Tuesday, January 29, 2013

For Our Reading Pleasure (and Inspiration)

I've been reading Phyllis Tickle's latest book, Emergence Christianity, published in 2012, not to be confused with her earlier book The Great Emergence.  In Emergence Christianity, she covers some of the same ground, but weaves in strands of developments since her earlier work, as well as more speculation about where these developments will take us.

One of the things I find myself thinking about again and again is the idea of online Christian community.  I haven't played Second Life, but I know many people who have.  It never occurred to me that there are churches in Second Life--which leads to all sorts of interesting issues.  Can non-ordained people consecrate elements in cyberspace?  Can bread and wine made of pixels instead of wheat and grapes be sacramental?  Fascinating questions.

She points out that we conduct much of our lives online:  banking, reading, shopping, bill paying.  What does it mean to be church online?

And then there are even larger issues looming:  "For the first time in human history, so far as anyone can ascertain, we do not know what a human being is" ( p. 194).  You may argue that we do, but people who study both biology and computers will tell you that the boundaries are getting blurry very quickly.

In short, this accessible book covers lots of ground in just 200 pages--there's lots to think about here.

I've also been rereading Lauren Winner's Still:  Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis.  I've written about reading this book the first time in this blog post.  In many ways, I liked it better on the second read.  It wasn't as much of a surprise.  I remember feeling a bit of disappointment when I first read it, a wishing that she had answered more questions.  On the second read, I could appreciate what was there.

I plan to spend the coming week-end rediscovering the works of Lauren Winner, Nora Gallagher, and my all-time favorite Kathleen Norris.  I'm beginning serious work on crafting my own memoir, which will explore how a spiritual woman lives an integrated life staying true to her faith in a workplace that isn't always set up to support those ideals.  I admire the work of these 3 women in so many ways.  I plan to model my work on theirs, in that I want to write essays that can be read alone, or as a narrative in one gulp.

I think back to when I first read Norris' Dakota:  A Spiritual Geography.  I was so inspired, but dejected in a way.  I thought, I'll never be able to do what she did.  But blogging has helped immensely. 

I've gotten many a compliment as a writer, along with rejections, of course.  But the one that means the most to me is the one where people say my work reminds them of Norris.

That is my goal:  to be the Kathleen Norris of my generation.  Stay tuned!

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