Two foci for this review: the text itself, and the narration.
First, narration. God save us. Bishop Spong reads the preface and epilogue, and I found myself wishing he would have read the entire book. His true sincerity, humanity and humility come through in his voice when he reads.
The narrator, however . . . slow, portentous, with odd emphases and ill-timed pauses . . . a real chore to listen to this fellow. He manages to inject a note of contemptuous sarcasm into passages, which seems often at odds with Bishop Spong's words. The narration almost put me off finishing the book.
Now, the text. Bishop Spong makes a compelling case for his vision of Christian scripture as liturgical in nature, freighted with symbolic references to Jesus' Jewish context. I couldn't wait for the final chapters, in which Bishop Spong would tell us how he specifically engages Christ in the modern age; how worship can (or should) be done; what is the nature of God as revealed through Jesus and Jesus' relationship with God - is God truly personal? Is Christ a person to this day, or simply a memory, the acheivements of which we should aspire to?
In essence, Bishop Spong spends a great deal of time methodically deconstructing Christianity in the modern age, but then replaces it with nothing - not even a suggestion on which we can build. I came away with the strong impression that Jesus was just a "really good guy".
Oddly, the resurrection gets short shrift in the concluding chapters. It's as if Bishop Spong doesn't know what to make of it - so he chooses not to deal with it at any length. But the resurrection, arguably the linchpin of Christology, deserves a fair assessment, because it is our understanding of the resurrection that will inform whatever relationship we have with the person of Christ.
I am ultimately frustrated and disapointed; that said, this worthy effort is still worth the listen.
The first audio book I've not been able to finish. The narration is so bad that I found myself struggling to understand what he says. He drops the ends of words, trails away at the ends sentences, and makes the listener work to parse out what he's saying. Listen to the sample - when I first heard this bit on my iPhone, I couldn't tell if he was talking about "the melancholy of affluence" or "the melancholy of Athens"! Too many instances like this make you too aware of the narrator and knock you out of the story. A shame.
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