This is a super funny video about the founding of Methodism by John and Charles Wesley. It’s not entirely historically accurate (like the fight-the-undead thing), but when should history get in the way of humor?Share on Facebook
If spiritual books are a spiritual meal somewhere between milk and meat, then The Imitation of Christ is a steak and lobster feast, which is to say that I had a hard time eating it. There are two reasons why I had a hard time digesting the substance of this classic book. First, I listened to it as an audio book. This is probably the worst way to “read” The Imitation of Christ. The thoughts in this book are better savored slowly over time in very small portions than swallowed whole in long sittings. And yet, listening to the book over longer periods of time raises an awareness that might get lost on the reader who approached the book more slowly: this book is almost entirely about one thing, self-denial. This brings me to the second reason why I had a hard time digesting Imitation: I am not yet ready for such a powerful prescription of self-denial.
Thomas a Kempis, traditionally considered the 15th century author of Imitation but more recently considered the editor, believes that our passions get in the way of our love for God. The only solution to this is total denial of our passions. I had a hard time with this equation for two reasons. First, I am an American, and I like my passions. Second, Imitation borders at times on being Gnostic. What do I mean by “Gnostic”? The Gnostics were early rivals with mainstream orthodox Christianity who taught that the material world was bad and only through secret knowledge—gnosis—could one be saved from the material world. The Christian church ultimately rejected this idea in favor of a belief that the world, while fallen, was created and called “good” and redeemed by a God who took on flesh—materiality—to save that material world. This suggests that there is something about our passions and desires at their basic fundamental level that is good. Of course, we Americans, myself included, take this idea and run with it to the point of self-destruction, destruction of those around us, and destruction of that very creation that God came to save (take for example the disastrous fiasco that is the BP oil spill). Because I am an American and recognize my own overindulgent love of the passions, this was one of Wesley’s favorite books that he returned to over and over again (I’m a big fan of John Wesley), and it is considered a classic among all Christian classics, I am willing to take a second look at The Imitation of Christ, but next time I’ll read it rather than try to digest it in such huge portions.
American Saint: Francis Asbury and the Methodists by John H. Wigger
Sober for Good by Anne M. Fletcher
Dark Summit by Nick Heil
Blink (Audio Book) by Malcom Gladwell
The Shack by William P. Young
God’s Economy by Jonathan Wilson Hartgrove
The Expectant Father by Armin A. Brott and Jennifer Ash
Following Jesus in a Culture of Fear by Scott Bader-Saye
Switch (Audio Book) by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
Currently at our Team Leaders meetings we’re talking about the sacraments: baptism and communion. “Sacraments” is Latin for Greek “musterion” or “mystery.” What happens in baptism and communion is something of a mystery. That doesn’t mean we don’t understand any of it. United Methodists have taken some time to explore just exactly what we do believe about these two sacraments. Our thoughts about communion are found in This Holy Mystery and our thoughts about baptism are found in By Water and the Spirit. Some other helpful links about communion and baptism include:
John Wesley – A Treatise on Baptism (this is actually his father, Samuel’s treatise, that he republished.Share on Facebook