Wednesday, January 20, 2010

book review: After the Church. Divine Encounter in a sexual age by Claire Henderson Davis

After the Church. Divine Encounter in a sexual age. Claire Henderson Davis, Canterbury Press: Norwich, 2007, is a fascinating book. I’d like to give it to people I met outside the church and say “Does this make sense? If so, lets have an ongoing conversation.” It’s short, at 77 pages. It is divided into 6 chapters, each of which has a theological title – Fall; Babel to Pentecost; Incarnation; The Trinity; The Body of Christ; With My Body I Thee Worship.

Each chapter does theology, well-written, interesting. It even quotes large chunks of Scripture, but in a fresh voice, that resonates with the 21st century. This is an attempt at faith that seeks to make sense of Christianity within the cultural frameworks of today. It’s what you would imagine Paul doing, Acts 17 style, if he was here today.

It weaves insights from pyschology with the author’s own life – growing up outside the church, and slowly making sense – through study and personal work – of a coherent Christian faith for herself. Consider the Parable of Samaritan.

“The duty of a Christian is not to seek out people in distress and prey on their needs, but to wait and prepare for that unexpected encounter with the other that reveals the shape of God by making our own limits clear, and, in so doing, offering a path towards greater wholeness.” (55, 56)

This is because the audience would identify not with the Samaritan, but with the beaten man. Thus the challenge is to be open to receive help from the “other”; the one who might well surprise and challenge us.

It is a superbly hopeful book. It invites us into relationships with the Christian church and with each other as humans: not as child to parent, nor as a bored and cynical teen, but as adults – as equals, who in process of encounter, find new forms emerging.

“The real alternative to advertising is not a dull and self-righteous moral rectitude that denies the pleasure and importance of the material world, but a form of storytelling that charts a real course between where we are now and the possibilities that exist for human fulfillment and transformation. This discipline requires that we attend closely to our present reality, and cultivate, in hope, an expectation of where it may lead.” (73)

Posted by steve at 04:45 PM

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