I recently had the good fortune to purchase a Kindle from Amazon.com.  Katie came across a special deal where if we signed up and committed to one year on Audible.com, we would received a couple for $100 off a Kindle purchase.  Being the bargain hunters and bibliophiles that we are, we jumped on the opportunity.  So, now, not only do we get an audiobook once a month for only $15, we each bought a Kindle with Special Offers for only $14.

I’ve talked before about my literary ADD, and I have found, after about 5 weeks, that the Kindle is helping to reign in my unfortunate disability.  I’ve actually finished two books already (I’ll put up a review of the other one sometime next week).  The first book that I finished was Rev. Adam Hamilton’s Seeing Gray.

My interest in this book came primarily from a number of conversations that I had with friends at our recent Annual Conference in Muncie.  We talked a lot about how the United Methodist Church needs to represent the best of both ends of the theological spectrum, and not just the politics of “getting our way” that is sometimes seen in caucus groups.  Hamilton’s book directly addresses those issues.

In the introduction Hamilton suggests:

Perhaps it is time to move beyond the old exclusive categories of liberalism and conservatism.  Maybe what we need is a new paradigm altogether – we might call it the conservative radical.  To be conservative means to be rooted – in a tradition, in faith, in core values.  To be radical also means to be rooted… which gives one a consistent perspective in the world.  So these two – radical and conservative – may not be contradictory but in fact deeply complementary.

What we need most are people rooted in “conservative” values and commitments but willing to be “radical” enough to apply those very values in the real world.  If we are to preserve the values (a conservative goal) of equality and justice, for example, they require radical application to the needs of a broken world (a liberal goal).

From this point forward, Hamilton fleshes out what it means to be a conservative radical.  The first part of the book discusses what it means to “see gray in a black-and-white world”.  The second part applies some of that logic to our theological understandings.  And the third part applies it to hot-button issues in today’s Church.  I realize that I have done a horrible injustice to the book by summing it up this way, but maybe that’s because I want you to read it on your own to learn more about it.

All in all, I really appreciated reading this book because, in large part, it describes where I am theologically at this point in my life.  I’ve seen that the arguments lead us no where.  In fact, in the time that the United Methodist Church has been arguing about some of these very issues, it’s attendance has continued to decline.  It’s not about the issues.  It’s about bringing people into a relationship with Jesus Christ, and helping them understand what that means regarding our relationship with the world around us.

I don’t know about you, but when it is all said and done, I don’t want to be known for my positions on issues.  I want to be known as a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ who brought others to him and was able to make a least a little corner of the world a little bit better.

Final recommendation: Read it.  Read it now.

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