Friday, May 14, 2010
PRESENT PERFECT by Gregory A. Boyd - BOOK REVIEW
Gregory A. Boyd is the founder and senior pastor of Woodland Hills Church in St. Paul, Minn., and founder and president of Christus Victor Ministries. He was a professor of theology at Bethel College (St. Paul, Minn.) for sixteen years where he continues to serve as an Adjunct Professor. Greg is a graduate of the University of Minnesota (BA), Yale Divinity School (M.Div), and Princeton Theological Seminary (PhD). Greg is a national and international speaker at churches, colleges, conferences, and retreats, and has appeared on numerous radio and television shows. He has also authored and coauthored eighteen books prior to Present Perfect, including The Myth of a Christian Religion, The Myth of a Christian Nation, The Jesus Legend (with Paul Eddy), Seeing Is Believing, Repenting of Religion, and his international bestseller Letters from a Skeptic.
Learn more about Gregory at http://www.gregboyd.org/
From the back cover copy: We long to be transformed, yet our minds are filled with endless trivia and self-centered chatter. To-do lists. Worries about the past. Speculation about the future We forget to live in the present moment, and to invite God to be with us there.
After reading classic contemplative authors Brother Lawrence, Jean-Pierre de Caussade, and Frank Lauback, theologian and pastor Gregory Boyd longed to experience the presence of God for himself. For two decades, he had attempted to implement "the practice of the presence of God" in his own life...sometimes succeeding, sometimes failing. what he's learned as a pilgrim on a spiritual journey can help you find true spiritual transformation as you begin to practice the discipline of inviting God into every moment.
Join Boyd in this journey of a lifetime!
Present Perfect is a concise, clearly written book which presents the thinking of contemplative writers, especially the three named above, in a way that everyday Christians can grasp. Boyd has included quotes from these men in the sidebars. He also includes some practical exercises to help the reader to grasp the concepts. Throughout the book are scattered "Post-it" notes with the question "Are you awake?" on each, as a reminder to focus on this present moment. Scripture is included, as well as simple prayers.
Boyd makes a distinction between what he is teaching and the teachings of the New Age movement. He has clearly anticipated questions his readers may have in this regard.
For believers who are not familiar with the teachings of the contemplatives, this book would serve as an introduction. Others who are already aware of this teaching will still be challenged to integrate it into their own lives. It is not a 'heady' book, but very practical, easily read and understood.
Excerpted from an interview:
Where did you get the idea for the book?
My passion for Present Perfect arose out of my passion for the discipline it’s about – the “Practice of the presence of God.” Though I’ve always struggled with this discipline, as I readily admit in this book, I’ve come to believe it not only is the most important spiritual discipline; it actually expresses the very essence of what it means to live under the reign of God. This book began as a series of essays I wrote almost six years ago during one of the worst and most prolonged episodes of the “dark night of the soul” I’ve ever experience. During this time I recommitted myself to the practice of the presence of God, and writing these essays helped me reorient my life around this discipline. I decided against publishing the essays six years ago, however, because I felt I hadn’t attained a level of maturity in this discipline that would justify me being a spokesperson for this discipline. I have since learned that God can use imperfect pilgrims as much as mature masters, which allowed me to rework the essays and publish them. (I’m still very glad I waited six years, however, since I learned much in the intervening period and I feel that the essays are much better as a result.)
What are the major themes of the book?
Life is nothing more than a series of present moments strung together. So, to live a life committed to Christ means we need to commit each present moment to him. This involves remaining aware of, and surrendered to, the loving presence of Christ moment-by-moment. As we learn to do this, we “wake up” to the wonder of God’s love, the beauty of the world, and opportunities to be used by God that we’d otherwise miss. As the subtitle of the book says, we wake up to the Kingdom in the NOW, and only in the NOW.
What kind of research did you have to do for the book?
Present Perfect is inspired by the writings of Brother Lawrence, Frank Laubach, and J.-P, de Caussade. I have read and mediated on these works for years. Beyond this, no additional research was called for. In fact, I’m quite certain it would have gotten in the way of what God wanted to do through this book.
What do you hope readers will take away from your book?
A deeper desire and greater capacity to be fully alive in the present moment, aware of God’s presence, surrendered to his will and led by his Spirit.
Gary's book is available through http://www.amazon.com/.
I wish to thank the publisher, Zondervan, for providing a copy of the book for review purposes.
Other participants in this blog tour are:
About dreams and broken glass
AKA Theodore Lewis
Bell Whistle Moon
Blame it on the Loud Mouth Gene
Blog Tour Spot
Deus E Fiel
Musings by Lynn
Net’s Book Notes
Ponderings by Andrea
Ragamuffing Scrap Craft
Refresh My Soul
Scraps and Snippets
The Christian Naturalist
The Friendly Book Nook
Uma Pirralha Na Universidade
Word Up Studies