Skip to main content

Dallas, Lessons from San Quentin: A Book Review


Well the idea is good.  Let's tell the story of a high flying real estate entrepeneur who gets into legal trouble and by an unfortunate grilfriend related accident gets sent to the wrong prison and instead of serving his time with all the other white collar criminals ends up in maximum security San Quentin with all the bad boys.  Add a spirtual awakening and a life turn around and surely nothing can go wrong?  John Ortberg even says from the back cover, "Read Bill's story only if you want to risk a changed life."  And Chuck Colson, who wrote the excellent Born Again - a similar story of jailhouse redemption, also endorses with, "A riveting story."  

Bill Dallas definately does have an amazing story, unfortunately the book does not convey it well.  Rather than tell his story the book gives short installments of his story followed by tedious teaching sections where he extrapolates and explicates the life principles he picked up in San Quentin.  Yes, the story of transformation gets totally overwhelmed by the self help book.  The result is that everything is so neat and tidy and so focussed on teaching us "principles" that what should be a riveting story is actually lost and somewhat distorted by smug "do this and you/God will make your life better" type advice.  In the end Dallas' time in San Quentin ends up sounding like a spiritual retreat rather than a traumatic spell in a high security prison.

The book is not without its insights and Dallas' story really is amazing, but overall I would have liked to have the story told better and in more detail and leave the "life lessons" for the reader to figure out on their own.  I didn't like the book, but to show I'm not bitter I'll leave you with a quote I did like:
 San Quentin dislodged my perception of the church as an institution and redefined it as a unified group of sinners who were so thrilled to be accepted by God that they accepted anyone who wanted to join them on the journey.  Their emphasis was on love, not rules; character, not attendence; spiritual fruit, not information retention.  (p60)

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

That one time Jesus got the Bible wrong

It's so typical isn't it? You are preaching all day long, training your disciples, sparring with the Pharisees, encouraging the poor and down trodden, healing the sick and casting out demons, all day, day after day, and even when you go up a mountain to get a rest the crowds hunt you down and follow you up, and then the one time you get a bit muddled up with some of the details of a biblical text . . . that is the one they write down in the first gospel - verbatim. At least Matthew and Luke had the good sense to do some editing. But Mark, he always had his eye on giving the public the "historical Jesus" whoever that is supposed to be . . . warts and all. Thanks a lot Mark!

Some think I made the mistake on purpose, just to show the Pharisees up.

For some there is no mistake worth mentioning, only a slightly ambiguous turn of phrase.

Others think I am doing something tricky with Abiathar's name, getting him to figuratively stand in for the priesthood.

It really has…

Thor Ragnarok and Parihaka: Postcolonial Apocalypse

Thor: Ragnarok is a riot of colour, sound, violence, humour, sci-fi and fantasy. As a piece of entertainment it is the best Marvel has produced so far. As in many of Taika Waititi's films the plot often seems secondary to the humour and a number of quirky moments seemed only to serve for a quick giggle. I left the theatre overwhelmed by the sensory experience, but ultimately unimpressed by any deeper meaning.

It wasn't until the second morning after my trip to the movies that I woke to the realisation that the movie could function as a profound postcolonial metaphor (I do some of my best thinking while alseep, also it can take me a while for the penny to drop). Unfortunately a quick google showed me that I was neither the first, nor the second to have this thought.

[Spoiler Alert!]

It's easy to miss with all the other stuff going on but Thor undergoes a postcolonial awakening during the film as he slowly realises that his beloved Asgard and its dominion of the nine realms …

ANZABS 2018 program and abstracts

ANZABS CONFERENCE 2018
6-7 December, 2018


Venue: Wesley Hall, Trinity Methodist College,

202A St Johns Rd, Meadowbank, Auckland 1072

Thursday 6 December
9.30 am – REGISTRATION
10.00-10.10 – mihi
10.10-11.00 – Keynote speaker: Robert Myles – Fishing for Eyewitnesses in the Fourth Gospel
11.00-11.30 – Morning tea
11.30-12.00 – Lyndon Drake – Economic Capital in the Hebrew Bible
12.00-12.30 – Anne Aalbers – Resurrection and Celibacy: Two Sides of the Same Coin?
12.30-1.00 – Jonathan Robinson – "And he was with the beasts," (Mark 1:13): Ambiguity,
Interpretation and Mark as a Jewish Author
1.00-2.00 – Lunch
2.00-2.30 – Ben Hudson – Ethical Exhortation and the Decalogue in Ephesians
2.30-3.00 – Csilla Saysell – The Servant as 'a covenant of/for people' in Deutero-Isaiah
3.00-3.30 – Afternoon tea
3.30-4.00 – Jacqueline Lloyd – Did Jesus minister in Gaulanitis?
4.00-4.30 – Mark Keown – Jesus as the New Joshua
4.30 – AGM
Friday 7 December
9.30-10.00 – Ben Ong – Pākehā Readin…