Kissing Fish: Christianity for people who don’t like Christianity – Roger Wolsey

Kissing FishRoger Wolsey has written a scholarly yet thoroughly accessible treatise of progressive Christianity. While the intended target audience for this work would seem to be those who have  either left the Christian faith or never adopted it at all; the work is filled with pearls of wisdom for all of us, whether associated with Christianity or not. Kissing Fish is truly a remarkable work, serving both as a reminder of the beauty and grace that form the central tenets of the faith, while offering a graceful yet prophetic rebuttal to its more exclusionary tendencies. 

Roger McClellan, co-founder Progressive Christian Alliance
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Roger Wolsey has bitten off a big chunk to chew on: a thorough comparison and contrasting of what is typically called “progressive” Christianity with more well-known forms of Christian expression, typically called “conservative evangelicalism” and “fundamentalism.” In doing so, he exhibits great ambition and it is left to the reader to determine whether or not that ambition has been fulfilled.

What makes Kissing Fish attractive is not so much Wolsey’s theological compare and contrast as it is his weaving throughout the whole work his own spiritual journey. After all, that is the story. It’s not an academic tome, though it brushes up against that. Neither is it a philosophical/theological apologia for Wolsey’s understanding of “progressive” Christianity. Rather, it is story; it is narrative; it is the journey of a young man who begins his story with the profound admission: “I probably shouldn’t be a Christian.” It is the journey of a young man, who being raised in typically mainline Protestantism, who is trying to construct his faith in the shadow of societal and cultural change, a change greatly informed by postmodernist thinking.

In the end, Wolsey views “progressive” forms of Christian thinking and being as the genuinely “conservative” ones; to wit, reaching back to the earliest Christian origins (pre-Constantine) to find itself.

While I might not share all of Wolsey’s conclusions and characterizations (after all, I am an old man now at this writing and not in his target audience of Gen-Xers or Millennials), this is a thought-provoking, insightful work and we should all be grateful for his insight and his journey. Read it!

The Revd. David R. Gillespie, Progressive Christian Alliance Minister
Director of Sacred Journeys: Pastoral Care & Spiritual Direction, Christ the King Lutheran Church, Greenville, SC

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2 Comments
  1. Great reviews of a great book! I’ve read Kissing Fish and thoroughly enjoyed it. Roger really does speak to a broad audience of young (and young-at-heart) folks who are searching for a tolerant, non-judgmental Christian community and way of life. He provides a firm foundation for understanding the Bible, and then goes on to address “practical” aspects of faith, such as what it means to love those around us. The last chapters–on spiritual practices and social justice–move from the personal to the communal, reminding us that Christianity is about *relationship* between God, ourselves, and all the people who share this world with us.

  2. Kissing Fish is a remarkable book: well researched with helpful footnotes; well written, and extremely readable. Regardless of your knowledge of progressive Christianity, there is something valuable for you in this powerful work. Roger has created a highly organized and comprehensive description of a faith journey and practice that replaces literalism with logic and judgment with love. Kissing Fish is a vital roadmap for following the Way of Jesus in the 21st century.

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