Monday, January 29, 2007
On the bookshelf...
I recently finished Walter Wink's The Powers that Be: Theology for a New Millennium and found it to be a "mixed bag".
On the PLUS side, I gained some new insights in the chapter, "Jesus' Third Way". Wink explains the advice to turn the other cheek, go the second mile, etc. within the cultural context of the 1st century. What emerges is not a passive, doormat response. "Jesus is not telling us to submit to evil, but to refuse to oppose it on its own terms. We are not to let the opponent dictate the methods of our opposition. He is urging us to transcend both passivity and violence by finding a third way, one that is at once assertive and yet nonviolent." The book is worth reading for the info on the cultural context (e.g. 'going the second mile' when explained in terms of Roman military code infractions sends a far different message than one would expect if just reading with our 21st century eyes)!
On the MINUS side (for me) was the chapter on prayer. The talk of Powers and spiritual warfare was a litle "woo woo" for my taste. And, I'm not sure I agree with some of his statements. For example, "We will recognize that God, too, is hemmed in by forces that cannot simply be overruled... Prayer in the face of the Powers is a spiritual war of attrition. When we fail to pray, God's hands are effectively tied." Hmm. Dunno 'bout that. This would make for great discussion, though, especially over a cold Hefeweizen.
Anyway, here's the link for the book.