You know Donald Miller, right? He’s the brilliant author of Blue Like Jazz. If you haven’t read it, that book is like a hot bath and a tall glass of cold water. I love Miller, Lamott, Rob Bell, Shane Claiborne, and several treasured others because they remind me of what Jesus taught in the first place, that following him has nothing to do with falling into line. On the contrary, it has everything to do with stepping out of line, raising a hand and asking the teacher politely: “Are you sure about that?” They remind me that you don’t change the world by telling people they’re not good enough. You change the world by convincing people of how fantastically beautiful and adored and perfect they already are, just as they are. Because that’s the truth.
Most importantly, those writers remind me that my faith is my own.
I love church, and I love the people who commit their lives to teaching God’s word. But with all due respect, they’re not the boss of me. Since the minute Jesus started talking, everybody on Earth has been trying to figure out what the Sam Hill he meant. My guess is as good, and likely as wrong, as anybody else’s . . . and so is yours. Jesus has room for each of us, even those of us who are unsure about a whole lot. If Jesus emphasized anything it was question everything. And also, while you’re questioning don’t be afraid. In seems like he really wanted to make sure we didn’t miss those parts.
I’m thankful to writers who are full of faith and who remind me to fearlessly think and seek for myself, and to admit publicly when I understand Jesus differently than some of the Christian powers-that-be. It always seems like there are a handful of religious leaders who make a whole lot of distracting noise and purport to speak for people of faith. Sort of like they did in Jesus’ day, come to think of it. But I don’t think most people of true faith are yelling about who’s in and who’s out for TV cameras. I think people of true faith are probably quite busy, actually, with all their feeding hungry people and visiting the elderly and prisoners and fighting for orphans and widows and mowing their neighbors’ yards and trying desperately not to be jerks and biting their tongues till they bleed to avoid gossiping and looking around and saying to each other: “Holy COW, do you believe how freaking beautiful this world and the people in it are?? Look at that baby, that flower, that sunset! Everything is a miracle! Do you believe we get to be alive and be a part of it all???What should we do to celebrate today? Who can we invite??” I imagine that the work and joy loads that people of true faith carry leave them little energy for finger wagging or categorizing or imaginary rule enforcing or public appearances.
Not that I have an opinion about that.
In any case, I’m grateful when people of faith actually sound like people of faith. Donald Miller does. Which is why I was going to share a passage from his new book with you today. Because there is an essay in his new book that is my new favorite thing I have ever read. I’m serious. My favorite. The second I finished this particular essay, I sat and stared at the wall for a good ten minutes. Then I left my children unsupervised and went to my room to type up the entire essay for you. That took me a long while, since I type with three fingers. And also because my hair and I are going through a rough patch lately, and so every task takes me twice as long these days because I have to take long breaks to worry about my bangs.
When I finally finished, I came back downstairs and made Craig read the essay, and I stared at him while he read to make sure he was making the appropriate facial expressions and murmuring correctly and raising his eyebrows at the right parts and having lots of epiphanies. When he finished I made him talk to me all night about how moved he was and what the passage meant to our family and how the passage would alter our parenting and the Revolution in general. He drank several Coronas to help him through the evening. It is hard to be Craig. He should have a stunt double or something.
Obviously this post is far too long now, so I will share the Miller passage with you tomorrow. Just forget I said anything because now that I’ve hyped it up so much you’re bound to be disappointed. It’s good, it’ll make you think, that’s all I’m saying.
Sister’s in Rwanda. She’s got stories already. She started a blog just for us Monkees to keep tabs on her adventures and challenges. I’ll share the blog with you on Wednesday.
Also, I’ll tell you about my new hometown soon. Can’t yet. No words. Too perfect, don’t want to break the spell.
Love, love, love,
PS. I’m not turning comments off today. I miss you, talk to me. Also, don’t forget to pray for Mike and Megan and their babies. Maryann will have a grandmonkee on each knee in no time. Speaking of miracles.