A friend at church, a philosophy professor at a nearby university, has gathered a group of women to read together through N. T. Wright's new release, Surprised By Scripture: Engaging Contemporary Issues. It's a book of essays that posits that assumptions about what the Bible does or does not say don't necessarily match the reality of what it actually does or does not say, particularly as related to contemporary issues.
The chapter we talked about last night was about faith and science and the widespread tendency to be unable to hold both in our brains at the same time. Blame it on Epicurus, the third-century BC Greek philosopher who spread the word that the gods, if they even existed, were so far removed from any earthly care or concern that we were essentially on our own. Blame it on the separation of church and state, which has shaped our way of thinking, here in the U.S. more so than in Europe, to such an extent that it seems impossible to imagine we’re part of a reality that includes it all, heaven and earth, in a dynamic, interactive, and mysterious present. Blame it on lots of things, but let’s do something about it.
The women in the room all read the chapter with an eye toward how it informs their lives and their work. Teachers thought about the classroom; parents thought about the raising of their children; those with a political spirit thought about voting decisions and acts of citizenry. I thought about my writing and how Wright’s words encourage me to keep writing in the vein of looking for signs of God's presence in the quotidian, of imagining layers of reality, of exploring the interplay of divine and human.
“Judaism and Christianity classically…celebrate and explore the mysterious interpenetration of heaven and earth," writes Wright. Each of us left with minds and hearts excited to further celebrate and explore that mystery.
[Photo: taken of Wright's book, conveniently placed next to stacks of a journal that speaks of mystery on a quarterly basis.]