For many years, I have loved the worship music of Delerious! So I figured if their guitar player and song writer Stu Garrard had written a book, I ought to check it out. Stu has been working on The Beatitudes Project, which includes a film, some new music, and his book Words from the Hill: An Invitation to the Unexpected.
Stu takes each of the Beatitudes and tells stories of his friends and others he has met whose lives reflect each one. The Beatitudes, he writes, "are predominantly blessings of God's presence for people in bad situations, and not a list of spiritual virtues to attain. . . . they're about being, not doing." He personalizes the Beatitudes in a way that leads you to see others with Jesus' eyes and to see your own life through God's eyes. The message is that you are blessed, and God is on your side, no matter what you're going through.
Stu's work is less Bible study than life study. He does have some illuminating thoughts about the meaning of each Beatitude. More than that, he tells the stories of people for whom God's blessing and mercy have been vital and real. His exposition is, frankly, a bit disjointed, and he seemed pretty loose theologically. A good bit of the narrative involves his friendships with Jewish and Muslim friends. All that to say the stories bring the Beatitudes to life and will call you to reflect on your own response to Jesus' teachings.
As he points out, we Christians have historically focused on our creeds, careful to get our beliefs right but sometimes neglecting application to life and relationships. "What if," he asks, "like the earliest Jesus followers, we began to see the Beatitudes as the Jesus Creed?" Words from the Hill can begin to give us a vision of what a Jesus Creed would look like. I like Stu's music more than I like his book, but his book, like his music, points me to Jesus. That's worth the price of admission.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!