The New Conspirators - the book

Fourth in a series of reviews for The Ooze.

I just received two new books in an unmarked package which I assume came from the same source. They’re similar in tone and topic, but there was no cover letter or even a return address, so who knows? I’ve started receiving inquiries from other publicists and authors asking me to review their books – maybe these are like that. I’m frankly less inclined to read the new ones, but I’ll try to get around to it.

I’ve also finished Emerging Churches by Gibbs and Bolger and I’d really like to write about that. And Chris M. recommended Jesus for President by Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw so I’m trying to read that. True confession: I just don’t want to. It looks so gimmicky to me, like a book designed for people who don’t like to read. Way over the top in terms of pomo design elements. But Chris really liked it, despite all that, and other people think a lot of what Claiborne has to say is worthwhile. Heck, even I admire what little I know about The Simple Way community. So I’m still trying, but the book is not really grabbing me so far.

But back to the The New Conspirators: Creating the Future One Mustard Seed at a Time by Tom Sine, with a foreword by Shane Claiborne, published 2008 by InterVarsity Press. I already blogged about the conference that happened about the time the book came out. (I wanted to go but didn’t.) I already like his explanation of the four streams of renewal in the Christian church today. And I still wonder where convergent Friends fit in. But that’s only the first chapter (or “Conversation”) of the book.

The middle part of the book (Conversations 2-4) is a sharp analysis of the state of the world and some credible projections about what’s to come in the near future. One organizing metaphor Sine uses is the 1960's book/movie “The Ship of Fools.” His extrapolation is that we are all on this planet on the same ship. Some are cruising, obliviously or nervously, in connoisseur class. Some are traveling quietly in cabin class and a huge number are traveling and dying in the cargo hold, unknown to the rest. I haven’t seen the 1965 movie by Stanley Kramer, but I will look for it or the 1962 book by Katherine Porter at the library.

The third part of the book is about what we can do about it. It starts by inviting us to use our fullest imaginations to picture a world where Jesus is already active. Then Sine explores how we might live into that vision of whole life community, whole life stewardship and whole life mission, with examples from all over the world. Finally he encourages us to join the entrepreneurial edge in responding to God’s calling. Not necessarily starting new churches, but a following your leading, flying by the seat of your pants, one day at a time, approach to religious life and community. Near the beginning, Sine quotes Claiborne, “Get ready friends … God is preparing us for something really, really – small.” (p. 23)

Sine’s image for this is the mustard seed. His group based in Seattle is called Mustard Seed Associates. They are, as best I can tell, an association of Jesus followers who are “trying to be a difference and make a difference and help other followers of Jesus create the future one mustard seed at a time.” (p. 300) You can contact them if you’d like to know more or tell them about what you’re doing or dreaming of.

I’ll end by quoting further from the introduction. “For followers of Jesus, times of challenge are always times of opportunity to give new creative expression to God’s love for a people and a world. The character Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings reminds us that we can’t choose the times in which we are born, but says, ‘We are responsible for the time that is given to us.” (p. 18)

Amen, Friends.

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