Brian McLaren’s writings have been very helpful guidance for me over the past few years, as I have come to appreciate the significance of the advent of postmodernism and how modernism has influenced and molded the way our culture has understood religion in general and Christianity in particular. We were privileged to be able to sit in on several talks by Brian at the Wild Goose Festival. He led us in worship each morning (those mornings were a highlight of the festival–read my new friend Michelle’s post on those sessions HERE) and thanks to the intimate and casual atmosphere at the Goose, we were able to have some brief one on one conversations with him.
Brian has a new book being released this Fall and I’ve been looking forward to it. Titled Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha and Mohammed Cross the Road? the book addresses the crititical issue of multi-faith dialogue in the contemporary world. At the Goose he described the need to be able to converse and work with those of other faiths, without hostility or fear, and without surrendering our religious identities. He correctly observes that these days it too often seems we cannot have both a strong religious identity and respectful interfaith communication. Either we surrender our religious identity for the sake of tolerance, or we maintain our religious identity and in so doing promote hostility. He poses the challenge–how do we maintain strong Christian identities, while at the same time fostering interfaith dialogue that is peaceful, respectful and benevolent?
So I was thrilled to find that his publisher (Jericho Books) was giving away free advance copies of the uncorrected proof. I’ve added the book the growing pile of those I intend to read soon, but this one will be a priority. Here is a taste of it:
Would Jesus push Moses aside and demand to cross first, claiming that his ancestor’s failed religion had been forever superseded by his own? Would he trade insults with Mohammed, claiming his crusaders could whup Mohammed’s jihadists any day of the week, demanding that Mohammed cross behind, not beside him? Would Jesus demand the Buddha kneel at his feet and demonstrate submission before letting him cross? Or would he walk with them, and once on the other side, welcome each to a table of fellowship, not demanding any special status or privileges, maybe even taking the role of a servant–hanging up their coats, getting them something to eat and drink, making sure each felt welcome, safe and at home?