Month: November 2007
I recently read John (Jack) D. Caputo’s, Philosophy and Theology. It lead me to order his new book, What Would Jesus Deconstruct? Too many fail to grasp the benefit of deconstruction. The fear of reduction to the absurd leading to a nihilism is an adventure in missing the point according to Jack.
If James challenges us to look into a mirror where we find challenge to live into the way of Jesus, this is really a call to deconstruct ourselves. We need to experience the challenge of what Tim Keller refers to as our religiosity, irreligiosity and our righteousness. In this way every time we face Jesus we enter into a narrative that informs, decontructs and orders a new creation in us.
James K.A. Smith, author of Whose Afraid of Postmodernism? and editor of the series “The Church and Postmodern Culture, caught my attention in his introduction to Caputo’s book. He wrote,
His (Caputo’s) vocation is to be first and foremost a conduit and witness: he wants nothing less than to confront us with a Jesus who resists all our domestications. In and through humor that will have you laughing out loud, Caputo is dead serious. Here is a book in the tradition of John the Baptist, out to make a way for a Messiah who, when he shows up, will ruin all our parties. And so Caputo invites us to ask: What would happen if Jesus showed up in Colorado Spring? Or slowly made his way down the aisle on “Justice Sunday” in Kansas? What would Jesus deconstruct if he was sitting across from Al Mohler on Larry King Live? What would Jesus deconstruct if he made an appearance at the denominational offices of the Southern Baptist Convention, or on the other end, the Episcopal Church in the USA? And for that matter, what would Jesus deconstruct if he showed up in our comfy coffee-house “congregations” while we listen to jazz vespers? It is a sign of the vitality of a book that Caputo leaves us with a question that’s still alive when we finish: it is a haunting, prophetic question. And he convinces us that we will best serve Jesus’ coming kingdom by never ceasing to ask the question. (p.17, bold emphasis is mine)
Mark Scandrette, poet, pastor, catalyst, and friend , coined a phrase this past week – “My new friend Jim Palmer.” We spent the week as “condo” mates while working at Soularize in Nassau, Bahamas. One of our “condo” mates was Jim Palmer.
On Wednesday as we were making rounds and taking care of details I shared a seat in the van with Jim. He told me some of his story. I distinctly remember him telling me of his work at International Justice Mission. Jim shared the horrors of what I would refer to as the slave trade of young girls into prostitution in Asia. He was involved in something of an undercover meeting that eventually led to the freedom of many young girls. The experience took an emotional tole. Jim writes about the experience in his first book, Divine Nobodies.
During Soularize Jim served as interviewer extraordinaire.
Jim gave me a copy of Divine Nobodies. I read it on the plane home as we narrowly escaped the effects of tropical storm Noel. My plans were to read a chapter or two from Miami to Dallas. Early trips to the airport on consecutive days left me tired from staying up way to late to get up that early – 4:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m.
After the first introduction, yes Jim noted he broke a writing rule or two, I was gripped. I read the entire flight and forgot about my fatigue. By the time we landed at Will Rogers I only needed another thirty minutes to finish. Wednesday morning I got up early and finished. I laughed. I cried. I shouted for joy. I shared pain.
One endorsement suggested Jim may be the next Donald Miller. No disrespect to Donald, but I liked Jim’s book a bit more. It may be Jim’s experience as pastor and the oft disillusioning effects of working toward a practical theology. It may be feeling the pain of working through our own dark sides and coming out learning not only much about ourselves but about God. It may be the recognition we have too often ignored the mystical aspects of our spirituality ignoring the visible intersections of God in our world. Maybe it was connecting my own experiences with “divine nobodies” that kept “ringing the bell” for me.
I found a new friend. My new friend Jim Palmer is not just worth reading, he is worth getting to know. Despite his own misgivings about what he may be able to contribute to the Church and the Kingdom of God, Jim has been for me a refreshing “Divine Somebody.”
Order Divine Nobodies. Read it. Cry with it. Laugh with it. When you get up from reading keep your eyes open and your heart sensitive and see who God crosses your path with – these divine nobodies.
P.S. – I am looking forward to Jim’s next book, Wide Open Spaces.