It's almost more a "report from the field" as much as it is an analysis of a movement. The marks of this "new friar" mission movement as some call it are incarnational, missional, marginal, devotional, communal. Chapter 3 helped me see the various roles people come FROM in order to live among marginal people: remainers, relocators, and returners. Each has their contributing strengths to offer.
I liked the emphasis on "story" in chapter 4. Only by locating ourselves in God's greater story can we find and channel hope into the smaller stories we inhabit.
I like getting this glimpse from the inside. It reminds me of C.S. Lewis's essay "Meditation in a Toolshed: 'Looking' Along vs. 'Looking At'" Yes, let those on the inside say what they see. They see it in a way that nobody else could.
Missional: Yes! the point of these new communities is not isolationism, but transformation, both of themselves and the communities they link with.
Marginal: Resist the pull of false centers - good point. Poverty dehumanizes - good point (um, but back in chapter 4 wealth was named an enemy...?) Elsewhere, this chapter got too mystical for me. My takeaway - what "center" do we revolve around?
Devotional: Excellent reminder for our school. We've held on to morning devotions, rotating among 5 disciplines, through all the years since I first came in 1996. Practicing devotion together is a great re-unifier. "We are shaped by what we're saturated in, which is why incarnation must always be paired with devotion." Good warnings to activists and educators alike. We must beware getting "caught up in our busyness, frantically running from one crisis to the next in a cycle that looks less like loving the Messiah and more like trying to become one."
Communal: Rich with thoughtfulness. "In the mainstream, with its illusion of unlimited relational possibilities, we can counter dissatisfaction in relationships by simply moving on in search of...intimacy only as virtual embrace."
At times I detect eisegesis, a typical error among us who are passionate about our ministries. They read their own ways of doing things back into the Biblical text, inserting their philosophy of ministry between the lines. Examples: chapter 4 says Jesus taught that "wealth and worldly success" are "the enemies of the kingdom." I'd like to find that passage in the Bible, if it's there. Chapter 7's "Weightlessness of communal simplicity is less blatant. While I agree with the principle of simplicity, I reject the argument from silence pushed here. All in all, however, these logical strayings don't detract from the book's main ideas.
Even timelier as we repeatedly ask ourselves how we can help flood victims here in Thailand.
I need to read this. Cross pollination from people outside my denominational circles, but inside orthodoxy helps me grow. Also good to help me see a very different model of missions. Imagine a vision for God's kingdom that starts by learning FROM the marginalized and eventually letting the marginalized take over the vision. This book certainly helps me think of the possibilities beyond my own comfortable socioeconomic status. But it also doesn't pull punches. No romanticization.
Timely reading, too, as we try to be a real help to some local friends in need.