Thursday, June 11, 2009

Highlights of "The Fidelity of Betrayal"

I finished reading the book, "The Fidelity of Betrayal" by Peter Rollins a while back. I already commented on it here before I finished it. Here are a few other highlights:
In reading Nietzsche [Dietrich Bonhoeffer] too became concerned that Christianity had become an anemic ideological expression that not only appealed to the infant within humanity but that fundamentally stood in the way of our becoming strong, intelligent, and courageous human beings who reflect our dignity as being formed in the image of God...

Bonhoeffer wondered whether it is possible to embrace God out of love and lightness of heart, out of a seduction that is caught up in the call of God rather than the need of God.
--page 102-103
The question is not whether God exists but rather what God has said.
--page 138
When thinking through issues to do with morality, religion, the world, and social action, people can introduce and employ the richest thoughts of the various intellectual disciplines, because the truth that Christianity affirms does not impact these discussions in terms of content but rather in terms of approach, demanding that the conclusions we come to bring liberation and healing.
--page 161

And when I wrote about this book before, I mentioned the glaring question: Why make an unconditional commitment to Christ? Well, here's one thing he says that seems to address that question, not necessarily the main thing he says on this topic:
While certain beliefs are affirmed as a means of reflecting upon the faith of Jesus, these beliefs can never take the place of, or fully describe, that faith. A metaphor that may help to illustrate this relationship concerns a beautiful, bright-white dove that, one day while flying through the air, imagines how high and fast she could soar if only the air, with all its resistance, did not exist. Never did this dove realize that it was the air she cursed, with all of its restrictive forces, that allowed her to rise up in the first place. We must endeavor to understand then how the common critique that Christianity offers a particular, "narrow" stance in relation to the transcendent fails to understand that this "constrictive" location is itself a privileged opening into the transcendent. It is only by locating oneself in a narrow particular site, perceived as such, that one can gaze beyond it.
--page 137

I find that many of Peter Rollins's ideas seem true based on my own experiences. Maybe I can't give logically defensible reasons for agreeing with him, but the things he said just resonate with my own issues with Christianity and help me move beyond these issues. Yeah, there are some things he says that I'm not so sure about, but don't take that as a criticism of the book. I agree with this book more than a lot of what I hear from Christians, including my own church.

The writing style is fairly academic, so at times that made it harder for it to keep my attention, but the ideas usually made up for it. I also wish he got more personal. We see very little of his own experiences here.

I recently started reading Shane Claiborne's book, "The Irresistible Revolution." The back of the book says, "This book will comfort the disturbed [and] disturb the comfortable." I think "The Fidelity of Betrayal" could have a similar effect. I'm a disturbed Christian, and I found the book refreshing. But to Christians who don't feel like they've ever had their illusions shattered, it could be disturbing.

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