An evening with Erwin McManus

A more familiar face amongst the Emergent movement, Erwin Raphael McManus (born Erwin Cardona) has written eight books dealing with Christianity and culture. He's lead pastor of the unique church Mosaic, though he calls himself the "lead cultural architect". I've been to a few of the services at Mosaic, once when they met at the LA Club and then when they moved the the Mayan night club (yes night club). I was somewhat impressed the first time, but was less than impressed subsequent times. Perhaps I'll blog about that another day, but needless to say, my friend's and I seemed to be the only one's who had bibles with us that night. There was only one worship song played and the gospel message was boiled down to "let Jesus walk with you in your spiritual journey".

At the event held at the new Barnes and Noble at the Shoppes in Chino Hills, he spoke to a group of about 40 to 50 people, promoting his new book "Wide Awake". What surprised me was the amount of people NOT my age. They were of different ages. I'm sure a few were from the Mosaic in Chino. He himself is a bit interesting. He's about to become 50 and looks like he's still in his late 30's. The man must work out. He began his message talking about his book's main message: living your dreams. He went on to state that people in the US were the most well off people in the world. Having just gone to Mexico, I can attest to that fact. We do have it good! With all our affluence we are the most drugged up, depressed and addicted society. Our suicide rates alone warrant close attention. his answer to why we have this is because we can only consume so much before we get fed up with life. McManus seemed to talk a lot with his his hands, but to a certain extent he's right.

As he continued he told stories of meeting with entrepreneurs, talking to people from all walks of life and even spoke a bit about his own testimony. A brief snippet. I was taken aback towards the end said he didn't want to sound preachy, and mentioned how his relationship with Jesus helped him love. I would think that for a pastor, especially one in a Barnes and Noble who had many people listening to him, he would want to tell people about what made changed him so radically. I say this with an eye towards a friend who has only recently learned to care about people at all because he became a Christian. If there was someone in the audience that night like my friend this could have been a help to them. Sadly he went on to keep talking about how we all need to have great dreams to leave the world a better place. A great sentiment. And yet it all just seemed like a hipper than thou version of this:

Lest you think I'm too cynical, I think that as important as living our dreams is, people aren't in need of a new dream, or of a better purpose. They are in need of Jesus Christ. They need someone to deal with their sin problem. This is why we're drugged up and suicidal. Its root is in the deceitful heart that says we're number one, instead of God. While I do believe that God has a calling for our lives, that's far from what McManus says in page 12 of his book. He says that Jesus came to give the disciples a "dream for a better world". I think not. They were given a gospel to preach and a mandate to reach the world. Jesus may be heroic, but he's more than a hero. He's a savior and Lord whom we must look unto to find out sense of self and meaning for our lives. While I can appreciate McManus trying to show how jesus does that, it just seemed a bit too syrupy to me. Try reading Publishers Weekly review of his book:

There's nothing new here, and McManus relies on clich├ęs, though he writes simply and with energy. Christian readers attempting to figure out how to pursue their dreams would do better with Max Lucado's Cure for the Common Life. Some readers, though, may be more comfortable with McManus's pop psychology approach to the scriptures, where Daniel becomes the poster child for adaptability, Jesus represents a focused life and Isaiah's prophetic, Arise, shine; for your light has come becomes a call to [live] up to your potential.

While I had arrived with questions I had for McManus about his methodology (this one is pretty funny) and questionable book endorsements (read the back), and a few other things, it felt more like a book signing and less a theological round table, so I left. (That and the friend who invited me didn't show!) The more I read his book, I am appreciative that he has a positive message, but part of me thought, "Haven't I seen this BEFORE?"

If you'd really like a book on your calling, I highly recommend The Call by Os Guiness. Great Book. Perhaps I'll do a study on the biblical view of goals and dreams.

1 comment:

  1. Hello I found out your blog on google when I was looking for a pic to be the main of my blog title.

    I like McManus books and I am reading 'Chasing Daylight' now.Its good to know his new book is about achieving the dreams cuz Chasing Daylight is about it too, so I guess I will save some money LOL!