It’s funny how some words become commonplace in a community or culture. As a resident of Los Angeles you hear a lot of talk about “sex” and “sushi.” It seems that these are two things that Angelenos highly esteem. So when I came across the book, “Sex, Sushi & Salvation: Thoughts on Intimacy, Community, & Eternity” by Christian George, I knew I must pick it up. Rarely do you see the word “salvation” in the previous word mix, but I knew as a college pastor these are important topics to the community I minister to. People’s worlds often revolve around sex (i.e. intimacy, connection, belonging, love, etc.), sushi (i.e. food, sustenance, community, great conversation, going out) and salvation (i.e. God, Jesus, transcendence, community, eternity, etc.). George says:
Since humans are made in the image of God, we have three basic passions–intimacy, community, and eternity. We burn for them, save for them, pay for them, and pray for them. But only the God who fulfills these desires within Himself can perfectly fulfill them in us. This is a book about sex, sushi, and salvation–a book of snapshots–the ups and downs, the failures and fortunes, the smiles and trials. In these chapters, I retrace my travels around the world, from pagan temples in Greece to Transylvanian mountains in Romania. I confess my lust and love, my struggle with truth, and my quest for Christ.
Fasten your seat belt. It’s going to be a wild ride. And along the way we just might discover that the God who satisfies us with Himself joins us for the journey.
As I was reading the book, and when I reflect back upon it, there are three basic aspects that really stuck out and drew me to it.
- First, George writes from a real narrative perspective. And what I mean by that is that often you get a book that is fairly dry with a lot of concepts and ideas, but there is no overarching narrative to pull the reader into the content. Christian weaves a story that makes you want to turn page after page, and because of this, I think the reader is better able to understand the concepts of intimacy, community and eternity in biblical, practical and earthy terms.
- Second, George really writes from his experiences of traveling. This is not new stylistically for him, as he returns to a successful writing form that he uses in Sacred Travels: Recovering the Ancient Practice of Pilgrimage. Humans love traveling, and it is often in traveling, away from our comforts of home, that we are stretched, challenged, and find ourself leaning more and more on God, dependent on Him for direction. So with the narrative storytelling, the reader will find themselves enjoying different places around the world and how they view intimacy, community, and eternity. And as you read about his travels, I think that you will think back upon your own travels and how these concepts came to life for you.
- Third, George tackles issues that I think are important not only to everyone, but I think ones that are really prevalent to a college, emerging adult stage of life. He is obviously not the first to use the metaphor of journey in relation to our life with God, but I think that this metaphor is a much needed one right now, especially in a culture that is used to immediacy and instant fulfillment.
All of these elements combine for a powerful read, and with only 183 pages I think many will want to read it again. George reminds me of some of the writing Donald Miller has put out recently, especially in its narrative approach to story telling, and with an honesty and vulnerability that I think people are dying for.
I highly recommend this book, so let me leave you with a quote about sushi as I close this post.
Sushi also reflects our search for community. C.S. Lewis once said ‘Friendship arises out of mere companionship when two or more of the companions discover that they have in common some insight or interest or even taste.’ In the 1950’s, boy met girl at soda fountains. Today they meet at sushi bars. According to the National Sushi Society, the number of sushi bars in the United States quintupled from 1988 to 1998 alone, and food trends expert Phil Lembert remarked, ‘Sushi may well be the new pizza.’
Why do we want community–whether at a sushi bar or a ’50s malt shop? Because we burn for belonging. (Just look at a middle school cafeteria when everyone’s finding a seat.) God gave us the desire for community so He alone could satisfy it.