Book Club: Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower Pt. 3

Last week, we learned a bit more about the man behind Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower. (Well, the author, Tom Krattenmaker. Not Jesus. LOL) I shared some of his other work, and a few interviews, which hopefully placed the book in the broader context of why Krattenmaker, again and again, finds himself turning to the figure of Jesus.

Today, I’d like to widen the horizons of that context even further and offer some extended reading. Perhaps these pieces will bolster the book’s argument for where to find inspiration and input in your own life, perhaps not. Either way, I hope they are illuminating.

I must admit, Krattenmaker’s NOTES section made the process of discovering “further reading” super easy. Most of what follows was pulled from those pages; I selected the ones I felt best broadened the scope of each chapter and linked them for you here…

First, listen to this —
On Being with Krista Tippett – The Equation of Change

For more on contemporary American Religion —
American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us by Robert Putnam and David Campbell

For a deeper dive into exploring the modern world in theological terms —
The Powers That Be: Theology for a New Millennium by Walter Wink

I’d love to know, what do you think about the interpretation of modesty in this article? 
Yoga Pants and What the Bible Really Says about Modesty
and here’s another opinion piece the book makes reference to in Chapter 3 —
The Caligulan Thrill

To enter into a conversation with Jesus —
Let Me Ask You a Question: Conversations with Jesus by Matthew Croasmun

For more on questioning the meaning of life —
What Makes Life With Living? Take a Moment to Ask 

* QUICK INTERMISSION *
So much to read and take in, amirite? How about a little break in the action for some tunes! Click  HERE for my Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower playlist on Spotify. 🙂

For a greater understanding of the “urban age” discussed in Chapter 6–
America’s Urban Future

Some further reading on who we lock up —
The Poor Get Prison: The Alarming Spread of the Criminalization of Poverty

The invisible and forgotten —
The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration

For more on religion and politics —
God’s Name in Vain: The Wrongs and Rights of Religion in Politics by Stephen Carter
and an interview with Jonathan Haidt —
Defusing Political Conflicts

How to approach the resurrection as a nonbeliever —
Easter for Atheists

Some more secular inspiration —
All Things Shining: Reading the Western Classics to Find Meaning in a Secular Age by Hubert Dreyfus and Sean Dorrance Kelly

Ok, that should keep us all busy for a bit. Happy reading!
And, one more time,…here’s the link to the Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower SPOTIFY PLAYLIST. Enjoy!

Stay tuned for Part 4! xoxo

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How to Put New Language Skills into Practice

I talk about lifelong learning a lot, and that includes learning languages! A second or even third language can open your mind in so many ways, as well as open doors to all kinds of new possibilities. So if you’re learning a language, how do you practice, how do you immerse yourself in that language to keep your skills fresh?

I am so grateful to have kicked off my love of language learning at a super young age. One thing I’ve come to realize over the years, however, is that YOU GOTTA USE IT OR LOSE IT. Cracking open a book will only get you so far! (File the following under: advice I give so that I’ll feel inclined to  practice what I preach, but…)

Here are some ideas to help you get the most out of your language practice.

Practical application

Okay, so if you don’t have anyone to practice your chosen language with, things can get pretty lonely. But if you’re stuck for a language partner there’s no harm having a conversation with yourself once in a while! For instance, turn cooking dinner into a reminder of kitchen and food vocabulary, or practice all you remember about shopping when you’re looking for a new outfit. You might also want to look into apps like Babbel or Duolingo to help you in your solitary language practice.

Literature and media

Now this tip comes from a recent Facebook post shared by Language Trainers. Thinking about starting a new book or  binge-watching a TV show? Why not choose one in the language you are learning! Okay, so a book might be a little daunting the first time you try it, but imagine all the language you might pick up just by reading a single page of a novel? Alternatively, if that is too much, a TV series or film with or without subtitles is an amazing way to practice your language at the same time as doing something fun. Netflix anyone?

[Related: Great YouTube Channel for Practicing Spanish!]

