Book Review: Hometown Prophet

I should have known better. In order to preview this book, Hometown Prophet by Jeff Fulmer, I had to promise to write a review on my blog within 30 days. I have never made that commitment before. I usually tell people I’ll read 25 pages or so and see if it captures me as a reader. If so, and I can recommend it, I’ll do so on my blog. But I was intrigued with the storyline, so I told them to send me a copy. For the first half of the book, I was glad I did. I found myself casually recommending it to other people, with the caveat that I was only a third of the way into it, or when I was half way through.

The premise was brilliant. An unemployed young man, living at home with his mom begins to have dreams that appear to be from God. When the dreams come true, the Christians rally around him as a prophet. Then, the foretelling dreams begin to hit closer to home and the celebrated prophet becomes a pariah in the Christian community. There was so much about this set-up that I enjoyed, not the least was having God visit someone who wasn’t living a stellar “Christian life.” I liked the beginning conflict with those who had more vested interest in the status quo than in what God might actually be doing. The author is an engaging storyteller, making me believe the story and endearing me to its characters. I was hooked, until I got about 60% into the story. That’s when it all went wrong.

AT that point the characters surrounding our hero became horribly stereotyped, as did the liberal agenda that began to bleed from the pages. The dreams turned out to be less about God inviting people into a transformation with him and more about Christians become more politically liberal. Here’s where the author’s agenda really turned me off. I do think God would have us to be more loving especially to the poor and downtrodden, and I wish believers were more committed to good stewardship of the planet, but to have the story end there really cheapened what was going on in Peter, the protagonist in the story.

I have rarely been this unsatisfied with the ending of a story that started out with such promise. As I read the early portions I was intellectually salivating with the possibilities of how this story could turn out. In the end it didn’t satisfy any of them. Now, I don’t know Jeff, and his whole purpose in writing this story may have been fulfilled by its ending. I don’t begrudge him that. But in the end, it is not a book I’d recommend to others here. So, I guess I won’t be making that commitment again any time soon.

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22 Comments
  1. kent January 10, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    Politics drive me crazy…both right and left.

  2. kent January 10, 2012 at 10:37 pm

    Politics drive me crazy…both right and left.

  3. Bill Ooms January 11, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    Thanks for telling it like you see it. As I was reading your review, I found myself getting interested (until you got to the end).

  4. Bill Ooms January 11, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    Thanks for telling it like you see it. As I was reading your review, I found myself getting interested (until you got to the end).

  5. Mike Morrell January 14, 2012 at 11:39 am

    Thanks for your candid review of Hometown Prophet, Wayne. And remember, when someone (and disclaimer: that ‘someone’ in this case was me) requests that you review something in a set timeframe, this doesn’t mean they’re asking for an unqualified positive review. I don’t see how reviewing something in a timeframe means you “won’t be making that commitment again any time soon” just because you happened to not like the book.

    With that said – moving along to a totally separate subject – I’m going to argue with your perceptions of the book. 🙂 Not because you have to agree with me when it’s over, but because you’re an influential taste-maker and your review might be the only contact some people have with Hometown Prophet if they left it at that.

    In short: In my reading, the book (and its author, Nashville realtor Jeff Fulmer) was wholly consistent from beginning to end. As I asked in my review, “What if you begin prophesying in the form of Benny Hinn or Rick Joyner, but with the prophetic content of a Martin Luther King, Jr. or Cornel West?” It’s an uncomfortable juxtaposition, culturally, for many American Christians today, but I think this is the fact of the Biblical prophets: They were uncompromisingly against both idolatry and oppression. I know you’re no right-winger, Wayne, but I have to wonder how you’d feel about Amos or Micah if they came upon the contemporary stage – would you feel like they too are advancing a “bleeding liberal agenda” calling for Jubilee wealth-redistribution and agitating for fair weights and scales for the poor?

