CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith and Life for the Years of Winter…
Each time we have moved in retirement, I had to jettison some books. Usually a lot of books. Books weigh a lot, and movers charge by the pound. No point in paying to move a book you’ll never read or need again.
Books are precious to me, beyond their looks or contents. They represent a way of life and a way of getting into a wider world. So each time I let a book go, it was like losing a friend.
As the years and moves went on, that constant winnowing meant my library was smaller with each move. We were always moving into a standard house, though, so if I could not decide to part with a book, well, 75 cents per pound is a small price to pay for a good book.
This last time we moved was from a standard house to a small condo. In the house we had eight floor to ceiling book cases, which I thought was far too few. In the condo we would have room for only three. I could keep only the very most important of all those books.
So now I am reading those I kept, again, because the ones I kept were the ones I knew had been especially meaningful to me when I first read them. If they were good reading the first time, surely they would be helpful as I prepare for final exams.
Some of them, I wonder why I kept them. They are so mundane. Why would I ever have thought they were worthwhile? Others, though, open up the world again this time just as they did the first time. Such a book is Gunther Bornkamm’s simply titled, Jesus of Nazareth.
Published in English in 1956, Bornkamm was the gateway for later New Testament scholar-believers like Marcus Borg and Dom Crossan and N.T. Wright.
It was from Bornkamm that I first learned, and am learning again, that the Gospels were never intended as an historical account, a factual account, of the life of Jesus of Nazareth. The Gospel writers were not so much telling as experiencing, participating in Jesus’ interaction with the church.
That very word, “church,” misleads us now, because when we hear it, we think of what we know as “church” today. But in Gospel terms, church was simply a collection of people who were radically engaged with the earthly and risen Jesus. It was a spiritual reality. The Gospels are the written account of spiritual engagement, the record not just of the earthly Jesus but of the collision of these saints, as early Christians were called, with the incarnate God, the Christ.
In the culture at large and in almost all denominations, we decry the lack of unity in the church. But unity is a matter of spirit, not organization. As John Wesley said, “If your heart is with my heart, then give me your hand.”
Spoiler Alert: If you have read this column in the last 3 months, all that follows is old news:
I tweet occasionally as yooper1721.
In case you need to buy another Christmas present: Katie Kennedy is the rising star in YA lit. [She is also our daughter.] She is published by Bloomsbury, which also publishes lesser authors, like JK Rowling. Her latest book is, What Goes Up. It’s published in hardback, paperback, audio, and electronic, from B&N, Amazon, etc.
Speaking of writing, my most recent book, VETS, about four homeless and handicapped Iraqistan veterans, is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, BOKO, Powell’s, etc. It’s published by Black Opal Books.