No it’s not a joke. It’s a book. Actually it is also a joke, but this post is about the book. Catholics and Protestants have historically tended not to consider each other part of the “true” church.Progress has been made but there is still too much suspicion on both sides. The popularity of Pope Francis with both Catholics and Protestants is what authors Paul Rock and Bill Tammeus use to explore what Protestants and Catholics might have in common in their book Jesus, Pope Francis and a Protestant Walk into a Bar.
Rock and Tammeus write in the Introduction, “If the call of the twentieth century to Americans was to get racial harmony right (obviously still a work in progress), the call of this century is to get religious harmony right.” (Kindle location 64). This book is a small but accessible step toward ecumenical, intra faith dialogue.
Although the book focuses on Catholic and Protestant discussion, the authors give a good introduction to interfaith dialogue and offer some good resources that readers can use to learn more.
In the introduction they give a useful description of interfaith and ecumenical dialogue, ” It is important to understand that the purpose of authentic ecumenical and interfaith dialogue is not to convert others who are participating in the discussion. Rather, the purpose is simply to know and to be known. This requires humility as well as a willingness to ask nonhostile questions and to listen intently.” (Kindle location 80)
The book is based on a 2014 sermon series from Second Presbyterian Church in Kansas City Missouri. For each chapter there is a scripture passage and then the sermon. The sermons explore the link between the scripture passage and an aspect of the Pope’s actions or statements. Each chapter ends with some questions for further discussion and reflection. This makes the book helpful for book groups and other study groups. Each chapter can stand alone and so one could pick out one or more of the seven chapters if a group wasn’t able to discuss the entire book. Because it is based on sermons, the book is very accessible. One doesn’t need to be a theologian, a scholar or an expert in ecumenical dialogue. All you need to bring to the book is a willingness to read and consider.
For readers who may not have spent much time thinking about Protestant- Catholic dialogue, let alone interfaith dialogue this book is a good introduction and example of finding common ground while maintaining theological particularities. For readers who have experience in ecumenical and interfaith dialogue this book is still helpful as it asks open ended questions that persons of all backgrounds and experiences can reflect upon.
If you are looking for a book to spark thought and discussion about Catholic and Protestant ideas, I recommend this book.
- You should know that when I lived in Kansas City, I was a member of Second Pres and Bill Tammeus and I attended the same adult education class. Also I received my copy of this book free from Net Galley in exchange for a review. However if I hadn’t liked the book, I would have just posted my comments on Net Galley and not on my blog. (Unless the book had been really awful and the public needed to be warned away)