God is here
i've been a fan of 'the practice of the presence of God' by brother lawrence for about 7 years or so since i read it. it was, without doubt, a book that changed my life. the main idea i got from it (and the one that stays with me) is the concept that God is there continuously - it's just a matter of recognising that fact. we tend to see moments of our heightened awareness of his presence as being the only moments when he is there. in actual fact these moments are simply instances when our senses were turned on to his proximity. he is there all the time.
steve case's 'God is here' is a book that attempts to apply and explain brother lawrence's ideas for a contemporary audience. brother lawrence lived in the 1600s, so you can see why someone might think that his writing needs some interpretation in the 2000s.
anyway, because of my feelings about 'the practice of the presence of God' i approached this book with a couple of thoughts - 1. "this should be good, because it is about such a great book" and 2. "this better be good - the author better not get this wrong."
case does a reasonable job. as usual with american published books, i found myself frustrated with the american context - these books are written with the assumption that all the readers will be american - so we get endless references to 'krispy kream' donuts and such. let's talk about what i'd like to call the 'krispy kream factor'. this is about more than just an american cultural framework. i've noticed recently that christian authors in their anxiety to make their material culturally relevant, lessen the impact of their writing by constantly referring to banal illustrations. you end up with a kind of kitsch image of something profound - like comparing the kind of divine encounters recounted by brother lawrence to sitting on the backporch with a grande starbucks espresso and a box of krispy kreams on a sunday morning. american christian authors seem obsessed with coffee and donuts.
case is trying to apply the ideas in brother lawrence's book to my everyday life. but it doesn't always work because i was first impacted by the unmediated reading of the original (i didn't need anyone to explain it) and also because i don't really identify with the krispy kream factor.
that's my rave finished. all that being said, the book reminded me about brother lawrence and got me thinking about his stuff again. and some of the things that case pointed out were helpful to me.
and, i finished reading this book on the deck yesterday, in the sunshine - which was a blissful experience that proved a lot of what case was saying... enjoy the moments, know that God is there. and i did (without donuts and coffee).
warandpeace-o-meter: 669/981 (volIII, bookXI, chapI)
on the stereo 'to build a home' by the cinematic orchestra, from the album 'ma fleur'.