It is difficult to know how to review Rising from the Ashes fairly. It is basically a series of integrated interviews with a variety of emerging church/alternative worship/missional leaders. You’ve got everyone from Diana Butler Bass, to Brian McLaren, to Shane Claiborne, to Phyllis Tickle, to N.T. Wright. Each chapter is devoted to a broad topic, and contains the thoughts of the various interviewees.
Unfortunately, I just couldn’t get into the book. The content isn’t bad. The format is what didn’t jive with me. Perhaps it would have been better if Garrison had done a little more to integrate the interviews. Perhaps if the interviews had been a little more focused. I’m not sure. Still, my dislike of the format isn’t enough to make me say that the book isn’t worth the paper it was printed on. Quite the opposite actually. It serves as an excellent introduction to the thinking of some important leaders in the whole emerging/missional/alternative worship conversation.
The book has done a lot to convince me that we really are still dealing with a conversation, by the way. There is simply no way to summarize with any integrity the beliefs of the emerging church. It is truly amazing. Often, as I read the book, one interviewee would say one thing, only to be almost completely contradicted by the next. I think this goes far in showing the true diversity within the emerging church. There are those who are still a bit sour about authority and don’t like the idea of anyone telling them what to do in worship. Others are all over the resurgence of liturgy, the need for Bishops, etc. The book is worth reading, if for no other reason than seeing the variety of thought within the current “emerging” conversation.
I’m not sure the book really gives a whole picture of anything, but it does give the reader some insight into the various thoughts going on in people’s heads. Of course, you could probably manage this by just reading these same individuals’ blogs. So, what’s the final recommendation? Buy, or don’t buy? I say buy–if you can find it for around $10.