I first stumbled across Peter Rollins while in seminary and have always found him provocatively attracting. While I don’t necessarily agree with everything he professes, he has pushed me to wrestle with my faith at a deeper level and challenged me to have a more consistent ethic and theology. When I had the chance to review his book The Orthodox Heretic, I knew I had to take it. It was one of the first Rollins books I read while in seminary and found myself both repulsed and attracted by it. Upon initial reading, I would find myself both angry at what he said and encouraged by it at the same time. My anger, as I reflected more, stemmed from some nerve that he hit that I didn’t particularly like having touched. He offended me but it always prompted me to change, or at least evaluate myself and live more consistently.
Rollins isn’t for everybody. He brash manner and postmodern faith can be a bit too much for some folks. That said, he has some good words that we need to hear in the Western Church. He challenges, provokes, angers, repulses and attracts all at once.
This book is a collection of Rollins parables designed to make us wrestle with our faith and Scripture in new ways. He retells stories of the prodigal son, the woman caught in adultery and the feeding of the 5000 among others. At the end of each parable is some commentary by Rollins to help the reader understand the direction and intended desire and emotion that he hoped to evoke.
Rollins, like Jesus, does an excellent job at teaching through story. He communicates strongly the lavishness of love, the meaning of true faith and a deep life of spirituality based in Jesus. He challenges common assumptions that we have about God, faith and Christianity and instead challenges us to chase what really matters, the deep and abiding love found in God.
Personally, Rollins has pushed me to develop into a better storyteller so that I too might be able to communicate through narrative the truth found in Scripture. I find the way he communicates compelling and reread his parables when I need a challenge or an inspiration.
About Peter Rollins (via his personal site):
Peter Rollins is a widely sought after writer, lecturer, storyteller and public speaker. He is also the founder of ikon, a faith group that has gained an international reputation for blending live music, visual imagery, soundscapes, theatre, ritual and reflection to create what they call ‘transformance art’.
Peter gained his higher education from Queens University, Belfast and has earned degrees (with distinction) in Scholastic Philosophy (BA Hons), Political Theory (MA) and Post-Structural thought (PhD). He is currently a research associate with the Irish School of Ecumenics in Trinity College, Dublin and is the author of the much talked about How (Not) to Speak of God. His most recent work is entitled Insurrection. He was born in Belfast but currently resides in Greenwich, CT and is employed by The Olson Foundation.
Disclaimer: I reviewed a free copy of this book through the Paraclete Press blogging program. I was in no way compensated for this review and all views are solely and completely my own. I was not required to offer a positive review either through the publisher or author.
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