This Risen Experience: The Spirit of Easter by Paula Gooder (book review)

While there is plenty of theology and Bible study in This Risen Experience: The Spirit of Easter, the book is arranged, loosely speaking, as a journey for the person who wishes to reflect on the meaning of the resurrection. That journey is based around 42 passages which, if taken between Easter and Pentecost, is one passage a day, six times a week, for seven weeks. A journey planned To her credit, Gooder notes that a work such as this is as much or more about what is left out as what is included. After all, the resurrection is a huge topic. Still, her stated purpose is personal reflection (which assumes but stops short of what action would follow). Those who, like I, are excited to see the word ‘reflection’ used a lot, be warned: this is not close to the same level of indulgence as you’d expect from mystics such as Nouwen or Merton. To be clear, this is still an exploration of Bible, theology, and history more than wandering, sybaritic narrative. And to be equally clear, Gooder will walk with you through observations like “This does not mean, however, that we will always feel this truth deep down. Faith is at least partially about keeping going despite what we feel today, tomorrow or the day after. Living the resurrection life includes expecting the sudden, powerful presence of the risen Jesus in the midst of our uncertainty and loss but trudging on whether we feel this presence or not” in a way that Wright, Licona, or Habermas do not. Key milestones After an introductory chapter reflecting on what the...

Christianity and the Enneagram: Book and Conference Review

Sometimes a person or movement or book says “the right things” as in “sounds Christian,” but further investigation reveals that their use of Christian words or stories presupposes a different, non-orthodox position or definition.  Such is the case with Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile’s The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery and the related Know Your Number conference which I attended in October 2017. In fact, it calls into question the very question of the historical, factual, bodily resurrection of Jesus. Psychology as a path find God? Using psychological instruments for self-awareness is not wrong, so what gives me the right to evaluate this work theologically? The authors themselves claim the enneagram and book are “a practical, comprehensive way of accessing Enneagram wisdom and exploring its connections with Christian spirituality for a deeper knowledge of ourselves, compassion for others, and love for God.” The same claim is that the enneagram renders “uncanny accuracy,” yet Stabile herself began the whole conference saying that the enneagram can’t be tested because tests are wrong 60+% of the time. Further, she claims that she “just knows this is true.” Stabile repeated this claim more than once. If something is true, is it not testable? Neither the book nor the conference offer a single shred of evidence of the enneagram’s veracity (a common means of validating other instruments such as Strengthsfinder, Myers-Briggs, et al). Finally, the enneagram was an “ancient oral tradition for 4000 years, the implication of which is that it predates Jesus. No (none, nada, zip) attempt in the book or conference attempts to reconcile this as Godly....

The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus by Gary Habermas and Michael Licona (book review)

Let’s cut to the chase and do so boldly: many collegiate academics are pedagogical disasters. Having a pile of knowledge is a decidedly Industrial Age response to a world that’s already evolving out of the Information Age, and once a pile of knowledge is amassed, its existence does not necessarily create value for someone. Such is the risk with documentation of Jesus’ resurrection, and the authors of The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, Gary Habermas and Mike Licona, have both written more than most real people can read. In this case I wasn’t looking for exhaustive knowledge, but instruction on how to apply it. The foundation question for my investigation of this book and this post: How are you helping me actually engage with this knowledge effectively? In short, there is much to love about this book – it at least makes an attempt to assist engagement in two key ways (to be unfolded below). Unfortunately, it also fails in a rather spectacular way, too. Leaves-me-wanting #1: Disclaimer and discredits I purchased the Kindle version of the book. To my delight – and then disillusionment – the book cover declares that it includes an interactive CD. Some opening notes include a chapter that says, “How to use this book and software.” There is no CD with a Kindle version of the book, obviously, and there is no place you’re instructed to interact with the material online. Clearly whatever this material could have contributed to the thesis question will be absent. And, given that I’ve already pointed out that there is zero editing to make the Kindle version make...

Are you leading with message or miracle?

A young upstart rabbi was causing a ruckus. Oddly enough, it was because he was helping people — so much so that they started flocking to him in droves This totally pissed off the religious leaders. These so-called leaders were determined to undermine the young rabbi, if not catch him in a lie or worse. To test him they asked him for a sign, something miraculous. His tone changed from the compassion he had for the hurting people to one of disdain: “You self-proclaimed smart people see changes in the sky and know what’s coming in terms of weather, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.” In other words, they could see only earthly, sensory things, but missed connecting the dots in the bigger, more important picture. Unfortunately many of us have that problem — even when we are just talking about earthly things (such as what’s going on in the world that is affecting our organizations and businesses and churches). In just a relatively few short years there has been an exponential explosion of both content (e.g., news, learning material, grumpy cat pictures, etc.) and access to it (e.g., ubiquitous connectivity, mobility, and a zillion channels, apps, and sites through which to get it). We’re experiencing change that has little or no historical precedent. And we’re slow to respond. The question isn’t if the changes will affect every part of how we reach customers or constituents, demonstrate our expertise, and lead our teams. The question is “when?” The “miracle” many people look for is that magic something that goes viral, generates likes, and creates sweeping change or...