Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Operation Read Those Books: Day 17

(You can read more about Operation Read Those Books here.)

(Parenthetical note #2: This is actually yesterday's entry - I'm not behind on my reading, just my blogging!)

Yesterday I began reading The God of the Mundane, by Matthew B. Redmond. First off, I love the cover! Especially the tag:
A Breath-Taking Escape from the Fantastical!

And now that I've remarked on the wrapping, let's go on to the content.

What did I read? The intro and the first two chapters.

What struck me? The questions Redmond asks. Here's the heart of it:
Is there a God . . . for those who are not changing anything but diapers? Is there a God for those who simply love their spouse and pour out rarely-appreciated affection on their children day after day? Is there a God for the mom who spends what feels like God-forsaken days changing diapers and slicing up hot dogs? Is there a God for the men who hammer out a day's work in obscurity for the love of his wife and kids? Is there a God for just and kind employers? Generous homemakers? Day-laborers who would look at a missons trip to Romania like it was an unimaginable vacation?
It's a really good set of questions. It's also, as the author points out, the kind of questions most of us ask at some point. What if we're not doing something spectacular for God? What if we're just . . . ordinary?

Redmond confesses to having been a preacher who preached the kind of sermons that made people feel guilty for not going on the mission field, for not doing something extraordinary and crazy and radical for Christ. And, he observes now:
It never felt right but it preached well.
That was the line that struck me the most. Because I know exactly what he means. Those calls sound exactly right, but they never feel right.

Reading that made me wonder: why? I think it's because the message is half-right: we are called to live completely committed lives, radically devoted to the cause of Christ, but we are also all called to serve different roles within the church.

I think the kind of sermon Redmond is talking about misses the second part. If everyone was a missionary, where would the support be? Or, even more close to home, if everyone was a preacher, where would the vestry be? (And the nursery workers, and the altar guild, and the choir members, etc.?)

I do think we are all supposed to say, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord: let it be to me according to your word." But that word is going to be different for each of us.

Takeaway? I really appreciated the opportunity to think about the question of where God is to be found in our day-to-day lives. It reminded me a bit both of The Practice of the Presence of God, and Milton's sonnet, "On His Blindness" (i.e., "They also serve who only stand and wait").

I'm interested to see what conclusions he reaches further on in the book. And I think there might be a hint in his words near the end of the second chapter:
We think the small, mundane, ordinary things we do each and every day are worth nothing before God because they are worth nothing before the gods of this world.
A hint that we might be wrong? I think so.

Peace of Christ,
Jessica Snell

(The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued new rules that went into effect on December 1, 2009. These rules state that product reviewers on blogs must disclose whether they received review products for free or received monetary payment for such reviews.

This book was an Advance Review Copies (ARCs) sent by the publisher — common practice in the industry. No payment was accepted in exchange for a review or mention, and the reviewer was in no way obligated to review the book favorably.)

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