Friday, December 26, 2008

So continuing on... that skepticism, that unwillingness to accept answers that are a bit too easy, is where I've been for the past several months. It's an odd sort of no man's land. I think of it as being in abeyance (I love that word). I have, on the one hand, a set of experiences with spirituality that I can't ignore. I have a number of ideas and opinions, some of which line up with a traditional religious system and some of which don't, that I use to explain those experiences to myself. But sometimes when I hear someone express their own opinions on these topics (as Young does in The Shack), I realize how silly it is to claim with any degree of authority at all that I know what's going on out there in the universe.

And it's part of my problem with The Shack, to be honest. Where does he get the nerve to speak for God? Isn't that really what he's doing, by imagining how God would respond to Mack's questions? How does he have that chutzpah? It partly makes me angry that he would even try; but it also makes me a bit envious. Last year, in my nano novel, my original plan was that the main character, a young woman in her twenties, would have extremely vivid dreams about being a follower of Jesus during his three years of ministry on earth. The narrative would alternate between her normal, everyday life and the dreams that she was having every night. But it completely stalled out because I couldn't do exactly what Young does-- I couldn't speak for Jesus. I could imagine the situation and the plot outline and where I thought it was going, but when it came right down to writing an encounter between the main character and Jesus, I couldn't do it. So whatever chutzpah it takes to do this, I don't have it. And maybe don't want to have it.

and round and round on the spiral of spiritual growth we go.... and I find myself back again at the place where I realize that in honoring one side of my experience (the skepticism and cynicism), I've moved too far toward that pole and neglected the spiritual side. And for that reminder, I am grateful to Mr. Young, as irritating as I found this book at times.

I'm not at all sure that these three posts say what I was trying to say. Usually I spend quite a bit of time polishing them up before I am ready to leave them alone. but it won't happen this time since we're leaving to go out of town in the morning and I'm about to fall asleep at the keyboard here. So if anybody reads them between now and the time when I get back and have time to edit them, my apologies for murkiness.

off to frolic in the sun (I hope)


  1. Welcome Back - Aunt Bea

    The thing that makes your blog worth watching is the tenacity with which you approach the big questions, and the integrity with which you avoid the easy answers - easy answers on either the faithful or the skeptical end of the spectrum.

  2. You inspired me to read The Shack which I had, up to this point, resisted because these "in" books among "christians" tend to leave me cold. I found The Shack was interesting because the author used God to articulate (pretty clearly, in most cases) my theological beliefs.

    In fact, the author (using Jesus as his speaker) made one really good point: to be redeemed by God is to learn to "live loved" (p. 175 - In the Belly of the Beast chapter). One of the most humbling and validating things in my life is being truly loved for who I am - not who I think I am, or who I am planning or trying to be, but just the person that I actually am. And there is probably only one, maybe two, people who know me well enough to really love ME.

    The people I know who are truly miserable have never had the courage to let go and be loved. Most of them have good excuses based on past experiences. But it makes me sad and angry at the same time to watch these miserable folks refuse to be loved -- they take everything that is offered to them as something they have somehow earned or "deserved". This kind of loving always has its roots in God/Goodness because it refuses to be sidetracked by hurts and failures. And IMO that kind of love comes from a source that is greater than I am.

    Having said that, I find the whole quasi-fictional set-up hokey. It is convincing only to those who want to be convinced. The character Mack raises questions - but he doesn't really QUESTION God. The light always goes on for him way to quickly.

  3. I was going to lead off with "Why aren't you blogging about this, it would be much more interesting than my terminal indecision" when I went and checked your blog and discovered that you are. So cool. Keep it up.

    Don't know if you caught that I never actually articulated what it was about the Shack that I found worthwhile, and I confess that was pure puny-ness on my part. Part of me, a part I'm not proud of, just doesn't want to acknowledge any good out of something so hokey, as you so aptly put it. Plus, now it's been three weeks since I read it (including a gloriously mind-blotting week at the beach), so I would have to get it out and re-read it, which would involve going out and buying a copy, since I already returned it to the friend I borrowed it from. But I think you hit on it, anyway. More on this later. Also, as an aside that's totally unrelated to this, a post on the Lewis Smedes book is coming up, too, which technically will have to go on the 2009 reading list since I haven't actually finished it yet, for reasons to be explained. Which sounds like I'm really building up suspense for what will probably be a pretty mundane post, but anyway.