I haven’t read your book yet, Living With A Wild God, but I plan to. As a person with a deep interest in the science of exploring the world – both cellular and cosmic – I can’t wait to read your perspective, your experience. But this morning I did read a the brief interview in the New York Times (3/30/14) with you on the book. If is on that I would like to respond.
The quote, “If something has happened that you don’t have the words for, keep thinking.” is one I’ll repeat to many in the future. The majority of “us” have experiences that don’t fit into an easily defined box. Some may be drug induced, others some kind of mental health issue, but many – as I have learned – are spiritual experiences. Moments that cannot be explained without an openness to explore and accept them as purely sacred moments. They need be nothing more than that…a connection to the unknown. I look forward to reading your book to learn your process of accepting.
I would like to point you to Elizabeth J. Andrew’s book “Writing the Sacred Journey: the art and practice of spiritual memoir:. At the very least, it has some good writing prompts.
I also love your answer to Dave Itzkoff’s question: “So none of this brought you to Jesus?” Basically, you said no. I’ll quotes your full answer here as I can’t say it better:
“I’ve spent so many years talking about poverty and economic justice, I’m strongly tempted to get biblical. Jesus’s teachings are so radical, they’re just insanely generous and apocalyptic. Christians become more fascinated by the dead Jesus. They don’t like the living Jesus.”
I get you here too, but instead, I have gotten biblical because Jesus’s teachings are radical and insanely generous. But instead of being one of the Christians that seek notoriety from standing at the cross of Christ – focusing on the dead Jesus, I am one of many that live more quiet life, focusing on the living, breathing, honest and tender Jesus. Not everyone who calls themselves Christian focuses on how to get to Heaven, how to live a sinless life, or goes around judging others. Many of us (Quakers, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, United Methodists, United Church of Christ and Presbyterian Church (USA) – the last of which I am part of, and others too), focus primarily on how to follow God’s call in our individual lives. We actually embrace the living Jesus, focusing on the freedom and justice that dominate his message, rather than the long held white, affluent male interpretations that Christ himself fought against (and are held on to tightly by the white, affluent male dominated churches/denominations – who can’t comprehend that they are white, affluent male dominated churches/denominations).
I have to admit I’m writing this note with a particular bias as I am in ministry Yet I accepted this course because of my curiosity, a curiosity perhaps similar to yours. I wanted to know what “all this was about”. I wanted to know why we do what we do, why we exist, why…, why…, why… And the way I saw to do this was to learn more about what was behind it all…and for Christians, that is God. And that is also why I write…as writing helps me think.
Your sentiment [i]f something has happened that you don’t have the words for, keep thinking”, is the same response the biblical authors’ had. Over the thousands of years, different things happened, and they tried to make sense of it. Out of that making sense, they discovered a “God” that can never be fully explained. To even to attempt to explain “God” is to limit the infinite into finite terms. And some, may I say with limited imaginations and a lot of baggage, end up thinking God is finite…that somehow we can understand either everything about God, or everything God wants us to understand.
But Jesus isn’t that. Jesus spoke in riddle, in story, in words, in action. Jesus himself demonstrated a radical change of course for humankind, but our finite brains and imagination has taken it only so far.
By the way, if in another time and place Jesus might have been a woman – yet I don’t think we are there yet, partly because Jesus was a man.
If you lived in the Twin Cities, I would point you to St. Luke Presbyterian. It is a place many Christians would say isn’t really a church and their members not really Christian. A place that grabs onto the radical living Christ as a life-long challenge rather than a sign-post to escape this world.
I don’t know if you will read this…but at the very least, thank you for helping me keep thinking. And thank you for writing your memoir, and I already know it will be helpful on my own journey (I’ll review it too).
Blessings on wherever your journey goes, Stephanie