Sunday, April 7, 2013

Book Review: The Gospel of Inclusion by Bishop Carlton Pearson

I'm horrible about giving up something for Lent and sticking with it. So in recent years, I decided during Lent to read a book with a religious theme, someone's experience of God or something spiritual and mystical. This seemed a more positive way of participating without torturing myself with giving up bread, alcohol or cake.

This year I choose "The Gospel of Inclusion" because I heard tell of Bishop Pearson's fascinating journey on the NPR radio program "This American Life". Bishop Pearson's transformation, loss, struggle and ultimate gain is a compelling story.

The problem with this book is it preaches to the already converted. As Bishop Pearson found out first hand when he lost practically his whole congregation, you cannot persuade "Christians" away from a dogmatic, rules & regulation, judgmental, bigoted, fire and brimstone mentality. This type of church-goer needs this way of thinking, otherwise they feel lost in the vastness of this world.

So everything he imparts in the book is to those who already have a more open, inclusive, spiritual way of looking at God, religion and faith. I didn't really come away with any new revelations.The book does touch on what was lost of the real message of Jesus and his teachings, due to the formation of "religion". So much of what we are taught has been influenced by the politics and power struggles which took place starting year 1.

I believe Jesus came to remind us of our own power and divinity, but this message was deliberately obliterated, and manically stamped out to keep control on societies. It was good to hear Bishop Pearson speak on this in similar terms.

I recommend the book, but be prepared for some redundancy.