Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I recently finished Hemant Mehta's book, I Sold My Soul on eBay. It was a great read and would do well to make it's way in to a seminary curriculum for prospective pastors.

I resonated with Rob Bell's words in the foreward concerning atheists, "that time and again the god they've rejected is a god I've rejected."

I would say that holds true for multitudes of Christ followers who seek to find healing for past hurts in life, for a safe place to talk through honest doubts about their faith, and for honesty and authenticity to walk with others through life's inevitable struggles. Hemant's book gives us a glimpse of his own journey down that path.

The fresh observations Hemant gives us about church life should challenge some of the dominant expressions of our faith: "But as I read Christian books, and as I spent months attending an amazing variety of churches in different parts of the country, I kept running accross a consistent and troubling truth about (North) American Christianity. It is clear that most churches have alinged themselves against nonreligious people."

Why do we need to be against culture?

Another underlying subject that pervades church life is the consumeristic mindset. It is an underlying assumption of the book, too. Come to church, and critique how it meets 'my needs'. Thus large churches can be the 'best' because of their economies of scale in meeting my desires.

I loved the feedback on the worship time in churches. The fact that people wander into services when they feel like it, that many don't sing while others doodle and daydream, or talk to friends, or a plethora of other strange behaviors that surprised Mehta. He ran accross people who would deliberately arrive late to avoid singing 'lengthy and repetitious songs.' Even as an atheist one can see the beginnings of the worship wars. These wants are predicated on the idea that, 'it's all about me.'

To quote Hemant, "I'm convinced that a lot of Christians don't care about it." (music)

I also loved what Hemant said about speaking styles. Verse by verse expositors likely wouldn't like it, especially those that think people like Joel Osteen are watering down the gospel. Citing more verses doesn't necessarily make one more spiritual or insightful, according to Hemant!

Hemant's observations can help us awaken to the conversations going on around us about faith, doubt, and the meaning of life; conversations that quite often don't involve the church. If you're interested in getting into this dialogue, read this book!

"Now that my experiment is over, I realize I didn't find God, but I saw the incredible power a church can have. I hope that power is used to benefit society instead of hurting it through creating unnecessary divisions between Christians and non-Christians. I hope what I've said will help you, if you are a Christian, to think differently about those who don't share your beliefs."


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