Summer Reading: Grounded

If you grew up in a Presbyterian congregation and are old enough to remember the little beige book with the shiny pages, share a memory in the Comments section below this post. If you don't share the experience or the memory, that's OK. Read on! One of the first questions of the Primary Catechism was "Where is God?" The answer: "God is everywhere." As a little kid I found that both awesome and awful. It meant I was never alone. It also meant I could never hide! God could see everything I did, and hear every word I said! As an adult I have learned that God is still everywhere and I am never alone. God is far less concerned with my faults and errors than I am! And God is far more willing to forgive me than I am.

Somewhere along the way, though, most of us were taught to think of our relationship with God as vertical. We're down here. God is up there. If we want to know where God really is, we have too look up, beyond the earth we still believe God created. Some of us may even have been told we had to avoid or ignore as much of the world as possible, to keep ourselves as clean as we could, so we would have a chance to escape to go up there and be with God.

If we always and only imagine our connection with God as vertical it's easy to believe we're lost in this world. But what if we can come close to God down here, where we live and move and have our being? Can we imagine a horizontal relationship with the God who is, as some of us were taught, everywhere?

I have a short summer reading list. It's nice, for the first summer in many years, not to have text books on that list. One book I look forward to finishing is Grounded by Diana Butler Bass. I recommend it for summer reading. Bass weaves together her expert observations on current trends in religion and spirituality in North America, and a creation-based Christian theology that is both new and very old. For those of us who are more inclined to look around than up to locate God, or at least to look around first, this makes sense. But Bass has a way of provoking us to take a fresh look at what we already believe.

I invite you to join with me in reading Grounded. It will be great preparation for a conversation I'm looking forward to in September. On Wednesday, September 21, we'll begin a six-session discussion, based on Grounded, Come at Noon or 7:30 p.m., or / and participate in an online conversation.

Grounded is available for purchase in book stores or online, in print and as an e-book. It's a great summer read for the cottage, backyard, or balcony.