For my money, Doug Pagitt is the most provocative religious thinker out there– he is always thinking, in new and fresh and counterintuitive ways, uncovering little gems as he wends his way across the landscape. His books have a message-inside-a-message-in-a-bottle quality to them (his book on –against?– preaching was itself an innovative choose-your-own-adventure communication device– an embodiment of what he was writing about), his talks are extemporaneous and wide-ranging and partially occlude his most provocative thinking (so that the listener is quietly compelled to engage with those ideas), and conversations with him are friendly and engaging and full of enlightening contrarian perspectives on all manner of topics (his podcast is gold). Doug makes me a better person, a sharper thinker, and a more hopeful Christian.
Doug’s newest and best book is set to drop, and it’s really something. There is a lot to say about A Christianity Worth Believing (and I and others will be talking about it again and again, I’m sure), because it says a lot about a lot of topics from a lot of perspectives. But my favorite way to describe it is as a Non-Augustinian Christianity: an explication of the Christian faith that returns to the Jewish roots, rather than being encumbered with the later Greek philosophical perspectives and Roman politics. Which is great news for folks like me who have been bumping up against philosophical and religious dualism (that our ‘spirit’ is good, and our bodies are bad, among many other thorns) and realizing that something stinks. Better than the implicit critique if offers, though, it doesn’t leave us stuck in some first-century utopian ideal, but turns us loose in our time, to free us up to be a part of God’s great work in our day. “This is a great time to be alive,” Doug says, and when I’m around him, I believe it.
In this book, Doug has laid a bunch of his cards on the table, and has laid his heart and life bare, too. I hope people have ears to hear the truth and beauty and hope within, and I hope they tell their friends to buy it, too.