This book was a short hard back so I choose to read it before leaving the country because it weighed as much as many of the more lengthy paper backs. Now I'm one down and like 12 to go (unless I choose to take along "Brave New World" and replace the weight I was trying to loose by reading quickly. If all that didn't make since here's the clarification. I'm packing to move to Brazil for four months and I don't want to take lots of heavy books but I still want to do tons of reading so in all my brilliant logic I decided to read the hard cover books first and try to read them before actually leaving. One down one to go before Saturday.
I expected this book to be all about the counter-cultural values of Jesus but it wasn't. I did discuss this but not at lenth. The focus of this book was love. Check out a few quotes that stuck out to me:
"Little brother, perhaps the most difficult thing for you to accept at this moment is your failure to have done with your life what you long to accomplish. This is the cross you wanted least of all, the cross you never expected, the cross you find hardest to bear. Somewhere you got the idea that I expected your life to be an untarnished success story, an unbroken upward spiral toward holiness. Don't you see that I am too realistic for that?" (pg. 163)
"Reason demands moderation in love as in all things; faith destroys moderation here." (pg 114)
"Once you come to know the love of Jesus Christ, nothing else in the world will seem beautiful or desirable.... I cannot let you go. In good times and bad, victory and defeat, my life has no meaning without you.... This and this alone is authentic Christianity. Not a code of dos and don'ts, not a tedious moralizing, not a list of forbidding commandments, and certainly not the necessary minimum requirement for avoiding the pains of hell." (pg 173-4)
Then the epologue gets into the foolish bit by suggesting that the common Christianity is not offensive. This nonoffensive brand will not transform anything. People will see what true Christians do and label them as fools because only a fool would love without moderation or regard to how they are treated in return.
The first third or so of this book dealt with common things that pull a person away from this foolish way of following Christ and those things were security, pleasure, and power. Manning tells some stories to illustrate this primary points and through these stories details how addicted we as a people are to those distractions listed above. One of the cures for these addictions is forgiveness of others and of self. And the last and most foolish point in the book was the seemingly foolishness of the cross. Manning tells stories of St. Francis weeping at the image of Christ crusified. He wept because of his uncontrolable love for Christ. He saw in Christ's death the immeasurable love of God for all people.
This book has reminded me of the centrality of love to who we are as witnesses for Christ. An important thing to be reminded of before hitting the streets. It also reminded me of a song by Nicole Nordeman- "Fool for You"
When hardcore evidence of you is hard to find
And I am silenced in the face of argumentative debate
And its a long hill its a lonely climb
Cause they want proof
They want proof of all these mysteries I claim
Cause only fools believe would want to chant a dead man's name
Maybe its true, yeah but..........
I'll be a fool for you (fool for you)
Oh because you asked me too
A simpleton who's seemingly naive
I do believe
You came and made yourself a fool for me
I admit that in my darkest hours I've asked what if
What if we've created some kind of man made faith like this
Out of good intention, or emotional invention
And after life is through there will be no you
Cause they want proof of all these miracles I claim
Cause only fools believe that men can walk on waves
Maybe its true, yeah but.......Chorus
Unaware of popularity
Unconcerned with dignity
You've made me free
That's proof enough for me
Oh, Oh yeah...........
I'd be a fool for you (fool for you)
Oh if you ask me too
A simpleton who's only thinking of
The cause of love
I will speak Jesus' name
If that makes me crazy
They can call me great
I'm happy to be seemingly naive
I do believe you came and made yourself a fool for me
(a fool for you)