Gretta Vosper's Without or Without God: Orange or Green?
Vosper is the pastor of the West Hill United Church, here in Toronto. She is also the founder and chair of the Canadian Centre for Progressive Christianity. She is, apparently, somewhat controversial even within her own denomination, the already-quite-progressive United Church of Canada.
I was hesitant to pick this one up, for two reasons. First, I read an article in Maclean's a few weeks ago (I think I blogged about it, actually), and I wasn't overly impressed with what Vosper had to say. Second, the book is dedicated to, and features a foreward written by, John Shelby Spong. I don't have anything against Spong as a person -- I met him a few years ago, and he's a real gentleman, and a good speaker -- but I find his vision for the Christian religion to be a little thin. I suspected Vosper might be offering more of the same (and, though I'm not quite finished the book, that is still my impression).
Today I read an interesting article by Douglas Todd of the Vancouver Sun, that was published on Saturday. It compares Vosper's book with Emerging Church: A Model for Change and a Map for Renewal, a new book by Bruce Sanguin, who, like Vosper, is a pastor in the United Church of Canada.
I haven't read anything by Sanguin before, but in his latest book he apparently makes reference to Spiral Dynamics, and specifically the work of Don Beck. My knowledge of Spiral Dynamics is limited to what I've read about it in works by Ken Wilber. I actually thought about it as I was reading Vosper's book, because it seems to me that she is writing from a strictly "green" perspective. (By Douglas Todd's reckoning, it's more likely the "orange" level, which is the stage before green.)
Todd says he prefers Sanguin's "option of exploring different ways of understanding God, not defaulting to only ethics," as Vosper apparently proposes. He writes, "Given all the expansive, multidisciplinary thinking going in progressive Christian circles these days, it's hard to understand why Vosper ignores so much of it." I've been wondering much the same thing.
I should have some time to finish her book in the next couple of days, so hopefully I'll be able to write something about it soon.