Tuesday, May 25, 2004

More reading

I've been on a reading tear recently. First, I bought a copy of Pearl S. Buck's The Good Earth at a garage sale, a 35¢ Cardinal Edition from Pocket Books printed in 1961. What a wonderful book about land, farming, marriage, family, and money.

Then I read through, rather quickly, The Holy Way: Practices for a Simple Life by Paula Huston. The book is a modern woman's take on the Catholic, often monastic, tradition of simplicity and spirituality. Besides telling her own story, Huston also depicts the lives of well-known Christian figures throughout history. The book is very readable and makes some challenging points.

Just today I picked up The Rapture Exposed: The Message of Hope in the Book of Revelation by Barbara R. Rossing, a Lutheran seminary professor. The book is a strong critique of the Left Behind series and similar interpretations of the biblical books of Revelation and Daniel.

Rossing begins chapter one,
The Rapture is a racket. Whether prescribing a violent script for Israel or survivalism in the United States, this theology distorts God's vision for the world. In place of healing, the Rapture proclaims escape. In place of Jesus' blessing of peacemaking, the Rapture voyeuristically glorifies violence and war. [...] This theology is not biblical. (pp. 1-2)
I'm very interested in reading Rossing's book because I was raised with the 1970s' version of Rapture theology (e.g., Hal Lindsay's The Late Great Planet Earth and the movie A Thief in the Night) in the broader context of dispensationalist theology (my parents used the Scofield reference Bible and I attended a Plymouth Brethren boarding school). However, in seminary I reformulated what I had been taught growing up and now am much more aligned with Rossing's understanding.

A few pages further into the chapter, Rossing continues:
Christ will return, on that the Rapture proponents and I agree. I pray for it each time I pray "Thy kingdom come" in the Lord's Prayer—a prayer that is never once prayed in the twelve Left Behind novels. Jesus taught an urgency about his kingdom in this prayer that is still very much alive for Christians today.

But we completely disagree on what that urgency means for the world and for our life today. We differ, first of all, on our views of God—whether our God is a God whose will is to destroy the world. Second, we differ on whether Christians are to embrace an escapist ethics, as Rapture proponents argue, or are to urgently love and care for the world in anticipation of Christ's return, as I advocate. These differences in ethics will be crucial for our future. (p. 4)
[Edit: A 60 Minutes II interview with Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, co-authors of the Left Behind novels, and Barbara Rossing, among others (scroll down).]

Finally, to pick up a recent theme, the cover story of the June National Geographic magazine is "The End of Cheap Oil":
Think gas is expensive now? Just wait. You've heard it before, but this time it's for real. We're at the beginning of the end of cheap oil.

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