"Interrupted by God"—published by the UCC's Pilgrim Press—is a delightfully disconcerting book.
Author Tracey Lind, dean of Cleveland's Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, offers a series of autobiographical episodes that demonstrate how God wishes her and others to respond to a suffering world. She uses traditional religious imagery as launching points for incisive observations on a variety of religious and social issues.
Lind identifies with those on the outside, partly because of her parentage (WASP mother, Jewish father) and partly because of her sexual orientation (lesbian). She believes that she understands the poor and the marginalized better than many more traditional religious people do, and this book proves her to be right.
As the book's title suggests, she believes that God acts unpredictably, speaking to people unexpectedly. It's an experience she had on 42nd Street in Manhattan, she says, when she had a conversation with God that changed her life.
Like other religious people, she asked, "Why me?" and got an unconventional answer: "Because you've been asking for it." And when she wondered why the voice came from inside her, the reply was, "I'm inside anyone and everyone who wants to know me."
Lind has always worked in economically marginalized areas, and she speaks candidly about her work with people on the bottom, including prostitutes and drug addicts. She fi nds God present among them, and the reader agrees. Reading this book made me feel depressingly suburban, standing on the sidelines writing charitable checks while Lind involves herself directly in the struggle.
Not surprisingly, she finds her favorite liberal causes to be God's causes as well, and it is indeed difficult to believe that the deity prefers pollution, intolerance and neglect of the poor.
Yet she also holds some traditional views, especially on the Resurrection, and she repeatedly initiates her arguments with biblical foundations. She has a burning concern for the Episcopal Church, which she believes must change or die. For her, the church should be a source of continuing transformation in the world.
The book's major strength is simultaneously its one shortcoming. Lind never doubts the validity of her views. Her advocacy gives much of the book its strength, yet the reader wonders if all the issues are really that clear-cut.
A talented amateur photographer, Lind has included black-and-white pictures of some of the people and locales she writes about, and these add much to this attractively printed book. Lind does not include a picture of herself, appropriate for an author who sees herself as not so individually important but as a servant of the poor and the marginalized.
Kelly chairs the religious studies department at John Carroll University. Reprinted with permission: Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Interrupted by God