    I think that this is why I’ve never been able to buy-in completely to your ‘relational Christianity’ paradigm, Wayne, as much as I admire it in so many ways: You see “God inviting people into a transformation with him” as not necessarily reflecting a transformed public witness in how we relate to our neighbors, especially those neighbors who are socially or politically Other, like the Muslims and gay people Jeff has his protagonist prophesying on behalf of in the part of Hometown Prophet that you didn’t like. Sure, I can see where this might bear more cursory resemblance to a Democratic Party platform than a GOP platform, but c’mon. I know you know that its way easier to give lip service to ‘compassion’ (as a political liberal might do), but when the rubber meets the road of real life, it takes the grace and power of Jesus to have staying power. This is what Jeff Fulmer is attempting to illustrate in Hometown Prophet, and it baffles me that you dismiss it as a “liberal agenda…bleed[ing] from the pages.”

    Please know that I’m not disparaging your personal commitment to the greater good. I know that you and many of your ministry partners/friends to great work in Kenya, for instance. You bear fruit; it’s awesome. But I know many others, perhaps less connected to your example but who get and read “He Loves Me!” and never realize that God also loves those other people over there, or our enemies, or gay or atheist or Muslim people, or the nonhuman creation. I think that your message is a VITAL piece of the puzzle, but it’s in danger of being co-opted into the individualist American gospel of personal redemption if it’s not connected into a wider story of public and creational transformation, which is more how Hometown Prophet ends.

    Just some food for thought…I know you might disagree.

  6. Wayne January 14, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    And I do disagree, Mike, with most of what you’ve written here, and honestly having been with you on a couple of occasions, I’m surprised at your tone and your conclusions. You may need to put a positive spin on here to service your client, but you make assumptions about me that are far from true. I don’t think there is really any true loving connection with the Father that does not manifest itself in loving, caring, acts of service for those around us especially those that are the least, the last, and the lost. As I said in the review, I believe in those things, but the book started out raising some interesting spiritual questions and ended up as a platform for a political agenda, not a champion of personal transformation from which true compassionate acts must spring. At this point in my life I find BOTH political parties and their self-serving agendas to be largely dishonest and divisive in how they treat the non-elites in this country. The people involved only end up with a lust for power, not concerned with a greater common good that I have worked tirelessly to support in the political world through BridgeBuilders, helping create a better society for the kinds of people you mentioned here.

    But the book didn’t end there. It actually ended up stereotypically dividing people into two groups, applauding one and dissing the other, but not with the hope of helping people’s hearts see and live differently. As I read Micah and Amos, their point was that inability to live with Father’s priorities in the world, exposed how far their hearts were away from God and invited them back to that.

    And my comment about not making that commitment again any time soon, is because I don’t want to be in the position of writing a negative review on my website for a book I do not want to recommend. I like to use that space on my blog to RECOMMEND books to my listeners that I find to be powerful and effective. And when I’m sold on a book, lots of people I know end up reading it. Many send me books or manuscripts hoping I’ll write about it, but knowing I will only do so if (a) I can recommend it wholeheartedly and (b) if it fits in the themes that have brought people to my website. But if I HAVE to write about it as a condition to previewing the book, then I’m put in the position of having to be honest about a book and why I didn’t enjoy it, when I would have otherwise just not brought it up. And I find absolutely no joy in writing a negative review about someone’s creative product. I’m not a commentator on books, good or bad, and don’t wish to use the space people give me in their reading time talking about something I didn’t find attractive. . I’m just a brother hoping to encourage people to live more freely and more fully in the life of the Father, so that they can live transformed and transformative lives in the world. So, I guess I’m not a good fit for a program that requires a mention either way. In my view, that is just seeking publicity for publicity’s sake, good or bad, not hoping to find people who become cheerleaders for something that deeply touched their lives. Is your author any better off for having a negative review on my website? I wouldn’t think so and regretted having to do it, except that I am faithful to my promises, even if that means I have to do something I wouldn’t otherwise do.

