It was the best of books, it was the worst of books.
Ok, So I’m overstating things. But not by much.
Last night I finally finished Jimmy Carter’s Our Endangered Values. I only finished it because I wasn’t fair to stop halfway through a book by a former president.
Here is all you need to know about this book. Imagine an aging Old School Liberal Modernist Baptist former President thinking that the classy way to rip the sitting president is to shroud it in the garb of a concerned Sunday School Teacher who between Mondays and Saturdays criss-crosses the globe looking for people to help come to terms with a outdated understanding of human rights. Yeah, that’s this book.
I can’t help but wonder, though, whatever happened to that unwritten policy that former presidents do not comment on or detract from the work and direction of the current president? Carter apparently thinks that doing so as a concerned Christian makes it okay. I think that just makes it even less classy.
I do have to give Mr. Carter some credit, though. If his reporting of the current administrations actions and attitudes is at all accurate, the U.S. has a long uphill battle to gain any respect from most of the rest of the world.
ON THE OTHER HAND, I have also recently finished Rob Bell’s Velvet Elvis.
Bell is the founding pastor of the Mars Hill Bible Church in Michigan. He is also the anchor of the Nooma series of videos that both well produced and full of attention-grabbing content.
The subtitle of Velvet Elvis is “Repainting the Christian Faith.” Bell certainly does that in many different ways by honestly and openly looking all aspects of historic Christianity through the lens of a thirty-something Christian.
There are captivating studies of the cultures in which the scpritures were formed, and Bell fairly and cogently offers a fresh look at how we connect with them.
This isn’t your grandfather’s Elvis. But then, it isn’t your grandfather’s church, either.
In closing, there are likely many social positions on which Bell would side with Carter, proving there are some places one can arrive from different directions.