Interview with Jamie Arpin-Ricci Author of “The Cost of Community” – Part 5
I’m continuing my interview with Jamie Arpin-Ricci on his recent book The Cost of Community: Jesus, St. Francis and Life in the Kingdom.
JR: Do you have a favorite chapter, if so why or why not?
Jamie: It is hard to say what my favorite chapter is because the Sermon on the Mount is such a cohesive whole. However, there is something to be noted about the Beatitudes. Out of the 111 verses that make up Sermon, the Beatitudes represent only 10 verses. And yet, I gave 4 out of only 12 chapters to explore them. Why? Because they represent the heart of the whole Sermon on the Mount in brief- perhaps even the whole of the gospel in some ways.
Sometimes when we become so familiar with something, it losses it’s power and impact. I think this is try with the Beatitude for many Christians. After all, stop and consider: Do we really think we are blessed in poverty? Or when we mourn? Or when people persecute us? It sounds spiritually noble, but the reality is something different altogether. And thus the Beatitudes give us a powerful glimpse into the upside-down kingdom of God.
JR: As the book has been out for a few months now, how have people been most encouraged?
Jamie: I have been really blessed by the number of emails, phone calls and even visits that this book has produced. However, what has continually surprised me is how many people who are not Christians have loved the book. This was not in any way by design. Yet I’ve had several wonderful letters from people thanking me for helping them see Jesus in a way they had never seen or heard before. It is humbling.
Another recent encounter was encouraging. While at public reading and book signing (a surreal experience in and of itself), I had two gentleman approach me, one after the other. The first was an elderly Catholic man who was part of a small group of Secular Franciscans. He asked if I would come and share with his group about how St. Francis impacts our life and ministry. Then, directly after him a young man approaches with 8 copies of my book. He too would like me to come speak to his group as they do a book study of “The Cost of Community”. This time, however, I was being invited to a Hutterite colony. Talk about diversity! I was so blessed!