    So, I’m sorry, Mike, if we didn’t see this book quite the same way. Writing is art. Art is subjective. I’m sure many people will enjoy books I don’t enjoy and many books get to the top of best-seller lists that I wouldn’t waste ten minutes with. Honestly, I wanted to like this book and did for about 60% of it, then the ending left me fully unsatisfied because I thought the early part of the book raised better questions than the ones it answered in the end. But that is just me. Wonderful people will see it differently but I don’t think those differences are fairly used to cast aspersions on other people’s passion for the marginalized people in our world.

  7. Mike Morrell January 14, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    Hi Wayne, thanks for your feedback. I apologize if my tone came off as harsh – I thought I repeatedly (and sincerely) stated that I respect where you’re coming from, and how I think that your perspective (that personal transformation grows from seeing our belovedness in God) is so important. Where I find myself wanting more, I suppose – is making the connections between personal transformation and interpersonal/societal/creational transformation more explicit. I know that this is a delicate area, because being prescriptive in this way can so easily come across as guild-inducing legalism. I suppose, though, that I see this as a Baby Boomer problem that Generations X and Y (and after) have long since moved on from. We live in a burning building (aka planet earth), and we can’t always be polite about the wake-up call.

    Our primary disagreement about the book is whether or not it promotes a ‘political’ agenda, and whether this is inherently a bad thing. Now, I have no idea where Fulmer is at politically, but as for myself, I’m an anarchist who occasionally votes. 🙂 If you scanned my Facebook wall or Twitter feed, you’d see me expressing disappointment at many of Obama’s decisions (most recently, his stunning about-face reversal in endorsing the indefinite detention act) as I did rail against Bush during the Bush years. So I don’t have a dog in that fight. But I think that telling stories and calling people to greater compassion and action – I don’t see how that is inherently political in a bad way.

    You’re right to recall our hanging out together in-person on occasion. I look back on our times in Raleigh fondly, and hope it happens again. But you should also recall that this isn’t exactly a new discussion/debate between us – I recall you having a similar response to my friend Sara Miles’ memoir, Take This Bread – enjoyable in places, but just too darn liberal at the end. I found this highly surprising, as people far more vocally conservative than you – such as Steve Brown and the late Michael Spencer – found in its pages a grace-filled and Christ-honoring book, albeit in a challenging way given that Sara is in a committed lesbian relationship.

    Please know, Wayne, that I look at our differences not with acrimony, but curiosity – I’m curious why we’re so similar, yet so different. And by “we” I mean a larger collection of people like me, and people like you. It’s possibly an age difference, in some ways, but also psychographic and not just demographic. Why do people like me get really jazzed about the message in books by folks like Rob Bell, Sara Miles, Brian McLaren, NT Wright, Phyllis Tickle, and this one, but you, not so much. I’ve wondered and lamented why my ‘grace junkie’ brethren can’t co-abide with my ’emergent transformation’ sistren – why there seems to be so much contempt between our camps. And I haven’t sought to fuel this feud here, but to examine it.

    I’m sorry if you think I’m unfairly casting aspersions – it’s not my intent. Indeed, it felt to me like you were casting aspersions about those who would see caring for the poor & marginalized as a substantial, up-front facet of their Christian faith – calling these folks (by extension of your argument about the book’s characters) “bleeding liberals.” Since you see yourself and BridgeBuilders (rightly, in my perception) as catalyzing compassion for people, who do you see your ‘style’ of doing so and Hometown Prophet‘s style as differing? I’m honestly curious.

    As far as the requiring-a-review model for book selection, well…I’d love to make a review optional for all the personal integrity reasons you mention, but you could imagine how you might feel if you were an author (wait! you are!), asking me to solicit a book to X number of people for pretty darn near a quantity of X number of reviews. Is it better to not write a negative review than not write a review at all? Nah. Not in my opinion. While some thin-skinned authors go ballistic at the slightest whiff of non-praise, many see it as an iron-sharpening iron thing…some of my small press/self-published author friends use less than stellar reviews to hone their manuscript further for subsequent printings – if Jeff decides to do this based on your critique that he in his ending divides people up into Us and Them just like his protagonist abhors, I say that this is great outcome.

