Soul Survivor by Philip Yancy
More a book about what he's learned from the stand-point of a writer, for a writer; or how Christ's Church often leaves Christ out of Church. A 'what not to do' book.
Here's how I read it: The chapter on Dr. C Everett Koop I totally get how Yancy could have received Koop as an 'unlikely mentor'. The story, the life of Koop, while dreadfully criticized and ostracized by the church as a whole, was someone I could learn from and, yes, agree with; "he recognized the distinction between morality and legality", he was for "truth over agenda", "Christian absolutes cannot always be imposed on those who do not share Christian beliefs. [Mr. Koop] learned instead compassion and mercy for the downtrodden, and love for the enemy", "when the AIDS example came along, [his] obligation seemed pretty clear, [he] viewed the lifestyle with a certain revulsion, but...I had to look upon AIDS patients primarily as sick people." This chapter alone is 5 Stars.
But, the chapter on John Donne, and Anne Dillard, I couldn't grasp, for the life of me, from the long-winded writing, what in fact of their lives influenced Yancy, except I found 'a faithful pilgrim's struggles have become to others a source of comfort and...doubts have strengthened others' faith." Okay, but, still, except for their writing styles, what they wrote about...what was influential?
The Dr. Robert Cole chapter and 'how do we, the privileged ones, act as stewards of the grace we have received...we begin by finding a community that nourishes compassion for the weak." Yes. And yes to this. The Frederick Buechner chapter hit strikingly with "The Christian faith strikes him as good news because it presents the truth of the world as he has experienced it, giving words to the deepest things he has felt by living on this planet." But, I often wonder if the reason the Christ's Church here in America isn't preaching 'good news' with their lives is because we have no reason to live out Jesus' story because when do we truly suffer instead we only live our own. As Nouwen put it "the poor and oppressed have a more profound sense of God's love than Westerners who live materially privileged lives."
Henri Nouwen also said, "God is inviting me to become like himself, to show the same compassion to others that he is showing to me. He is calling me to reach out to the broken and the needy, to welcome them to God's family...the great paradox which Scripture reveals to us is that real and total freedom can only be found through downward mobility. The Word of God came down to us and lived among us as a slave. The divine way is indeed the downward way."
Throughout the book there were nuggets of gold but as a whole, while these people may have become Yancy's unlikely mentors to surviving the Church, and each person may have struck hard with their lives spotted with living such as mentioned above, but honestly, is the Church so full of hypocrisy that Yancy could find not even one non-famous person who also helped him survive the Church. I don't believe the Church could have survived over two thousand years without them. And was those nuggets enough to give the book, on the book's merits alone, 5 Stars. I don't know.
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