Book review: Convictions: How I Learned What Matters Most

by Marcus J. Borg

★★★★★

Yes, I’ve read most of this before, since I’ve devoured most of Borg’s books. A number of the topics in What Matters Most are rehashes, yet as Borg looks back on his life (he just turned seventy) and recounts the lessons he learned of greatest importance, these topics seem to take on new life. This is a personal, friend-to-friend, heart-felt discussion, as Borg tries to share his wisdom without being an “opinionated old fool.” Marcus, it’s wonderful … thank you.

We live in a time of deeply divided American Christianity. It’s not a matter of denominational differences anymore, but of conservative versus progressive thinking. Progressive Christianity is growing, contrary to what some may have you think: a recent poll shows 28% of Americans are on the “religious conservative” end of the spectrum, while 19% are “religious progressives.” The latter is Borg’s perspective, as he recounts both the goodness and mystery of God. Borg’s very personal description of his own mystical experiences (which lean toward panentheism) and lack of certainty regarding what happens after we die are likely to hit home.

Espousing the “radical protest against economic injustice and violence” of his favorite Old Testament prophet Amos, and comparing that to the pacifistic teachings of Jesus (which does not mean passive acceptance of injustice), Borg will make you think and feel differently about what it means to be a Christian in the military empire we call America.

Loving God means loving what God loves. That’s what a Christian life is all about: becoming passionate about God and participating in God’s passion for a different kind of world. Whatever mysteries hide beyond this life, we leave that up to God.

HarperCollins, © 2014, 241 pages

ISBN: 978-0-6-226997-3

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