  8. Mike Morrell January 14, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    One more thing (for now) – a mutual friend of ours read our exchange here and weighed in that she felt like my opening comment felt raw and uncharitably prickly. Taking two or more witnesses into account, I apologize without qualification for my initial tone. I’m sorry about that.

  9. Mike Morrell January 14, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    Thanks for your candid review of Hometown Prophet, Wayne. And remember, when someone (and disclaimer: that ‘someone’ in this case was me) requests that you review something in a set timeframe, this doesn’t mean they’re asking for an unqualified positive review. I don’t see how reviewing something in a timeframe means you “won’t be making that commitment again any time soon” just because you happened to not like the book.

    With that said – moving along to a totally separate subject – I’m going to argue with your perceptions of the book. 🙂 Not because you have to agree with me when it’s over, but because you’re an influential taste-maker and your review might be the only contact some people have with Hometown Prophet if they left it at that.

    In short: In my reading, the book (and its author, Nashville realtor Jeff Fulmer) was wholly consistent from beginning to end. As I asked in my review, “What if you begin prophesying in the form of Benny Hinn or Rick Joyner, but with the prophetic content of a Martin Luther King, Jr. or Cornel West?” It’s an uncomfortable juxtaposition, culturally, for many American Christians today, but I think this is the fact of the Biblical prophets: They were uncompromisingly against both idolatry and oppression. I know you’re no right-winger, Wayne, but I have to wonder how you’d feel about Amos or Micah if they came upon the contemporary stage – would you feel like they too are advancing a “bleeding liberal agenda” calling for Jubilee wealth-redistribution and agitating for fair weights and scales for the poor?

    I think that this is why I’ve never been able to buy-in completely to your ‘relational Christianity’ paradigm, Wayne, as much as I admire it in so many ways: You see “God inviting people into a transformation with him” as not necessarily reflecting a transformed public witness in how we relate to our neighbors, especially those neighbors who are socially or politically Other, like the Muslims and gay people Jeff has his protagonist prophesying on behalf of in the part of Hometown Prophet that you didn’t like. Sure, I can see where this might bear more cursory resemblance to a Democratic Party platform than a GOP platform, but c’mon. I know you know that its way easier to give lip service to ‘compassion’ (as a political liberal might do), but when the rubber meets the road of real life, it takes the grace and power of Jesus to have staying power. This is what Jeff Fulmer is attempting to illustrate in Hometown Prophet, and it baffles me that you dismiss it as a “liberal agenda…bleed[ing] from the pages.”

    Please know that I’m not disparaging your personal commitment to the greater good. I know that you and many of your ministry partners/friends to great work in Kenya, for instance. You bear fruit; it’s awesome. But I know many others, perhaps less connected to your example but who get and read “He Loves Me!” and never realize that God also loves those other people over there, or our enemies, or gay or atheist or Muslim people, or the nonhuman creation. I think that your message is a VITAL piece of the puzzle, but it’s in danger of being co-opted into the individualist American gospel of personal redemption if it’s not connected into a wider story of public and creational transformation, which is more how Hometown Prophet ends.

    Just some food for thought…I know you might disagree.

  10. Wayne January 14, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    And I do disagree, Mike, with most of what you’ve written here, and honestly having been with you on a couple of occasions, I’m surprised at your tone and your conclusions. You may need to put a positive spin on here to service your client, but you make assumptions about me that are far from true. I don’t think there is really any true loving connection with the Father that does not manifest itself in loving, caring, acts of service for those around us especially those that are the least, the last, and the lost. As I said in the review, I believe in those things, but the book started out raising some interesting spiritual questions and ended up as a platform for a political agenda, not a champion of personal transformation from which true compassionate acts must spring. At this point in my life I find BOTH political parties and their self-serving agendas to be largely dishonest and divisive in how they treat the non-elites in this country. The people involved only end up with a lust for power, not concerned with a greater common good that I have worked tirelessly to support in the political world through BridgeBuilders, helping create a better society for the kinds of people you mentioned here.

