I like books. I like books on interesting topics – cooking, parenting, ecclesiology (as opposed to my dad who has books on chaos theory, chess strategy, and the penguin history of the world, and yes: he’s read them all). And I *really* like books on interesting topics that I get for free, so it was a banner day when I opened up my mailbox to find a copy of “It’s a Dance: Moving with the Holy Spirit” by Patrick Oden.
“It’s a Dance” takes a look at the daily life workings of the Holy Spirit through fictional discussions of a newspaper reporter and an a-typical faith community functioning out of a pub. Luke, a jaded journalist, interviews Nate, the “pastor/bartender,” about his nontraditional approach to church. As Nate gives the background of the community, as well as introducing Luke to various members, the discussion weaves functionality with spirituality, exploring the form their faith expressions take as well as the inner workings of God, the Son, and the Spirit that’s been sent to believers.
The book hits a lot of “buzz word” topics floating around the blogosphere and beyond:
- What does it mean to be missional?
- What does it mean to be incarnational?
- What does it mean to welcome the stranger?
- How and why do we worship creatively?
- Is there a boundary between the sacred and the secular?
But due to the conversational nature of the writing the book never takes on a “textbook” feel. As the characters share their lives and experiences, they also share the reasonings and theology behind their actions. Considering much of the “emerging church conversation” is supposed to be, you know, a *conversation*, this book seems to be an appropriate way to convey the thoughts, ideas, and inner leadings of this current movement.
I greatly enjoyed the emphasis on the movings of the Holy Spirit. The evangelical movement (at least certain streams) seems comfortable with dicussions about God and Jesus, but the Holy Spirit seems a little . . . impish: something we don’t really see that seems a little tricky. And while the emerging conversation has discussed a great deal of the implications of being missional/incarnational, not a lot of emphasis has been given to the promptings which move folks to live that out: that of the Spirit. Instead of getting into a lot of eccesiological/eschatological/insert another word that they use in Seminary that makes lay people go “enh?” stuff, Oden uses the characters to share and show how the Spirit is inclined to move and act in the day-to-day. Practical. Tangible. Helpful.
My only minor complaints, totally coming from my snobby writing/lit background:
- I had a hard time differentiating between speakers (their voices sounded very similar).
- I could use more plot/action, which I know wasn’t the point, but if it’s going to be fictional, a little more movement has got to happen to keep mothers-of-fourth-month-old-yowlers alert.
- Nobody talks that eloquently. Correction: I’m jealous because I can’t articulate my faith and theology that well (ah, blessed sleep deprivation: I’m lucky if I can remember what name goes with which creature I’m currently ministering to).