Sunday, April 24, 2005

Microscopic Jesus

I'm getting a head start on Mark Allan Powell's Loving Jesus, for an upcoming online discussion group (see link above).

Powell's thesis is that we Christian mainliners need to reclaim the concept of piety -- not a wholly subjective, "my imaginary friend Jesus" type of piety, nor an embrace of Church-Ladyish moralism that often passes for piety these days, but what he quotes Paul Ricoeur as calling "a second naivete" -- an acknowledgement that our Christian faith is a heart thing as well as a head thing, grounded in an external reality of the historical Jesus but also in our experience of...well, of falling in love with the Christ who has chosen us and called us into relationship, and who lives in us and through us in the context of the faith community.

So far Powell is something of a challenge to me; as an alumnus of the "Jesus freak" movement of the 70's, he and I don't quite see eye to eye on a number of issues (like church music). But I liked this passage from his book, critiquing the mindset that my own pastor likes to refer to as "me and Jesus under the blanket with a flashlight":

American piety drifts toward a cariacature that I call "the image of the Microscopic Jesus." According to this model, I invite Jesus to come into my life. He accepts my invitation, and then I have a very tiny Jesus inside me (sitting on that throne in my heart) -- he has, in essence, become a part of my body, and I can take him wherever I go. The Bible, however, offers us a different image: Jesus invites me to become a part of his life. I accept his invitation, and makes me part of his body, taking me where he wants me to go.

I'm thinking this is going to be the catalyst for some good discussion.


katherine105 said...

I'm re-reading Metropolitan Anthony Bloom's Beginning to Pray for Holy Week, and I found this which made me think of your "Microscopic Jesus":
"We would like just one touch of heavenly blue in the picture of our life, in which there are so many dark sides. God is prepared to be outside it, He is prepared to take it up completely as a cross, but He is not prepared to be simply part of our life."

I recommend this book highly - it is very short and deceptively simple (simple like the great saints are simple, St. Seraphim of Sarov, for example, who called everyone, even strangers, 'my treasure' and 'my dearest one')yet it is one of the most profound books on developing our relationship with God. Get this book!!!

LutheranChik said...

Long, long ago, in a place far, far away, I read Anthony Bloom...back when I was a college-town slacker working in a Christian bookstore. (Before readers' fingers get too far down their throats -- this was a great bookstore, run by a couple of well-read Episcopalians, and working there was like getting paid to go to seminary...and it's where I became acquainted with the Christian mystics of East and West, the BCP, Bonhoeffer, Nouwen, Joan Chittester, etc., etc., was a great place to work.