    But the book didn’t end there. It actually ended up stereotypically dividing people into two groups, applauding one and dissing the other, but not with the hope of helping people’s hearts see and live differently. As I read Micah and Amos, their point was that inability to live with Father’s priorities in the world, exposed how far their hearts were away from God and invited them back to that.

    And my comment about not making that commitment again any time soon, is because I don’t want to be in the position of writing a negative review on my website for a book I do not want to recommend. I like to use that space on my blog to RECOMMEND books to my listeners that I find to be powerful and effective. And when I’m sold on a book, lots of people I know end up reading it. Many send me books or manuscripts hoping I’ll write about it, but knowing I will only do so if (a) I can recommend it wholeheartedly and (b) if it fits in the themes that have brought people to my website. But if I HAVE to write about it as a condition to previewing the book, then I’m put in the position of having to be honest about a book and why I didn’t enjoy it, when I would have otherwise just not brought it up. And I find absolutely no joy in writing a negative review about someone’s creative product. I’m not a commentator on books, good or bad, and don’t wish to use the space people give me in their reading time talking about something I didn’t find attractive. . I’m just a brother hoping to encourage people to live more freely and more fully in the life of the Father, so that they can live transformed and transformative lives in the world. So, I guess I’m not a good fit for a program that requires a mention either way. In my view, that is just seeking publicity for publicity’s sake, good or bad, not hoping to find people who become cheerleaders for something that deeply touched their lives. Is your author any better off for having a negative review on my website? I wouldn’t think so and regretted having to do it, except that I am faithful to my promises, even if that means I have to do something I wouldn’t otherwise do.

    So, I’m sorry, Mike, if we didn’t see this book quite the same way. Writing is art. Art is subjective. I’m sure many people will enjoy books I don’t enjoy and many books get to the top of best-seller lists that I wouldn’t waste ten minutes with. Honestly, I wanted to like this book and did for about 60% of it, then the ending left me fully unsatisfied because I thought the early part of the book raised better questions than the ones it answered in the end. But that is just me. Wonderful people will see it differently but I don’t think those differences are fairly used to cast aspersions on other people’s passion for the marginalized people in our world.

  11. Mike Morrell January 14, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    Hi Wayne, thanks for your feedback. I apologize if my tone came off as harsh – I thought I repeatedly (and sincerely) stated that I respect where you’re coming from, and how I think that your perspective (that personal transformation grows from seeing our belovedness in God) is so important. Where I find myself wanting more, I suppose – is making the connections between personal transformation and interpersonal/societal/creational transformation more explicit. I know that this is a delicate area, because being prescriptive in this way can so easily come across as guild-inducing legalism. I suppose, though, that I see this as a Baby Boomer problem that Generations X and Y (and after) have long since moved on from. We live in a burning building (aka planet earth), and we can’t always be polite about the wake-up call.

    Our primary disagreement about the book is whether or not it promotes a ‘political’ agenda, and whether this is inherently a bad thing. Now, I have no idea where Fulmer is at politically, but as for myself, I’m an anarchist who occasionally votes. 🙂 If you scanned my Facebook wall or Twitter feed, you’d see me expressing disappointment at many of Obama’s decisions (most recently, his stunning about-face reversal in endorsing the indefinite detention act) as I did rail against Bush during the Bush years. So I don’t have a dog in that fight. But I think that telling stories and calling people to greater compassion and action – I don’t see how that is inherently political in a bad way.

    You’re right to recall our hanging out together in-person on occasion. I look back on our times in Raleigh fondly, and hope it happens again. But you should also recall that this isn’t exactly a new discussion/debate between us – I recall you having a similar response to my friend Sara Miles’ memoir, Take This Bread – enjoyable in places, but just too darn liberal at the end. I found this highly surprising, as people far more vocally conservative than you – such as Steve Brown and the late Michael Spencer – found in its pages a grace-filled and Christ-honoring book, albeit in a challenging way given that Sara is in a committed lesbian relationship.

