I read Neighbors and Wise Men by Tony Kriz a few months ago but it’s been coming back to my mind so I wanted to write a few thoughts about it.
First, Neighbors and Wise Men has a vibe similar to that of Blue Like Jazz – partially due to the writing, partially due to the book’s setting and environment, partially because of the pipes and the beer, and partially due to the relational and literary connection between Donald Miller and Tony Kriz (the front cover of Tony’s book reveals his “Tony the Beat Poet” Blue Like Jazz alter-ego.
Second, Neighbors and Wise Men could be described as relational theology (I don’t mean that in the technical sense linked to process theology but in the sense that the book’s theology develops through relationships and conversations). This isn’t as scary as some Christian bloggers or radio hosts would have you think. The idea is not that theology, doctrine, Scripture, etc. takes a second seat, but simply that it means nothing outside of relationships and that it must be, in part, shaped by relationships.
Third, Neighbors and Wise Men is a series of stories, memories, and characters artfully woven together. It’s neither fluffy nor dense, but it is fun and enjoyable to read.
Fourth, Neighbors and Wise Men gets the importance of place and neighborhood. Tony writes:
The people make the parish. They are our neighbors.
As we walk through our place, we are trying to follow Jesus’ lead. As near as we can tell, that is the best summary of what Jesus asked of us: “Follow me.” So that is what we are trying to do. In following his lead, within our neighborhood, we are being spiritually formed.
It’s simple and it’s good. Worth checking out.