We were away for camp (retreat) this weekend. Late Saturday night, I walked out into the woods alone with my flashlight off. I didn't last long without the light (an armadillo gave me a bit of a scare), but I pressed on to the clearing at the lake and lay on the picnic table and stared at the northern cross and spoke to God in the darkenss--completely at ease and yet fully aware of my fear. I walked all the way back without the light. My soul really needed it.
I read Blue Like Jazz this summer (our whole student team did), and I pushed Luke to read it and have promised to send one to Mary Ann. I think the conversation the book creates is really important. I think he's right in a lot of things and he's right not to ditch the church--the church just has to be willing to keep asking these questions all the time. We tend to forget that ministry to a group of people 3 years ago may be nothing at all like what we need now and we have to force ourselves to keep asking what it means to follow Christ today, not yesterday. Many leaders in the church share this burden, it just gets hard--but God is faithul to raise up new voices to remind us if we'll listen.
I know many of my and your generation who find the book especially significant and we can't exactly explain why it's not just speaking of a new trend or a new "movement." It's about a new culture and a sense of longing. I don't have answers here, yet, but I think the book moves us past the borders of American evangelicalism and back into the fold of world-wide Christianity. We live in a religious culture that has made Christianity about us, and that's a mistake. I no longer teach people that "God has a wonderful plan for your life." Now I say, "God has a wonderful plan for the redemption of humanity and he wants you to be part of it." It's subtle, but the perspective shift is important and it puts the emphais back on Him and not me.