I’ve been doing more reading than writing this week. What can I say? So many good books to read, so little time. And I’m trying to follow the advice of successful writers who say good readers make good writers.
I finished Marcus Borg’s The Heart of Christianity last night and posted a review on Amazon this morning. Here it is.
My only regret about reading this book is that I didn’t do it sooner. A friend recommended it three years ago, and although I promptly purchased it, the book remained squeezed tightly between other unread volumes on a bookcase until last week. I thumbed through it, stopping at many passages and thinking, “This is fascinating,” or “I need to tell so-and-so about this,” or “Wow! I wish I had someone to discuss this with.
Borg covers too many topics for me to treat them all fairly, so I’ll focus on a few of my favorites:
Thin places. “This way of thinking affirms that there are minimally two layers or dimensions of reality, the visible world of our ordinary experience and the sacred. Borg reminds his readers that a thin place is anywhere our hearts are open and then tells us how to find them. Thin places don’t have to be explicitly religious and can be found in nature, music, art, and literature. He also lists practices one can follow to access thin places, practices that are doable.
Two relationships are at the core of Christian life. The first is “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, life force, mind, and strength.” The second is to love your love your neighbor as yourself. While we know these things with our heads, we don’t seem to know them with our hearts.
Borg’s words about practicing compassion and justice made me squirm a little. Charity and compassion are easier than seeking justice and social transformation for those in need. It’s easier to donate money, time, or old furniture. It’s harder to seek actively seek social justice…or become politically involved.
The Bible’s relationship to time and place. The Old and New Testaments are both sacred and human products with metaphorical importance. Those of us who live in a modern Western culture tend to identify truth with fact and thus devalue metaphorical language. Reading Borg’s statement about the truth of the Bible not being dependent on its historical factuality was an aha moment for me since I too am a product of my time and culture.
There is much more that gave me pause for thought in this illuminating book, including religious plurality in America and how it came to be. There’s a thought-provoking passage on salvation, too, one that makes the reader realize it’s much more encompassing than avoiding the flames of hell. In the Bible, salvation can be light in the darkness, enlightenment, return from exile, healing of infirmities, knowing God, and resurrection from the land of the dead.
Highly readable, interesting, informative, and thought provoking, this is the book for those with open hearts trying to live more authentically Christian lives.
It’s a book I’ll likely return to many times. It’s that good. In the meantime, later tonight I’ll get back to Tribe, a nonfiction book I’m reading based on my brothers’ recommendation. Maybe the three of us can have our own little book club discussion afterwards. My friend Lynn recommended One Thousand White Women, a work of historical fiction based on the journals of Mary Dodd, and maybe I should start with that.
What are you reading this week? Do you have a book you’d like to recommend? Hope so!
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