Congrats to the winners of yesterday’s giveaway:
Eric Murray, Noell Rathbun, Eric Forsyth, Joyce Garcia and Jim Kelly!
This review is part of the Patheos Book Club conversation on Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove’s The Awakening of Hope.
The Awakening of Hope (Zondervan 2012) is an important book because it calls all church communities into sharing a deeper life together. While this new book is in line with much of Jonathan’s earlier work on new monasticism, its focus on practices and its carefully nuanced language describing these practices set the book up to be widely accessible to traditional church congregations as well as new monastic communities.
The book addresses seven practices that churches engage in together: Eating Together; Fasting; Making Promises; The Importance of Where We Live; Living Together; Preferring to Die Rather than Kill; and Sharing Good News. These practices, taken together, are the hope of the Gospel of Jesus in the world. In an interview with Jonathan about this book (which appears in the new Fall 2012 issue of The Englewood Review of Books), he describes the book: “A Christian friend said to me, ‘So, Jonathan, I know a lot of the formulas and evangelism tools we have are bad. But tell me, if youhad to put it in a nutshell, how would you sum up the gospel?’ It’s a good question. It’s a pretty big nutshell, but The Awakening of Hope is my answer. I pray it will be an invitation and a conversation starter for a new generation of folks who are joining God’s Movement in the world.”
In the same interview, I probed Jonathan a little bit more about the connection between these seven practices and hope. He replied:
“Hope is the Christian virtue that opposes both optimism and despair. America, of course, is the world’s first officially optimistic society. People died—and killed—in our history to ensure “the pursuit of happiness.” We hardly know how to tell our story apart from the constant refrain that “better days are yet to come.” Just go to the movies. This runs deep in our culture. But the dark side of the American dream is despair. This is why we have unprecedented rates of suicide and depression, incarceration and violence. When the facts slap up against our optimism, we are tempted to despair. Hope is a gift. It’s a way of life that we can practice with others, knowing that we’re saved not by our own ingenuity and strength, but by a gift from beyond. This is why I call the awakening I see in today’s Christian community movement an “awakening of hope.” The faith these people have found isn’t a magic bullet to get them out of this world’s struggles. Formany people, it’s taking them deeper into the pain of their place. But it’s giving them an imagination for something new in that place—for something beautiful and good. This isn’t the old Social Gospel, confident that it’s going to achieve the kingdom by 2020. It is a more humble movement, I believe. And it is, for that very reason, more hopeful.”
In an election year with partisan hostilies on both sides, and a summer full of drought and gun violence, we are in sore need of some hope these days. And, Jonathan’s Awakening of Hope does not disappoint. That he locates the source of this hope in the life of the Spirit that energizes us in and through these practices we share in our local church communities, makes this a book that will be of even more interest to Slow Church readers who deeply value the local church.