What would Jesus buy?
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Date: 28 February, 2008
Charlotte Haines Lyon reviews What Would Jesus Buy and other new Christian titles
Reverend Billy, Public Affairs, £7.99
“The Shopocalypse is coming though the dash in form of a sexual whisper, and it says 'This is convenience.'”
Personifying the classic televangelist and street preacher with a twist, Reverend Billy's tone can and regularly does irritate me.
Yet his message – not exactly Christian but not at all unchristian is possibly one of the most important of all time. STOP SHOPPING.
Like it or not our continual thirst for shopping in the West does affect the world. The physical earth can't cope much longer and most of its people are paying the price for our greed.
But just how much do we really care about sweatshops and the 'do anything to get your buck' culture of the big brands? I thought 'quite a lot' until I had stomached a good few chunks of the strangely holy man.
I have been reading his columns for years and find his style sometimes impenetrable but know there is something important to glean from it.
This book though is a bit easier to read thanks to the “how to” nature of a large portion of it. Many of the actions undertaken by his church are detailed in the hope that many of us may dare to take up the sword of truth.
In the least they amuse – imagine Disney Store managers trying to find tape recorders hidden amongst the soft toys playing interviews with those that sweated to make the products.
Think of bemused customers and staff in Starbucks watching a rabble of dancers stripping to underwear full of reports condemning unfair trade practices. Funny yes, but obviously challenging.
The preaching enforces pit stops to regroup brain cells. Frustrating but welcome as it prevents any simple, fast reading and forces questions: am I really ready to call time on shopping?
Am I willing to persuade others and just what lengths will I go to to try and save the world?
Hmm – I'll come back to you on that one. . .
Edited by Kenneth Stevenson, Darton Longman and Todd, £10.95
A timely book of essays after the furore surrounding the “should he, shouldn't he” speech of Rowan Williams. It seems everybody has an opinion regarding the Anglican Church and currently it is pretty negative.
The papers like to reduce the international denomination to a homosexuality war and a dodgy bearded Archbishop. Trust the media and you'll believe that a monolith is on the verge of conducting its own funeral.
Not so according to Stevenson et al who provide a surprising and revealing view of a varied, local, active and intelligent church. Polygamy, medical projects and conflict resolution are some of the many facets of the church being addressed.
Further to their credit, the writers have delivered a book that is easily accessible. It is not at all dry as one might fear when seeing a title containing “Lambeth Essays.”
Radical community work and insights into the extremely varied theologies around the world make for fascinating read. And not just for Anglicans. Even the most free-est of freechurchers will enjoy it. It's just a shame that most hacks won't read it.
Lois Rock, illustrated by Sophie Allsopp, Lion Publishing, £7.99
My eldest daughter, being three, now wants to know the whys and wherefores of everything.
Christmas was fairly easy to explain, but just how do I broach Easter? We haven't really covered dying much – apart from a dead fox we found, let alone the resurrection.
Lion have yet again come up with a gem. Soulful simplicity and sympathetic illustrations make the First Easter a pleasure and relief to read to a young child.