Yancey’s biography is inspiring. Yancey grew up in a Fundamentalist congregation in Georgia in the 1950’s and 1960’s. The Church was the center of his family’s life. That particular church was loaded with rules of “thou shalt nots.” No dancing, drinking alcohol, card playing, etc. The congregation’s pastor also preached racism from the pulpit.
After High School Yancey went to a Bible College. The Bible College was slightly more relaxed, however, Yancey and his girlfriend, now wife, were “caught” holding hands and they got into trouble for their digression.
Yancey became a journalist. The farther he got from his home base, the more difficulty he had in being a part of church community and even calling himself a Christian. He could not square the teaching that he received in his youth with his experiences in the wider world.
Yet, Yancey remains a Christian. He identifies with conservative evangelical Christianity, but it is not the same kind of experience that he grew up with. Yancey shares with us thirteen people who have served as spiritual guides and kept him rooted in the Christian faith. The list is surprising. As he introduces us to his spiritual guides he explains why each one impacted him.
Martin Luther King Jr. helped him contend against the racism he experienced in church. Mahatma Gandhi, while not a Christian, showed Yancey how Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5-7, The Sermon on the Mount, can be applied to bring about social change. His interaction with Dr. Paul Brand, helped him come to a mature understanding of suffering and pain.
The other spiritual guides are: G.K.Chesterton, Dr. Robert Coles; Leo Tolstoy and Feodor Dostoevsky, Dr. C. Everett Koop, John Donne, Annie Dillard, Frederick Buechner, Shusaku Endo, and Henri Nouwen.
A great and informative read.