Last month I reviewed Charlie Fox’s little book, Being Like Water. It’s a fascinating collection of Charlie’s reflections on what it means to be a Christian in a world that no longer understands what following Jesus is about — if, in fact, it ever did.
As we’ve seen with our discussions with and about Kingsway, it seems that even some Christian organisations have largely lost the plot when it comes to following the King’s way: the vision of our trade being “Stronger Together, Weaker Apart” seems, in Kingsway’s case at least, to have degenerated into something more like strengthen the strong and let the weak go to the wall. Thankfully, however, we have many other trading partners for whom working together remains more important than self-preservation.
Enough of Kingsway, however: I asked Charlie a few questions about himself and his book:
Tell us a bit about yourself, please, Charlie: early on in the book you say “The antics of the church establishment have turned many people from Christ.” (p.12). How did you get around that barrier yourself? What would you say to someone who says the church is full of hypocrites and they want nothing to do with either the church or its God?
I think the central point that I address in this book really boils down to scripture vs experience. Many people’s first experience of church is really having the bible thrust squarely down their throats.
I think the bible is a great reference in many ways and is most important but we also need prayer and fellowship to make sense of our human experience. This to me is a kind of practical trinity we need to make faith effective.
The church as an establishment has been and can be prone to political involvement both in secular, commercial society and purely as a social group. As an apolitical person who believes that all group is derived from a single spirituality expressed by individuals I believe that avoidance of politics is key to forming a good church. Some of this attitude is expressed in my book. Hypocrites, unfortunately can be found anywhere and expressing membership of a faith only makes it more noticeable when they are hypocritical. A church then also has to be fluid, not rigid.
“It’s God” as you express is really the moot point. Obviously the church should not be seen as the sole representative and/or doorway of God. Ever. It is purely “My God” in terms of personal relationship and really “Our God” in worship.
If someone asks, I remind people that church is not real Christianity.
It’s an attempt at socialising one’s own relationship with God. I try and remind people that people in the church are just people, not aliens, that Christianity is about leading by service and if they find and see a church which is not implementing this, avoid it.
Secular people are not stupid and its important to agree with inconsistencies people point out rather than chuck bits of scripture at them which they will not understand anyway and will feel excluded by. Christianity should be able to stand up to any questions thrown at it. That to me is normally best answered by having lived it.
Not excluding people is the watchword.
You’ve clearly been mulling over the thoughts and questions in your book for a long time. What made you decide to turn them into a book rather than, say, a series of blog posts?
At the risk of being strange, God told me to write a book. The contents came through to me very strongly at different times during the day, when I was sleeping, about to wake, having just woken, but mostly when I was distracted in some way and usually as a result of prayer.
Rationalising book vs blog you cannot carry blogposts around in your pocket or bag. Not literally anyway. Not organically, but really I was just led to produce a book and the quantifiable reasons don’t matter so much as the result and my obedience.
If you could sum up the book in one sentence, what would it be? You’re not allowed to repeat what you’ve already put on the back cover!
“God told me to write this…”
Hammy, but true, otherwise, what is says on the back is better. 🙂
Since most readers of this post won’t have the book handy, here’s Charlie’s cover blurb:
‘Being like water’ is essentially six years worth of thoughts, dreams, considerations, realisations and points of discussion which eventually developed and cohesed into something more holistic and directed.
The overriding theme of this book is that following the gospel of Christ is the most effective way of adapting to the world and events in your life. It is an attempt to explain WHY this works and why it changes people’s lives for the better every day.
And finally: why a chapter about the Martial Arts? Isn’t that a bit out of place in Christian book?
Why not? the bible is full of war and conflict, both spiritual and material. Nowhere in the bible to my knowledge does it state that martial arts are wrong.
Everyone’s life has conflict to a point and practising martial arts is one very good way of controlling your ego. It can be also a good way to overindulge your ego, but everything can be misused. Martial arts as an exercise in relationship to another person is very good for teaching us new and better responses in life as the reactions we have physically we also have emotionally, and working to change and control our panic and fight or flight animal response using martial arts has a huge effect on the way we deal with ordinary people on a day to day basis.
Also Jesus was a man, the perfect man. He was meek but never weak. He could wield enormous power if he so chose but he would not. Being meek is having that power but never misusing it.
The church today has been commented on as being insipid and overtly feminine in character.
Looking at other world religions such as Islam we can see that they have not forgotten the role of a strong male influence in spirituality. I feel Christianity needs to take this reminder and reinstate the strong, balanced male character of Jesus in the church today.
As this interview is published, Charlie is on tour with his book in the USA: you can follow him on twitter: @beinglikewater