Monday, June 04, 2007

peppermint-filled pinatas

OK, I'm going to try my level best to review this book as objectively as possible... but that's an uphill climb considering that I've known the author since he was a teenager. (He & my lovely wife, Shari, were actually in the youth group at Shady Oaks BC at the same time.) It also doesn't help that we share an alma mater (Baylor University), a background in youth ministry, and a deep respect & admiration for the community of faith known as Mosaic. (Eric is a Navigator there - which is the rough equivalent of "lead pastor" - along with Erwin McManus & Chad His-Last-Name-Ha-Been-Flushed-From-My-Memory-Banks... sorry, Chad.)

One of the things I like best about
peppermint-filled pinatas: breaking through tolerance & embracing love is that feels like there's a real person behind the book. I've read way too many books on sharing the love of Christ that are peppered with what I can only call "airplane" stories: "I was sitting next to this person on the airplane & we started talking & by the end of the flight they gave their lives to Jesus... and I've never seen them again. But doesn't it make a great story?!" (Eric's only "airplane" story in the book is in the chapter about stereotyping - and involves the Bryant family's panic flying with nervous Arabs a couple of weeks after 9/11.)

Instead, Eric illustrates the principles he's trying to teach with self-deprecating humor & personal stories that feel very much like you're sitting across the table from him drinking coffee & scarfing down biscotti.

One of the most convicting passages for here is... well, rather than try & summarize his thoughts, I'll just quote 'em for you:

In our attempts to become holy or "set apart," we have mistaken a call for "living with a different standard" with "living in a different place that has a different standard." We want to live in an enviroment where the laws or policies enforce our beliefs & morality rather than engaging a lost & broken world where they live. And is we are to be "set apart" to be "apostles," in a broad sense of people who are "sent out," then we are to be "set apart" in how we live, and we are "sent out" to the world. Too often we reverse these two concepts. We live away from the world physically, but our behavior matches that of the world.

Another thing I appreciate about the book is Eric's willingness to tackle difficult topics: how do you build relationships with those who hold radically different beliefs from you... whether it's their sexual identity, their religious affiliation, or their ideology. Rather than simply saying "go & be friends with people," Eric offers specific stories & thoughts about how that works out practically in his life... and in our lives.

It's not a perfect book - they are some slow moments & I wonder if I'm able to "connect the dots" a little easier because I've known Eric for so long. But even with those caveats, I found myself reading this book avidly and wanting to read sections to my wife - both silly stuff (like the Darth Vader & Spiderman obsessions of his son) or the serious stuff (like some of the passages in the section entitled "Love is the New Apologetic.")

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice review!