The daughter of a genuine, certified theologian, I'd memorized the "Four Spiritual Laws" before I'd memorized my own address. My father earned a graduate degree from Dallas Theological Seminary, a school famous for producing megachurch pastors like Chuck Swindoll, Tony Evans, and Andy Stanley. Instead of pursuing full-time ministry, however, my father committed his life to Christian education, which I suppose explains the plastic cups. A college professor, he often invited his brightest students over for coffee and long talks about hermeneutics and eschatology and epistemology. I loved falling asleep to the sound of their voices undulating from the living room. I felt secure in knowing that while I slept, my father was awake having important conversations about God.
I always looked up to my father with a sense of reverent awe. It wasn't that I thought he possessed supernatural powers or anything; I just imagined that he and God had a lot of things in common, that they subscribed to the same magazines and wore similar shoes. Looking back, I realize how important it was that my father loved me so openly and listened so carefully. My first impressions of my heavenly Father were that he too was gentle, playful, and kind.
Despite knowing about dispensationalism long before I probably should have, I never felt trapped in a world of endless churchgoing. My mother had been raised Independent Baptist and as a girl was forbidden to dance and go to movies. Determined to avoid legalism, she let Amanda and me wait until we were good and ready before we got baptized, took communion, or asked Jesus into our hearts. Her private disdain for potlucks and church business meetings kept us from being at church every time the doors were opened, and I noticed that she got a little fidgety whenever the pastor discussed wives submitting to their husbands. I loved this about her, the same way I loved the scent of her cherry-almond lotion when she tucked me into bed at night.
A substitute teacher at my elementary school, my mother earned a reputation for doting on the needy kids. Those with absent parents, stained shirts, runny noses, and learning disabilities always left her classroom beaming with self-confidence. I think I must have gotten my bleeding heart from her, which, combined with my father's cautious idealism, accidentally made me into a liberal. If my father gave Christianity a head, my mother gave it a heart and hands, and it was her tender telling of the story of the cross, mingled with cherry almond, that first moved me to ask Jesus into my heart.
Friday, September 9, 2011
who and God had a lot of things in common
If Frank Schaeffer and Pearl S. Buck are my MK cousins (that is, are evangelical Christian missionaries' kids, like me), then Rachel Held Evans is similarly kin to my spouse (whose parents are in full-time Christian education and churchwork). She recently finished Held Evans's book Evolving in Monkey Town: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask the Questions, saying how it really resonated with her, and so now I'm reading it. Just a few pages in, I'm struck by how the author describes her parents, and how differently. Through daughter and little girl eyes, she somehow finds God like father but mother otherwise. Take a read and see for yourself. A telling contrast comes in the final sentence of the four paragraphs excerpted below. I don't have much time really to say more here at the blog but have been thinking about this all day, about imagination and where it ends up sometimes before it can evolve elsewhere. Your thoughts?