Book review: “We Make the Road by Walking” by Brian McLaren

McLaren_WeMakeTheRoadByWalking_sm“We Make the Road by Walking” is and isn’t the new book from Brian McLaren.

When I pick up “the new book from Brian McLaren” I anticipate hearing things differently than I’ve heard them before. I expect to agree in places, perhaps finding new words for expressing things I couldn’t quite previously. I expect to be reshaped in other areas, seeing things in a new way and providing a different perspective than I had before. And usually there are a handful of things that intentionally or unintentionally poke at my conservative upbringing. “We Make the Road by Walking” accomplishes all of that, so it is the new book from Brian McLaren.

But it isn’t the new book from Brian McLaren.

Brian’s books, generally speaking, present chapters and themes wrapped around Brian’s thoughts. “We Make the Road by Walking” wraps Brian’s thinking around something else, which is an interesting turn. It’s subtle unless you read the preface, which contains spoilers (PREFACE: WHAT THIS BOOK IS ABOUT AND HOW TO USE IT). It follows the church year, with the intention of providing the possibility of weekly content for small groups either within or without the church. If you’d like to attach the book to your calendar, chapter one begins in September with an overview of Hebrew scripture as a lead in to the season of Advent.

What I was afraid would be lost in this effort was the personal glimpse into Brian’s heart that seem to accompany each of his books. His words usually seem to be born out of his own wrestling. And because here he’s in a sense writing to a prompt, it took me a few chapters to find that glimpse. But then I saw it. I felt the presence of a story – a story being passed down. As a father with kids at 7 and 9, I’m grappling with how to best share my faith with my own children. Here I think Brian is writing from a father’s heart, a very personal expression of his journey thus far, encouraging the reader to engage faith and scripture and the love of God while leaving room and the means for local interpretation and application.

Whether used on its own or as an enrichment of your other personal or small group reflections, “We Make the Road by Walking” provides excellent stimulation for holy conversation.

Kevin Alton

Kevin Alton is the Executive Editor of The United Methodist Reporter, Senior Writer & Editor for the Youthworker Movement, and co-founder of the Wesleyan youth resource Youthworker Circuit. He lives in the Georgia woods just outside of Chattanooga, TN, with his wife Britta and their two boys, Grey & Penner.

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About Kevin Alton

Kevin Alton is the Executive Editor of The United Methodist Reporter, Senior Writer & Editor for the Youthworker Movement, and co-founder of the Wesleyan youth resource Youthworker Circuit. He lives in the Georgia woods just outside of Chattanooga, TN, with his wife Britta and their two boys, Grey & Penner.

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3 Comments on "Book review: “We Make the Road by Walking” by Brian McLaren"

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The United Methodist Reporter wants to encourage lively conversation about The United Methodist Church and our articles in the belief that Christian conversation (what Wesley would call conferencing) is a means of grace. While we support passionate debate, we cannot allow language that demeans or demonizes others, and we reserve the right to delete any comment we believe to be harmful or inappropriate. We encourage all to remember that we are all broken and in need of Christ's grace, and that we all see through the glass darkly until that time we when reach full perfection in love. May your speech here be tempered with love, and reflection of the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. After all, "There is no law against things like this." (Galatians 5:22-23)
 
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Mark
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McLaren is an interesting character who has made some noteworthy contributions and insightful observations…but, I have to wonder if he has wandered so far off the Christian reservation that he is no longer directly relevant to the Christian community.

Diane Adele Rheos
Guest

Hi Mark,
Isn’t it funny all of the different perspectives out there? I would say that Brian has wandered closer to my “Christian reservation” community! It is good for me to remember that there are so many different understandings of Christianity. I like to believe that all of us get to define it the way that works for us and let others do the same.

Mark
Guest

Hi Diane, with respect I don’t it is our place to “define” Christianity. There are basic tenets that we choose to accept if we adopt Christianity as our faith. How it works in our individual lives will vary, but it is not our place to redefine it. I apologize if I misread you, but your comments are more indicative of a Unitarian philosophy (very much like McLaren). Blessings.

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