Archive for the ‘Different Books’ Category

writing stories…

I recently finished reading “Broken” by Karin Fossum. She’s a pretty great Norwegian author, I found simply by looking around at some best sellers from years gone by. Sidenote: I appreciated a book translated from another language – as it certainly seemed to have much less offensive language, even in the midst of very gritty situations.

In this book, there is an author attempting to write. She looks outside to see a line of characters for future stories that are to be written. But at the beginning of the book, one man cuts in line, and enters her home – pleading for her to begin writing his story.

There are great bits of dialogue, both internal and external, about what it means to “want” something for “our story”. Every other chapter or so, he enters the scene of her writing his story, and they talk about who he is, and where his story might lead. There is a thin tension existing between his ability to influence her, and her “big picture” telling of a story she feels is telling itself in many ways.

It reminded me of the role we play as parents. We do not write the story for our children. But it is our privilege and duty to frame their story within a larger story that is very worth telling. In the book, she reminds her character that he still has the ability to make his own choices, and he does this at one point. Her role is simply to give him the tools he needs, and a firm identity with which she can release him at the end of her novel into wherever else his life may lead.

Especially when our children are the young ages they are currently, our job is to make decisions on the larger aspects of plot development. What will this character value? What story will they have grown accustomed to thinking of themselves within? What questions do I want to instill as important for this character to be asking?

At one point in the story, the character asks the author why she didn’t at least give him a God. He has no faith background to handle what he’s going through, and he recognizes how beautiful it would be to have something like that in his story. Instead, he travels through much of the book feeling incomplete or “broken”, like a bridge that seems to lead nowhere.  In fact, it was quite frustrating at times to read how his feelings of being incomplete were crippling his ability to live.

Altogether a great book. Every once in a while, may we imagine our children all grown up, looking over our shoulders as we type their childhood. They may give us some great advice. Even more so, may we hand over the typing to God Himself, as we find our stories written together by the Author and Perfecter of our faith…(Hebrews 12:2)

raising earthen vessels…

I recently finished reading “Earthen Vessels – Why our bodies matter to our faith” by Matthew Lee Anderson.  If you ask me the question “Should I read it?”, I would answer “yes”.  There is a lot of great stuff, and reminders that the evangelical view/value of the physical body has been shaded by over-emphasizing the unhealthy goal of escaping the physical world.  But being honest, I found myself skipping a page here and there when I felt like there was a dead horse in the book.  (dead horse warning = chapters 6, 7 and 8)

But overall, it’s a great reminder to us as parents especially.  We are not simply given the task of raising souls who will one day escape these mortal shells, shedding them for the true way God has designed our children to exist.  We are raising embodied beings, and our care for them extends into every dimension of their existence.

Even in the dead horse sections, Anderson does a great deal of explaining/studying what the changes in our “norms” approaching topics like tattoos, pleasure, and homosexuality as the evangelical church, means to the greater changes in our view/perception of these physical bodies.  It’s interesting stuff at times, and even as someone who has a tattoo, I found myself nodding in agreement to some of what he pointed out.

He speaks truth, as in the chapter on sexuality saying, “The loud arguments within evangelicalism that pleasure is good border on defensively shouting, ‘Hey, we’ve got pleasure too!’ in a world that cares about little else.”

I’m not gonna hop on the “100% healthy, vegan, natural, organic, baby boot camp, all-star child athlete” band-wagon anytime soon, by any means.  But this book is a great reminder that the God of ALL creation, old and NEW, chose to connect with His creation on an intimately physical level.  He became flesh.  He chose to make his dwelling among us.  He calls our bodies a temple of His Holy Spirit.  When we were first created, he held us close with love, and literally breathed His own life into our physical presence.

We cannot faithfully respond to all of this simply by “inviting Jesus into our hearts”, and relating to Christ with our brains and emotions.  We are called as embodied beings to be transformed in every way imaginable, to the patterns, habits, and life-choices of someone made New in Christ.  May God be with us as we seek to lead our children and homes in such experiences of a life centered on Jesus.

Anderson gives great credit to the beauty and goodness of our whole beings, while still declaring the truth found in scripture that we often forget.  God gives us insight into what is to come after this life, and it’s not floating around on clouds or becoming glowing orbs that exist forever among the stars.  We look forward to a very real, and physical resurrected existence, much like we see in the resurrected Christ.  As he quotes C.S. Lewis,

“If flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom, that is not because they are too solid, too gross, too distinct, too ‘illustrious with being.’  They are too flimsy, too transitory, too phantasmal.”  The solidity and permanence of the bodily resurrection is too strong for the frailties and contingencies of our current bodies.” – Earthen Vessels, page 168

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