While spending May on board a YWAM Australia medical ship with 100 other volunteers in the Milne Bay (PNG) island villages, having no TV or internet, I managed to read several books. This one was a real joy as it helped me place the work of the doctors, dentists, opticians, nurses, pediatricians, general volunteers and crew in a context of being ‘agents of love’. As the oldest volunteer on board and feeling the oppressive heat and humidity, I do not deserve this accolade but witnessed much of what the book described in the people around me.
Then he said to the crowd: “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me”…. Jesus of Nazareth.
The author, Kurt Struckmeyer, dedicated this work to his grandchildren with the request that
May you work toward a better world where children no longer weep from poverty and hunger, where they no longer live in fear from violence, and where they are taught kindness.
If ever a country needed liberating from poverty, sickness, poor government and hunger it is Papua New Guinea. PNG is listed at the bottom of the World Health Organisations scale.
Struckmeyer is, like many of us, on a journey of transformation and non-conformity to this world (Romans 12:2). He was greatly influenced by Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship and early in life took up a stance of non-violence and unconditional love that he saw manifested in Jesus teaching. His thinking was furthered informed by Harvey Cox, Hans Kung, William Stringfellow and Clarence Jordan. He set himself the challenge to find a contemporary life of faith that followed the radical nature of the gospel. He has not found this very often in the church and he is “deeply disappointed by the church’s passionless and feeble response to the dramatic social changes of the postmodern world.” So he has looked more closely at the teachings of Jesus than than the mission and message of the church.
In the 1990s he participated in weekend retreats with Marcus Borg, John Dominic Crossan, and Walter Wink and followed this with the Jesus Seminar conference in California.
He makes the point that his experience has taught him to say with confidence that following the radical teachings of Jesus is not central to religious life in most congregations in America. Like Ghandi he says that following Jesus is not just for Christians, and this is what I experienced on the medical ship where conservative, liberal and non Christians were working on a Jesus agenda together.
This book Conspiracy of Love offers many different people – those who remain in the church, those who dwell on its margins, those who have left, and those who have never ventured near – with a life of faith that is both intelligent and passionate.
I picked up my copy as a Kindle audio book but it is also available in hard cover or soft cover from Amazon.