I'm going to post these one at at time because I don't feel like writing it all right now. Here's the first book I read for this class.
A Christianity Worth Believing: A hope-filled, open-armed, alive-and-well faith for the left out, left behind, and let down in us all. By Doug Pagitt, Jossey-Bass, 2008.
First of all, I really enjoyed this book. It is in the format of an account of his faith journey, which made me a bit apprehensive at first, but I think he does an excellent job of explaining various points in his life and how they relate to his current theology. This is especially effective for me because it makes it clear that his theology is really his own. That format also helps communicate the theological concepts because they are directly related to his real experiences.
I think his central theology is what he calls "the theology of holism". At its heart this is a theology of incarnation, but I think he takes it further than many theologians have. Reading his perspective actually reminded me of the Buddhist idea of "Interbeing" the notion of the interconnectedness of everyone and everything. Having said that, it is still clear that his theology is Christian. It's about being a part of the work that God is doing in the world. "Embedded in the understanding of holism is the notion that we are not alone. We aren't just individuals plopped onto the planet to bide our time for seventy-odd years until the real action starts in heaven. We are part of a process. We are part of what others are doing and have been doing. And we are part of what God is doing and has been doing."
He also expresses this as a theology where God isn't "up and out" ruling over us from heaven, but is "down and in" in our midst, etc. My simple Lutheran mind would call this "A theology of the Cross" but maybe I'm missing something. That's actually my main complaint with this book. He seems to have come to a very genuine and powerful faith, I find myself agreeing with practically every doctrinal "innovation" and theological discovery he mentions, not because he's changing my mind, but because they seem so Lutheran. I don't think this is his fault, I think it shows what a bad job we Lutherans have been doing of expressing our beliefs. I also think its a good sign for the Emergent movement within the Lutheran church because most of the difference seems to be style and not theology.