Thursday, January 20, 2011

Review: Fasting: The Ancient Practices Series Scot McKnight

Review:
Fasting: The Ancient Practices Series
Scot McKnight
Tomas Nelson
2009

Fasting from The Ancient Practices Series is another of the books that seeks to encourage the reader to consider a practice that most religious orders practiced regularly in the past. Fasting is one that has all but been forgotten in most Christian circles. The reasons for that are varied according to McKnight but primarily because of loss of the notion that the body and soul is an integrated unit.
He opens with a discussion of body image, one that focuses on the link between the body and the spirit and develops the theme from there. One development from that is the reason an individual fasts at all. It is not as he points out repeatedly to obtain some favor from God. It is he thinks an expression that comes from a significant or as he calls it “grievous” (xviii) sacred moment. His definition works but it will take the reader a while to understand what he means by it.
The book overall is gently written and well thought out. It certainly helped me get a better understanding of fasting. As some have noted the opening is slow. I found myself counting how many different ways he could say the same thing on one page early on in the book. Keep going it does get better and is worth your effort.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Review: Finding Our Way Again: The Return of the Ancient Practices Brian D. McLaren

Finding Our Way Again: The Return of the Ancient Practices
Brian D. McLaren
Thomas Nelson
2008

As stated in the forward written by Phyllis Tickle, this book is the first in The Ancient Practice Series. I had read some of McLaren’s work in the past so I was anxious to see what he had written here. His writings are engaging and persuasive, and this book is not different in those respects. What I did find interesting was a more settled, studied tone. He seems to have matured in some aspects.
The ancient practices are the spiritual disciples that have been around for centuries but largely ignored in some regions of Christianity. This book constitutes a brief overview of the practices and some anecdotal tales of his attempts at translating them from the monasteries to general laity. Keeps the reading friendlier I think.
His writings will rock your boat. You will not agree with some of what he says. You will see some areas that are in need of attention as well. While I tend toward the contemplative his push toward more people and planet oriented areas do make for good balance. Don’t dismiss either side totally is pretty much his final resting place as far as this book is concerned.
The only problem I had with his work and it may be my particular problem is the matter of fact inclusion of all monotheistic religions under one roof. Yes, it would be fantastic if everyone loved each other, but because of some major issues that separate them it is not the way of things. This sort of thing is what keeps him just outside of acceptance by many who read him. I am beginning to believe that he intends that though as another means of pushing against the norm.
His spiritual exercises at the end of each chapter are great for individual or group use. They should stimulate some good conversations. There are also some discussion starters at the end of the book and his endnotes list several resources for those that are looking for more.
Overall I recommend this book as a means to challenge an individual or a group that is sensing the need to more.
This book was provided to me by Thomas Nelson for review on the BookSneeze site.