"Jesus was killed because of the way he ate"
If you like that statement (from Robert Karris) then you will love this book. If you have heard the way I preach in a church from the story of Jesus and then weave in the other stories and issues, and if you liked it, then you will love this book. Not the aesthetics, mind you - they don't work for me - when are Zondervan going to quit that 1994 "i'm so grungy GenX gimme back my damn skateboard so i can wear down your park bench" kind of graphic? This book would have done better with something friendlier, warmer, classier, HOME-IER. I guess they were aiming at the church youth group crowd - and to be honest - this is a really good church youth group kind of book. But its more than that! I had to mention the poor choice of typeface, btw, simply because the rest of the book is so dang good that i don't want to sound like a swooning schoolgirl at a Jonny Depp autograph singing.
So did I enjoy the book?
I adored it.
Even though I am furious at Conrad Gempf for writing a book that I should have written myself, I have no choice but to give it two thumbs up and 4 out of 5 stars. I have stopped halfway through the book in case it gets better and I have to foolishly award it another star.
One reason why i am furious at Conrad is because i think he set up me and knew i would like his book before he sent it to me. I am assuming he knows how much I hang out in the gospels and describe myself as one who tells stories and throws parties. He may have come across my statement that floats around UK blogs "the Kingdom is like a house full of poor people partying." However, there is no proof at all that Conrad has ever read my stuff or heard me speak and there is no connection with my stuff and his stuff . .. which makes me hate him even more!
Conrad plays around in the gospels like i do - comparing, contrasting, juxtaposing, triangulating this story and that one and the one before and the one after and what Luke added that Mark doesn't and so on. Sounds so much like my synoptic storytelling thats its scary. I tell the stories of Jesus a bit like Ronnie Corbett used to weave his stories together back in the 1970's.
Ronnie Who? When?
Ohhh Shut Up!
But I think I am more of a Luke person and Conrad seems to be a Mark person. Luke, for me, has the historical chronological timekeeping as a kind of background layer to his passionate, artful sensitive focus of Jesus life and ministry. The Gospel of Mark, in my opinion, reads more like a blog - to the point, focusing on the miraculous, and punctuated with "and then" "and then" and then" . . . kind of how my kids talk. And certainly how Conrad writes. In fact, I could probably read a chapter of this book to my kids each night and they would love it. And being written by a guy with a PhD, thats pretty good.
As for the book. Absolute must-buy and must-read. If Ryan Bolger is correct in saying the emerging church finds its ecclesiology more from the gospels than the epistles, (and I concur, especially among the emerging house church movements) and if our communication is more narrative when describing narratives, then the way of Jesus described in this book is not only something to read about, but it is something on which to model your own storytelling, preaching and blogging. And any book that zooms in on Jesus at a meal table, or bar-b-q'ing fish for breakfast, is speaking my language.
Cool piece in the intro is worth repeating:
Ethical and Aesthetic Environmental Impact Statement: No Microsoft products were used by the author in the composition of this book.
Well, maybe on your computer, Conrad . . . but I suspect someone down the editorial chain was not as ethically aesthetic as you. Well done, Conrad, bloody good book!
Reviews by Jason Clark and Fred Peatross.