The book focuses on two groups of Jesus’ messages. One group comprises those sayings which make it hard to be a Christian. The other includes those which seemingly make it easy.
The “hard” or “tough” sayings of Jesus sere and scorch, challenge and demand. They call us to accountability, responsibility, and action. These are the sayings of the Sermon on the Mount, to the Rich Young Ruler, to the adulteress about to be stoned. These are sayings G. K. Chesterton was possibly recalling when he said, “Christianity, even when watered down, is hot enough to boil all of society to rags.” These sayings do not let us off the hook.
The easy sayings seem to contradict and counter the hard sayings. I wish he hadn’t said them because they confuse and allow us wiggle room with the hard sayings. They let us off the hook from spiritual, ethical, and moral obligations. They are susceptible to misinterpretation and more vulnerable to exploitation for personal, or national, agendas. They are easily ripped from context, manipulated, and distorted to allow excuses for behavior denounced in Jesus’ tough sayings. Some examples are “I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34), “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town” (Matthew 10:11-15), and “the poor you will always have with you” (Matthew 26:11)
About the Author
Joe Edd Morris was born in New Albany, Mississippi (birthplace of William Faulkner). Morris’s poetry and short fiction have appeared in the following literary journals: CHATTAHOOCHEE REVIEW, SOUTH DAKOTA REVIEW, CONCHO RIVER REVIEW, APPALACHIAN HERITAGE, BAYOU REVIEW, DELTA REVIEW AND THE POET. His novel, Land Where My Fathers Died, a semi-finalist in the 1998 Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Prizes for Fiction, was published spring, 2002. It was nominated for the Southeastern Booksellers Association Best Book of the Year, Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Best Fiction of 2002 and was awarded Best Fiction of 2003 by the Mississippi Library Association. It was also featured in ESQUIRE as one of the top reads of that summer. The past several years he has won first place in the William Faulkner Short Story Contest. More recently, his short fiction has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.
In addition to poetry and fiction, a non-fiction work, Revival of the Gnostic Heresy: Fundamentalism, was published December, 2008 by Palgrave -MacMillan. Morris has also published professionally in journals of psychology and theology and a book entitled Systematic Jury Selection: A Practical Approach.