Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Some Good Words

If you're going to read, might as well read something valuable. Most of us don't have a lot of time to give to books and literature, so making good choices is probably more important than ever.

My son Andrew and I are going through Clarence Jordan's Sermon on the Mount together.

Hard to think of better words than the Sermon on the Mount.

The most popular forms of conservative Christianity these days are only possible because Christians have forgotten about the Sermon on the Mount, or don't understand it, or don't believe it's practical and relevant.

Can't think of a better current reason to read it and try to make it your own.

The fact that Clarence Jordan (pictured above)is your guide makes it even more enticing.

Jordan founded Koinonia Farms in Georgia 1942. Koinonia was a working farm and a multi-racial Christian community committed to a consistent Christian witness including an emphasis on racial reconciliation and social justice. As you can imagine they faced hostility and rejection for years from the "Christians" around them.

From my point of view he was one of the greatest Christians America produced during the 20th century. His witness and the example of Koinonia had significant influence on the American civil rights movement and on progressive forms of faith throughout the country and the world. Habitat for Humanity was one of many ministries that came out of Koinonia.

Jordan did a whole series of books on the New Testament written in the colloquial language of the American South of his day. Some of them were translations of biblical books and others were commentaries. They're collectively known as the "Cotton Patch Version."

Wonderful stuff. I've read a lot of 'versions' of the New Testament including some urban and hip hop takes. They're all good. But in most cases the folks writing em had more skill with the colloquial language than they did a deep understanding of the biblical writings themselves. Jordan is one of those rare people with great skill and deep understanding.

Both of us really enjoy his take on the great Sermon. We're also being challenged.

Here's a quick quote from his Cotton Patch Version of First Rock 4:7-8 (I Peter) to give you an idea of his style and take:

The goal of everything has come upon us. So get with it and pray like you mean it. Above all, try hard to love each other, because love smooths over a whole pile of wrongs.


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