My 10 Favorite Quotes from Christian Piatt’s postChristian
I picked up Christian Piatt’s new book postChristian with a great deal of enthusiasm, and just put it down with the same feeling I get when I’ve finished a good meal, “Oh man, it’s over? I ate it too fast!”
Piatt’s introduction begins with the warning that “This book will piss you off . . .” But if you’re not afraid to ask difficult question and look unflinchingly into the abyss of American Christianity, you’ll find more comfort than frustration. Comfort because, if you’re anything like me, this book’s a stroll with a friend down roads you’ve probably traveled before.
That said, you’re going to find yourself wandering off the beaten path to see your journey in a whole new light. I found the “thy kingdom come” thread running through this book especially inspiring, and I’m looking forward to seeing how my posts evolve in light of it.
I marked up some of my favorite passages as I read it. Here are my favorite ten postChristian quotes:
1. “When we seek to avoid suffering, we end up spreading it around.”
2. “If our mercy stops at charity, we fail to address the root causes that imprisoned these people or sent them into poverty. We have to imagine a better world, in which such systematic violence and oppression cannot stand, and then we have to work tirelessly to realize that vision.”
3. “Much of the material wealth and power the Church has enjoyed was gained through unsavory—arguably sinful—means, and Jesus was clear about what such greed does to us.”
4. “The world doesn’t need another Christian in the sense that we’ve come to understand the word; it needs people who are seeking vehemently, individually and in relationship, what it means to be more Christ-like.”
5. “Jesus’ model of strength is to stand strong in the face of violence, to redirect the energy aimed to harm you, and to hold out hope, even in the most hopeless situation, that healing is possible.”
6. “Meanwhile, the world has gradually turned its back on a faith that claims compassion without limit and love without exception, but lives out these claims in ways that are anything but compassionate and loving.”
7. “It is not realistic to assume that the systematic corruption surrounding us can be corrected until we first correct our own corruption.”
8. “We can’t imagine what the Christian faith might look like a thousand years from now. We are too concerned with being right right now, and about propping up teetering power structures, to even reflect on something so much greater and more enduring than our own lives and churches.”
9. “We seek God within our doctrines, laws, and institutional structures, but the God revealed by Christ was in the boundary-smashing margins, in unanswerable questions, in enigmatic parables, in sighs too deep for words.”
10. “To engage your oppressor not just with the goal of nonviolent disarmament, but also with the aim of making the division between you disappear, is revolutionary.”
The thing I enjoyed about postChristian was that much of it smacked of the kind of conversation Piatt and I might have over a Guinness or two (I like to imagine every writer enjoys the same beer I do). There was more than one occasion I responded to a passage with a “well, what about . . .” but it turns out I was sitting on my couch by myself.
My daughter’s in her second year at Reed College in Portland, maybe we’ll be able to continue this conversation in next time I go visit her. What do you say, Christian?
If you’re looking for something provocative and thought provoking, postChristian might be exactly what you’re looking for.
Interested in learning more about Christian Piatt? Check out his blog, and then follow him on Twitter.