Brian McLaren has made a writing and lecturing career out of being controversial. Sometimes I think he creates controversy where there is not enough so that he can be on the other side of it.
As I’ve said in other posts, I like the questions McLaren asks. I don’t necessarily agree with his conclusions, but given the opportunity to read yet another Mclaren book, I of course seized it.
This book, Finding Our Way: The Return of the Ancient Practices, is not McLaren’s typical fair. Unlike other books he has written, this book is an introduction of sorts to a series edited by Phyllis Tickle. Because it is part of another person’s series (Tickle is technically the editor of the series), I got the feeling that McLaren was somewhat pulling his punches. It wasn’t his usual full-out assault.
I had a couple of issues with this book. The biggest one was that what McLaren calls “ancient” practices are really medieval practices. In fact, he spends several chapters in an imaginary journey to a medieval abbey. This is misleading, and I understand that calling the book “The Return to Medieval Practices” wouldn’t have sounded so romantic – but there you are.
Another issue is that the entire book seems somewhat unfocused. You more or less have to piece together the structure of these ancient practices. Although McLaren provides several different lists of practices, they are overlapping and confusing. On top of that, personally I felt that he added a lot of his pet practices in where we would be hard pressed to find them in ancient cultures.
I feel as if the book really did not live up to its title. All around, I found the book to be somewhat vanilla. Perhaps I expect too much from McLaren.