Language exchanges

Okay, so the suggestions so far have been pretty solitary pursuits; what’s the point of learning a language if you have no one to speak it with? Look in your area for language exchanges, or check online if there are groups nearby for language practice. Your local library might be a great place to start; even if they don’t host any events they might know somewhere that does!

Embrace the internet

The world is literally your oyster. You can have a real time conversation with a person on the other side of the planet if you wanted to (time zones and sleep schedules permitting, of course). One thing you could consider is downloading an app like HelloTalk to chat with native speakers from all over the world. In the classroom conversations can feel forced–you’re paired off with a classmate, told to discuss a specific topic, limited by a sheet of vocabulary words. But in our connected world you can seek out folks with similar interests and chat about anything under the sun. Something that will feel a lot more like a growing friendship than a group assignment.

Plan a vacation

The most rewarding way to practice a language you’re learning is to use it in a country where the language is spoken. Organize your next break away somewhere to visit a city you’ve always dreamed of; can you already picture yourself ordering some exquisite dinner looking out over landmarks you’ve only ever seen online? Imagine looking up all the museums, bars, or whatever you want to visit in the language you’re learning, and being able to read their websites with ease? How incredible would that feel? Put your hard work to good use and see this big, beautiful world of ours!

What languages are you learning? I’m a lifelong learner of Spanish and, after quite a long break, I’m dusting off my German skillz. Do you have any tips for making the most of a language practice? Or, better yet, got any Spanish- or German-language tv shows or YouTube channels you think I should check out. I’m all ears below! xoxo

How to Make a Super Simple Pocket Letter for Your Pen Pal!

I LOVE pocket letters. I love making them, I love following #PocketLetter on Instagram, and I DEFINITELY love opening up my mailbox to find one inside.

I’ve posted some PL’s on the blog before, but today I thought I’d show you an easy way to dip your toes in the water of this particular paper-craftin’ phenomenon. This method is especially fun if you have a pen pal and want a little inspo on something new to send their way.

So, for a more in-depth tutorial, and links to buy the pocket sheets, check out this post. But a quick run-down on the basics —
* each sheet comes with 9 “pockets”
* use your stationary stash to decorate each pocket to your heart’s content
* throw in some goodies for the PL recipient
* give the whole thing a theme or don’t — this is YOUR creation

Let’s take a look at this super simple pocket letter I created for a pen pal —

When you’re just starting out, it can help to give each pocket a “role” to guide the decorations and goodies. These can include —
* TAGS
* TEA
* STICKERS
* LETTER
* EPHEMERA
*MAIL TAG
* HOLIDAY
* WASHI
* and more stickers! 😉

Following that formula, here’s a look at the goodies in the back…

If you’re sending to a pen pal, the most important components are your letter and mail tag. But isn’t it fun to include some other surprises?!

The best part about pocket letter creation is digging deep into your stash and sharing with a friend. Think about the kinds of things your pen pal likes, their favorite colors, what they might appreciate. (For example, I’m pretty sure those vintage V-day stickers and macaron page flags will be a hit with mine!)

You don’t have to go out and buy a bunch of supplies to deliver these mailbox treats either. I happen to be a bit of a washi and sticker collector. But if you’re not, use whatcha got on hand. Use up old wrapping paper, cut images out of a magazine, hand letter a sweet mantra. You get the picture!

Do you love sending and receiving snail mail? Tell me what you like to send in the comments below!

Book Club: Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower Pt. 2

Let’s learn a bit more about the author of our first book club book, shall we? Tom Krattenmaker is a columnist for USA Today and the Director of Communications at Yale Divinity School.

His work primarily explores the discord, problems, and potential that arises from the intersection of religion and culture. Tom considers himself a secular progressive, and Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower stemmed from his idea that crucial moral guidance and insight can be gleaned from the Jesus found on the pages of the New Testament.

Previous books include Onward Christian Athletes (2009), a critique of Christianity in sports, and The Evangelicals You Don’t Know (2013), about the “new evangelicals” in our post-Christian America.

