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Friday, October 19, 2018

HINGE BOOKS- JESUS, A NEW VISION: Spirit, Culture, and the Life of Discipleship, by Marcus Borg [F, 10-19-18]

Christ In Winter: Reflections on Faith and Life for the Years of Winter…

[Repeated intro]I have been thinking about the “hinge” books in my life, those books that open a door in a unique way. There are hinge occasions that are not books, of course—people, events, places, movies. Books have a special niche of hinge importance, though--especially to people of my generation, who did not have access to more modern forms of input when we were in our hinge years--because they take time. If a book has hinge importance, you don’t just glimpse it, you ingest it. And you may go back to it time and again. The whole list of my hinge books is at the bottom. That is too long a list to explore at one time, so I’m going to do only one book per column.

Today’s hinge book is… JESUS, A NEW VISION: Spirit, Culture, and the Life of Discipleship, by Marcus Borg

Published in 1991, I think this was the first of Marcus’ books. I know it was the first one I read, and it opened up the whole world of Jesus to me in ways I had never known before. Marcus followed this book with two decades of scholarship and writing that deepened and expanded his insights in A New Vision. I read them all, as well as attending lectures and conferences with him, and along the way we had the good fortune to become friends. He even offered to have Helen revise The Heart of Christianity for confirmation classes for young teens, with the two of them sharing the author credits. Unfortunately, that never got completed.

Even though his thought in the books subsequent to A New Vision was more developed, this will always be my favorite because of its hinge status for me. I have enjoyed and appreciated so many books in my lifetime. This was one of the few that actually excited me. I couldn’t read it fast enough.

I was no novice in Jesus scholarship, of course. I had read Reimarus and Strauss and Schweitzer’s The Quest of the Historical Jesus and all the other standards, and some not so standard. In an earlier post, I listed Bornkamm’s Jesus of Nazareth was a hinge book. Bornkamm opened up the historical Jesus of the early church to me. Borg opened up the historical Jesus of the spiritual world and the political world, which to Jesus were the same.

As Philp Yancey [1] and Rachel Held Evans [2] point out, in the constant arguments about the nature of Christianity, the real, historical Jesus is often ignored. Marcus Borg just won’t let that happen.

Wherever I go, when Marcus’ name comes up, there is always someone who says, “Marcus Borg made it possible for me to be a Christian.” That’s a pretty neat legacy.


“Christians believe in the Word made flesh, not in the Word made words.” Wm. Sloane Coffin

1] The Jesus I Never Knew

2] Faith Unraveled. The original title was Evolving in Monkey Town, which I think is much better.

TRAMP, THE SHEEP DOG by Don Lang, pictures by Kurt Wiese. 9-10-18
JESUS OF NAZARETH by Gunther Bornkamm. 9-12-18
MAN’S NEED AND GOD’S ACTION by Reuel Howe 9-13-18
IDENTITY & THE LIFE CYCLE by Erik H. Erikson 9-14-18
THE IMMENSE JOURNEY by Loren Eiseley 9-19-18
GUILT, ANGER, AND GOD by C. Fitzsimmons Allison
PROFESSION: MINISTER by James Glasse [10-15-18]
JESUS, A NEW VISION by Marcus Borg [F, 10-19-18]

My novel, VETS, about four handicapped and homeless Iraqistan veterans, who are accused of murdering a VA doctor, will never be on anybody’s hinge list, but, for a limited time, it’s only 99 cents, so what have you got to lose? It’s published by Black Opal Books and is available from the publisher as well as the usual suspects--Barnes and Noble, Amazon, BOKU, Powell’s, Books on First, etc.

“All we ask [in old age] is to be allowed to remain the authors of our own story.” Atul Gawande, Being Mortal, p. 140.

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