    Please know, Wayne, that I look at our differences not with acrimony, but curiosity – I’m curious why we’re so similar, yet so different. And by “we” I mean a larger collection of people like me, and people like you. It’s possibly an age difference, in some ways, but also psychographic and not just demographic. Why do people like me get really jazzed about the message in books by folks like Rob Bell, Sara Miles, Brian McLaren, NT Wright, Phyllis Tickle, and this one, but you, not so much. I’ve wondered and lamented why my ‘grace junkie’ brethren can’t co-abide with my ’emergent transformation’ sistren – why there seems to be so much contempt between our camps. And I haven’t sought to fuel this feud here, but to examine it.

    I’m sorry if you think I’m unfairly casting aspersions – it’s not my intent. Indeed, it felt to me like you were casting aspersions about those who would see caring for the poor & marginalized as a substantial, up-front facet of their Christian faith – calling these folks (by extension of your argument about the book’s characters) “bleeding liberals.” Since you see yourself and BridgeBuilders (rightly, in my perception) as catalyzing compassion for people, who do you see your ‘style’ of doing so and Hometown Prophet‘s style as differing? I’m honestly curious.

    As far as the requiring-a-review model for book selection, well…I’d love to make a review optional for all the personal integrity reasons you mention, but you could imagine how you might feel if you were an author (wait! you are!), asking me to solicit a book to X number of people for pretty darn near a quantity of X number of reviews. Is it better to not write a negative review than not write a review at all? Nah. Not in my opinion. While some thin-skinned authors go ballistic at the slightest whiff of non-praise, many see it as an iron-sharpening iron thing…some of my small press/self-published author friends use less than stellar reviews to hone their manuscript further for subsequent printings – if Jeff decides to do this based on your critique that he in his ending divides people up into Us and Them just like his protagonist abhors, I say that this is great outcome.

  12. Mike Morrell January 14, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    One more thing (for now) – a mutual friend of ours read our exchange here and weighed in that she felt like my opening comment felt raw and uncharitably prickly. Taking two or more witnesses into account, I apologize without qualification for my initial tone. I’m sorry about that.

  13. Wayne January 16, 2012 at 9:06 am

    I’d prefer not press this conversation in a public venue, but to clarify a couple of things for people looking over our shoulders. I hope there is no contempt between the emergent crowd and the grace crowd, at least there isn’t for me. I love being in the conversations I’m in and that’s engages a broad cross-section of people from a variety of streams. I’ve even knocked on some doors with some of the emergent folks and didn’t find an open door. That’s why I lamented when they went with a label. Once that happens conversations “outside” the label are cut down appreciably. Honestly I think all of that has more to do with “marketing” and helping people feel attached to a “movement” than it does having the kind of broad-based conversations that would help us discover something far wider about God than our the little fragment we hold in our hands. I crave that kind of dialog and find many people willing to have it, though not many “authors”. Strange, that. It seems once you’ve chosen a marketing strategy, or become so big that you are a conference speaker instead of a real human who can engage others in conversations that continue to shape your own thinking.

    Mike, I think you’ve gotten lost in my “liberal” comment and my adding bleeding to it didn’t help, I’m sure. While the political agenda at the end is decidedly liberal, which doesn’t make it wrong, it was the “political” resolution that bothered me and would have if it had been conservative. That’s all a red herring. If you reread the review you’ll find my concern was about answering spiritual questions with political admonishments, rather than cut to the heart of why religious-based Christians are so incredibly self-focused. That’s where I thought he was going and was sad to realize he didn’t even give that a nod. If that were to change, yes that would be a great outcome to this discussion.

