Christianity for the Rest of Us by Dianne Butler Bass, Harper One 2006

We considered one of the summary chapters ‘Transforming Lives’.  There is an initial emphasis on the ‘sanctuary’ and home wanderers have found in these Mainline churches.  They have found a place and an environment where they can put down roots and become part of an accepting, though challenging, community.  We observed the impression that compared to US society, NZ is a much smaller country and population with consequently fewer wanderers.  Nevertheless, they do exist and all churches need to be aware of, and welcoming to, new comers whether they be wanderers or not.  The author suggests 5 modern traits in (US) 21st century society – individualism, aimlessness, consumption, fragmentation and forgetfulness.  It seemed to us that these are more noticeable and have spread beyond the US since 2006, eg the riots last year and recent election results in Europe.  In response to these, the author suggests wanderers have become pilgrims by ‘selectively adapting to the cultural changes that are pressurising the practice of Christian faith.’

We thought that Church members should be change makers not change followers – after all was this not what Jesus did?  Elements of the present society seek identity in what they consume compared to previous generations where people were known for what we produced.  Christians would do well to consider the example they set and therefore how they perceived – by their works you shall know them.

Ian Harris

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