Free Kindle Version of The Divine Commodity

A favorite book from last year- one that inspired our church’s summer conference– is now available electronically for the Kindle and is FREE for the next few days.

Those of you you’ve not read The Divine Commodity by Skye Jethani may want to check out my brief review.

For those like myself on whom the allure of the electronic reader is completely lost, I can vouch that the real book is worth the price.

However you read it, this is a book worth owning and returning to regularly for its critique- sometimes painful, always helpful- of the many ways consumerism has affected the American church.

this weekend: christianity and consumerism

I’ve mentioned The Gospel and Culture Conference here a few times, but it’s worth pointing out again.  The conference begins this Friday evening, includes a picnic and session on Saturday evening, and wraps up on Sunday morning.  This is New Community’s first attempt at something like this, and I’m glad that Skye Jethani will be our inaugural guest teacher.

the gospel and culture conference

We’ve invited a number of Chicago churches to join us for the conference and we’re hopeful this weekend will be a time to meet new friends.  Our worship team will open each session and Friday and Saturday will feature a Q&A and refreshments.  New Community typically hosts a few summer picnics on Logan Boulevard and our first one will coincide with the conference, Saturday at 6:00.  The conference is free and open to anyone. Any Signs of Life readers going to make it?

Our guest teacher, Skye, has recently written The Divine Commodity, though we’d have invited him even if he wasn’t published.  I try to have lunch or coffee with Skye every few months because I know I’ll walk a smarter person.  Many of us are convinced that Consumerism as a way of life is antithetical to the Gospel of Jesus but Skye is one of the few people who is imagining a way for the American Church to be faithful in the midst of this type of culture.

If you’re around Chicago this weekend I hope you’ll join us.


the divine commodity

The Divine Commodity: Discovering A Faith Beyond Consumer Christianity gives language to the sinking feeling many ministry folks have as we realize how enmeshed our churches have become with thedivinecommodityconsumer culture.  Skye Jethani, a friend and managing editor of Leadership Journal, provides the right balance of cultural analysis, clear insight, and gentle direction to show how the American church has often neglected our identity as the people of God for something more culturally relevant.  To be clear, this is not a “how-to” manual; neither is it another book about all that is wrong with our churches.  Like others of us, Skye has been tempted to walk away from the many frustrations of the local church but found himself unable to do so.  His love for and commitment to the local church (Skye is also a pastor) is what allows us to receive the book’s difficult truths.

The Divine Commodity is organized into nine chapters, each which observe an aspect of consumerism that has infiltrated the church.  Filled with stories, cultural artifacts, and Biblical reflection these observations are easily connected to the reader’s own context.   Particularly compelling are Skye’s reflections on the life and paintings of Vincent van Gogh as a foil to consumer Christianity.  In the Dutch artist’s life we encounter one whose commitment to Christ (he trained to be a pastor) led him to bitterly critique his experience with Christianity and the church.  The addition of eleven of van Gogh’s paintings helps us imagine a faith that is completely devoted to the narrow way of Jesus, one that consistently rejects the allure of self-centered faith.

It is the description of an alternative to consumer Christianity that is most commendable.  In a chapter about the tendency to place institutions before relationships Skye writes,

What may be needed is a fundamental rethinking of the church within the minds of the members, cultivating the imagination to conceive of the church as a relational community rather than an institutional organization.  Beginning on the smallest end of the scale, this means relearning the lost art of friendship.

Analysis combined with imagination is why I’d recommend this book to just about anyone.  My only gripe is that the book could be expanded (the 175 pages were easily read over a weekend).  I am convinced that until we acknowledge the power our consumer culture holds over the church (and over me!), we will find our thirst unquenched by a faith diluted with consumer ideals.  The Divine Commodity points out the primary issue for the church in our day, one that impacts our very identity and mission.  Thankfully the book also prompts us to imagine a more satisfying and transforming alternative.

thanks for the links

My little blog has the privilege of being linked to by a handful of other sites.  The authors of these blogs are an eclectic and witty bunch of folks and I’d highly recommend checking out each of their sites.

Andy Rowell is a Th.D. student at Duke Divinity School and an astute observer of American Evangelicalism.  Andy is the go-to guy for statistics and footnotes.  He regularly points out helpful resources for those in pastoral ministry.

Skye Jethani is the managing editor at Leadership Journal.  Skye’s blog is fairly new and loosely follows the themes of his forthcoming book, The Divine Commodity.  Skye regularly offers insightful critique of the state of the church in a consumer-oriented  culture.

Eugene Cho is the founding pastor of Quest Church in Seattle.  Eugene has the unique ability to raise really provocative questions in a way that invites civil conversation, a skill I greatly admire.

Edward Gilbreath, a fellow Chicagoan, is the editorial director of Urban Ministries, Inc and has recently been involved with the launch of  Edward’s commentary on the recent presidential election was thoughtful and served as a guide to many who were confused by the role of race and racism in the primaries and general election.

Catherine McNiel has a wide range of interests: parenting, literature, and world religions to name a few of the more prominent themes.  Catherine is the best writer of the blogs I regularly read; her observations stike the lovely balance between the very physical aspects of life and the transcendence behind those moments.

Ray Kollbocker is the senior pastor of Parkivew Community Church, our former suburban church where I worked for 5 years.  Ray K has a wicked sense of humor and his blogging combines this with his diverse interests and pastoral sensibility.

Pilgrim Without a Shrine has probably been linked to by my blog more than any other.  In addition to being a great friend, Pilgrim offers first-person observations from the Middle East that is increasingly important for us to hear.  The blog regularly offers the stories behind the latest spectacular headlines from the region.  His stories about finding good food and haircuts add the personal touch befitting a blog of this type.

Out of Ur is Leadership Journal’s blog that I contribute to on a monthly basis.  It’s a kick to see what topics the blog’s commentors will latch on to.  I know of few better sources for a sense of what evangelical-type churches and pastors are talking about.

Thanks for the links folks and please keep blogging; I learn a lot from each of you.  Did I miss any?  Leave a comment if you’re site is linking to Signs of Life.