Saturday, January 25, 2014

The "Personal Journey"

Most of us, over the age of 30 at least, have some type of personal journey.  I do admit, that Face Book has shown me that many people don't travel from point A to Z like I did, (okay, lets say to point "M") but from point A to point A or maybe just from big A to little a.

This was the first weekend I've had off in months.  I had chores to do, but could do them at a leisure, rather than having to cram some marathon work project in over the week end like has been typical for awhile. Last weekend it was a mad rush to rewrite a state law about medical practice.  I'm part of a team who is working on that.

We just had new wooden floors installed in our upstairs and they finished Friday night.  They did do a good job, although it took them six months (great artisans, horrible communicators).  So our house has been in some level of disarray during this entire time. One thing that had been dismantled was our very large book case.  It holds over 300 books.  This morning my wife and I were able to move it back in place, and I screwed it back to the wall.

Then, for the rest of the day I slowly carried loads of books back up the stairs and went through a process of cleaning them and organizing them.  I've set my mind on throwing away at least 50 because the overflow books were stacked on top.

I'm not a book "keeper" (different than a "bookkeeper").  It use to drive my sons crazy but I'm hard on books.  Rarely do they last my reading.  I carry them in backpacks, on bikes and under seats.  I spill coffee on them, I drop them in the hot tub, I leave them out in the rain.  But if one does survive, I usually don't keep it but they go to Goodwill. The exception to this habit are the books that line my spiritual journey like a exits on cross country highway.  I decided to line in up in my bookcase in the order I had experienced them.  I think there are at least 50.

I must explain that, despite how I come across here at times, I'm very secure where I am in my thinking right now.  No, I don't have certainty but I am certain that the pretense of certainty is highly over-rated.

I began my journey with Larry Crabb's Inside Out. I can't remember much about it, but I read it while still living in Egypt and when I was at the beginnings of a plunge into the darkness of total confusion. The book didn't cause the confusion but planted a seed of seeking honesty.  I was living in a make-believe world of evangelicalism at the time, not much different than a trip to Disney World.

I think my next major book was Sham Pearls before Real Swine written by Franky Schaeffer.  It had a special place in my journey because at the time I was back in the states and plugging into LAbri to seek help.  The book was given to my by Franky's mother because it wasn't available anywhere else and honestly, I don't think she really understood what her son was trying to say . . . but I did.  It was a deeply honest appraisal of American Evangelicalism.

Next was the book, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind. It had a profound influence on me . . . helping me to know that I wasn't alone in my concerns about the choice of ignorance that Evangelicalism was addicted to.

Then I turned onto the Compete Works of Francis Schaeffer. I had read each one in College just to be pious . . . not understanding a single word.  But this time I reread them twice, each one. First I read them straight through. Then I stopped and spent a year studying philosophy including the history of philosophy. I also listened to about 200 lectures by the late Dr. Schaeffer. By that time I came back to the complete works and read them again I was profoundly changed in my understanding of western civilization.

Next I spent two years studying the Bible from cover to cover and studying the history of the Church.  Remember, I wasn't doing this for any pious reason. I was desperate. During the first two years of my study, I was damned depressed . . . so much so, that I was often contemplating either picking up another book, or hanging myself . . . literally.  But I have about seven books about the early church from the first century through the present (the present of the early 90s).

Next on the list were more books of philosophy and some softer spiritual books like Yancey's What's so Amazing about Grace and Blue Like Jazz. Then I read a bunch of books about modern church structure, there were about seven or eight.

Hmm . . . trying to remember what was next. I think there were a couple of science books that was helping me to sort out this whole creation question.  During my early days of searching, I was quite involved with Creation Research Society, even helping with a conference they was putting on.  Then it clicked in my mind during one lecture that they were not scientists but promoting dogma with a support of pseudoscience.  At this juncture I wanted to hear from real scientists, those who humbly want to know the truth at all cost, not with an agenda to promote a dogma . . . and make a little money.

Finally are a long line of fiction.  I had arrived at a safe place, where I could sit back and enjoy the creative forces of the fantastic word-smiths of the past few hundred years. My searching was over . . . but I will continue learning forever . . . so I hope.

(I had time for one quick proof read so I'm sorry for any glaring mistakes.)


NOTAL said...

Reading this makes me want to read through this reading list.

Don said...

I am a reader, read every book you mentions, including all of Hugh Ross on creation/evolution.

Share some more, might have a treasure for me to add.

j. Michael Jones said...

Hugh Ross helped me to see how a real scientist and believer in a 14 billion year old universe can still be a Christian.