Not only an author and journalist, Krattenmaker is also a speaker — at the American Humanist Association conference on multiple occasions, as well as countless other events and many universities. He’s won awards from organizations like the American Academy of Religion, Religion Newswriters Association, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, and the Muslim Educational Trust.

He currently calls New Haven, Connecticut home and you can follow him on Twitter HERE.

“On the mountains I’ve climbed, figuratively speaking, I’ve discovered, and then rediscovered again and again, the anchor that means the most to me, the anchor I find most worthy of my trust. It’s the ethic and the inspiration and, indeed, the way of an ancient figure with whom we are acquainted, but whose relevance to our lives and society might not be so readily apparent, and whose availability to us, if we are secular might come as a complete surprise.”

***

More with Tom Krattenmaker

Posts and articles —

Real men get help when it’s needed–as it so often is Recent blog post
Christmas is a Time to Celebrate Jesus’s Moral Insights USA Today column
White progressives shouldn’t be smug about racism … USA Today column
Don’t Domesticate MLK Commentary in Religion News Service

Interviews —

Can You Be Secular and Still Love Jesus? An interview in Psychology Today
Reading is FUNdamental An interview on The Brain Candy Podcast
Do Religion and Pro Sports Mix? Faith Matters series on NPR

📚📚📚

Got any thoughts? Leave ’em below! And if you want exclusive book club content (incl. the full reading list and FREE printables) sent straight to your inbox — SIGN UP HERE. Part 3, coming soon!

List 11: Date Night Ideas

I started a LIST SERIES in Summer 2018 and decided to keep adding to it here and there. These posts are kinda like an introduction (or a reintroduction for those who’ve been with me since the jump!). A nice to meet ya, so glad you stopped by, now STAY AWHILE! Why lists? Because I love making ’em! Enjoy…

❤ Happy Valentine’s Day, loves! In honor of the holiday — 

A few ideas for date night…

Walking paths or hiking trails
Bookstore adventure

Visit a botanical garden
Read together

Volunteer together
Farmers market
Pancake supper
Live music

Play a game
Free movies at local parks or libraries

Cocktail hour
Thrift for treasures
Bake your favorite sweet treats
Picnic by the water

Stroll through a museum

Tell me what you do on date nights in the comments below! ❤

P.S. A General Tso’s chicken themed date night?!
P.P.S. At-home date ideas that aren’t Netflix and chill.

[And in case you’re curious…

LIST 1
LIST 2 
LIST 3
LIST 4
LIST 5
LIST 6

LIST 7
LIST 8
LIST 9
LIST 10]

mid-week round-up

What have you been up to, loves? Chet and I saw this movie on Saturday — highly recommend! And tomorrow is Valentine’s Day…squee!! Any plans? (Ours involve margaritas.) Hope you have a love-filled rest of your week, and here are some entertaining links I’ve gathered from my favorite corners of the internet…

Slopeside shenanigans, gallons of sprayed champagne…all in a day’s work at Aspen.

Academy unveils the 4 Oscar categories to be presented during commercial breaks. 😦

Pret a Manger is opening a hostel for homeless people in London.

How to spend 48 hours in Cusco.

I weirdly love these sneakers (in camel). Yes or no?

These women want the right to compete in big-wave contests – and get paid as much as men do.

Do you have a Ko-fi page? Here’s mine.

13 date night dinner ideas for Valentine’s Day and beyond!

Germany’s real-life “Swing Kids.”

Many of the most enduring 20th century children’s book titles share a secret language of queer compassion.

The top trends for 2019 according to Pinterest.

[Related: Follow me on Pinterest!]

Next book club book is this one. Get the whole list HERE.

P.S. A few Finding Delight posts you may have missed — A Pocket Letter Inspired by Children’s Book Illustrations and 50 Facts About Me.

5 Ways to Cultivate a More Meaningful Life

*This post may contain affiliate links.

