Wednesday, August 20, 2014

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?


  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. Hi Dawn, it worked. Great to have the WWW back

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

    1. Thanks, Amy. I did leave the linkup open for a week. Come back when you can :)

  4. It looks like it worked for me too! :) Thanks for taking up the reins, Dawn.

    1. Yay! It doesn't work if you don't participate. I appreciate all of you!

  5. Thanks for reviving this, Dawn!

    1. The pleasure is all mine! I must say this has been a fun blogging morning :)

  6. Thank you so much for bringing this back. It was something I really missed doing.

    1. I missed it to. I like how it keeps me working through good books.

  7. I'm so glad you're doing this, Dawn! Or, should I say, dawn. ;)


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