Week 6: Plotting Goodness

BibleStoryline-CallingFor this week’s after-dinner family Bible conversation, we are doing Chapter 6, Plotting Goodness, from Brian McLaren’s We Make the Road by Walking.

SIDE NOTE:  When we talk about this week’s texts, we are being careful to talk about “Abraham & Sarah” instead of just “Abraham.”  It’s a small step toward raising the visibility of the non-male protagonists of our stories.

1. As we’re finishing dinner
, we warm up with some Rich Mullins.  “Sometimes by Step” is a gorgeous song, and it gets into Abraham a bit:


2. We read the night’s texts out loud together, taking turns with each paragraph.  The Galatians and Mark texts don’t have any YouTube vids worth watching, so we’re just reading these the old-fashioned way:  Galatians 3.6-9;  Mark 11.15-19;  Genesis 12.1-9.


3. We watch a set of videos about Abraham and Sarah, being called by God to do something (Field of Dreams) and being blessed to be a blessing (Pay it Forward).


4. I give a short talk:

Ancient people saw everything in the world as being controlled by invisible beings called gods.  And if you wanted to control some force of nature, you would go to the temple of that god and offer a sacrifice.  The idea is that you do a favor for this god, and that god might do a favor for you.  So this is probably how Abraham and Sarah saw things:

As mentioned in my previous post, “Models, not Morals,” from here on we will be incorporating the visual language of Systems Thinking to talk about these texts as models of reality.

The rolling snowball in the middle of the loop tells us there’s a “snowball effect” here — The more sacrifices you give God, the more God blesses you, and the more wealth you have available to give sacrifices to God, and it continues spiraling from there.  That’s how the “sacrifice” idea worked.

But when Yahweh started working with Abraham and Sarah, Yahweh had a different kind of idea: CLD-Covenant

Yahweh doesn’t care about sacrifices; Yahweh just wants to bless the world.  That’s why Abraham and Sarah get blessed, so that they and all their descendents (including us!) can be a blessing to the world.

What are some of the ways our family tries to bless people who can’t pay us back?

5. We have a family conversation about it all. We use the discussion questions at the end of the chapter as a guide, but we try to let the conversation range pretty freely.



  • THE BIBLE MINISERIES from the History Channel is a favorite in our house, and episode 1 spends more than half an hour on Abraham, and does it pretty well.  I particularly liked how they handled the Sacrificing Isaac scene.  The whole miniseries is available for free streaming if you have Netflix.


  • More videos.  1). Shane Claiborne’s Wall Street Money Drop.  2). The story of how the Buddha left his life of privilege has some parallels to Abraham and Sarah. 3). A song from Sarah’s perspective from our friends at G-dcast.  4). Another telling of the Abraham/Sarah story, from the Jesus Storybook Bible.  5). A feature-length film about the life of Abraham.  Haven’t watched it all myself, but it looks neat.

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