I listen to books in my car as I commute back and forth to work. I had just started through This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein for the second time when I received notice about Tom Sine's book Live Like You Give a Damn. I was really excited. Klein in her book tells us that the current economic system is not sustainable without destroying the earth (rightly I think) and talks a lot about what a new system might look like if we abandoned the kind of capitalist system we currently have. The spiritual implications where everywhere. I listened and kept thinking that her message fits so well with the demands of the gospel. This Changes Everything is, I think, one of the most important books I've read in a long time. I hoped that Sine would do a similar exegesis of the problems we face while providing that faith based understanding of what new directions we as followers of Jesus might pursue. I was disappointed.
If I was to try to give you a condensed version of Live Like You Give a Damn, it would be this: "The world needs to change. We older folk in the church have stunted imaginations. Millenials want to make a difference. Millenials have good ideas if we listen. We should follow their lead. Here are some examples of churches and/or millenials who are making a difference." All well and good but what I was hoping to read was a diagnoses of those problems from a faith standpoint and some idea of what the big picture changes might be that we see manifested in those various examples. I didn't get what I hoped and as I read Sine's book, I wasn't able to divorce myself from Klein's excellent analysis... and I was left wanting more... a lot more.
I don't want to be unfair to Sine. He does provide some challenging analysis... but I wanted more. He does call us to question the values of our culture in a personal way but I wanted that plus the corporate questioning as well. He calls us to use our imaginations as foundations for faith as we devise a new narrative that leads us to our best tomorrows. He does remind us that the gospel is always contextual but I still wonder whether there must be a larger narrative under which, those contextual ones fit. It felt to me though as if he wanted the church to become a city on the hill kind of Anabaptist example for all to see while I wanted the Mustard Seed conspiracy that invades and changes everything. Perhaps if I had read Sines first and then Klein, the book would have sat better for me and Klein would have helped to fill in the blanks. Should you chose to read it, I'd recommend you do that. If you only have time/energy for one or the other, I'd recommend Klein's book given the caveat that while I think the implications of her work have a lot to say for people of faith, she does not frame any of her challenges in spiritual terms. In either case, you'll need to do some work... and that I guess, is a good thing.
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