Chapter 1: Down is Up
Here the author discusses prayer and how this can be used to start up and motivate a group of people and get them into the religous feel. It is an interesting start to the book and provides the ideal background for such a spiritual occasion as prayer. As an introduction it is fine and sets the stage for what is to follow quite nicely. I find it interesting as it is compelling and direct.
Chapter 2: Mountain Politics
Here we have a summary on Old Testament history which is pretty deep and spiritual. Although some of the arguments Kraybill use may be slightly outdated, the pieces on Jesus Chrit’s counter arguments are interesting and very revealing. I find the history intriguing yet at times pedantic as there is too much focus on historical detail occasionally and this makes reading slightly tedious.
Chapter 3: Temple Piety
This chapter focuses on the state of the Hebrew religion and its innate conservatism and resistance to change before the coming of Christ. It explains the relationship between Saducees and Pharisees and the structures of the Jewish faith. However the main counter argument is the message of Jesus Christ who worked to overturn this status quo and how he succeeded. It is also a very intriguing chapter and Kraybill’s arguments are quite convincing especially when it comes to Christ’s teachings. To me, Christ’s attitude on the intricacies in the Jewish faith is very compelling.
Chapter 4: Wilderness Bread
In this chapter, Kraybill focuses extensively on the philosophical question whether Jesus is really the bread of life and how we approach this strong statement with faith and belief. It is indeed a powerful argument on all counts yet the author also leaves some important questions unanswered such as the innate spirituality of the communion process. I found this chapter very deep and revealing although it did leave me with some doubts on the actual outcome of everything.
Chapter 5: Free Slaves
This chapter deals extensively with social upheaval and how it affected Jews and gentiles but also offers a number of parallels with the days and ages of our times. It explains the effect of progress on certain religious aspects and is also pretty deep on how these can ruin one’s lives if the moral aspect is taken out of the equation. I found this chapter interesting although I did not agree totally with what was espoused for various personal reasons but principally due to the fact that Kraybill is slightly too rigid on certain philosophical questions.
Chapter 6: Luxurious poverty
In this chapter, Kraybill focuses on what can be termed as material poverty and the contrast with spiritual poverty. Obviously he focuses extensively on the latter description of poverty as persons can be materially rich but desperately poor spiritually. It is an age old argument which is not often understood but which is rather obvious in this day and age. I found it perhaps the most interesting and revealing chapter of the book especially after reading Jesus Christ’s reflections on spiritual poverty.
Chapter 7: Right-Side-Up Detours
In this chapter, Kraybill continues where he left off in the previous one focusing on the philosophy where those who cannot help themselves do not deserve any assistance. He counters this argument with Christ’s compassion and feeling for the poor and destitute which is rather compelling. I found this chapter powerful and very hard hitting as it castigates all those who are insensitive and selfish towards those who are more unfortunate than them.
Chapter 8: Impious Piety
Here Kraybill focuses on the hypocrisy and double faced attitude of the Pharisees who are consistently criticising others while they are rotten to the core. He reflects on their weilding of temporal power over their flock and their greed and selfishness which can also be seen perhaps today. He counters this with Christ’s dismantling of this hypocrisy by love and even anger at some point. I found this chapter compelling and well thought out and really have no qualms about it at all.
Chapter 9: Lovable Enemies
This chapter is centred on the theme of love thy enemey. It is another powerful piece of writing and perahps if it is hard to put into practise, one can only admire the philosophy behind Christ’s realistic teachings. The Good Samaritan parable is described in detail and is also analzed compelling providing some intriguing points for discussion. I found the chapter very compelling and challenging especially due to the rather powerful text.
Chapter 10: Inside Outsiders
This is an interesting and intriguing chapter on people who are deemed as outcsats and outsiders and how Christ spent his time with them and created social acceptance for them. It provides an interesting parallel with today and our perception of the poor and the social outcast and how these are treated by our materialistic and money driven society. I found it very readable and it also provided me with several interesting points of reflection.
Chapter 11: Low is High
Here we have some reflections on how people can recover from a low and depressing period in their life by praying and finding God again. It is a very personal chapter as it deals with the depth of despair and unhappiness and how one can recover from such a low situation. I found the chapter extremely emotional and compelling as i could also relate personally to some of the experiences related and how prayer can be used to gain a state of exalted happiness once again. It is always important to rise after a fall and Kraybill cites various examples where Christ has been instrumental in inspiring people who have had great personal problems but have overcome them with strong willpower.
Chapter 12: Successful failures
In this final chapter, the author draws on all the other chapters and wounds up his arguments through Christ’s inimatble teachings. He tells how we if we deem ourselves as failures, we can still become a success. It is a lovely end to a formidable book which is one of the high points of Christian writing and a motivator for millions in all aspects. All in all the book is a fantastic read and I found it to be quite a revelation. Naturally there might be differing opinions on how Kraybill approaches certain subjects but the book is still extremely revealing and quite arresting in various parts of it. However it is really a good read and a page turner and is probably one of the great classics of the genre.
Kraybill, Donald B. The Upside-Down Kingdom. 25th Anniversary ed. Scottdale PA:herald Press, 2003