It’s not often that you’d write a review for a book before you’ve finished it. In actual fact, I only received “The Orthodox Heretic – and other impossible tales” last night in the mail, and with a basketball game in between, I only managed to read a few of the parables inside, but already this is one of my favourite Christian books. I must admit: I did have a lot of anticipation built up for Peter Rollins’ latest and greatest, but I’ve already had that surpassed.
OK, let’s take a step back and provide some background – before I get too carried away. “The Orthodox Heretic” is a collection of 33 parables, with a brief commentary on each. Rollins’ describes the commentaries as like the reference label at an art gallery: in no way a definitive explanation of the piece but rather an entry point for the uninitiated. In fact, he pulls back from calling these parables: parables cannot affect intellectual belief but rather must change your actions. So he hopes that he’s written parables, but instead only calls them “impossible tales”.
As you read Orthodox Heretic, you can’t help but believe that these are actually stories that should be read out loud rather than in private. To the point that I couldn’t help but read a couple to Bec last night: these stories find meaning as you share them and think about them together. I’m sure that these will get used in our small group, and probably in any preaching gigs I do in the near future. While by day Rollins works as a philosopher and theologian – in reality it seems he’s just using that as an excuse to partake in his true calling: a master story-teller.
Have a listen to Peter Rollins reading one of his own tales, and I defy you to not at least be a little interested in the rest of the book. The man does also have a fantastic Irish accent, which once you know it, is the only voice you can hear these parables being told in as you read.
Note: Paraclete Press and Peter Rollins are running a parable competition where you can win a bunch of books and a beautiful print. Peter Rollins’ blog is here – and you can find more of his parables for free (you cheapskate) in the “parables” category there. You can buy “The Orthodox Heretic” from:
Go do it – I can’t recommend it highly enough.