I thought I might spend my morning thinking of happy thoughts. I have been holed up on my couch for the last couple of days with a pretty brutal sinus thing. I was looking at my bookshelf glanced my eyes over books that have made my life happier and easier to make it through the tough days of being a Christian. There are a few books that made this journey bearable and often times easier to remember what love and grace is really about.
One of the first books I read that made me realize that there was more to being Christian than being Republican and Baptist was Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamont. I had this wonderful roommate, Sara Joy, that gave me it as a gift ( I think) or let me borrow hers. The details are fuzzy now but it doesn't really matter now as I have read and recommended the book many of times and don't even know where my copy is. This book is about the trouble of being human and wanting to desire and follow the life of Christ. Lamont encounters God through her life of growing in San Francisco in the 60's and 70s, being a drug addict and alcoholic, and wanting to change her life. She questioned her faith for awhile, felt God watching her like a cat, and one day turning around and saying: "Fuck it, I will follow you." Anything like that that is so raw and full of emotion draws me in. I love her honesty and her journey. I got to hear her speak last year and she was just lovely. You can not escape her honesty and her ability to sit, be, struggle, and wrestle is worth the time. She has also written a couple more like this: Plan B and Grace: Further Thoughts on Faith.
Dangerous Wonder was given to me the first summer I worked at Spring Hill. We read a chapter a week, engaging in the beautiful and simple writing of Mike Yaconnelli as he engaged into the burden that doing ministry presents and how to avoid living a boring life. That boring life I think is introduced by the church on a regular basis, we are afraid of messing up. We are afaraid of failing. We have all these books that introduce how to do all the right things and become stale and boring in the journey. Dangerous Wonder asks what it means to live out a childlike faith, that jumps without thinking, and dives in without being safe and secure. I think it offers the opportunity to live in grace and to live in the freedom that grace actually promises. We read scripture and it alludes to living in freedom but then we get into the church and it gives us new rules, new laws, new ways of being, offering freedom but really giving us chains. Yaconnelli reminds us to do something different...Life and living it without boundaries and limits. I want a gospel like that rather than always doing what someone else expects from you.
This book I finished just last week and I know it will forever change how I live and love. It throws out all the rules (do I sense a pattern here!!) towards living a faith that is burdened by law, lines, and boundaries. It asks how we can rethink living in grace and love. These things are hard to do and often we have been restricted by trying to do the right thing rather than living in the freedom that grace abounds to us. It offers the possibility that we don't have to opt IN to grace but we can choice to opt out of grace. I think that gospel is easier to swallow. It doesn't limit possibilities, gifts, or talents. I don't think it ever limits love or restricts where you want to give and offer to those around us. It pushes one to look for God in all things rather than looking for evil. We attract good things when we think of good things. I want that love. I want that grace.
So those are a couple of books that have impacted my life. They are good reads. You should read them.