Item description for From Stone to Living Word: Letting the Bible Live Again by Debbie Blue...
Overview Christians have viewed the Bible in various ways: as a map to follow, an instruction manual for life, a moral code to live by. It's been called a firm foundation, a sword, a rock. But what if the Bible is more like an octopus than a rock? What if it's wild, unpredictable, and unmanageable? In From Stone to Living Word, author and pastor Debbie Blue shows how Christians have treated the Bible as a firm foundation--and thus an idol--rather than a "living response to a living being." In the opening chapters of the book, Blue shows how Christians read and preach in ways that lean toward idolatry. Then she sets out to dismantle this tendency by interpreting important biblical themes such as creation, incarnation, atonement, and resurrection in a new way. Her reflections transform the familiar into something strange, new, thrilling, and alive. In a world where idols are used to divide and oppress, Blue's recognition of the tendency to idolize the Bible frees Christians from preconceived notions, allowing them instead to discover new possibilities. Blue's fresh and sharp insights will appeal to everyone from those who find the Bible irrelevant or suspect to those who are looking for a way to make their faith alive. Her winsome, honest, and often amusing writing captivates and inspires.
Publishers Description Many Christians sense that their encounters with the Bible are supposed to be deep, life-forming, and powerful, but that isn't always the case. They may be overly familiar with the text to the point of finding it predictable, or they may be disillusioned with the church. Too often, and for a variety of reasons, believers make the Bible an idol and unwittingly turn the Word into stone. Author and pastor Debbie Blue helps readers discover how to turn the stone back into living Word. She first gives general guidelines for letting the Bible breathe, then looks at the Bible's main themes as dynamically encouraging and challenging. Blue frees believers from dumbed-down spirituality as she reveals that the Word is alive and thrilling.
From Publishers Weekly To many readers, "bibliolatry" is a new and frightening word. It describes a phenomenon where the Bible itself, rather than the God of the Bible, becomes an object of worship. Blue, a pastor, author and teacher who is part of the ministry team at works with the House of Mercy in St. Paul, Minn., believes that such a worshipful attitude toward the Bible is a form of idolatry, and that the sacred volume needs to be freed from the clutches of biblical literalists. In this rich and satisfying study, she draws from both her own life's journey , and from the stories of those to whom she ministers, to explore some of the better-known biblical accounts in a new way, enabling the casual reader to find value in a book that some consider filled with fables and morality tales. Indeed, Blue displays not just knowledge of the book, but an intimacy with its underlying meaning. Her prose is clear and precise, written for the lay reader who is interested in many of the questions raised by the emerging church movement. Faith itself, she insists, becomes "a freaking crazy and beautiful thing" when the Bible can be liberated from the literalists. (Jan.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Citations And Professional Reviews From Stone to Living Word: Letting the Bible Live Again by Debbie Blue has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
Publishers Weekly - 10/15/2007 page 57
Foreword - 01/01/2008 page 1
Library Journal - 03/01/2008 page 85
Christian Century - 07/15/2008 page 42
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Studio: Brazos Press
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.51" Width: 5.45" Height: 0.56" Weight: 0.68 lbs.
Release Date Feb 1, 2008
Publisher Baker Publishing Group
ISBN 1587431904 ISBN13 9781587431906
Availability 0 units.
More About Debbie Blue
Debbie Blue is a founding pastor of House of Mercy (HOM) in St. Paul, Minnesota. HOM is affiliated with the American Baptist Churches in the USA and is committed to the diverse and rich theology and worship of the Christian church, worldwide and historical. A graduate of Yale Divinity School, Blue is also the author of "Sensual Orthodoxy." She lives on a farm outside of the twin cities with her husband and two children.
Debbie Blue currently resides in St. Paul, in the state of Minnesota.
Debbie Blue's latest book, From Stone to Living Word, is a rarity. It's an original work of theology from the pen (or keyboard) of a working preacher. Too often, we assume seminary professors write original theology, while working pastors write "inspirational" books with "take-aways" for how to live a Christian life. Blue is part of an older tradition, dating back at least to the apostle Paul, and carried forward by Augustine, Luther and Calvin, among others. Her vocation as a founding pastor House of Mercy, one of the world's most vibrant emergent churches (located in St. Paul MN), has shaped her deeply humane and original approach to reading the Bible.
Blue realizes that all-too-often, we Christians read the Bible as if on a mission to jam its uncanny, poetic and evocative language into the confines of a moralistic worldview. Whether fundamentalist, mainstream or liberal, we want the Bible to resolve our doubts and tell us what to do. But what if the Bible doesn't work like that? What if it confounds our certainties and challenges our convictions? Blue invites us to converse with, rather than worship, the Bible. She suspects this conversation will illuminate mysterious and wild paths to God. Drawing on the Midrash, as presented in the work of Avivah Zornberg, Blue looks beneath the ossified surface of our habitual responses to the Bible. She thereby uncovers contested meanings and alternative voices that grace the text. The Bible opens us to mystery, presenting fluid rather than fixed meanings. Blue is not without ethical concerns, however. Influenced by the writings of James Alison, she advocates a humane reading of the Bible, a reading that avoids the creation of villains and scapegoats. She invites the reader to suspend habitual judgments, to open herself to new images of God. In Blue's writing, the reader encounters an oceanic God -- a God who flows beyond the stony confines of our harsh judgments and small bigotries. I should add that this book is a page-turner, which counts for a lot if one thinks theology ought to be read in churches, homes and on the bus, not just in seminaries and universities. Students of Barth, Nietzsche and the like will be amazed at how agilely Blue addresses weighty issues in readable, lively prose. She writes with the clarity and grace of an E.B. White. This is a book you'll actually want to read, not just stare at on your bookshelf.
