This morning I finished reading Honest to God. It took me several months to work my way through it and at times I have to admit that it scared me. It felt as though Robinson was turning me upside down and shaking me until every last vestige of the faith I’ve known was turned out of my pockets once and for all.
But it spoke to places in me that have been clenched and cynical for longer than I can remember. It gave new depth and color and dimension to my understanding of God, the Bible, Church, communion, prayer, and love and it reverberated so deeply at times that I nearly wept while I read.
The publication of the book was apparently quite controversial at the time of its release and it’s hard to imagine it would be any less controversial now, though there might be more folks willing to say, “Yes, me too.” Reading it has clarified so many things for me and while it did frighten me, it also freed me. It frightens me because it’s resonance and relevance in my life might well mean that I’m kicked out of my tribe for good (if I’ve even managed to maintain the toehold I like to think that I have).
But it also frees me. It frees me to be honest with myself first and foremost. It frees me to breathe deeply and to name some of the things that have long been percolating in the quiet spaces within me. And it has given me the language to express some of my deepest yearnings and suspicions and understandings of God and that is a gift beyond measure, however seemingly unorthodox it might make me.
We considered reading Honest to God with our Community Group this year but ultimately decided that it might be too dense. So we opted instead for What is the Bible? by Rob Bell. We start next week and I’m excited to see where the conversations go. I’ll be posting each week again this year so check back for updates.
For now, I’ll leave you with the last section that I underlined this morning as I finished the final chapter…
This basic commitment to Christ may have been in the past — and may be for most of us still — buttressed and fortified by many lesser commitments — to a particular projection of God, a particular ‘myth’ of the Incarnation, a particular code of morals, a particular pattern of religion.
Without the buttresses it may look as if all would collapse. Nevertheless, we must beware of clinging to the buttresses instead of to Christ. And still more must we beware of insisting on the buttresses as the way to Christ. For to growing numbers in our generation they are barriers rather than supports…