1. Book. Pick one?! Oiy. Dark Night of the Soul was one of the first “older” books that spoke to me in a profound way. I was struggling through my own Night, and I just couldn’t get over how someone who lived half a millennium ago could express so well my own experience. It not only aided me in my Night, it illustrated how much we—and God—remain the same over the centuries. I must also add that He Loves Me(first edition available as PDF at no cost) by Wayne Jacobsen was also a book that moved me into another part of my journey—experiencing the incredible overwhelming fact of God’s love for me. Update: Oh, and how could I forget Houses That Change the World!
2. Piece of music. My soul-sister Susan sent me Andrew Peterson’s Far Country a couple of years ago and I return to it periodically through my journey.
3. Work of art. Coincidently, it is Rembrandt’s painting above (which Sally chose to illustrate this Friday Five). When I started to get an inkling on just how much God loved me, that parable soaked into my heart and now lives there. This painting is one of the moments in that parable that still brings me to tears.
4. Film. Oh my, there are so many of these, too. Of films in the last five years or so, Shyamalan’s Signs so validated and articulated my own struggles with doubt and darkness and the overwhelming faithfulness of God in response to my struggles that I walked out of that theater with a soul giddy and buzzed for days. Then there’s Pan’s Labyrinth, Contact, 50 First Dates, Matrix . . .
5. Unusual engagement with popular culture. I’m not sure I’d call it unusual, but I spent several years as a volunteer on a Contemporary Worship planning team for a program that, in my opinion, is one of the finest in the country. It was one of the most enjoyable, challenging and wonderful experiences I’ve had in my decades going to church. Each week we prayerfully and creatively found ways to use popular culture to invite folks to encounter Jesus just like Paul did in Acts 17 (see below). But one of the best parts was spending time each week with a small group of creative, Jesus-loving people who became friends of the best kind—brothers and sisters in Jesus.
Bonus: Is engagement essential to your Christian faith, how and why? Absolutely. I remember the morning I was sitting in a small church in California and heard Acts 17 preached for the first time. It has become one of the defining lenses through which I approach culture.
So Paul took his stand in the open space at the Areopagus and laid it out for them: "I'm here to introduce you to this God.... He doesn't play hide-and-seek with us. He's not remote; he's near. We live and move in him, can't get away from him!" ~Acts 17