An inspiration, as we live and breathe Jul 20, 2008
In "From Stone to Living Word," Debbie Blue acknowledges that even those of us who claim our faith can easily and habitually become unaware of how God literally inspires us: God breathes life into our bodies and creativity into our souls. The Bible asks us to believe some wild stories, often twisted, tamed or made mundane in Sunday school and Bible studies. As Blue writes, "The Christian church has often had an antisensual bias (to put it mildly)." When Blue tells these stories, we see how joy-filled the revolution could be, if only we could comprehend God's love and mercy as we live and breathe. In my struggle to live in the awareness of God's presence, I return often to Debbie Blue's book.
nothing ground-breaking Jul 18, 2008
The overall premise of the book is good: that we need to go beyond a strict fundamentalist approach to looking to the Bible (solely as a source of doctrine and hard answers to every concievable subject). It might be helpful to someone who has been burnt out in the past by overly rigid approaches to the Bible. It does well to uncover that God and his Word are far more mysterious than many Evangelicals are willing to admit. Yet, I can't help thinking that all this has been said before (and perhaps better) both inside and outside of the Emergent Church Movement. Most notably Brian McLaren's works such as his A New Kind of Christian trilogy.
As well the book uses far too much insider jargon (common to the Emergent Movement and Post-modern philosopy). Not that all that is said is bad, but someone who is not in-the-know may be left wondering what is really being said by these words.
Finally, for a counterbalance to this book's view on the Bible (which at some points may go a bit too far), see Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church, by Don Carson.
Don't Let the Bible Become an Idol May 27, 2008
Debbie Blue's latest book is both intellectual and personal, down to earth and yet also extremely deep. Debbie is a pastor at House of Mercy and "emerging" church in the Twin Cities. This book is not so much a linear argument, but rather a series of examples of how to read the Bible as a living document that confounds our idolatrous systems of doctrines and easy answers. In fact, I get the impression that the chapters in this book could have been written as sermons for her church, in that each one of them not only stands alone, but the each also take a particular text of scripture and reflect on how it confounds our expectations about God and tears down the idols of our day to day lives.
If there is any overarching theme of the book it is idolatry, which as Debbie defines it, is pretty much anything that we use to tame life, control the uncertainty of existence, and bring stability to the chaos. Blue shows us how even our many religious conceptions about the Bible and the God of the Bible are themselves idols if we use them to try to contain and control and tame God. She seems to be advocating that faith that is more about simply living in the wildness and mystery and confusion of life, than about trying to use faith to bring stability and certainty to life. This is a message that is at the same time both liberating and frightening. Liberating in that I don't have to try to explain away all the messiness anymore, or make excuses for God. But frightening too, in that I like my idols: my revolutionary ideals, my hope in what I think is God's plan for the future (both personally and globally), my picture of who Jesus is and what he was about. And Debbie herself shares many of these ideals. And yet at the same time she is relentless about mocking and smashing even her own idols.
In their place she recommends only love, but not in a sappy, generic, overused way. Rather she presents love as itself an almost undefinable mystery that confounds our attempts to idolize it. Love as unconditional acceptance even to the point of undermining our sense of justice (think Jesus with the tax collectors). In so doing she opens up the Bible in new ways, asks new questions, forces us to sympathize with characters (the Pharisees for instance) that we were comfortable relegating to the idolatrous category of "villain".
This is a way of reading scripture that I am slowly learning - to read it not as a source of mere ideas or ideals, but as a living conversation, whose point is to tear down my conceptual idols, not build them up. People will often hold up the contradictions and difficult parts of the Bible as evidence of its worthlessness as scripture - if God's will isn't clearly spelled out in black and white, what good is it? But according to Blue, those difficulties and contradictions may be the whole point. What if God's main concern is not to give us a book that will answer all our questions and bring us stability in a chaotic world, but rather, is to give us a book that will shake us up, that will leave us with more questions than when we started, so that we will be forced to wrestle through them and search together in community for how to live with love in this crazy, messy, chaotic world? What if the point of the Bible is not information, but transformation? What if it's supposed to be not propositional, but provocative? What if it is in itself a challenge to idolatrous faith, including idolatrous Bible-based faith? Blue's book does a good job of demonstrating how the Bible is exactly that.
Looking for an easy answer to life? Put down the Bible and pick up this book! May 14, 2008
While the title to this review might be a bit sarcastic, I suggest that anyone who has grown up in traditional Evangelical circles give this book an open and fair try.
Debbie Blue's second book, From Stone to Living Word: Letting the Bible Live Again, is a work that has been years in the making. Anybody who follows Blue's sermons at the House of Mercy will recognize that she has pieced together many of the ideas, phrases and in some cases, entire messages to form this book. For those of you that think this is a problem... think again.
While the ideas that Blue presents are far from new, it is refreshing to see that somebody is willing to come forward and write a book that hardly recognizes itself for being "trendy" or "revolutionary". She covers a variety of topics that we have taken for granted, and by presenting new views of these subjects, she forces the reader to grapple with their own beliefs.
"From Stone to Living Word" reads a lot like a segment or interview on NPR. It isn't flashy, but it doesn't need to be. It conveys its message in an engaging manner, but still manages to draw the reader in with lush, full language. Amidst best lives that can be lived now and irresistible revolutions, it is a shame that this book isn't receiving more attention. Unfortunately, the very reason that the book is so good--the thorough treatment of the ideas and the lack of flare--might be the reason that many people are turned off by it.
I would definitely suggest this book to anyone with a desire to critically think past simple solutions and "radical" gimmicks; Blue indulges neither.