Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Summer Of Reading #1 WHAT JESUS MEANT
As I read through a stack this summer, very purposely on subjects of faith and story, I thought I would share my first, or last impressions. Often a really good book is about the feeling I am left with in the end. It means that I am not just left with a feel good at the last chapter, but I am changed somehow. So when I finish each of these book, I am trying to capture the overall impression it leaves with me. Maybe it will encourage you to move forward or pass by the volumes I'll describe. At the very least, my telling will reinforce the mark I hope these books will leave on me.
First: WHAT JESUS MEANT by Garry Wills
I found this book after reading a piece in Academic Journal by Mr Wills. "He had me at hello" because the question of Jesus' divinity was affirmed and challenging. So here's the last word on my first impression:
Wills has a passion for the underlying character of Jesus-Messiah that brings not just God, but "God Reign". He takes on the new "unclean", homosexuality, and explains that Jesus is against the formality of religion. He often quotes G.K. Chesterton. Wills, a Catholic, takes on the Pope, those past and present in their hierarchy and Benedict XVI's latest declarations on the Agape feast. Wills points out that the real bread and wine is the Body of Christ, not the host and cup presented by the priest with his back to the people. The priesthood ended with Christ. Those who follow him are all his emissaries manifesting the resurrected Messiah.
This is a personal book for Wills who believes that Jesus is divine, but that Jesus never meant to have the church stand as it commonly does today. Wills believes that Jesus refuses to enter the politics of man and that he is a product of the radical fringe of his cousin's discipline, the Essenes. He expounds that Jesus continues to be the radical prophet asking for a larger reign of God. Wills often ends portions of the book with an ironic turn of phrase- "religion is still killing him," thus reinforcing the Catholic Crucifix.