Christian Book Reviews, Author Interviews, Excerpts

Peppermint-Filled Pinatas Reminds Us That People Matter

  • Cheryl Russell Infuze Magazine
  • 2007 21 Jun
<i>Peppermint-Filled Pinatas</i> Reminds Us That People Matter

Author:  Eric Michael Bryant
Title:  Peppermint-Filled Piñatas
Publisher: Zondervan

Odds are no matter where you live, the world around you is becoming more diverse. No longer do your neighbors or the kids in your children's school look, act, and believe the same way you do. Social mores have changed, catching a great deal of the church off guard. The response of many is to circle the wagons and hunker down in a fight for survival.

But is that the only way, or even the right way, to react to those different from us?

No, according to Eric Michael Bryant, author of Peppermint-Filled Piñatas and staff leader at Mosaic, an L.A. church known for its diversity. Through humor and personal stories he reintroduces a better way, one originally set forth by a carpenter over two thousand years ago. People matter. Not as projects to be converted, but as individuals important and unique in their own right.

Eric's first example is a Japanese man named Masayoshi. In the States to attend college, he jumped at the chance to make friends with international students who invited him to dinner. Once he found out they were Christians, he was intrigued and wanted to find out why these strangers seemed to care about him. Those relationships did what missionaries have struggled to do in Japan for years with little success.

Masayoshi wasn't belittled for his beliefs or his culture. Instead he was treated with respect and genuine feelings and that is what impacted his heart.

That is just one example of this new, yet ancient, way to approach others. Love is the strongest apologetic there is, but one that has been buried under programs and rules. Ways that will no longer work, nor should they work, in this more diverse world.

But this new, yet old, way of relationships takes time and risk. Not everyone will respond to an offer of friendship in a positive way. Risk is taken every time someone takes a step out of their comfort zone and exposes themselves to those around them. Hurt is a real possibility when dealing with others and most of us would rather stay within our own little circles where safety is assured. (or so we think)

Eric knows of what he speaks. As a "BWG" (bald white guy) in LA he's received his share of judgment and criticism based on nothing more than his looks and others' assumptions. But those experiences haven't made him bitter or cynical. Peppermint-Filled Piñatas is a book that presents ideas in a humorous and thoughtful way, without coming across as preachy or heavy-handed. It does meander off on rabbit trails here and there, but those trails eventually find there way back to the main path.

Even though Peppermint-Filled Piñatas is written from an urban point of view, it has applications for those living outside the urban environment. Diversity has a wide reach and no one is immune to its touch. Eric Michael Bryant does a great job of showing how to reach out to those different from ourselves in a respectful and loving way. A book that should be read by anyone longing to "fulfill the vision Jesus had for us from the beginning." This is a book that will find a home on my keeper shelf.

© 2007 Infuze Magazine
.  All rights reserved.  Used with permission.