One of my favorite things is going to a book store to look for a specific book, and then stumbling upon a book I never knew existed. That happened a few days ago when I found An Emergent Manifest of Hope. Of course, I immediately bought it. I am just over 100 pages into it, and am enjoying it so far. If you have read this book, I would love to hear your thoughts on it.

Thomas Malcolm Olson’s “Jailhouse Faith: A Community of Jesus in an Unlikely Place” especially made me think. I am very interested in the importance of accountability for growth in the Christian life, and I was fascinated to read about Olson’s experience in prison ministry. He seemed to find that people in prison were more aware of their need for accountability than were people who were outside the walls of prison. Why is it so hard for us to humble ourselves enough to admit that we need help? Why do we have so much trouble being honest with others about what is going on with our faith?

This quote alone may have been worth the price of the book:

It would be good for Christianity if churches imitated penitentiaries and encouraged their parishoners to act more like prisoners. (It took me three decades of being a Christian to come up with that one, which explains why I make my living as an addictions counselor instead of a church growth consultant.) But I think I’m on to something. Every person needs one safe place where he or she is able to stop pretending, a place of ruthless honesty and unconditional love where no one is allowed to fly underneath the radar (95).

Amen to that! Do you have a safe place where you are able to just be real, to be completely vulnerable to someone else. Where you know that they are not standing in judgment of you, but they are standing with you, praying for you, seeking your good in all of the seasons of the soul? In my life, this kind of place has helped me grow in my faith more than any other.