Sunday, 5 December 2010

Orthodox heretic and other impossible tales

This isn't so much a blog as a book review - or recommendation... I am reading The Orthodox Heretic by Peter Rollins who is the founder of Ikon in Belfast. Why did I buy the book? - because Michael Gungor recommended it on Twitter (twitter.com/michaelgungor) while I am on the subject (a slight diversion) Please be my strength is a great track by him....as is most of his stuff.
Anyway, The Orthodox Heretic is definitely not for those who are afraid to question some of the ways they have come to understand the faith and some of the preconceptions about what 'God's Word' really is. Without giving too much away it is about parables, or, specifically about the way parables communicate and what they communicate, which may well take some of us by surprise.
In a western Christian world where the tendency is often to preach in such a way that people are being told what to think or believe in simple bite sized chunks there are some classic and quotable sentences.
"Parables subvert this desire to make faith simple and understandable..." and a little later,
"A parable does not primarily provide information about our world. Rather, if we allow it to do its work within us, it will change our world - breaking it open to ever new possibilities."
Then there is a real killer paragraph that strikes to the heart:
" ....parables represent a mode of communicating that cannot be heard without being heeded, in which the only evidence of having 'heard' its message is in the fleshly incarnation of that message. The parable is heard only when it changes one's social standing to the current reality, not one's mere reflection of it. The parable does not create more sef-aware purveyors of irony - whereby one mocks the very behaviour that one engages in, thus enjoying the activity in the very moment of disavowing it." Ouch......!

The remainder of the book is a collection of parables - but not the one's you will be expecting - followed by some personal commentary. They will certainly cause you to stop and think. It's a difficult book, a hopeful book and something that should cause youto consider things in a slightly different light.

The Orthodox Heretic, and other impossible tales. (Canterbury Press)