Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Book Review

Justice in the Burbs, by Will & Lisa Sampson.

I want to be sympathetic to the "emergent" movement, and indeed am sympathetic to many aspects of it -- the ancient-future movement, the 500-year cycle, creation care. But I do have a problem with the attitude of many in the movement, who extend little grace to those who are not 100% on board. It seems that with many emergents, if you agree with them on 4 out of every 5 issues, they consider you a 20% enemy, not an 80% friend. Their judgmentalism is not the harsh and hurtful type, but more of the sanctimonious variety.

This book typifies my relationship to the movement. Much of the time I read the book, I saw the value of what they were saying -- that God cares about what we eat, where we live, how much electricity we use, and to who we minister to. Some of the economic analysis was simplistic, but much of the material was interesting and challenging. But then they would stereotype the (non-emergent) church, insult me for where I worship, where I work, and much of how I live.

Many of the chapters open with brief introductions from a range of interesting authors, and I find these a strength of the book. But on a purely stylistic note, I found the mix of fiction and non-fiction annoying, and (again) more than a little condescending.

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