in and of itself, is not bad. It's good to smile at people, to greet them and such, but for whatever reason, cynicism, skepticism, and the like, I questioned it.

During the song service, I sang along but it felt forced. I looked around at people, hands raised in the air, clapping and dancing, and thought to myself in the words of the old Righteous Brothers song, "You've lost that loving feeling". And I have. I guess part of me is envious of those people. I would like to be a part of something that I truly could get behind, that I could truly put my trust in. But the institutional church is not that entity for me. Some will argue that I must simply forgive past hurts and get over it. To a degree, they're right. However, don't judge me as harshly unless you've walked a mile in these shoes. Others will say that I must be part of something if I'm going to help change it. They're right too, to a degree.

I don't know. It's yet another quandry I find myself in. I look to the Scriptures. I look to the church. In all honesty, they don't look the same near enough for me. I'm not sure what role I'm to play in that just yet but I'm seeking it out. I want to be part of the solution, part of the new revolution, part of the generation that throws off the old and puts on the new, walking in truth and light. I've just got to figure it out.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


Last night, after class, when I usually just chat with my classmates for a moment in the parking lot before dashing off in hopes of getting home at a relatively decent time, I instead stood in the parking lot talking for an hour plus with my good friend, Dan. We don't agree on some issues and that's fine. We agree to disagree but are both at least open to dialogue on the issues. In all honesty, last night I saw a new side to my friend. There were some interpersonal things that just oozed out and some intellectual concepts as well. I guess, well, I don't know. It was just one of those conversations that left you thinking. I think that's a great conversation.

Some items we discussed included the dogmatism held by many conservative, Protestant evangelicals. Now, to some degree, I'd put myself in that group. Yet, like my friend, Dan, there is a point to which I'll be willing to admit, although sometimes begrudgingly, that I'm, and this was his phrase of the evening, "not sure that I know what I know". The essential genesis of this idea was the almost blatant refusal to accept, agree with, or discuss some of the more liberal theologians of the twentieth century and before. These men, in their own right, were brilliant people who truly were in a search for truth. They were bound to their times in some sense, in the sense that they were birthed from a culture that held to a certain way of thinking that perhaps we do not now. But did they ask the important and compelling questions? Did they with honesty, humility, and genuineness seek to answer those questions? And can we not learn from them, both positively and negatively, and at least admit that some of our dogmatism is more of a cultural construct than something that we fully "know that we know"?

I don't know...I've got to think about it for a bit...

Friday, June 09, 2006

Some, um, interesting links...

I've just run across these links the past couple of days and thought I'd share. The first gets a hat-tip to Marko:

Interesting Japanese ice cream flavors...

Just keep clicking next and see what yummy gastronomic inventions those wacky Japanese have thrown together. I guarantee you won't look at your Ben & Jerry's the same way again!

The other link I picked up from a message board somewhere along the way and honestly don't remember who I got it from so please forgive me. But, either way, for those of us suffering from American Idol withdrawal, I offer to you some decent song clips from he who should have been dubbed "idol", Chris Daughtry. And, ironically, they're clips of some worship songs! Pretty cool, I thought...

Chris Daughtry clips

Okay, I guess that's all for now. Soon I'm going to be posting reviews of a couple of books I've graciously received for free pending reviews. They include Jason Boyett's new, Pocket Guide to the Bible, a serious but also tongue-in-cheek intro to the Scriptures, and Scot McKnight's, Praying with the Church! Keep your eyes open!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Keeping myself accountable...

Okay, this past January I set some goals. They were not resolutions but were honest and heartfelt goals that I thought would be worthy of my time this year. I thought that since we have just passed the midway mark through the year it would be a fine occasion to look to those goals and see where we stand. Thanks for humoring me.

Goal #1: Read all the unread books I have in my library. I'm going to track my reading this year just for the heck of it and I really need to work my way through a bunch of books I already own!
Okay, I'm so so here. I have read some of the books in my library but at the same time have, well, amplified said library with occasional trips to the bookstore as well. But, some is better than none. There's some improvement here at the least!

Goal #2: Finish up my bachelor's degree, finally.
August 1st will be my last day of class and I will be free, free, free. Thank God Almighty, I'll be free!

Goal #3: Take a vacation. I haven't really had one in nearly seven years, since our honeymoon. It's time for a legitimate getaway.
While we didn't really take a getaway to anyplace special, just a week or so ago Erin and I took a whole week off together in order to just breathe and regroup before our new edition decides to make her pretty face seen. It was wonderful and relaxing and we're looking forward to more times of peace like this!

