Tag Archives: religion

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! ❤

Advertisements

mid-week round-up

What’s going on this week? The countdown to Christmas is truly ON!! We had a wonderful long weekend in Louisiana visiting with Chet’s family. (We also ate all our favorite local specialties, saw the lights at the local zoo, and went to the movie theater to watch the new Spiderman movie — highly recommend.) We’re off for round 2 of holiday travels this weekend so for the next few days I’ll be running around like a mad woman trying to get everything done. Hope your week is a bit calmer than mine, and here are some links I’ve been reading this week…

RIP Penny Marshall, the first woman to direct a $100 million dollar grossing film.

How old are all the characters on Seinfeld?

The race to find the most precious religious relics.

The top 10 books of 2018, according to everyone.

The only small-talk worth having.

Devon Sawa, the original Stan, on who he stans.

Where Americans find meaning in life.

Is it time to nix the two-week pay cycle?

A cozy sweater to wear with leggings.

Your future grandchildren’s responses to how dating worked before apps.

Isabel Wilkerson on Michelle Obama’s book and the Great Migration.

[Related: The Warmth of Other Suns and Becoming.]

Made me laugh.

P.S. A few Finding Delight posts you may have missed — Books to Read if You’re in Search of a History Lesson and 3 At-Home Date Night Ideas.

mid-week round-up

Hello friends! How’s your week so far? Today is my brother’s birthday! (Happy birthday, Andy!) This time next week I’ll be headed to Kentucky to spend a few days in Lexington and then I’m off to Bowling Green for the W.K.U. Summer Forensics Institute. Gotta start turning my attentions towards packing! In the mean time, do y’all have any fun 4th of July plans? I’d love to hear! And here are some links I’ve gathered just for YOU…

You are not an imposter. You belong here.

Growing up in a conservative Christian cult (like “The Handmaid’s Tale” but real life).

So glad this Lexington staple lives on!

Horse-riding librarians were the Great Depression’s bookmobiles.

Have you tried the new fruits + greens line from larabar? They’re really delish.

Everything Queen Elizabeth eats. (A post-brekky gin and Dubonnet? How regal!)

The 21 unwritten rules of flying you’re probably breaking.
“The only acceptable place to fart on a plane is when you are walking through first class on the way to coach.”

The perfect DIY to get you in BBQ season spirit!

On skipping wedding traditions.

For your next board game night!

Made me laugh.

P.S. Finding Delight posts you have missed — Are you a word nerd? and Our wedding reception.

mid-week round-up

lake-michigan

How’s it going this week, guys? After a restful weekend, I started work Monday on a DIY Advent calendar. IDK why but the Christmas bug has bit me extra hard this year. I will wait until after Thanksgiving to begin decorating but that doesn’t mean I’m not daydreaming about Christmas decor. All the holiday stuff out in stores already is just so darn cute! I’ve also been sneaking in as many episodes of Gilmore Girls as humanly possible in preparation for their triumphant return on Netflix. (I am basically this meme.) Hope you all are well, and here are a few click-worthy links I think you should check out…

There’s still time to get in a good Gilmore Girls binge sesh.

A round-up of worthwhile organizations to donate time and money to.

Trump is already scaring and discouraging students from abroad.

Yes, he thought Trump would win. No, he didn’t use hard data.

What Millennials are looking for in a church.

Make your own ornaments on a Dollar Tree budget.

The election, through the eyes of teenage girls.

What it’s like being a weed trimmer in the underground cannabis economy.

How the law will keep President Trump in check.

A mom meets Hillary in the woods.

Colorful planner stickers to keep you on track.

“Happy Birthday, Mr. President.” 

An (UN)arranged marriage.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

A few weeks ago, I was struck by this interview on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday with Fraidy Reiss, a woman whose religion and culture dictated when and whom she should wed. At 19 and an abusive man who later, when Reiss was reaching out for help, elders in her community would defend as simply having “a little bit of a temper.”

After leaving her husband and the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, she founded a non-profit organization to help other women escape arranged marriages. Because guess what? Women being manipulated in the name of God, their heritage, family pride, or some twisted take on tradition happens in America way more often than we care to realize.

It is hard to determine just how many arranged marriages occur in the United States each year but what we do know is that most states lack the legislation to protect women when they go wrong.

Reiss was partnered with her husband by a professional matchmaker, a common occurrence in the Orthodox Jewish community. “It never occurred to me that I was doing anything other than what I had always dreamed of doing,” she says. But, merely one week into married existence, Reiss discovered that life with this stranger was not headed towards wedded bliss. After her family and multiple rabbis refused to assist the young bride, she looked else where…

From the accompanying NPR article:

After a particularly violent episode, Reiss says, she went to the police to get a temporary restraining order, a first for a woman in her community. That was a mistake, she says.

“I realized too late that one of the gravest sins in the Orthodox Jewish community is ratting out your fellow Jew to secular authorities,” she says. The rabbis sent an attorney from the community to Reiss’ house to drive with her to family court and tell the judge she wanted to drop the restraining order.

After getting a degree and a job, Reiss was finally able to take her 2 children and leave the marriage. She was promptly declared dead by the rest of her family and shunned.

However, Reiss would go on to found Unchained At Last, a non-profit organization which helps women like her escape forced or arranged marriages–offering free legal counsel, social services and a mentor program. For many of these women, this way of life is the only one they know and they have no one to help them. Conversely, Unchained At Last envisions a world where women are free to choose when, whom and whether they marry.

If you’d like to listen to the NPR interview with Fraidy Reiss CLICK HERE.

If you’d like to check out the fantastic organization, Unchained At Last CLICK HERE.

And if this story strikes you, as it did me, I strongly encourage you to make a donation HERE.