“Breaking up with God”

I started a new book: Breaking Up with God: a love story by Sarah Sentilles. I read the second chapter this morning about the author’s college years at Yale. Two passages struck me:

“I felt my childhood version of God starting to disappear. Make-believe, I thought. It’s all make-believe. We make, and then we believe.”

“Religious language is odd language. We use it to describe an extraordinary situation in ordinary words; we use ordinary words to disconcert normal expectations.”(A teaching by her professor, Louis Dupre’)

This started me thinking about something I intuited years ago before I ever took a formal theology course. I remember while in my 20’s sitting in my pajamas on my couch, my legs tucked under me, with the Jerusalem Bible open on my lap. I read every introductory section of that fat volume, every footnote, studied every chart, and I followed every cross reference noted at the bottom of each page. As I read, it began to occur to me that behind every historic recording, poem, prophetic writing, or story, there was first a spiritual experience. The Bible, to me, was the reporting of the spiritual experiences of real people who had only inadequate words to use to try to communicate an event that defied words.  From that time on, when anyone would challenge the historic accuracy of the Bible or suggest that we shouldn’t apply the scriptures literally, I never felt my faith threatened. The Bible was about divine happenings inside of people and it was calling me to search for my own inner experience of the divine.

I don’t know what Sarah Sentilles will reveal in this book about her experience. Will she end up rejecting the religion of her childhood? Will she find a new way to express her faith? Will she chuck it all and turn into an atheist? It doesn’t matter. I just want Sarah to be happy. Since the days of my studies, I have intuited something else: God is not concerned about what people believe about him because God doesn’t have the ego problems we humans have. God just loves and it is in awaking to this love that human beings are transformed.

 

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