All that Gilead puts to us is the plain reminder goodness is not enough. Goodness, self-defined and self-contained, is something which will be poisonous if we’re not careful. Without the wound, the openness, the crack that connects us to reality, to one another, and to God, healing doesn’t happen. The “good“ can so easily come to believe that healing is natural and simple. But revelation tells us that healing is indeed the restoration of a broken nature, but precisely because our nature is broken, this healing must be more than “natural.” . . .
Fiction, if it’s doing its work, will always, I’ve suggested take us deeper into connectedness. And in a fiction that works with and is inspired by Christian themes we are taken into the deepest connectedness of all; in the light and in hope of which we live and pray for one another. – Rowan Williams, “Beyond Goodness: Gilead and the Discovery of the Connections of Grace,” 166-167.
Over the course of the spring term I pressed into completing a Doctor of Ministry at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Thank you to everyone who encouraged, prayed for, and supported me in the process of completing my thesis![footnote]Defining and Discerning Calling: Assisting a Student’s Academic Journey with a Focus upon Emerging Scholar Engaged in Post-Baccalaureate Higher Education. For related Emerging Scholars Network blog posts explore Ministry to Emerging Scholars Generations. Yes, there will be more to come 🙂 Stay tuned. To God be the glory![/footnote] After returning from graduation, I began to give attention to what had become a tremendous stack of material sent by various publishers over the course of the past year. With summer unfolding, I thought it would be good to go the direction of Read…Quote…Reflect, beginning with a series on Balm in Gilead: A Theological Dialogue with Marilynne Robinson — an InterVarsity Press publication resulting from the 2018 Wheaton Theology Conference.
I pray that this summer’s Read…Quote…Reflect will encourage:
- Sabbath reflection as we seek to rest in God (our true love, through whom we find healing),
- faithful witness as followers of Christ (individually & corporately — with a proper understanding of woundedness and “nature”), and
- prayerful consideration of the resources available (including fiction, dialogue with fiction, and conversation with authors[footnote]The 12 chapters of Balm in Gilead: A Theological Dialogue with Marilynne Robinson provide the unique opportunity not only to explore Robinson’s work, but also to read a piece on “The Protestant Conscience” by Robinson (Chapter 10), “A Conversation Between Marilynne Robinson and Rowan Williams” (Chapter 11), and “An Interview with Marilynne Robinson” by Philip Ryken (Chapter 12). Consider the Balm in Gilead series not only a “teaser” regarding the InterVarsity Press publication, but also an invitation to consider the writings of Marilynne Robinson, connected authors, and the music of Shawn E. Okpebholo (which was woven throughout the conference — Steal Away: Album Sampler below).[/footnote]) to us as we missionally engage our vocational context.
Having completed the introduction I encourage you to set aside a time of “rest” to listen to Steal Away: Album Sampler and read / reflect upon “Healing, Fiction, and Connectedness” (above). If you are looking for fiction inspired by Christian themes and have not read the work of Marilynne Robinson, I encourage you to give prayerful consideration to adding her writing to your summer reading list. To God be the glory!
About the author:
Tom enjoys daily conversations regarding living out the Biblical Story with his wife Theresa and their four girls, around the block, at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church (where he teaches adult electives and co-leads a small group), among healthcare professionals as the Northeast Regional Director for the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA), and in higher ed as a volunteer with the Emerging Scholars Network (ESN). For a number of years, the Christian Medical Society / CMDA at Penn State College of Medicine was the hub of his ministry with CMDA. Note: Tom served with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship / USA for 20+ years, including 6+ years as the Associate Director of ESN. He has written for the ESN blog from its launch in August 2008. He has studied Biology (B.S.), Higher Education (M.A.), Spiritual Direction (Certificate), Spiritual Formation (M.A.R.), Ministry to Emerging Generations (D.Min.). To God be the glory!