“Our conversion stories can be revealing. How we first came to know God shows much about ourselves, about God, about grace, about mystery and happenstance. But perhaps even more is revealed when we ask one another the question, Why are you a Christian this week? Why are you still a Christian? Why are you a Christian today? ”—Lauren Winner, “Why I Am [Still] A Christian” in RELEVANT Magazine
“But we must ask this question: What if we are not going anywhere? What if we are simply living and growing within an ever-deepening cycle of rhythms, perhaps getting wiser, perhaps learning to be kind, and hopefully passing whatever we have learned to our children? What if our life, roughhewn from the stuff of creation, orbits around a God who never ceases new beginnings? What if our life is simply a time when we are blessed with both sadness and joy, health and disease, courage and fear—and all the while we work, pray, and love, knowing that the promised land we seek is already present in the very gift of life itself, the inestimable privilege of a human birth? What if this single human life is itself the jewel in the lotus, the treasure hidden in the field, the pearl of great price? What if all the way to heaven is heaven?”—Wayne Muller, Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives
Well— I finally listened to the audio feedback from Dan Allender on my Family of Origin paper.
His final words to me: the goodness of love frees the heart.
I wonder, what am I to do with such words? Not just the aforementioned words, but all the words he shared in that 6-8 minute mp3 file. I hate that it is assumed in his classes by he and the assistant instructor that I want to be a therapist, because I certainly do not. In many ways, I hate the papers I’ve written him and hate the words he’s shared with me. Had they not been written, or never read, no further action on my part would be expected. Fortunately—I think—that is not the case. I’m too involved now. I know too much now. And so the question remains, what am I to do with such words?
Afterwards, I sipped my coffee and opened a book. Without doubt, I read the following excerpt differently as a result of having just listened to Allender’s words to me. Books have a way of doing that; being read differently, or speaking in a way that is perhaps vastly independent from the authors intentions. Even so, I suppose the reminder was necessary.
And our love might have healed a few, or at least healed ourselves. Love and closeness is funny like that. It cancels, after a time, the falseness of “image.” Get close enough to somebody and his or her halo slips—not because they’re bad, but because they’re mortal.
“True religion helps us to grow, but pseudo-religion hinders growth, for it creates and maintains obstacles and barriers. Thus it is that much religion merely censors experience and does not liberate it, stifles human potential and does not allow it to blossom. Much religion is superficial and does not help the journey inwards, which is so necessary to spiritual health. There has to be a movement toward the still center, the depths of our being, there, according to the mystics, we find the presence of God.”—Kenneth Leech
“Derrida asks with Augustine (Conf. 10:6-7). What do I love when I love my God? What do I desire when I desire God? What is the event of desire that takes place in me, that makes its place in me, here in this place where I say “I.” What is the event of desire, which is always the desire for the event, that occurs in theology?”—John D. Caputo, After the Death of God
“Literature and theology are places where we dream of what is coming, where we pray and weep for something that eye has not yet beheld nor ear heard, where we venture upon the plane of what does not exist and wonder indeed why not. I think that on the whole such inexistence constitutes a very upbeat and affirmative definition of theology; every genuine affirmation of God must pass through a dark night and mandatory atheism.”—John D. Caputo, After the Death of God
“As Christ states: “When two or more of you are gathered in my name,” (I cannot help but wonder whether, when Christ says in “my name,” he might just as well mean charity), “I am with them.” Charity is the presence of God. It is difficult to imagine that at the end some will be dammed because they are Buddhist and others Muslims, etc. I say, on the contrary, that we will be damned—or more precisely, we damn ourselves on earth—when we clash against one another, each believing that they have the one true god… The truth that shall set us free is true precisely because it frees us. If it does not free us, we ought to throw it away.”—John D. Caputo, Gianni Vattimo, and Jeffrey W. Robbins, After the Death of God
“Altogether, I think we ought to read only books that bite and sting us. If the book we are reading doesn’t shake us awake like a blow to the skull, why bother reading it in the first place? So that it can make us happy, as you put it? Good God, we’d be just as happy if we had no books at all; books that make us happy we could, in a pinch, also write ourselves. What we need are books that hit us like a most painful misfortune, like the death of someone we loved more than we love ourselves, that make use feel as though we had been banished to the woods, far from any human presence, like suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. That is what I believe.”—Franz Kafka