While it did take me a rather long time to finish this one, it was not due to any dislike of the book. I must admit that I am rather biased toward thiWhile it did take me a rather long time to finish this one, it was not due to any dislike of the book. I must admit that I am rather biased toward this book, though, because I took a class with Dr. Noll called, "World Christianity since 1800", my senior year at Wheaton College. Essentially, this class was his proving ground before this book was published, and Noll makes several similar remarks throughout the book. Nothing in this book was really new to me as a result, but it was still an excellent confirmation of what I would consider to be essential knowledge for any Christian, and really anyone interested in the state of the world today. Oh yes, and I also got to know and started dating my now wife in the class, so that further biases me toward this book. She also got it for me as a present.
Noll argues that a great way to understand global Christianity today is to look at the example of American Christianity, both because America has had a large impact on spreading culture and modern Christianity around the world but probably more so because the conditions that provided the context for the growth of American Christianity are similar to the conditions in many developing world countries today.
Noll makes a very convincing case, even though this book is really only a survey. He depends on the best scholars out there like Andrew Walls, Lamin Sanneh, Ogbu Kalu, and others. And Noll is truly just a master at his craft at this point, so he can call it like he sees it without having to resort to a lot of artifice in making his arguments, as younger scholars who are less proven would have to.
If you have any interest in Christianity and history, this is really a must read for you. ...more
My my, what to say about this one. First off, I only was able to get through about 2/3 of this book because it started to get so bad (in terms of itsMy my, what to say about this one. First off, I only was able to get through about 2/3 of this book because it started to get so bad (in terms of its dry, simple writing; in terms of its repetitiveness; in terms of its brow beating; in terms of its narrow and self-righteous theology; etc.).
I was tracking with him when he said salvation and God's work is through the church, but completely shocked and angered when he described how his mission is to get money from rich westerners to save dying pagan Asians in the following manner: he tells people to find their pulse, and then every time they feel a beat, that is an Asian dying without knowing Christ and burning in Hell; he then goes on to tell them to think of those people as their family members.
I really wanted to like this book because I really believe in the movement of indigenous Asian missionaries spreading the gospel there because they understand the context best, etc., but I sincerely believe that his flawed "soul-only" theology, his self-centered-ness (all of his mail appeals are from him, not from the mission), and his browbeating of westerners (rather than coming along side them and focusing on what we can do together) will weaken the overall work on the mission.
May God direct him towards the truth, but still use his work anyway. And may I not be totally turned off by his book and message and still remember that I could live with much less and should be more giving. ...more
This book is definitely worth a read. It is not written as smoothly as some books I have read, and it is definitely written more as an information booThis book is definitely worth a read. It is not written as smoothly as some books I have read, and it is definitely written more as an information book by a scholar than a heartfelt explanation of Orthodoxy by a writer (which I am hoping is what A Short Trip to the Edge will be). That said, the information that you gain from reading this book makes it worth it.
Essentially the book is a series of conversation between the author, a trained sociologist who teaches in Maine but whose roots are Orthodox Christianity in Cyprus, and Father Maximos, a monk/abbot who trained at Mt. Athos but now leads his own similar monastery in Cyprus. The fact that the author has a very critical, western mind means that we learn about some of the more paradoxical, difficult-to-swallow, and esoteric parts of Orthodox mystical spirituality through the lens of someone like ourselves who tends to be more naturally skeptical. I think in the end, this allowed me to process the information better.
If you are curious about the core ideas of Orthodox spirituality and how it differs from western theology (essentially I would say it is about in the west we tend more towards a view of ourselves that could be called total depravity, even if we don't think of ourselves as Reformed as I don't, whereas in the East it is more about being made in the image of God; secondly, in the west our goal as Christians is more towards being firmly a part of the world and using our minds to help us be the best Christians we can be whereas in the east it is more about removing ourselves from and overcoming worldly passions and achieving theosis).
It should be remembered that what we are getting really is a view of Orthodox Christian Monastic spirituality. Yes, this is a big part of Orthodox Christianity overall, but it is still unique, being monastic.
The part at the end of the book where he gets into history has some good parts, but it is fairly weak (oh, sociologists trying to write history, sigh).
Overall though, a noteworthy contribution to books written in English about Orthodoxy that are accessible to western Christians....more
Well, I am not done reading this book (it is a compendium really, so I will be working on it slowly over the years), but I have read all of the introdWell, I am not done reading this book (it is a compendium really, so I will be working on it slowly over the years), but I have read all of the introductory material, lots of the shorter stuff, and the full text of St. Brendan's voyage. Since I have gotten this far, I figured I would write a brief review and take it off of my currently reading list.
The only reason I am giving this four rather than 5 stars is I wish I had it in hardback and I wish the layout was nicer, including relevant Celtic images. The content here is excellent--worth chewing on for a lifetime. So much beauty, wisdom, and just pure natural love for God and His creation comes across in this work.
This book is essential to have if you want to learn more about Celtic Christianity, especially so that you can get into the primary documents. Here is one brief example. I love the monastic tradition, and want to continue to learn more about it. But lest I become to romantic in my thinking about it, all I need to do is read some of the rules for monastic life contained in here. Yeah, that was a tough life--all about abnegation. But somehow, they still loved life and cherished the community. Beauty in paradox and the blessings of God....more
Haven't read this yet, but it looks good. Some people I can think of (that means you Jay and Jake) should probably read this and change their minds asHaven't read this yet, but it looks good. Some people I can think of (that means you Jay and Jake) should probably read this and change their minds as well (wry smile)....more
Been going through this steadily as a way to improve myself as a tutor. I don't have anything to compare this book to, but I found it very helpful forBeen going through this steadily as a way to improve myself as a tutor. I don't have anything to compare this book to, but I found it very helpful for its breadth of knowledge about causes, symptoms, and responses, but probably most importantly as a sourcebook for other resources or worksheets that I could use to improve my tutoring with students with learning disabilities....more