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5 Stars Out Of 5
How To Live With Sinners and Saints
April 15, 2013
Margot Starbuck in her new book, "Permission Granted" published by Baker Books gives us And Other Thoughts on Living Graciously Among Sinners and Saints .
From the Inside Flap: Would Jesus stand on a street corner waving a sign that condemned a particular kind of sinner?
Would he deliver diatribes on TV news shows against them?
Would he support religious leaders who use their positions to marginalize the less-than-holy?
When she got the feeling that authentic love for those identified by the church as "Special Sinners" looked diametrically different than Christians in the media spotlight made it appear, Margot Starbuck went looking for the truth. Scouring the Gospels for the Jesus who felt as uncomfortable as she did around disreputable sinners, Margot was surprised to find no record of him there. Instead, she found the kind of grace that would actually be received by those in bars, in strip clubs, and at drag queen bingo.
Permission Granted is her passionate and liberating call to all of us to truly love others as Jesus does. With wit and clarity of insight, Starbuck shows that there are no "Special Sinners" who are worse or more deserving of contempt and judgment than others, and challenges us to a radical acceptance of the ones God loves and receives.
There are sinners and sins out there in the world that are special. You pick them, prostitution, homosexuality, drug or alcohol addiction, whatever the sin there is a group that they are special too and therefore not only should Christians stay away from them but we should protest them and their actions. Is that grace? Is that how Christians are going to reach these individuals? Is that how Jesus would handle the situation? Of course, the answer is no. The Bible tells us that Jesus was a friend of sinners. The way He was able to reach them was by being friendly something that, sadly, we do not do. Margot Starbuck realized the state of Christianity and she sought God for the correct way. In twenty-seven short chapters Ms. Starbuck gives us stories that show us how we can react to others who have yet to receive Jesus as their Savior. I liked this book and recommend it highly!
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Baker Books. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
When I read the book description and the first chapter, I thought this book would look deeper into how Jesus interacted with those that the religious looked on as especially sinful and explore how different people are following Jesus' example. I was expecting the focus to mainly be on examples of people "doing things right," but instead it was primarily on criticizing people who are "doing things wrong."
While I'd agree that the people in her examples weren't approaching people in a very loving way, I also didn't feel comfortable with the language she used. It invited the reader to mock the people she criticized and categorize them as an "other" that aren't worthy of being understood or loved--the exact thing she'd been saying we shouldn't do to people. Near the end of the book, she talked about loving those we don't agree with yet she didn't seem to realize that she wasn't acting very loving toward certain people in the proceeding chapters. By the end of the book, I was left feeling deeply troubled by the difference between how she believes we should behave and how she was actually behaving. Will readers do as she says or what she's demonstrating by example?
The first few chapters were actually pretty good and did include looking at the gospels to see how Jesus interacted with sinners. Each chapter was on a different topic rather than building directly on each other. Most of each chapter was a modern story that illustrated her main point for that chapter. About a third of the way in, the tone of the book shifted: her arguments started to be based more on her opinions than on what Jesus did or said, and her tone toward Christians that she didn't agree with got harsher.
Thinking over how she decided Jesus would act today, I don't think Jesus really would go to a Gay Pride parade or into a strip bar or into a porn convention. To use passages she looked at: we don't see Jesus sitting down with the tax collector as he collected more money for taxes than he had to (for his own gain) to show His love. We don't see Jesus telling the Jews to not hate what the tax collector was doing or supporting laws to force people to act like they support the tax collector's behavior.
Even if Jesus would go into strip bars and porn conventions, I doubt that this is a good idea for the rest of us if for no other reason than we're more prone to give into temptation...even if we think we won't be. I was disappointed that she didn't talk more about the many ways to show God's love that don't involve putting yourself in a position of temptation.
I visit prisoners, mentor at-risk kids, and generally try to reach out to the forgotten. Showing a genuine love and concern for a person often creates a trust that opens the way to talk about Jesus and how He can make our lives whole and abundant--things that everyone wants. I appreciate that the author was trying to steer people toward showing genuine love as an effective way to reach "Sinners."
I received this book as a review copy from the publisher.
I really needed to hear what Margot Starbuck had to say in Permission Granted And Other Thoughts On Living Graciously Among Sinners and Saints. She points out the obvious, really about what is meant by love your neighbor as yourself. That means love EVERYONE for who he or she is or is not.
Starbuck talks about how religious people have been missing what Jesus was and is about_forever. I think that is partly the reason religion is such a turn off for some people. Not only have rules been created and labels made for people, but they have not always shown God's love and grace when interacting with people with a particular sin they are currently trying to rid the world of.
Even in Christian churches I still see an unwritten list of things that are acceptable or unacceptable and there will always be the need to "fit in" and do what the Christian crowd is doing.
Permission Granted really put me at ease. I was starting to feel that Christian pressure to conform, to only have Christian friends, Christian activities, Christian music, Christian candy, etcetera. I would say that no one was putting the pressure on me but myself, but I needed to be reminded and affirmed that Jesus would not have even thought about these things. Jesus lived and loved. I'm thankful that Margot Starbuck said it so clearly for me; I got it!