Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Review: Into the Fray:How Jesus's Followers Turn the World Upside Down by Matt Mikalatos

Review: Into the Fray:How Jesus's Followers Turn the World Upside Down
 Matt Mikalatos
Baker Books

Story.  The long letter/story we generally know as Acts has been updated—a little bit.  The author doesn’t fiddle with the underlying narrative, but he does create more modern versions of several key characters found in Acts.  The Ethiopian’s ride is a limo, Stephen becomes Esteban, Luke is Dr. Lucas, but Paul stays Paul.  Mikalatos tells his stories in a modern version and then discusses the Biblical text behind the new telling.  This works pretty well, too.  The names aren’t so distant past, the events more current.  Mikalatos likes stories.  As do many others these days.  As did the people of Biblical times.  

Into the FrayThe Bible is story in many places throughout its text.  How many times have we heard, “We know how things turn out and we win.”?  Or something similar and more eloquent.  That’s talking about story.  The same thing that keeps you reading the latest novel.  A good story.  Yes, the Bible is more than that, but the dissection of the whole has also dismembered the story into points of debate, discussion, and dogma.  Not exactly what any author desires for his story if it is to be understood properly.  So, Mikalatos tries here to re-story the Biblical text.  

Then he takes a few more stories and looks at the application.  Now it’s not just story, but the author and the reader face the mirror and have to decide which character they resemble most.  Didn’t see that one coming.  That’s one of the functions of story, beyond entertainment.  That works well, too. 
What has the title got to do with any of this?  The point is to help the reader share the story and his own experiences within the story more freely as they mingle with whoever they find themselves around, i.e. that’d be anybody and everybody.  All empowered and directed by the Spirit.

The book works, but seems to be written to a younger audience who is more acquainted with the style the author has chosen.  It took me a while to warm up to it, and I found myself skimming bunches of it.  The last third of the book I finally got on board.  I do recommend it though.  

A discussion guide is provided.   
 I received this book from the publisher in return for a review.

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