These books are designed for those who want to know how the Christian Church got to what seems to be this confusing point with so many different congregations claiming different things. Is there actually a way to see how it all connects together, and how the Christian faith connects back to the Old Testament, then through the New Testament and through Church history to the current practices of the Church? Can the essence of the Christian faith be discovered in that whole context? Can all of this be done without reading thousands of pages and learning lots of theological jargon?
Dancing in the Kingdom is an academic level book for those who want to take a deeper dive. The Impossible Dance removes the appendices and footnotes and is somewhat rearranged to make an easier read.
Both books attempt to do all that by being ecumenical in scope – drawing from Protestant, Catholic, Jewish and Orthodox traditions – while at the same time, minimizing theological jargon. The intent is to make this very wide scope of material accessible to the average reader and to be able to trace the development of the basic Christian faith.
Most of the ideas in the books are not original with me, and therefore Dancing in the Kingdom has more than 400 footnotes to refer to those sources. It is not necessary to refer to those footnotes, but they are there for those who wish to further investigate. To that end, I chose to make as many of the footnotes refer to online resources as possible to make that content more accessible. I did start out using footnotes for Biblical references as well but that would have more than doubled the number of footnotes – a bit too much – so in lieu of that Biblical sources are cited at the top of each section.
The extensive scope of material even includes scientific content although, what will be surprising to many, not for Genesis 1. The book rather refers to some of the latest anthropological research on the Ancient Near East to see how Genesis 1 is better understood in context of the construction of a liturgical calendar, which begins to be biblically presented in Exodus, and which provides a framework for us to live into the Christian faith.
The final form of Dancing in the Kingdom should be about 200 pages with some appendices and will have an accompanying workbook. For the purposes of the blog, the questions from the workbook will not be presented as a separate document but directly with each section to which they apply. The Appendices will also be published when the text refers to them.
The final form of The Impossible Dance should be about 130 page with questions at the end of each chapter.
The “Dancing” theme is drawn from a concept used in the Orthodox theology to describe the Trinity. The dancing is meant to refer to the ways we can all joyfully participate with God as He builds the Kingdom.
About the Workbook questions
Dancing in the Kingdom can be simply spontaneous and joyful. Dancing with others requires planning and coordination. We do not dance alone; we are joining a long procession of dancers past and present.
The questions following each section are meant help you bring thoughtfulness to the dance and ultimately how to contribute to the whole good of creation. Most questions have no right or wrong answers but are meant to help you stimulate your imagination about the awesome and wonderful God and his creation, to think about and articulate your own individual perceptions and then to hear different perspectives as you share answers in a group setting. As image-bearers, we are not passive observers of the world around us, we are meant to be active participants in the world. Therefore, the following questions are meant to help us think in practical ways about how we all can be actively Dancing in the Kingdom.
The questions are broken into two parts: Reflections tries to evoke responses to the overall reading of each section and Observe asks for response to related Scripture passages. In a few cases, hyperlinks are given to point to additional helps.
The scope of Dancing in the Kingdom is too broad for detailed scripture study, so the emphasis will be on capturing the essence and flow of the book material and biblical material, to see the larger picture of how science, the Old and New Testaments connect, and how the Church has and we can participate in the great Dance in the Kingdom of God. Just as the Church was not meant to be a place for people to live in isolation, the most benefit of this book will occur as it is processed in a group setting, knowing that the greatest insight will come from people sharing their thoughts with each other.