Tuesday, September 9, 2014

2. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee (14.48 percent)

You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought. You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.  Matthew 5:3,5,8

Turn again to your rest, O my soul, for the LORD has treated you well. Psalm 116:6

So at last night’s book club Liz the Leader whipped out Eugene Peterson’s Message version of the Sermon on the Mount to give fresh words to oft repeated ideas countercultural to how the world frames the Big Questions.

And sometimes when I read Eugene Peterson, I wonder Where Did He Come Up with That? And now I know, because Liz also gifted me with his annotated bibliography of where he comes up with that. And yesterday I somehow worked into my freshman Welcome to the Rest of your Life Works Cited speech the idea of standing on the shoulders of giants, which is what we all are called to do. The academic challenge is to Give credit to previous researchers BUT Make your own significant contribution. Sort of like that Church thing from yesterday.

In the introduction Peterson opens up explaining lectio divina, or spiritual reading. And the “spiritual” part of the term doesn’t refer so much to the content of what is being read, but the reflective way in which it is being read. “It is prayerful, convinced that all honest words can involve us in some way if we read with our hearts as well as with our heads, in an eternal conversation that got its start in the Word that “became flesh.”

“In the course of reading Scripture, it is only natural that we fall into conversation with friends who are also reading it. These leisurely, relaxed, ruminating conversations continue across continents and centuries and languages by means of books–and these books offer themselves for spiritual reading. After a few years of this, as with the Scriptures themselves, this reading turns out to be rereading. C. S. Lewis once defined an unliterary person as ‘one who reads books only once.’”

Which reminds me of another list I read yesterday…the one hopping around on Facebook, the “List 10 books that have stayed with you in some way,” it begins. “Don’t take more than a few minutes, and don’t think too hard. They do not have to be the ‘right’ books or great works of literature, just ones that have affected you in some way.”

And as we know deep in the cockles of our heart, the Facebook folks had already analyzed the data. “The data science team analyzed more than 130,000 statuses, stripped them of their identifying information and looked for common strings—that is, shared snippets of text and title—and ranked them by popularity.”

And with the exception of Number One Harry Potter and Number Eight The Hunger Game Trilogy, their list is pretty much the same list I posted last week on Cameron’s page, the books filled with “honest words” that I have read again and again.

And my wireless state has stacked up a big mountain next to the little flower-covered couch: Wright, Cunningham, Dickens, Lewis, Manning, Voskamp, Tozer, Steinbeck, McGee, Stott, and assorted women mystics. But, man, I sure haven’t read the books on Peterson’s list…with the exception of the novels and mysteries categories. And maybe it’s time to pull up my big boy britches and race further up and farther into Thomas à Kempis.

Standing on the shoulders of those who go before us. My mom told a story last night about her new-Christianly grasp of the Sermon on the Mount blessings. Her baby step explanation of her new joy in Christ really ticked off the only hairdresser in town. Mrs. Winnie had a hard life. And I certainly remember that she also had hard bony fingers that poked and yanked at my unruly tangles. And a rage burned within remembering the mistreatment and suffering inflicted upon her in the name of Jesus, and her fingers poked and yanked until they brought tears to my mother’s eyes. Which turned to a childish joy as she considered the reason behind that day’s particular vehemence: she was being persecuted for righteousness sake. She was blessed.

We are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses who have gone before us.

These early morning reflections join in The Call to Prayer with worship and joy: Be joyful in God, all you lands; sing the glory of His Name; sing the glory of his praise. Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds… All the earth bows down before You, sings to You, sings out Your Name.

And in the middle of my Sunday twelve hours of teacher stuff, I took a walk out into the desert and watched the almost perfectly full moon rest on piles of golden rain clouds. And full moons are gripping. And I cannot imagine the hardest of hearts not occasionally flinching, trembling to its knees in the face of such song. And when I pulled myself out of the pool this morning, there was the beyond-imagination red and orange after-the-rainstorm sunrise shooting out beyond glowing edged purple heaps.

All you lands. All the earth. Eternity is written in our hearts and minds. Sing the glory of His name.