Sometimes, It Takes a Book
When they had read it, they rejoiced because of its encouragement. – Acts 15:31 (ESV)
In an age of tweets and squawking, I’m tired of darting from one screenshot to another in a state of benignly bored online outrage. I’m tired of clicking on links to the latest article someone shared without reading. I thirst for the Peace of Christ that passes all human ranting and writing.
As a result, I stop reading the news, and then I stop reading deeper articles because I have gotten out of practice, and that keeps me from even hearing about anything longer that would engage my brain over a week. There, I have confessed it. Sometimes, I avoid books in order to avoid thinking.
But after reading Rodney Clapp’s new book, Naming Neoliberalism: Exposing the Spirit of Our Age, I realize how hungry and lonely I have been—while wandering in the desert of culture wars—for some weight and wisdom from a spiritual tradition that is older, larger, and deeper than I am. Somehow, Clapp uses an overtly political topic to model how to have a cool Christian conversation, across the aisles and the pews. I don’t think he could have done that in a tweet or an Instagram post. It took a whole book, and a theological one at that, to convey a contagious hope for a church where God is still speaking louder and more lovingly than all the pundits I have been trying to avoid.
I’m sure there are a thousand other good books on theology out there that I have been missing. If you have read a long work lately that gave you a sense of perspective, share it and tell people why it was worth the time. As people of the book, we need to read more deeply than we scan and scroll.
Dear God, restore in us an appreciation of your still speaking word, even when it comes in long form. Amen.
Lillian Daniel is Senior Pastor at First Congregational Church in Dubuque, Iowa. She is the author of Tired of Apologizing for a Church I Don’t Belong To and When “Spiritual but not Religious” is Not Enough.