Goal #4: Go on a spiritual retreat, preferably to a monastery.
We'll have to see about this one. It's going to depend upon how things are with Peyton when she's born and such!

Goal #5: Write. And then write some more. I can't aspire to be a writer, or whatever, if I don't in fact actually discipline myself to do just that. My initial goal is to build to writing for at least a half hour a day and go from there.
Okay, the half an hour a day thing isn't happening just yet but I have started writing some. I've had one article published on the RELEVANT site and am working on a few other things to submit to them and to INFUZE just for the heck of it. I really want to keep working at it and refining my craft if I could.

Goal #6: Be intentional about developing community with others and loving and serving them as Christ.
Hmm...Not sure how to evaluate this one. I have begun meeting regularly with a couple friends in order to just come together and discuss life and faith together. I've also made some conscious efforts to be more loving and missional as I encounter others. I've got a long way to go though...

Goal #7: Turn the television off more.
We're doing pretty good on this one. While Erin still likes firing it up quite a bit despite my encouragement that she pick up one of those antiquated items known as books, we've kept it quiet a little better than we were. I've just been fueled lately with a voracious appetite for reading and have been trying to devour books. Not sure why but I'm enjoying what I'm reading thus far. Currently, I'm reading The Soul of Sex, by Thomas Moore; Irresistible Revolution, by Shane Claiborne; and Stranger Than Fiction, by Chuck Palahniuk.

Goal #8: Experience silence and solitude more.
This is one I still struggle with but I'm doing better. Solitude is difficult to come by, especially with a family but I try. Silence comes and goes but I'm doing better. Still some work to be done.

Goal #9: To take action against injustices in practical ways. To align myself with organizations and needs that I can take part it in order to help and serve others.
I've still got some work to do in this area but the drive to do this is growing and growing. I feel a burden within that keeps pushing me to engage and start utilizing what I've learned rather than to allow it just in my head.

Goal #10: Love more, especially in terms of my family. To make more tangible effort to show them that I love them deeply and truly.
Hopefully, I'm doing this. Time will be the ultimate response to this one.

Well, there we are. Again, thanks for going along with me here so I can see where I'm at. I obviously have some room for improvement but am confident that we'll get it worked out!

Friday, June 02, 2006

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Family Force 5 - "Kountry Gentleman"

Worthwhile reading...

I just read this blogpost by Dan Kimball, pastor of Vintage Faith Church. Kimball's heart here and the expressions shared by those in his congregation mirror much of what my previous post was trying to get at. I'm really at a point where I'm done critiquing church. Now I want to be a part of the movement that both reimagines and reinvigorates it. Check out the post:

I Dream of a Church...

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Turning the Tide...

Just recently, I've got to admit that my heart has been shifting a bit. For the past two years I've been sort of stuck in a rut in terms of my relationship with the Church. Actually, I've never really had a problem with the Church as I view it in terms as being the "Body of Christ", or the "Bride of Christ", as I perceive the Bible to teach that it is. Rather, my issue has been with the organization and institution that has borrowed the name "church" and has led to not a little pain and suffering. I've felt the sting of the pain and suffering firsthand, from the inside, and that's part of the reason that I joined the exodus away. The secondary reason, and perhaps, in the long run, the more critical reason, is that I began to see through a new set of eyes, eyes that I now feel are vindicated the more I search the Scriptures of the Bible for truth and light. I see a Christ who calls us to love and forgive rather than gather stones and work on our pitching arms. I see a Christ who commands us to train to take a punch rather than to throw one. I see a Jesus who, rather than sharing a biblical budgeting plan complete with 401K incentives and a Christmas turkey, instead challenges us to leave all, sell all, and give to the poor and the marginal. This is what I've learned in the past two years.

We are called to live a life that is separate from that of the world. Yet the church looks more like the world than we're willing to admit. We build big buildings, put on fancy shows, adopt musical styles, tailor our services in being "seeker sensitive". In some respects, these are not bad things. The problem is, for so many within the church, that's where it stops. We're given messages that challenge us to love our families, be wise with our finances, and bring someone to church. Woo freakin' hoo! Dr. Phil could have given me that advice. What makes us different? What makes us something apart from the world?

That's the question that I'm warming to now. I'm warming to the idea, bizarre as it might sound, of diving back into the church subculture with the heart to work at living right within it and helping to transform it. There are people hungry for the true gospel, a gospel that calls us out and sends us to love, forgive, heal, and care. There is a greater call, a more beautiful call, that Christ has upon my life, upon our lives. I want to learn to love others, to see the Jesus in them. I have to start now.