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Wide Open Spaces: Beyond Paint Paperback – December 4, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
With Divine Nobodies, emerging church leader Palmer touched a nerve with readers who gravitate toward cutting-edge evangelical writers like Brian McLaren and Donald Miller. Similarly, this book employs a personal, homespun style to dissent from Christianity-as-usual. Palmer examines such spiritual disciplines as honing one's belief system in accordance with biblical principles; advancing the gospel outside of church walls; dismantling ineffective church practices; and discovering purpose in unexpected places. He might raise the hackles of some evangelicals with a confessional narrative of putting aside the Bible for a season, recognizing that it was at the center of ...a religion that had left [him] empty, exhausted, and disillusioned. Palmer shed this conventional religion as he purposefully tuned out preachers and others quoting or referring to it, and writes that the result was that God spoke to him through nature, people, art, film and music. Palmer might be termed a renegade, but most young evangelicals will see him as a rebel with a cause and a message worth considering. (Dec. 4)
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About the Author
Jim Palmer has a Master of Divinity degree and was a successful Senior Pastor before he left institutional church and organized religion to explore new dimensions of his relationship with God. Since 2005 he has been chronicling his journey beginning with Divine Nobodies: Shedding Religion to Find God (and the unlikely people who help you), and then Wide Open Spaces: Beyond Paint-by-Number Christianity. His most previous book is, Being Jesus in Nashville: Finding the Courage to Live Your Life (whoever and wherever you are).
After leaving church ministry Jim led a non-profit agency for at-risk kids, and later served as the U.S. Director of Education for International Justice Mission, an international human rights organization based in Washington, D.C. In addition to writing, Jim is an adjunct professor of religion and ethics. He offers spiritual direction and coaching, and leads non-religious spirituality retreats and workshops. His current focus is The Religion-Free Bible Project, an endeavor of recreating the Bible in a voice that is free from religious bias, and free to fully express its profound and inclusive message for all humankind.
Jim and his family reside in Nashville, Tennessee.
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Top customer reviews
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I'm someone who is comforted by the discipline of church-going, and yet sometimes struggles to connect with God on a visceral level. Jim's writings give me a sense of sunlight burning off fog, or someone in deep woods who pulls back entangling vines and branches. Suddenly what was always there is taking shape ahead and around me, and I can see more clearly.
Jim's honest sharing of his own life experiences make him seem more a companion than a guide or preacher. Still, when he applies his dailyness, quirky humor, and perhaps slightly skewed perspective, he helps me find my way to the Divine. And that's a pretty great job for a few paperbacks.
Even before they're augmented by Facebook.
Wide Open Spaces is packed with wisdom and practical examples of how the Kingdom of God is real to us here today. As Palmer indicates, we miss so much by glossing over people, situations, and even words in the Bible, based on our concrete, preconceived notions.
Palmer doesn't offer palliatives or platitudes, but shows us in viable ways, according to the time we live in now, how to go beyond the constraints of the physical and material, to the unlimited possibilities of the spiritual... and then... how to apply that to being and living in the "Kingdom" now, here, with our brothers and sisters.
Jim Palmer isn't a "paint-by-number" guy or author. He is like a modern day St. Paul - out among people on the street and on the web, sharing his journey and ours with Spirit and Love. He is real, he is one of us, and he is doing the work thus describing to us how true transformation can occur. He says "It is one thing to feel love and peace within you; it is another thing to be these in the world"
Wide Open Spaces doesn't tell me how to achieve Nirvana, or how to be a good person all of the time, nor does it tell me how I should vote. It does tell me I can be, as Palmer says, a "little Christ", and my transformation is one step at a time, as is for this world, one little Christ at a time.
I don't disagree with him in this book, and I appreciate his willingness to say hard things and ask hard questions, but I just prefer books with more depth and content. I could never connect with what Jim was writing or how he was writing it. He tells lots of stories. Many people love that in books. I don't.