So my book group met last night for our first real discussion.
As I said we are reading The Velvet Elvis: A Repainting of the Christian Faith. I think this book was well chosen. It fosters discussion in a meaningful way. And for all that I disagreed with what a lot of my fellow readers I have to say, I appreciated their approach to the discussion. Everyone came with an open mind. Everyone came, ready to hear other points of view. I assure you we all had our own points of view.
There was a young man, new to me, who has just recently graduated from that bastion of conservatism, Texas A&M University. Not only that, but he was a member of the "Brotherhood of Christian Aggies." Then there was me. Spirituality has been a part of me all of my life, but I have always been weary of religion and "the church". I think everyone else seemed to fall somewhere in between the two of us.
So far I am not all that impressed with the book. While many in the group praised Bell and said that it "blew my mind", I felt like Bell was doing nothing more than climbing on the shoulders of the mystic tradition of the faith and watering it down for today's young adults. My view might change as I read more than just the first chapter, but as it was, I found myself adding things in the margins as I read. I wanted him to flush out his idea that "Its okay to question" and say that its not only okay to question, but we must question. I kept waiting for him to reveal that questioning is the only way we can move from simply obeying and defining doctrines and move into a fuller, richer, deeper relationship with God. I wanted to see him say what was said in the Cloud of Unknowing that "Our need to understand is our biggest stumbling block to God." He came really close to it a few times, but he never fully got there.
Still, like I said, it was a good group of people. Some of us were polar opposites, but we all listened to what the other had to say. We all articulated our points well. We were all heard and understood. On a personal note, it was nice to hear the Aggie say that he had to go home and think about some of the things he had heard.
If I were just reading this book on my own, I'm not sure I would care to move on to Movement two, but I'm excited about next week's discusstion.