When you think of leading a meaningful life, you might think about charity work, mindful meditation, and various other things which seem somehow quite detached from our day to day lives.

However, living a meaningful life – however you understand it – should by no means be the kind of thing that you relegate to a few hours, one day per week. Instead, it can be something that factors into how you live each and every day, and a mindset that contributes dramatically to the overall quality of your life.

Keep in mind, too, that you can easily benefit from attempts to lead a more meaningful life, without having any particular metaphysical, or religious beliefs. You could just as easily take the term as a metaphor for your emotional well-being.

So, without further ado, here are several ways to cultivate a more meaningful life – 

Find the time and space for real, genuine solitude

Author Cal Newport, writing in his recent book Digital Minimalism, notes that throughout history, many of the most productive, insightful, and successful people , viewed solitude as an essential part of the equation for their success.

“Solitude” here doesn’t refer to just “being alone,” or having no one else around you. In fact, that’s not even an essential part of this definition. “Solitude,” as Newport refers to it, is the ability to be left alone with our own thoughts, without being subject to external distractions.

He explains how holy figures in all major (and minor) religions have emphasized the importance of getting away from it all, and retreating into quiet contemplation every once in a while. (See also: my posts on this book!) 

In a time when we are surrounded by the never-ending flow of information provided by the digital landscape, it is perhaps more important than ever to make time for this type of “solitude.”

When we do so, we gift ourselves the opportunity to reflect on our own thoughts and experiences, resolve any issues which might be on our minds, and get in touch with our emotions.

If you are constantly surrounded by external sources of information – like social media feeds, the 24-hr news cycle, billboards, TV ads, and dozens of people making demands on your attention – your personal well-being might be served extremely well by simply getting away from it all for a while.

This doesn’t require any major life shift – generally speaking. Simply going for regular walks, without your phone in your pocket, might do the trick.

Listen to your soul – and pay attention to what it has to tell you

The psychologist Carl Jung  believed that to fail to listen to our souls, and heed the messages contained therein, was a fast track to a stagnant and unfulfilling life. Maybe even to an early grave.

Jung’s idea was that we should always be attentive to our inner emotions, impulses, and beliefs – and look for the lessons those parts of ourselves are trying to impart.

Jung did not, however, claim that we should always act on our emotional impulses. But, how many people go through their lives with the perpetual sense that something is wrong, and never take steps to investigate or correct that?

Listen to your soul – pay attention to what it has to say – and make sure that you are not silencing important messages from within.

Declutter your environment

There’s  something to be learned from the explosion in popularity of the recent “minimalism” phenomenon. As of this writing, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo is one of the most popular shows streaming on Netflix.

Just a few years before this, the documentary Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things, also took much of the world by storm.

For one reason or another, many of us are more or less obsessed by the idea of decluttering our homes, and regaining a sense of simplicity in our personal domains.

It’s not too hard to see why this would take off as a trend, either. When we have “de-cluttered” environments, we are better able to appreciate the belongings we do possess, are less likely to find our attention, and sense of well-being, jarred by the ever-present piles of mess, clutter, and half-forgotten belongings, and may feel significantly better off as a result.

Decluttering your home may seem like the ultimate “physical” act. It’s something that – for all intents and purposes – takes place entirely in the material world. This means that it does not necessarily jive with our preconceived notions about living mindfully and meaningfully.

Don’t be fooled, though. Reducing the clutter in our physical environments, and tidying things up, can have a profound impact on our emotional well-being. 

Investigate “energy manipulation” techniques

Since ancient times, people around the world have developed and engaged in practices and exercises designed to help “balance”, or “manipulate” their internal energies.

Think, for example, of yogis balancing their chakras, or practitioners of Reiki, “directing energy” into other people, as a means of healing them.

Now, whether or not you believe that subtle energies are being transmitted from one body to another – there is nonetheless ample evidence that engaging in these “energy manipulation” techniques can go a long way in terms of boosting people’s sense of balance, harmony, and spiritual well-being. (See also: this post about crystals!) 

