Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Christianity Rediscovered

I read this book by Vincent J. Donovan for a intensive summer class called Christian Theology and wrote a practical application paper on it. This is a short easy reading book by a Catholic Priest in Tanzania in the 60s and 70s. This Priest decides that schools and hospitals are a hundred year plan for missions and so far in their 50 years of involvement there were no converts. So he develops a 1 year plan to evangelize 6 villages of the Masai tribe traveling everyday to one of the six villages and making the complete round each week. He follows this basic method for several years and the book is a reflection of his work and the lessons he learned along the way.
I think it is a valuable read because Donovan questions what mission is and the purpose of it. I will spoil one part of the book for you because I think it's a powerful image and sums up a chunk of what Donovan learned on the field. When Donovan went to Tanzania and sought out the Masai villages he thought he was hunting and seeking the lost but he was wisely informed that he is not the lion (the hunter), the lion is God. Donovan articulates this point beautifully so if you like it go to the primary source and enjoy.
Donovan really is a good writer and his story is entertaining but one bit of criticism is do what he says, not as he does. I was annoyed particularly by the fact that he observes and begins to understand the communal identity of the Masai people and yet he belongs to no community. He evangelizes as a lone ranger. He chooses to act the part of Super Man and go out when nobody else seems to be doing the job and he doesn't seem to even try to seek out a community to work with and share the burden with. He does a good job of analyzing and defining mission so I still found it to be a useful resource.

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