Wednesdays with Words: Getting Started

Welcome to the new WWW!

I’m so looking forward to reading about what you’re reading and learning from the ideas that you choose to share with us! I’ve added a little explanation at the top of the link-up, but thought I’d also share it in the main blog post as we’re getting started:

Wednesdays
with Words is an opportunity to share your reading and words that have
been meaningful to you in any way. Mostly participants share quotes from
books they’re reading, but any written material (articles, internet
magazine, whatever) is great. Sometimes participants share a selection
because of its beautiful phrasing, sometimes because of its intriguing
ideas, sometimes because of its everyday encouragement. We’d love to
have you share with us someone else’s words.

Please feel free to use the lovely logo Brandy at Afterthoughts designed for me on your post and – most importantly – link back here (or I might not see your contribution!)  I hope the linky-thing works, but I’ve never tried this before so please be patient if the technical side is a little wonky this week!

Now onto the reading and sharing!

I’m currently reading Chasing Francis by Ian Morgan Cron.  20 years ago, I went as a leader for my church Youth Group’s trip to a big retreat called “Fun in the Son” in Ocean City, New Jersey.  Cron was there as the music leader/concert giver.  I bought his CD, it’s pretty good.  So when in the last few years I noticed that he was writing books I was intrigued.

He somewhat recently (the last two years?) published a spiritual memoir, Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me: A Memoir … of Sorts and I – enjoying memoirs over the past couple of years – thought that was what I purchased.  But, no, Chasing Francis is a novel about a modern evangelical pastor who loses it and goes searching for pre-enlightenment faith.  I was very confused until I realized I wasn’t reading the book I thought I was reading. Chasing Francis is pretty good so far, the info-dumps of Francis of Assi information are less show than tell, but I understand that Cron has to bring the reader up to speed to accomplish what he’s doing.  Anyway, I enjoyed the following passage(s).

A conversation between Chase Falson (our main character) and Kenny (his uncle, guide, and a Roman Catholic priest).

I put my hands on the back of the pew in front
of me and leaned forward, resting my chin on them. “It’s strange to look
at the Bible in a painting. I’ve always thought of it as a
black-and-white photograph,” I mused. “Everything in it had to be
perfectly clear so no one could question it.”

“How modern of you,” Kenny
said.

“What does that mean?”

“The medieval Christian perspective got
beaten up during the Enlightenment. Enlightenment thinkers saw the
universe less as a mystery and more as a machine where you got hold of
truth by using reason, not divine revelation. The Christian worldview
that had never been challenged before suddenly came under attack.
Scientists replaced theologians, and the age of modernity was born.”

“I’m sure that bugged some people,” I said. I imagined groups of robed
clerics wringing their hands and bemoaning their changed fortunes.

“Yes,
eventually the church became so threatened by modernity’s scorn that
they turned the Bible into more of a history of ideas rather than a
story.”

“But why?”

“If they could make all their doctrines string
together perfectly and logically, it would make the faith harder to
discredit. But the Bible is less about ideas or doctrines than it is a
story about people and their up-and-down relationships with God. It’s — ”

“More a painting than a photograph,” I said.

“Right. It’s not always
clear, it’s not black-and-white, you can’t use it forensically in court,
it’s messy — and like all art it’s open to many interpretations,” Kenny
said.

“So why do you say I’m a modern?” I asked.

Kenny paused.
“Sometimes when you speak about your faith, you sound desperate and
defensive, like you’re afraid someone is going to come along and knock
over all your blocks. That strips the poetry out of the Scriptures, out
of following Jesus. I’m not surprised you woke up one day and asked
yourself, ‘Is this all there is?’ ”

“You want me to start thinking like
I’m living in the Middle Ages?” I asked.

“Why not? Stop asking the
painting to be a photograph. It’s the story that makes sense of your
life, and you don’t need to apologize for choosing it,” Kenny said. He
stood up. “As a friend of mine used to say, the Bible is the story of
how God gets back what was always his in the first place. People are
looking for a story that can explain the way the world is. I think
they’re open to being romanced by the glory of the painting. I think
Saint Francis can show us how to take advantage of the moment.” (pg 55-56)

And, then, later, I just liked the way this was said …

True holiness is so often swaddled in the simple. (pg 65)

What have you been reading?

‘);

14 Comments

  1. Thank you for doing this, Dawn. I'm excited to be back to sharing what I'm reading.

    Love your passage for today. The last line is especially thought provoking.

    1. Me too! Thanks for linking in.

      Cron is definitely hearkening to the manger, but holiness and simplicity are interesting to put together. I don't know whether I would continue reading but for ideas and glimpses like this.

  2. Enjoyed the passages you shared! I hope I can come back later to share something. I have a very busy Wednesday ahead of me!

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