In fact, this may not even just be the case for human beings. Various practices of energy healing for animals exist, and – according to those who practice them – are often remarkably effective.

So, whether or not you take the idea of energy manipulation techniques literally, you might find that signing up for that local Reiki class can have a significant, and powerful impact on your overall well-being. And, it may help you to develop and refine your sense of being in touch with yourself, and cultivating a sense of meaning, too.

Identify your “bliss” – and follow it

The famous professor of myth, Joseph Campbell, once said that people should “follow their bliss.” The exact meaning of this saying may be subject to some interpretation – but it clearly serves as a call to do things that we find fulfilling, life-affirming, and significant.

People who quit dead-end jobs that have been weighing them down for years, in order to embark upon new careers that seem altogether more meaningful, often report feeling reborn.

It’s not at all uncommon, for people to feel they have discovered new depths of energy, enthusiasm, and vitality, when making such a change – often to the extent that they are absolutely amazed that such a thing was even possible.

“Following your bliss” – in the sense of doing things with your life and time that you find meaningful – is not just a great way of improving your overall quality of life. It is, more or less, a high spiritual art. It is the kind of thing that naturally possesses an aura of almost supernatural value and significance.

If you find that your day job is a major source of pain, irritation, and drain on your psychological well-being, you should take it as a challenge to find a way of doing something more meaningful with your time.  Where else can you carve out meaning in your life? After all a 9-5 job is just 8 hours. What will you do with the other 16? Use them to “follow your bliss.”

How do you cultivate a meaningful life? 

5 Ways to Diversify Your Income Streams and Make Money from Home

* This post may contain affiliate links.

If you consider yourself even the slightest bit interested in personal finance, you’ve heard it before — diversify your income streams. Whether you have a traditional 9-5 or work for yourself/freelance, new sources of income that can be made from home are often the goal. Especially if you don’t wanna tack on extra commutes (*raises hand*). ESPECIALLY if you’re introverted (*raises both hands*). In our super online world, there are all kinds of ways to make money without leaving your house, but finding the options that bring you joy can sometimes be tricky. 

Read on for some ideas that could help you boost  your income without feeling like too much work…

Turn a Hobby Into a Side Hustle 

If you have a hobby that you love and want to hone, consider how you might make money by turning this hobby into a side hustle, or even a full time gig. This is a great way to pull in a bit of extra cash along side a full time job. After-all, you’re already taking part in whatever this hobby is in your free time, right? Like to make cakes? Start a baking blog. Into scouting for vintage jewelry? Start an Etsy store. Painting savant? Start teaching an art class once a week. Even if you’re brand new to a hobby there are so many resources online to help you grow a side hustle. For instance, here’s how to become a microgreens farmer, a certified pet sitter, and an extra in tv and movies. Pay close attention to what makes you happy — whether that’s growing plants or hanging out with kittens or standing in front of a camera — and do more of it. Then, consider whether this could be a lucrative business option for you.

Use Your Expert Knowledge To Help Others

If you have substantial knowledge in a subject, you could use this knowledge to help others. How? Become an online consultant or even a tutor. There are lots of sites out there for you to market your expertise and look for clients. If you’re willing to do a bit more work upfront, consider creating online courses on your favorite subject matter. If you already have an online following or email list, you can easily send out info about your new class. Without an embedded audience, there are great websites like Teachable and CreativeLive to consider. Sharing your knowledge and expertise can feel great when you’re talking to people who really want to learn!

Create Content Others Can Enjoy

Many of us enjoy creating content for ourselves. You have full control over the message and you’re able to feel involved with the larger community of whatever your niche may be.  Some people enjoy writing Ebooks, others like writing blogs, some enjoy making videos, the list goes on. It’s now easier than ever with sites like Upwork and Fiverr, to put yourself out there and use the skills you’ve acquired making content for yourself and do it for others. This could be as simple as writing a blog post or two for a website you love or designing cool slides for an influencer’s Instagram stories. If there’s an aspect of content creation you love, there’s definitely a way to monetize that! 

