I just finished reading "The Shack", which is a novel a pastor friend, an Episcopal priest, suggested I read. Because it is a novel, it's a quick read. The story is centered around a man's life and the abduction and murder of his young daughter. That's a painful topic for any parent or grandparent to read, so I found it difficult. But, the experience of the trinity and the relational theology in the book resonated with me. There were things I loved and found myself resonating with, things that made me weep as the main character faced his own personal need for reconciliation, and things I didn't necessarily like. One of the things that I didn't like was the bad wrap the church got from the trinity - it was as if the church (institutional) was repugnant to them - but the institutional church is made up of all the people that God "is especially fond of' - so I didn't quite get it. The church is like all of creation - in bondage to sin. Does that make it somehow worse than everything outside the church? I've had to go away from the church because of my own judgmentalism just to find myself back in the church with newer understanding and greater appreciation that our congregations are full of hopelessly "saint and sinner" people. We are human and we all have our issues - that was clear in this book as well. Love was an abiding theme throughout the novel and I firmly believe that "Love" is the very essence of God and that we humans have built and perpetuated the systems of law and judgment. I sort of liked that being spelled out in the book. It is certainly a book that I want to "chew on" for awhile - since I just finished reading it this morning. These are just initial perceptions. I'm anxious to get a group together to discuss it. In fact, I am just beginning to put together a Women's Reading Group at church for a monthly discussion of a number of books over time. I love to read and it doesn't matter what type of reading we do - there is theology in it all. Now, if I could just find time for a movie club!
Friday, September 19, 2008
It's funny, that just after I talked about needing to find the time to read I got sick and spent a couple of days at home doing just that! I finished the novel, "Whistling in the Dark" by Leslie Kagan, and I read the Newberry Award winning book, "The Higher Power of Lucky" as well. I have started "The Giver", which is also a Newberry Award winner. I decided to read some of the Newberry books so I could pass them on to my 6th grade granddaughter and we could discuss them when she's gotten them read. What a luxury it has been to curl up and read. I haven't enjoyed the chills, runny nose, cough and general feeling of being run over by a semi however! I have also started an annotated bibliography so I can keep track of the many, many books I read and have a little synopsis of the book so it will spark my memory. This makes my sorting books a bit slower, but I am happy to be doing it. I should of started it years ago! I am also thinking that I will begin a reading group here at church - I already know at least three women who will be a part of it and I'm hoping to attract others. I find so much theology and evidence of God in life as I read, which of course comes out of my own theological perspective. I am a process theologian and believe that God is always active, always drawing us and all creation toward our good and the good of all. I believe God's work in the world is reconcilliation, and that God is always in the midst of all moments of all life. Life is never fully good or bad; it is a mixed bag. I saw a card once that said life is like a piece of music; some high notes, some low notes, but a beautiful melody just the same. I am so thankful for all the moments of my life and ministry!
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Today was filled and I spent the afternoon at home beginning to sort through my books in order to get rid of some. I have boxes of books that until recently were stacked in my garage. I understood as soon as I began going through them why I have so many; I love books and have a hard time letting them go. As I pulled many of the novels I have read out of boxes I felt a struggle with wanting to keep them! So, tonight I began compiling an annotated bibliography to track all the books I am letting go of. I should have began this bibliography years ago because I have read so many books that at times I have purchased a book and realized when I began reading it that I have already read it before. I love books - I have loved books for years. Novels especially - because there is so much reality, so much truth, so much life in the stories that I learn about life from reading. I think people feel more free to express reality in novels than they do in non-fiction. Somehow, non-fiction seems more controlled, or more edited - as if the person writing is telling us what they want us to know rather than telling us the truth. In fiction you can tell the truth - blatantly and bluntly simply because it is called fiction. As a theologian, I love fiction because I see God in all of life, in all relationship, and always in the world working for reconciliation. There is no place, no heart, no life, no part of creation that God is not present. Reading reinforces this for me. I love to read theology, but that's just thinking about God and then writing about what we think. Fiction is writing and then thinking about God in the context of real life. I have been a member of reading groups before and I love them. An opportunity to exchange ideas and thoughts about life and God from the perspective of the things we've read. I haven't had much time to read lately, but I am going to try and get back to reading because of the life and stories it gives me to draw from.