June 23, 2010
I’m reading a book written by a beloved professor from my Alma Mater Whitworth University – Dr. Jerry Sittser. Jerry teaches a year-long History of Christianity class (broken up into two semesters) which is required by all students endeavoring the Theology Major. Jerry teaches “like a house on fire”. Most of the time I scratched between 2-5 pages of single-spaced notes floundering to keep up, pay attention, and engage in the material. Needless to say, it was a tussle that I both loathed and craved.
Jerry’s class was a beautifully woven tapestry of Christian history (think Augustine, Popes, Councils, and the Reformation) and Christian Spirituality (think the Desert Fathers, Teresa de Avilla, Saint John of the Cross’ Dark Night of the Soul, Christian Mysticism, and monastery asceticism). He passionately argued that although, the New Testament closes with Revelation, God’s work in history doesn’t end in AD 75.
That brings me to today. Today I travel to Seattle to take a class for work. Jerry’s book Water from a Deep Well – Christian Spirituality from Early Martyrs to Modern Missionaries has already challenged me to pull out Augustine’s Confessions and remember how we learn.
CS Lewis writes in an essay Meditations in a Toolshed that there are 2 ways to learn something. You can look at a subject from another point of view – which can lead us into a booby-trap of superiority issues – or we can look along it, allowing the subject itself to illuminate the world for us.
May the Lord help me read Scripture this way. So often I use my mind to strip the Word of its influence on my heart and, maybe more a grotesque feat, I can read Scripture with an arrogant familiarity.
When you hear the phrase “Christian Spirituality” what comes to mind? Does it, like it does for me, make you feel uncomfortable? Why does this phrase make us cringe? I hope to be open to what Jerry is going to teach me through this book. I’m excited for the fresh perspective.