9.12.2007

Currently Reading:


Last night I sat down to glance through Jim and Casper Go To Church, and didn't put it down until I was finished.

It's an easy read with lots to say.

However, I do have one critique that, in my opinion, makes this book much less valuable as a practical ministry resource: The fact that Casper is an atheist.

True atheists make up such a small part of our population, that a book based on an atheists initial impressions seems to miss the mark. How many practicing atheists are visiting our churches? I think somebody who is open to the idea of church but hasn't attended in years for all the usual reasons, or has never been, may be a better candidate. It seems to me that many more people in the 'I'm kinda open' category visit our churches than do atheists. It's possible that some of the observations and reactions would have been the same, but I can't help but wonder how they'd differ.

7 comments:

Michael Norman said...

I too have read it and found it an easy read and quite thought provoking.
I understand your point about Casper being an atheist, but remember in the introduction Jim talks about two kinds of people, basically christian or non-christian.
I dont think we can ever get enough honest and challenging feedback regardless of faith stance.
My 2c.
M.

Matt said...

Hello! Thanks for reading and thanks for posting about our book...

I understand your point: as an atheist, I'm not, as they say in marketing, "low hanging fruit."

And I know that there are a lot of so-called atheists out there who seem to be more into putting down Christianity than saying what's so great about atheism (Dawkins or Hitchens, anyone?).

But when I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is not say, "Ahhhh... there is no god!" The first thing I do is take a look at my kids and feel a tremendous love and wonder inside, just as I'm sure you or many of your friends do.

So why not think of me as just a person? People are always more interesting than Christians or atheists. And maybe try not thinking of the book as a ministry resource but as an example of how two people can put everything else aside and just talk. That's how I think of it, anyway...

Thanks again for reading and writing. Jim and I can often be found writing and talking here if you'd like to join us: www.churchrater.com.

Matt Casper

Kurt Johnston said...

Matt,
thanks for taking the time to comment. I did appreciate that the book really was just the two of you guys talking about church, life and beliefs (or as I think you say in the book, lack of beliefs). 'listening' to the two of you dialogue was fantastic. To be honest, I think the friendship between you and Jim may be the most challenging/convicting part of the book for many who read it!

Whether or not the book was written to be a ministry resource, I don't know. But I do know that that is how it's being read by most, and as such I think the 'high hanging fruit' is probaby not within reach of most churches and most likely not fruit that's interested in being picked (wow, that's really taking the analogy a bit too far). That's what drove my thinking behind the post.

Matt, thanks for being willing to enter our 'church world' and share your insights. May those of us who call ourselves followers of Jesus (a term I like much beter than Christian) become more and more willing to learn. Your book helped me learn, and for that I say a really big THANK YOU.

James Giroux said...

I read the book this summer and I agree with Michael Norman. I think it's too easy to dismiss Matt as an atheist and forget that the point is there's something wrong with the way we're doing church. I gave the book to some of the people I was working with at camp this summer and they really enjoyed the read as well. We spent the whole summer visiting other churches to "Jim & Casper" them, trying to look at them through a different set of glasses. I think if this book can get people to do that, to look at church with a fresh perspective and ask the questions, "why do we do what we do?" and "is what we do making any sense to anyone but ourselves?", the book has accomplished something. I'll be honest though, I'm not sure how I'd feel if they'd come to my church. It would however be some interesting food for thought to really hear what those with no church experience think of church. I think this is a step in the right direction. This is a great discussion though, I really appreciate your comments kurt.

Kurt Johnston said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kurt Johnston said...

I think it's too easy to dismiss Matt as an atheist and forget that the point is there's something wrong with the way we're doing church."

That's fair, and maybe I'm too hung up on that, but the book's premise is pretty much built on Casper's atheism, so to critique it using any other criteria doesn't make much sense to me.

Kurt Johnston said...

Oops, the top part of my comment was meant to be a quote from james...I failed to put it in quotation marks.