    But as it is, this another reason why I don’t like posting a negative book review. Some feel the need to argue with you if they have a different view and even take it beyond the book to challenge anything they might thing is “flawed” about the way they perceive I conduct my life. I appreciate your apology for casting aspersions, even if it wasn’t your intent. It’s all just a bigger distraction than I’d want a book review to engender and with so many more important things to talk about I just don’t want to pass this way again by committing to review a book I am not first familiar with. (And BTW, you really either misunderstood or distorted my thoughts about Sara’s book.)

    Finally, the BridgeBuilder style is very different than Hometown Prophet’s. One is fictional, confronting, and only challenging one side. BridgeBuilders is in real situations with people on BOTH sides of the table, each having to give up something for a greater common good. I see that as very different, indeed. It’s easy to stereotype and make one side the villian and the other the victim in these things. It is more often the case that there are valid concerns on both sides and helping people find a way.

    Happy to discuss the substance of these things further as they might help. But I’m not sure this is the best environment to do so, especially since there seems to be so much misunderstanding in it all.

  14. Wayne January 16, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    I’d prefer not press this conversation in a public venue, but to clarify a couple of things for people looking over our shoulders. I hope there is no contempt between the emergent crowd and the grace crowd, at least there isn’t for me. I love being in the conversations I’m in and that’s engages a broad cross-section of people from a variety of streams. I’ve even knocked on some doors with some of the emergent folks and didn’t find an open door. That’s why I lamented when they went with a label. Once that happens conversations “outside” the label are cut down appreciably. Honestly I think all of that has more to do with “marketing” and helping people feel attached to a “movement” than it does having the kind of broad-based conversations that would help us discover something far wider about God than our the little fragment we hold in our hands. I crave that kind of dialog and find many people willing to have it, though not many “authors”. Strange, that. It seems once you’ve chosen a marketing strategy, or become so big that you are a conference speaker instead of a real human who can engage others in conversations that continue to shape your own thinking.

    Mike, I think you’ve gotten lost in my “liberal” comment and my adding bleeding to it didn’t help, I’m sure. While the political agenda at the end is decidedly liberal, which doesn’t make it wrong, it was the “political” resolution that bothered me and would have if it had been conservative. That’s all a red herring. If you reread the review you’ll find my concern was about answering spiritual questions with political admonishments, rather than cut to the heart of why religious-based Christians are so incredibly self-focused. That’s where I thought he was going and was sad to realize he didn’t even give that a nod. If that were to change, yes that would be a great outcome to this discussion.

    But as it is, this another reason why I don’t like posting a negative book review. Some feel the need to argue with you if they have a different view and even take it beyond the book to challenge anything they might thing is “flawed” about the way they perceive I conduct my life. I appreciate your apology for casting aspersions, even if it wasn’t your intent. It’s all just a bigger distraction than I’d want a book review to engender and with so many more important things to talk about I just don’t want to pass this way again by committing to review a book I am not first familiar with. (And BTW, you really either misunderstood or distorted my thoughts about Sara’s book.)

    Finally, the BridgeBuilder style is very different than Hometown Prophet’s. One is fictional, confronting, and only challenging one side. BridgeBuilders is in real situations with people on BOTH sides of the table, each having to give up something for a greater common good. I see that as very different, indeed. It’s easy to stereotype and make one side the villian and the other the victim in these things. It is more often the case that there are valid concerns on both sides and helping people find a way.

    Happy to discuss the substance of these things further as they might help. But I’m not sure this is the best environment to do so, especially since there seems to be so much misunderstanding in it all.

  15. Mike Morrell January 16, 2012 at 10:59 pm

    I agree, Wayne – we can continue this conversation offline.

    I also agree that there was a period when the ’emergent conversation’ was in danger of becoming its own calcified & entrenched position – this was at the height of its popularity. Now that it’s no longer “a thing” (folks’ attention have moved onto the New Calvinism or something), I’m finding that honest agenda-free (or agenda-transparent, since I think that’s often the best we can do) conversation is beginning to spring up again. The Emergent Village Community Group on Facebook is a good example of where this is taking place online.

