Book Review - Theology from Exile

November 18, 2014

I had to take a break from reviewing books, as I was getting a little burned out from doing so many, but I have read so many good books lately that my book reviewing days are back again.  Of course, the first books I have to review are from Speakeasy.

Theology from Exile Vol. II: The Year of Matthew by Sea Raven
I really enjoyed this book!  It is the second "in a series of commentaries on biblical scripture that follows the three-year cycle of Christian liturgical readings found inn the Revised Common Lectionary"  (Sea Raven 1).  Sea Raven takes each Sunday in the second year of the lectionary and expounds upon the scripture in a progressive, postmodern way.  It is a book targeted towards scholars and ministers, to help them in their research and sermon preparation, but I enjoyed it all the same.  I like that she acknowledged that the RCL often cuts scriptures short or put seemingly random scriptures together in order to serve their own ends (to support traditional, outdated theology, for instance)-she calls these annoying edits the work of "the elves."  Even more, I liked that she used simple language and did not mess around with metaphors in getting her point across-"Jesus is dead," she said over and over again and curiously enough, those words were balm to my soul.  It was so good to read someone who enjoys studying the Bible, does not believe in taking it literally, and is not afraid to say so in extremely clear language.  Many times when I am in church, I feel like I do not know what people are really talking about, because there is so much double speak-"He is risen!,"
 we say and I have to think to myself, "well, metaphorically, but I do not really believe he rose from the dead-can't we talk about resurrection of the soul without making it seem we believe in supernatural nonsense?  Can't we talk plainly for once and say what we really mean?"  By talking in metaphorical double speak at churches, I will sometimes feel alone, because I do not know if people are having the same internal conversations and scruples than I am with the language-I do not know if the majority of the people around me actually believe that Jesus rose from the dead or if they believe that story is a beautiful myth with lessons to teach us, like I do.  The need for intellectual clarity is something that I sometimes long for and I wonder if other people long for it too.

Sea Raven posits that there are four questions that one must ask one's self when reading Scripture:

  1. What is the nature of God?  Violent or nonviolent?
  2. What is the nature of Jesus's message? Inclusive or Exclusive?
  3. What is faith? Literal belief, or commitment to the great work of justice-compassion?
  4. What is deliverance? Salvation from hell, or liberation from injustice? (7)
She says,

"The answers for the authoritarian right (Empire) are: violent, exclusive, literal belief, and salvation from hell in the next life.  The answers for the countering partnership on the left (Covenant) are nonviolent, inclusive, commitment to the great work, and liberation from injustice in this life, here and now. (7)"

I hope it is obvious that I am on the left. I recommend this book for seminary students, ministers, and scholarly laypeople, like myself. Each section is short-sometimes too short, in my opinion-creative and insightful. I am looking forward to reading Vol. 1 and Vol. 3 sometimes in the future.

  Link Love:

Your Color Looks Good - Is it Really Important to Have a Positive Attitude When Dealing With a Chronic Condition? 
In my personal and professional experience, I’ve found that most people suffering from chronic pain and chronic illness want acknowledgement that what they are going through is real and that it is okay not to be okay sometimes. Pressure to be optimistic all of the time can lead to increased negative emotions. By allowing sufferers of chronic conditions to experience the uncertainty and frustrations that come along with having a chronic illness or chronic pain, family, friends and loved ones are actually making way for more positive feelings because not only can the patient express their feelings during difficult times rather than holding it in, the pressure to be optimistic all of the time is gone.

 Shakesville – Sartorial Misogyny, Feminist Concern Trolling, and the “Little Things” in Science and Elsewhere 
Because feminism by design functions to address all manner of issues, big and small. That women can (and do) utilize the tenets of feminism in every aspect of their lives does not undermine the history of the feminist movement, but instead does it a great honor. Feminism was never meant to be restricted to suffrage and genital cutting, held in reserve like a finite quantity in danger of depletion if it's used for "the little things." Feminism is a renewable resource. 

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