Take Pictures

If you love taking pictures and consider yourself skilled with a camera, you could sell your photography to stock image sites. It can be a little bit trial and error to figure out what sort of images are accepted and do well on these sites. However, I’ve seen lots of folks make a killing once they hit a nice little rhythm. Even if you’re waiting to get accepted by the bigger sites, smaller, free stock image sites often offer incentives to photographers, like being able to link to a PayPal or Ko-fi account. That way, if someone really loves your image they can thank you for letting them use it. If you’re already walking around with a camera all day practicing photography, keep these stock image sites in mind. 

Clear Out and Sell Your Unwanted Stuff

There’s no feeling quite like clearing out all of your unwanted stuff and then enjoying the free space of a decluttered home. Once you have everything that you no longer want, you can use online platforms to list and sell these items. One person’s trash is another person’s treasure! 

What am I missing Do you have any ideas for making money from home that you think could spark joy?

My 15 Whole 30 Must-Haves

I successfully completed my third (!) Whole 30 *thunderous applause* and thought, my not talk about it a bit on the interwebz. You can read everything I ate during my very first round HERE. But today, I wanna talk about the foods that I have to have in order to make it through. If you’re wanting to undertake your own Whole 30 (read up on it, first and foremost), give these foods a shot! However, I think what’s super great about the Whole 30 process is you really learn what foods feel best for you personally. So experiment and have fun!

Here’s what I need for a successful Whole 30…

 

  • Lara bars – great in a pinch if you get HANGRY
  • Guacamole pods – an easy (read: lazy) way to add some healthy fats to your lunchbox
  • Aidells Chicken & Apple Sausage – my favorite sheet pan dinner to cook up on busy nights = these sausages + baby red potatoes + broccoli
  • GT’s Kombucha – afternoon pick-me-up
  • Flavored seltzer water – not married to La Croix, the store brands work just fine for me
  • Almond butter – gotta pair my fruit with protein
  • Applesauce pouches – just make sure there’s no added sugar (my husband calls these baby food but *shrugs*)
  • Carrot and red bell pepper sticks – when you’re off sugar, raw veggies like these taste AMAZING
  • Chicken burgers – TJ’s has a pre-made, compliant option but we just get ground chicken and make ’em ourselves
  • Potato and sweet potato latkes/home fries/hash browns – honestly do you even NEED bread when you can have a latke??
  • Bananas – I just can’t be bothered to cook eggs every single morning so these are my go-to brekky fuel
  • Banana pepper rings – the best way to top a salad imho
  • Salami – what can I say? I love my Italian meats
  • Ghee – when I DO cook eggs, this is the business
  • Plantain chips – for crunch

Have you ever completed a round of Whole 30? What would you consider your must-haves? Share below! ❤ 

Book Club: Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower Pt. 1

Hello, fellow bookworms! Today marks the launch of my new Finding Delight Book Club. I’ll be reading 12 books and sharing about them with you here. I plan to post 4 times for each book — 1) about the book, 2) about the author, 3) extended reading/listening/watching, and 4) final thoughts and reflections. I’m kicking off the club with an exploration of Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower: Finding Answers in Jesus for Those Who Don’t Believe by Tom Krattenmaker.

For the full book list CLICK HERE. I’d love to have you along for the ride!

“It is not my aim to reclaim the Christian religion … Nor is it my objective in this book to join the scholars who pursue the historical Jesus–the historically and journalistically accurate Jesus–as important as that quest might be. I am interested, rather, in what we might describe as “face-value Jesus,” the Jesus who says and does things on the pages of the New Testament. I am not worried for now about the factual accuracy of those accounts or the religious assertions that arise from them. His stories and instruction are valuable and ‘true,’ I contend, whether they are journalistically accurate or not.”

