The signs of decline are everywhere in the American church. Instead of finding blame in other places, the author asks “What if God is dismantling the church?” For Kanagy, the decline of the church is ironically the work of God, taking apart the institutionalized church as we know it. Why so? In order to once again reveal the core of Christian faith: Jesus. About four years ago Kanagy learned that he had Parkinson’s disease. This difficult but liberating experience brought a personal dismantling that transformed his life. The Parkinson’s dismantling gave Kanagy the courage, the guts, and the grit to strip off his masks and speak the truth. It empowered him to say and write things that most of us might think but would never say. Setting aside his inhibitions, freed him to reveal his innermost thoughts and struggles. These essays mingle the voice of a prophet, the eye of a sociologist, the heart of a pastor, the wisdom of an educator, and above all the candid confessions of a child of God. Whatever your identities—religious, skeptic, political, racial, gender, class—you will find his essays provocative. His unvarnished honesty and his picturesque language are refreshing. Kanagy invites us to see things in new ways that jolt our spiritual complacency. You may not agree with him on every point, but you will admire his courage to say it as he sees it. He may stir your ire or light your fire, annoy you or compel you to compassion. Prophetic voices do that. But you will keep on reading. His poignant stories, evocative phrases, and frank confessions will entice you to read on and on to the very last line. (226pp. Masthof Press, 2021.) This is the first in a series of four books to be released this Fall that emerged from a podcast that the author developed during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Conrad L. Kanagy is professor of sociology at Elizabethtown College (PA) and a Mennonite USA pastor