22 June, 2007

A Very Non-Presbyterian Thought: girl meets GOD.

Time away from the seminary gives me the opportunity to catch up with current evangelical Christianity. It gives me the chance to read what others are reading. When I say others, I mean people who are not reading Church Fathers, Medieval Mystics, Reformers, or Puritans. I mean the people that live in the real world and deal with day-to-realities that seminarians and pastors tend to forget. I get a chance to read what the people in the trenches of reality are reading.

This week I read girl meets God by Lauren Winner. This book is not new, it was published in 2003, but it is fresh and still being read by many college students and many non-Christians. Winner is a winner. She speaks of her conversion from an Orthodox Jew to a High Church evangelical.

I would not agree with all of Winner's theology, but as you read you can sense that she is working out her faith. She struggles with sin, she is a poor witness, she is a bad friend, she is a hypocrite at times. Lauren Winners is you and me. There is so much that real Christians struggle with here. There is so much that we, in the Reformed community are afraid to admit and to discuss. She doubts, she fears, she questions her faith. But she also prays with friends, attempts to think through her faith, attempts to live unto the glory of Christ.

Take a couple of days and read this book. There are so many touch points that can be used for discussion with the greater evangelical community and those who are not Christians. This book is also somewhat racy at times as Winner discusses her sins and areas that are less than sanctified. I imagine that is why Random House is her publisher and not Zondervan or Baker. Winner also has great glasses which make it all worth while.. for me at least!

On being more sophisticated than her other church members:

I would answer in the affirmative because I would look around All Angel's [Church] at the motley crew of Christians, some of whom buy clothes at Wal-Mart and some of whom wear Vera Wang, and I know that these people are my people, polyester, Amy Grant, and all. p106.

On the superficial nature of her relationship with her unconverted father:

So we don't talk much about church or God or prayer. And when we talk about other things, a creeping superficiality marks our conversations. I tell him about the papers I am writing for school, but I don't speak about vocation. I tell him about decisions I make, but I never speak about prayerfully discerning God's will for my life. I tell him about buying a new desk. I do not tell him about all the ways I am slowly turning into the person God wants me to become. p109.

On evangelism:

Evangelizing, if it means handing out tracts, is not something I do. I don't ever swing my arm around a friend's shoulder, look meaningful into her eyes and ask, "Susie, if you were hit by a bus tomorrow, would you go to heaven?" When I come face-to-face with Jesus' commission to the disciples- go and spread the word around the world- I wince, for I know I am not even spreading it around Morningside Heights. p120.

On prayer:

I have a hard time praying. It usually feels like a waste of time. It feels unproductive; my time would be better spent writing a paragraph or reading a book or practicing a conjugation or baking a pie. Sometimes whole weeks elapse when I bother to hardly pray at all, because prayer is boring; because it feels silly; but above all because it is unproductive... Still there are weeks when I do pray, the weeks when I trust- or, at least manage to act like I trust- that prayer does something, even if it is something I cannot see. Aquinas wrote, "Prayer is profitable because it makes us familiars with God." I like that language... Then Aquinas quoted Psalm 140, "Let my prayers be directed as incense in thy sight." p135.

On an ex-boyfriend getting married:

I am a mean petty person, and a terrible Christian to boot, and I spend all weekend hoping that Steven and his bride will be miserable, that his brilliant dissertation will turn to straw... and he will be stuck in a loveless marriage in the godforsaken town in Arkansas for the rest of his natural life. I hope too, that she is not a Christian, that she will lead him down a path of sin and restlessness... p141.

On the English Church historian, Venerable Bede:

That prayer is why I love Bede. Because he knew that knowledge and books were just a nice way to fill the time until he came to dwell with Jesus. p201.

On Confessing sins to one-another:

The Lord has put away all your sins. I think that the language is perfect, God folding my sins neatly and putting them in the dresser drawer next to the sweaters and the turtlenecks and the socks. It means the God who worries about our sins is not only God the judge, but also God the caretaker. He worries about sin because he craves righteousness, but also simply because he loves us. p211.


Joy said...

Nate - I read that book last year and truly appreciated the things she had to say. What other books are on your list for this summer?

Droll said...

High Church evangelical?
An anglican? Reformed Episcopalian?