    (As an aside, I’m finding that authors are far less snobby than they were a few years ago – perhaps conferences are scarcer and royalties are thinner since the economic meltdown.)

  16. Mike Morrell January 16, 2012 at 11:04 pm

    Finally, I’d say that there are indeed some abiding differences between Emergers and Grace camps – though hopefully not differences we can’t see through with mutual respect. I tackle these a bit in my blog response to that viral YouTube video “I Hate Religion But Love Jesus,” which I titled Jesus and Religion’s Relationship Status: It’s Complicated. If you decide to read the post (It’s long – it takes commitment – but I’m told it’s worth it) then fast-forward to this comment to see some of the dispositional differences between the “It’s not about religion, but a relationship” folks and the “Spiritual-but-not-religious” folks.

  17. Mike Morrell January 17, 2012 at 1:59 am

    I agree, Wayne – we can continue this conversation offline.

    I also agree that there was a period when the ’emergent conversation’ was in danger of becoming its own calcified & entrenched position – this was at the height of its popularity. Now that it’s no longer “a thing” (folks’ attention have moved onto the New Calvinism or something), I’m finding that honest agenda-free (or agenda-transparent, since I think that’s often the best we can do) conversation is beginning to spring up again. The Emergent Village Community Group on Facebook is a good example of where this is taking place online.

    (As an aside, I’m finding that authors are far less snobby than they were a few years ago – perhaps conferences are scarcer and royalties are thinner since the economic meltdown.)

  18. Mike Morrell January 17, 2012 at 2:04 am

    Finally, I’d say that there are indeed some abiding differences between Emergers and Grace camps – though hopefully not differences we can’t see through with mutual respect. I tackle these a bit in my blog response to that viral YouTube video “I Hate Religion But Love Jesus,” which I titled Jesus and Religion’s Relationship Status: It’s Complicated. If you decide to read the post (It’s long – it takes commitment – but I’m told it’s worth it) then fast-forward to this comment to see some of the dispositional differences between the “It’s not about religion, but a relationship” folks and the “Spiritual-but-not-religious” folks.

  19. Wayne January 18, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    As I see it this is just a big discussion about terminology not a substantive difference in reality. Some use “religion” to talk about that system of religious obligation that fixates on dead rituals or following rules to gain acceptance from God. Some use “religion” in a positive sense, as James does, to talk about a community of faith that gathers regularly and enjoys a bit of liturgy together that seems meaningful to man. The real difference is whether or not our faith activities are expressing a growing relationship with God or whether they put us on a performance track to try to earn the unearnable. As I read over your blog, Mike, and as I walk in the world, I see people often talking past each other simply because they are not using terms in the same way, and thus take offense to something, that in substance they would probably agree with anyway.

  20. Wayne January 18, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    As I see it this is just a big discussion about terminology not a substantive difference in reality. Some use “religion” to talk about that system of religious obligation that fixates on dead rituals or following rules to gain acceptance from God. Some use “religion” in a positive sense, as James does, to talk about a community of faith that gathers regularly and enjoys a bit of liturgy together that seems meaningful to man. The real difference is whether or not our faith activities are expressing a growing relationship with God or whether they put us on a performance track to try to earn the unearnable. As I read over your blog, Mike, and as I walk in the world, I see people often talking past each other simply because they are not using terms in the same way, and thus take offense to something, that in substance they would probably agree with anyway.

  21. kent January 18, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    Wayne and Mike, I see beautiful things happening in both and things I just don’t relate to in both. I don’t feel like I am a member of either camp. And have been incredibly challenged and blessed and stretched and awakened through my contact with a handful of brothers and sisters from both “camps”…if they are camps. My hope is they aren’t.

  22. kent January 18, 2012 at 11:51 pm

    Wayne and Mike, I see beautiful things happening in both and things I just don’t relate to in both. I don’t feel like I am a member of either camp. And have been incredibly challenged and blessed and stretched and awakened through my contact with a handful of brothers and sisters from both “camps”…if they are camps. My hope is they aren’t.

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