Synopsis

When you think about Jesus, what image comes to you mind? A man with piercing blue eyes and flowy hair last seen on the cover of your old Sunday school workbook? A painful expression from a cross at the front of a dim sanctuary? Or perhaps the name alone invokes feelings about religious doctrine or political stances in direct opposition to your own.

Tom Krattenmaker, USA Today columnist, separates Jesus from our preconceived notions and explains how his teachings are exactly what we need to bring reason and sense to the current state of affairs in America — even a SECULAR America.

Krattenmaker asks–
What gives life meaning?
What does it mean to live a good life?

Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower is Krattenmaker’s answer to these long-pondered queries. Surprisingly, as a self-declared secular and non-believer, he turns to Jesus. Fully. Not just as an instructor or someone to be imitated, but as a personal North Star, as it were, directing and guiding all life’s components and quandaries.

To encourage us to adopt a similar conclusion, the book paints a realistic picture of the status quo while detailing the ways turning to Jesus’s teachings can provide a much-needed salve for so many of America’s woes. And no stone is left unturned — politics, racism, sexual exploitation, mass incarceration. Krattenmaker has studied religion for years and, as a journalist, covers the intersection of religion and public life in America. It is through this lens of religious understanding, that he expresses how nonreligious folk can follow Jesus. He walks readers through key teachings, parables, and sermons and extrapolates meaning and guidance that can be applied to a modern life.

This book helps readers discover, or perhaps rediscover, Jesus. A man who, Krattenmaker believes, can help us lead a good and meaningful life. An inspiring read no matter what you believe.

***

“If Jesus had a “shit list,” you wouldn’t find people on it. You’d find attitudes and actions. Not wrong people but wrong ideas, behaviors, and ways of being in the world. He could see the humanity even in the dreaded tax collectors, who were enforcing the severe policies that kept many of Jesus’s people in poverty. He could see the humanity even in the soldiers who were carrying out his execution.”

Initial Thoughts

Can these two truths coexist within one person?
1. Jesus is the answer.
2. I’m not looking for God.

They seem contradictory, right?

I love that this book shows me, as someone who has walked away from organized religion, the ways in which they are not. Krattenmaker does a wonderful job exploring Jesus’s teachings — explaining metaphors (for those of us apprehensive with *pulls thing out of thin air* miracles) and cultural context. This allows for a more holistic application of bible story to current conundrum. A leap that can be hard to make when the subject and setting of these stories feel so far removed from our own.

Wherever I’ve been on my own faith/spiritual journey, I’ve always conceded that Jesus was and is a pretty important dude. Afterall, he was able to split time in two. No small feat! But despite regular church attendance and religion classes throughout my formative years, I still wouldn’t say I have an intimate knowledge of his teachings.

Curiosity about the historical Jesus had me pick up this book last year. Which I would definitely recommend as a way of placing “the man” in time and space. Curiosity about what he taught, however, has me poring over Confessions of a Secular Jesus.

In recent years, I’ve seen some good done in Christ’s name, but a lot more bad. Maybe you feel the same way? For me, in 2019, this is what is hard to grapple with when approaching a book like this one. I found myself proceeding with caution towards the idea that Jesus can be a moral guide for all folks — whether they worship him or not.

Yet, Krattenmaker’s interpretations of the Jesus philosophy is winning me over. His philosophy…

that love is the way,
that responding to war with peace is a powerful counter-strike,
that finding the humanity in all persons is possible and beautiful,
that forgiveness can be subversive.

Perhaps these are the answers we can find in Jesus if we take the time to look.

Read this if you’re interested in: Philosophy, Self-Improvement, Religion + Politics, Literature

Read this if you loved: A Secular Age by Charles Taylor, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan, What’s Beyond Mindfulness by Stephen Fulder, What the Qur’an Meant by Gary Wills

Other books by Tom Krattenmaker: The Evangelicals You Don’t Know and Onward Christian Athletes

Keep a lookout for Part 2! It’ll be hitting this site next week.

And don’t forget — if you want the full reading list CLICK HERE. You’ll basically become a card-carrying member of the Finding Delight Book Club! ❤