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The Blue Parakeet: Why this book

March 13, 2009

Something began happening for me last year in my first year of seminary.  Actually it had been happening for some time only I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, nor did I completely understand it.  I recognized that I had been brought up through my “Christian life” to read or approach or study the Bible in a certain way.  It fit quite well with two things about my personality — wanting to do it the right way (if you’ve ever heard John Trent or Gary Smalley talk about personalities that means I’m a beaver) and wanting to please others (and that means you are putting yourself in an almost “no win” when it comes to doing things the right way).  Last year as I studied the Old Testament I began to understand in a fresh way that the Old Testament is not just a law-book, nor only a book about prophecies, or only a worship book. God’s word reveals much more to us, I began to read it as a journey of God with his people.  It tells a most important story.  A story that is lived.

And that partially explains why I like this book by Scot McKnight, The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible. Scot studies and teaches the Bible for a living.  He is the Karl A. Olsson professor of religious studies at North Park University in Chicago.  North Park is affiliated with the Evangelical Covenant Church (yep, that’s been “my” denomination or “my tribe” for the past 18 years).  Prior to teaching at North Park he taught at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.  Many people have become familiar with Scot’s writings because of his book The Jesus Creed. If you haven’t read it, I encourage you to.

I’ve chosen to start out by “reading” The Blue Parakeet because what Scot brings to the table for us in this book helps us recognize and understand that  how we read the Bible affects us (or not).  And he does that by masterfully asking us questions.  There are four parts to this book.  The final section is a “test case” (Scot’s words) for what we read and learn and realize in the first three parts of the book.  Wondering what the final section is?  I won’t keep you in suspense…. Part 4: Women in Church Ministries Today.

This book helped me look at my own church background with fresh eyes. That meant I can honestly step back and look at how I was reading my Bible and acknowledge that what I said I believed isn’t exactly what I was living.  I see many people today (and I myself have been there) struggling to reconcile what they read in God’s word, affirm it and still live it out.  We’ll begin to look more closely at this next week.

But in this coming week you might want to begin to ask yourself, if I believe that “God said it, I believe it, and that settles it,” (I grew up hearing this). How do I live it?  Scot asks us to ponder these two questions as we begin reading: Do we pick and choose what we will and won’t do? And if we do… and this is the really big question,

“How, then, are we to live out the Bible today?”[1]

[1] Scot McKnight, The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible, [Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008], p. 11.

  1. Michael White permalink
    March 17, 2009 9:08 am

    While my family played on the waterslides at Great Wolf Lodge, I with my herniated disk, sat poolside and read parts 1-3 of the Blue Parakeet. I haven’t had a chance to get to part 4. But I know how it ends!

    I appreciate the issues that Scot is bringing up. I appreciate how he isn’t backing down from making us ask ourselves the hard questions – what do I “pick” and what do I ignore.

    I also appreciate the fact that in the context of parish ministry, this is a hard sell. Just introducing the idea that people aren’t following the whole scripture will probably be met with an immediate gut-level reaction, “Of course, I’m following the whole scripture.” It’s not a rational argument, just like how our musical choices ultimately boil down to the stuff that we liked as a kid but we anoint as “God’s music.”

    I think if people are brave enough to engage with the book, it has the potential of drawing them deeper into the scriptures and deeper into following Jesus than if they never examine their own hermeneutic.

    • pathwayjourneys permalink*
      March 20, 2009 11:05 am

      Michael… I hope we will as well. Thank you.

  2. Sammi permalink
    March 20, 2009 10:47 am

    Carol, you encourage me each time I read your blog to be radiant, to find my voice for Jesus. Thank you.

    • pathwayjourneys permalink*
      March 20, 2009 11:08 am

      I pray your voice and your spirit will grow stronger. Not in volume (per se) but in confidence and knowledge. May this knowing allow your song to be sung in such a way that we hear it afresh. Thank you for your encouragement.

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