I teach lessons on Monday evenings at St. John’s before rehearsal for The Journey. One of the student’s mother came in and said she was going to hang out, cool with me, but maybe a little boring. So I handed her a book I had read earlier that day, Rob Bell’s Drops Like Stars.
Drops Like Stars is a neat book. It is beautiful. It is artistic. And the book even captured Bell’s voice, intonation, and cadences; seen and heard in the NOOMA videos.
So the lessons ends and this mother has been laughing and tells how she really identified with the older brother from the Prodigal Son story. She was intrigued with the perspective taken in the book – check it out folks! I mention to her how the book would be great for a young adult to middle age Sunday School classes in the church. This mother said she didn’t think it would go over well, some folks would take offense to the tone and language.
What? Then my next lesson arrived and that mother and son were off…
But that nagged at me, what in the world was offensive in the book? So I reread it when I got home.
I found what was offensive; the set-up is this statement could be what the older brother (to the prodigal son) could have said to their father: “Sorry, I’ve been such an ass.”
Isn’t that word in the Bible? And I’m pretty sure we’ve all heard a helluva lot worse… just open your ears at the next high school football game. Other than that I couldn’t find anything outright offensive, and I didn’t understand what was wrong with the book’s tone. Then it occurred to me: Drops Like Stars is written in the language of today! It uses examples from the world we live in, uses images from to illustrate the points that we see everyday, and the general tone of the book is one of we use today to communicate. By doing so I feel it puts our faith in terms of today – puts our faith rights here where we are today – it places the discussion of faith and action in our daily lives – not the one we live Sunday mornings.
These questions kept rolling through my mind:
Are we willing to “be real” with our faith? Or do we keep our faith at arm’s length during the day so it will not interfere with our lives?
Do we keep our “church lives” in a neat box filled with Reader’s Digest stories filled with characters from the Donna Reed show only to be opened on Sunday mornings? Or do we tell our stories – do we freely admit our flaws & shortcomings – those are the stories that are longing to be told.
Are we trying to make our faith part of the daily grind? A living witness in action?