Thursday, February 01, 2007

Theology Meme??

Okay, I give. My Anj has tagged me for the meme that has been floating through the blogosphere and I have avoided up to this point. It is a theology meme - what are the best 3 books of theology published in the past 25 years???

Sigh. I wasted my young, brilliant brain on really bad theology, so I have avoided it henceforth (or is it forthwith?) Needless to say I have found that the "having all the answers and everything all figured out" that finds it way into theology books seems to makes me itch lately.

I do tend to be a practical woman, and practical theology has changed my life. I believe that what we truly believe, not what we say we believe, shows up in the choices we make, the ways we live our lives and how we treat those around us. Most Christian leaders today look very little like Jesus, and so I don't trust a lot of what they write.

I also seem to have lost my brain somewhere along the mommy-train. Sitting down to actually read NT Wright or Miroslav Volf sounds dreamy and intellectual, but in reality I doubt I would truly get very far these days. Maybe I'm selling myself short, but I find that I can devour good fiction, but non-fiction is slow going as I really sit with the ideas, contemplate them and allow them to change me. Reading good non-fiction quickly makes me feel like a glutton.

So, coming up with three books that a) I have actually read and b) I would consider "best" and c) are actual theology books made me realize that 1) this is my list, and 2) if it changes the way I look at the church and God it becomes a theology book to me, right? So here is my list:

1) Life of Pi - Yann Martel - "I have a story that will make you believe in God"

It did.

2) My Name is Asher Lev - Chaim Potek - "If You don't want me to use the gift, why did You give it to me?"

I felt like this through my whole life in wondering why God made me a woman in love with theology and the church and called me when I didn't have the "right plumbing" or chromosomes? Watching Asher Lev struggle with the God-given gifts that his faith culture told him he was sinful to use changed my life and my understanding of God. Maybe it wasn't God that was the problem???

3) Letters to a Young Poet - Rainer Maria Rilke - Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions

I had always been shamed by and ashamed of my questions. The fear that runs rampant in the church when it comes to mystery was stifling to me. Not being afraid of the questions anymore gave me my mind back. It opened the door to all of the wonder and mystery that is God.

So that's my list. These are some of the books that have shaped my theology in the past few years. I know they aren't strictly "theology books" and it will shock anyone from my old life to see that I'm learning more through story than I am through "scripture" lately. But the surprising thing is that story is giving me scripture back.

I should also mention that there are many theologians that I read in snips and bits and they have helped me to rearrange the furniture on my theological landscape. Those mentioned above have helped restore my passion for theology. Others who are helping are Brian McLaren, Phillip Yancy, Parker Palmer, Scot McKnight and even my own pastor Peter Fitch. Maybe one day I'll get my brain back and begin again to be passionate about theology books and doctrine, but right now I find the outworking of that theology to be much more giving of life and hope.

If you haven't done this meme yet and want to play along, consider yourself tagged.


Sarah Louise said...

I love this!! I think my "greatest theology" books are also not theology.

Anonymous said...

Novels have always been my best theology books - and I would have listed My Name is Asher Lev, too. I can get through books on spirituality or spiritual practices just fine, but "real" theology books (outside of feminist theology) bore me senseless. I don't even try to read them. They just don't ask the questions I'm interested in. Stories convey a different kind of truth - whose to say it's less important than the systematic kind of thing from Dr. Professor So and so?


anj said...

Thanks for playing Heidi. I listed Asher Lev too.