(Last Week’s) Five Minute Friday: Find

Photo credit- KCPQ-TV

Gentle Reader,

Playing catch up. Missed out on linking-up, but that’s okay. Five Minute (Whatever)day is good discipline.

Head on over and meet our gracious hostess and prompt-giver, Kate.

Go.

August – yes, a lost month

Swallowed up in haze

Surrounded by the smoke and burn

Leaping flames advance in craze

Sunlight hidden behind the fog

A strange and orange light

Faces streaked with sweat and ash

As the people fight

On and on they do press forward

Marching down the miles

Muscles strain and bones do ache

Spouses worry all the while

Water pours from hoses tight

Axes bite the ground

Trees and grass provide the fuel

‘Tis an eerie sound

Lord God above, if in Your plan

Reprieve You can find

Send this place the blessed rain

Remove us now from danger’s line

Stop.

My journey to faith. (15)

Five Minute Friday: Alone

Along the Way @ mlsgregg.com

Gentle Reader,

‘Tis a gift, this writing life.

‘Tis a greater gift to know writers.

Kate. The scribblers, the dreamers, the thinkers and schemers. We are: alone.

Go.

And now I’m all alone again; nowhere to turn, no one to go to.

Without a home, without a friend, without a face to say “hello” to…

“On My Own” (lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer, music by Claude-Michel Schönberg)

Go.

Eponine’s famous solo from the musical Les Miserables opens with these heart-rending lines. She wanders the streets of Paris, the air thick with the electricity of impending (and doomed) revolution. Her heart aches with unrequited love for Marius (the man who stupidly falls for the vapid Cossette, for no apparent reason other than her blonde hair). Eponine pours out her anguish, her voice bouncing, echoing, off of the River Seine.

Long has this been my favorite moment.

Jean Valjean’s plaintive “Bring Him Home” never fails to stir the audience. The (spoiler alert) death scene at the very end makes me cry every time. But there’s something about Eponine. Something about this woman, to whom life has been so cruel, that pulls at my soul.

Perhaps it is because I am well-acquainted with aloneness. After being in a crowd for longer than ten minutes, I crave it. Stop the noise, the smells, the jostling. Just let me be.

Yet this can be a dangerous thing. It can be more than aloneness.

How quickly loneliness moves in.

For months now I have been slowly isolating myself. Little by little. Choice by choice. Familiar enemies, sorrow and anxiety, wrapped me tighter and tighter in the softest of blankets. Lulled me into a place of numbness – until the numbness suddenly burst into a pain too great to bear.

There were no faces to say “hello” to, for I had turned them away. Out went the plea to my friends. Please understand and accept my strangeness. Please come to my house, eat chocolate and make fun of Donald Trump. I love you even if I can’t figure out how to say so.

This is the struggle of my life. This is the double-edged sword. I’m an off-the-charts introvert and there’s no doubt I need time to myself. I need to be able to process or just stare blankly at a wall. Equally do I need time with others. I need to be amongst my people, the men and women who, though far from perfect, have laughed with me, cried with me, kept me grounded. Each one is a good gift sent from the Father above.

No woman is an island.

No woman is meant to be all alone.

Stop.

My journey to faith. (15)

I have to include a video of this gorgeous song. From the 25th anniversary concert.

For the Love: Part 2

Watch your life and doctrine closely.

For the Love: Part 1

Gentle Reader,

This is the part that I didn’t want to write. Allow me to repeat myself: The toughest position I ever held during my time on a college newspaper was that of a reviewer. It is difficult for me to put into practice the instruction of my professor – observe and dissect – knowing how intensely artists labor over their work. They practically bleed onto the page or the canvas. Nevertheless, it is important to strive to be as even-handed and objective as possible. That is my goal in this piece.

Nevertheless I am well aware that what I’m about to publish is going to generate some heat.

QUESTIONS

I wish that I had saved it so that I could give you a specific date, but sometime between Tuesday, July 7, and Friday, July 10, I received an email from Hatmaker (along with other members of her “Email Friends” list). She wrote to tell us about the free goodies we could get with pre-ordering a copy of For the Love. (As part of the launch team, I expected this and wasn’t offended. The point, after all, is to generate buzz and sell books). In the first paragraph of this email (again, I wish I had saved it so I could quote directly) she mentioned being influenced in her spirituality by the fiction work of Sue Monk Kidd.

Update, 8/27/15: A friend had this email and forwarded it to me. It was sent out on July 10, and the line that I referenced above reads, “…I want to know if Sue Monk Kidd read the tweets I sent about how much her storylines affected me spiritually.”

At first, I wasn’t even going to pursue this. I didn’t want to pursue this. I wanted to write a short-and-sweet, stellar review. So I deleted the email.

