Colors of God

“OK. So the church is broken. Now what?”

It’s the tag line for Colors of God: Conversations About Being the Church and one that resonates with me–which is why I was super excited to read and review it.

This book, written by Randall Mark Peters, Dave Phillips, and Quentin Steen, was developed as a conversation–and indeed written as such. It is not a difficult conversation to follow and, for this traveler, was refreshing at times. They were saying what I’ve been thinking or articulated conclusions to which I have come as well.

Colors of God is organized around four broad areas using colors to illustrate each one: Gospel Faith, Healthy Living, Inclusive Community, and Cultural Engagement. These areas also are an attempt at a framework for living out one’s faith as a member of the Kingdom of God.

The conversation is authentic. The questions are honored. The answers are well thought out. And it’s tough to find the latter in most churches these days.

I still am tempted to give up on church–and this book certainly hasn’t compelled me to try to find one. But Colors of God did give me a way to articulate some of what I believe and how I frame my understanding of the life, message and work of Christ–and how I live in response to those things. To that end, mission accomplished.

The part of this book that resonated with me the most wast the issue of Healthy Living and that God is a promoter of good health. Indeed, health can be a litmus test for the things we think or do as they are associated with our faith. If what we are saying or doing promotes health, chances are that these are things from and/or approved by God. This isn’t just physical health. This is holistic well-being. This is asking whether any act or behavior is going to promote love–whether it’s going to promote peace, patience, wellness and contentment. One thing I would caution the reader about–and the authors to articulate better–though is the issue of mental health. I was surprised at how cavalier the authors were at one point when talking about anxiety. Certainly, the church is great at invoking anxiety in its people–there’s always something we should be doing more of in order to stay in favor with God. But there’s also anxiety that is very real for people–that has nothing to do with their faith practice (but can be exacerbated by it). As a mental health practitioner myself, I challenge the faith community to develop a better–indeed healthier and more holistic–response to individuals with mental illness as well as foster a space of mental health.

After all, God is about the health and well-being of the whole person.

Regardless of that one sticking point, I put this book in the “must read” stack. Read it. Share it with everyone you know. Have a better conversation about how all this plays out. And then GO DO IT.

This book was provided for free review by theooze.com

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Year End Book Review

Well…maybe not a review per se. But I wanted to share with you the books I DID read this year–in between the countless articles for school. Admittedly, some of what’s on the list was for school in some way, but here goes:

The Cider House Rules–John Irving

I love this man’s writing, and Cider House didn’t disappoint. It was yet another Irving book with memorable characters dealing with difficult issues–including grief.

Such a Pretty Fat–Jenn Lancaster

You may know of her from Bitter is the New Black and other writings. This book made me LAUGH out loud. It chronicles her decision to begin losing weight and the many experiences along the way. Jenn is witty and sarcastic, so her writing was perfect for me–and I understood the weight loss process, so I completely appreciated her take on life.

The next few came about as I worked on a project on eating disorders for a class on psychological disorders. In some way, each on helps the reader have a better picture of what it’s like to have an eating disorder and how it’s dealt with in different ways–or it’s about learning to love the body you have, in spite of what messages we receive about how we ought to look:

Thin is the New Happy–Valerie Frankel

Half-Assed: A Weight Loss Memoir–Jennette Fulda

Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia–Marya Hornbacher (by far the most graphic)

Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self–Lori Gottlieb (probably the best on eating disorders for getting inside the person’s psyche)

Feed Me! Writers Dish about Food, Eating, Weight, and Body Image–Harriet Brown

Body Outlaws: Rewriting the Rules of Beauty and Body Image–Ophira Edut (reminiscent of Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth…but way better)

In the world of theology (now that I’m not in div school, I don’t mind reading about theology in my spare time), there were a few gems this year:

Rapture Ready: Adventures in the Parallel Universe of Christian Pop Culture–Daniel Radosh

This book was hilarious and scary all at the same time. It was a Jewish journalists view (and a pretty even-handed view) of Christian Pop Culture. Admittedly, he did the Family Christian/Lifeway store thing and then he went to Christian pop culture on steroids. You’d be amazed at what’s out there, people. Hence, the scariness. In all, though, very enlightening and humorous.

Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crises, and a Revolution of Hope–Brian MacLaren

I read this with a group of people and each time we met the question remained the same: So what do we DO? We KNOW everything must change. What now?

And each time we came away with the same answer: Love God and love people.

This book does give the reader plenty of food for thought on things such as war, the environment, and other hot topics that are very relevant for all of us today.

Speaking of relevant: Food Inc.–Karl Weber

I haven’t seen the documentary for fear it really will make me a vegetarian…or all out vegan. However, the book will give you LOTS to think about…and may change the way you eat–or at least shop for food. Its contributors include familiar names such as Eric Schlosser of Fast Food Nation fame and Michael Pollack (Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food) among others.

And just to keep up with some current events that stem from–you guessed it–thirty years of history (and religion):Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi. If you love to read–and enjoy not only the freedom to read what you like, reading good literature or living in a democracy–this is a good one. Life in Iran is not for the faint of heart.

More current events…well…in light of the most recent school board election in Wake County, this could all get turned on its head…but I read it before all that nonsense occurred: Hope and Despair in the American City: Why There Are No Bad Schools in Raleigh–Gerald Grant.

I’ll leave it at that, lest I start my rant on the Wake County School Board.

And finally, some fiction that was just fun to read:

The Accidental Mother–Rowan Coleman

The Fourth Hand–John Irving (great for you Packers fans, too)

The Unlikely Spy–Daniel Silva (a great WWII spy romp reminiscent of John Lecarre and Frederick Forsyth–go read it now)

And last but not least, Cyclops by Clive Cussler. If you aren’t familiar with Dirk Pitt, you should be.

And there’ll be more to come, now that the semester is over and I have more time…well…until the new year starts. Then you’ll have to wait a year to read all about what I’ve been reading 🙂