Sunday, September 29, 2013

Wisdom theology

Last Sunday, I finished reading Perelandra by C.S. Lewis for the first time. I loved it, and it's been interesting how bits of it have come floating up into my mind, intersecting with my days. One sentence in particular keeps occurring to me:

"You make me grow older more quickly than I can bear."

In the book, being made older is a phrase for being made wiser. Incidentally, I'm also taking a Biblical wisdom literature class this semester. I can only suppose reading Proverbs, the textbook on being wise, is supposed to make you older.

I've been reading other things, too. In addition to Perelandra, this week I might give you a review for Brandon Sanderson's Steelheart. I've also read some more Redwall, which has been lovely. I'm trying to memorize Rudyard Kipling's If. (Interestingly enough, the day after I started working on that, my wisdom lit professor brought it up as an example.)

I'm in a modern Middle East class which is making me look at the ramifications of religious beliefs and political systems. I largely try to ignore politics, but I'm starting to be convinced that it is important. How people live their lives every day, pulled together into nations -- it's a fascinating process of theology, that is if you define it how my wisdom lit professor does.

Real theology, our beliefs about God, shapes our every way of living. (When you take a look at what most people believe, is that scary or what?)

Everything I've been learning lately, even when reading fantasy, has been growing my mind in ways I don't really know what to do with. But it's significant. I feel it. I'm growing older every hour, but in the end, it seems to be filling me with thoughts I don't know how to express in my life.

How do I help the person I know is struggling?
When do I follow my emotions when dealing with problems, and where do I use my head?
How should I spend my time? Should I concentrate on every moment being more effective?
What, in my leisure, is worth pursuing?

I wish theology was something that would be more easily ingrained in my habits and in my heart. Until then, it stays in my head, until I can figure where to put it.

In any case, I've got more reading to do.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Books and a heart like a child

I have a plan for not getting too stressed out this year. It involves letting Sunday be a sabbath (even if that means lots of homework on Saturdays), taking walks, eating healthy (the part of the plan that is dropped the quickest), and, most importantly, reading books.

I did a lot of reading this summer, but I didn't really need it like I've found I do right now. This summer I had lots of introvert time. When I'm constantly surrounded by people, though, there's no retreat so convenient as escaping into a book. This is something I've been keenly aware of since about first grade.

I'm hardly the only person who, as a child, discovered books as a means of traveling to other worlds. There are books about children who love books -- even movies about children who love books. Sometimes, to emphasize the point, children literally travel to other worlds through books. Something else I've found, though, is how books can change the world I live in. I suppose they do that by changing me.

Whenever I read a book, I see its ideas finding echo in my daily life. I start hearing words that I might otherwise have forgotten. I start to interact with physical objects with the knowledge that they are really part of the universe. The smells and tastes of life start rooting me ever more firmly in reality even as they open my imagination. And because of this, all the books I've ever read have changed my life.

I spent most of today rereading The Legend of Luke, one of the books in the Redwall series by Brian Jacques I adored when I was younger. Today I realized that in literally every chapter the band of adventurers encounters an enemy, makes new friends, or both. Looking back, I'm pretty sure all of the ones I read were exactly like that. (I think there are three I haven't read.) There are many other things that are consistent between the books: silly dialects, an excess of songs and poetry, enormous amounts of attention given to food, and the knowledge that you will meet the counterparts of all the groups of creatures in the past books. This makes every story pretty much the same. However, my nostalgia meter is floating high, and I couldn't have loved it more.

Sometimes you need to be re-inspired. Sometimes you need to be reminded that good people go on adventures and fight evil. Sometimes you need to rejoice in a story filled with childlike innocence, and by that become a little more childlike yourself.
Fairy tales are more than true — not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten. -- G.K. Chesterton
Man cannot live on bread alone. He needs stories to feed his heart as much as he needs the Word to feed his soul.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

It's a God thing

Edit: after a couple days of letting this sit, I've started to worry that this post might be taken seriously. I promise that I don't usually write stuff this saccharine. I wrote this to point out the contemporary Christian's consistent usage of certain phrases, almost to the point of being ludicrous. I don't necessarily condemn any one of these -- I just wanted to point them out. So, without further ado:

Hello there, beloved. I've been praying for you. You see, God's laid it on my heart to speak the truth in love, just speak truth into your life. I believe we come together in intentional community here at Taylor to build one another up in our daily walks. I've been so blessed to have fellowship with you, and though I want to be a good steward of your time, I thought I'd take a minute to pour into you.

In this season of life, it's easy to feel like God's testing you. It might seem that there are stumbling blocks placed before you, and you might find yourself slipping from the straight and narrow, even straying from the path. When you're struggling, you don't want to become lukewarm. I want to hold you accountable. If you need to open your heart to God, I encourage you to really dig into the Word. Maybe find a life verse to be a lamp unto your feet. No matter the trials and snares, remember, God never gives you anything you can't handle. If he leads you to it, he'll lead you through it. I'm sure God will use it for your good.

Remember, it's a relationship, not a religion. You just have to trust God to move in your life. In short, you need to let go and let God. Don't listen to those lies from the pit the world's trying to tell you -- remember, you are not of this world. You have to give up your burden. I and your brothers and sisters in Christ will pray for you to bear fruit.

If you find you need to keep your sabbath holy, I'd recommend a media fast. Maybe try a prayer walk. You've just got to guard your heart in all this brokenness. I have some great devo books I can loan you. You never know when something might inspire you to rededicate your life to Christ.

If you ever need anything, you're always welcome at my small group. We'd love to lay hands on you or, if you prefer, we can just popcorn it. If you have any unspokens, that's okay too. I know some great prayer warriors with servant's hearts. Me? Oh, I'm just trying to be a Proverbs 31 woman.

Remember, when God closes a door, he opens a window.

I've got to go - I need some QT with Jesus in the old prayer chapel (It's like my prayer closet). Wish me traveling mercies, okay?