But I only know of one Sue Monk Kidd:

To embrace Goddess is simply to discover the Divine in yourself as powerfully and vividly feminine. (Dance of the Dissident Daughter, p. 141)

… something inside me was calling on the Goddess of the Dark, even though I didn’t know her name. (The Dance of the Dissident Daughter, p. 93)

I remember a feeling rising up from a place about two inches below my navel. … It was the purest inner knowing I had experienced, and it was shouting in me no, no, no! The ultimate authority of my life is not the Bible; it is not confined between the covers of a book. It is not something written by men and frozen in time. It is not from a source outside myself. My ultimate authority is the divine voice in my own soul. Period. … That day sitting in church, I believed the voice in my belly. … The voice in my belly was the voice of the wise old woman. It was my female soul talking. And it had challenged the assumption that the Baptist Church would get me where I needed to go. (Dance of the Dissident Daughter, p. 76-78)

I knew right then and there that the patriarchal church was no longer working for me. The exclusive image of God as heavenly Father wasn’t working, either. I needed a Power of Being that was also feminine. (Dance of the Dissident Daughter, p. 80)

There’s a bulb of truth buried in the human soul that’s “only God” … the soul is more than something to win or save. It’s the seat and repository of the inner Divine, the God-image, the truest part of us. (When the Heart Waits, p. 47, 48)

When we encounter another person … we should walk as if we were upon holy ground. We should respond as if God dwells there. (God’s Joyful Surprise, p. 233)

I ran my finger around the rim of the circle on the page and prayed my first prayer to a Divine Feminine presence. I said, “Mothergod, I have nothing to hold me. No place to be, inside or out. I need to find a container of support, a space where my journey can unfold. (Dance of the Dissent Daughter, p. 94)

Divine Feminine love came, wiping out all my puny ideas about love in one driving sweep. Today I remember that event for the radiant mystery it was, how I felt myself embraced by Goddess, how I felt myself in touch with the deepest thing I am. It was the moment when, as playwright and poet Ntozake Shange put it, “I found god in myself/ and I loved her/ I loved her fiercely.” (Dance of the Dissident Daughter, p. 136)

I came to know myself as an embodiment of Goddess. (Dance of the Dissident Daughter, p. 163)

When I woke, my thought was that I was finally being reunited with the snake in myself – that lost and defiled symbol of feminine instinct. (Dance of the Dissident Daughter, p. 107)

Anyone who has read this blog for any length of time knows that I am an egalitarian. I believe in the full equality of men and women. Yet I also believe in the accuracy and inerrancy of Scripture. God chose to reveal Himself in masculine terms. This doesn’t mean that He is masculine; God is transcendent. He is in a category all by Himself and cannot be classified as man or woman. Nevertheless, He chose to relate to us as Father, Son and Spirit. Christian faith simply does not support worshiping the “feminine divine” or the “goddess.” This does not demean women or relegate them to a “second class” space. Men have done that, not God.

I have no idea what Hatmaker means by saying that she’s been influenced by Kidd. I attempted to reach out to her via Facebook and through her website’s contact page, asking for clarification. I have yet to receive an answer. At this point I am not making any hard-and-fast judgments. She could simply mean that something in one of Kidd’s novels touched her. I am unwilling to come to a solid conclusion until I have more information.

Still, this leaves me in an awkward position, especially since my endorsement appears in the book.

Reading through For the Love a second time, with this in mind, I noticed something: Quotes from authors Annie Dillard, Anna Quindlen and Brene Brown are sprinkled throughout. The framework, the worldview, from within which these authors write shows strong threads of panentheism, pop-psychology self-help and a mish-mash of New Age-y, maybe Christian terms that I can make heads nor tails of. I have no problem recognizing the fact that they may well have good and positive things to say, but, as with Kidd, the spiritual content of their works is concerning.

Do not interpret this as an attack on Jen Hatmaker. I don’t know her personally and I don’t wish her any ill. I’m not making a call on whether or not she’s saved, so please don’t go there. I will happily update this post if I receive clarification regarding the statement about Kidd. I can easily accept that she used the quotes from the other authors for very good reasons. As of now, I am left holding a mixed bag. If this were strictly a work of humor, I would have no problem giving it five stars. Due to the muddied nature of the spiritual currents, I cannot give this book the wholehearted recommendation that I initially hoped.

FINAL THOUGHTS

So, where does that leave us? I won’t slap For the Love out of your hands if I see you reading it, but I won’t tell you to rush out and snag a copy, either. I think you can read this book and enjoy it for its message of freedom for women and its humor, but I do encourage you to keep this background information in the forefront of your mind. Be aware of what you are taking in and examine it closely. Ask the Holy Spirit to grant you guidance and sensitivity in this and all reading selections.

Do so for your sanity. Do it for your integrity.

Do it for His love.

This, above all, is the lesson I have learned in being on the launch team.

My journey to faith. (15)