We asked the editors of Disquiet Time for a brief paragraph about what they think will be helpful/interesting/weird/encouraging about presenting Disquiet Time at a seminary. What they submitted ended up being more lengthy than anticipated, but it was so good, we just thought we’d leave it as it was. Hope to see you at our event in November.
A virtual panel discussion in Christianity Today magazine posed a question to three authors whose recent book releases point to their most profound spiritual and ecclesiastical concerns.
(One dubs the Millennials an “Ex-Christian Generation,” another calls ours a “post-Christian world,” and a third writes about what it means to be “Almost Christian.”)
The question posed to these authors by CT:
How can churches reach nominal believers before they become ‘Nones’?
One panelist advocates giving “nominal believers a jolt” by confronting them with “the hard truth of what it means to follow Jesus.” He said that nominal Christians must be confronted with the “all-or-nothing demands of the gospel.” If they walk away, he says, “at least they will go freed from the delusion that blinds them to their true need for Christ.”
The second suggests that the church welcome those who have “zoned out” by immersing them with “meaning, belonging, and radical hospitality.” The author says that, “we’re far less likely to lose people around the edges” when churches “err on the side of grace in matters of doctrine and politics.”
The third writer says we must “reimage the church so that it engages all people relationally” and praises programs such as the Alpha Course, a program that introduces the basics of the Gospel and “stress(es) that conversion leads to lifelong discipleship.”
I’d posit that there is a fourth way (and probably dozens more) for believers to engage those who feel marginalized in the church or who describe themselves as spiritually uninterested, adrift, or numb:
Listen to their stories.
Invite them to be honest about their wounds, struggles, and doubts.
And that’s where the contributors to Disquiet Time offer a rich, unique, and wide-ranging opportunity. For these and many other reasons, the anthology is special, as:
- In a polarized culture, it’s not divisive.
We invited everyone from our most conservative Christian friend (a professor at Liberty University, no less) to a writer who once identified as Christian but no longer does (she’s a Zen Buddhist monk) to tell their stories. We wanted to listen, and none of the contributors aim to proselytize or judge other people’s experiences of faith. They just tell their stories, and there is great value in that.
An early reviewer wrote,
My favorite part of this collection is that while I didn’t agree with everything the different writers say…I didn’t feel like I had to. Do you know what a surprise that is? I kept waiting to feel that defensive mechanism go up inside me, but it didn’t. There was no expectation of uniformity or call for everyone to fall in line. This collection is such an inspiring picture of what real faith, lived with real people, looks and feels and reads like.
If ministers or theology students find themselves concerned about “reaching Millennials” or about the prevalence of people who describe themselves as a “none,” they will know that, as this recent discussion underscores, “This distaste for polarization is a key feature of the millennials that leads you to call them ‘the mediating generation.’”
Disquiet Time is a book that illuminates the experience of all sorts of people of faith. It points to God’s grace and how big (and how incomplete) are our stories.
A minister-in-training will, after reading the book, more intimately understand the parishioners who come into the church to quit Christianity. Readers will also enjoy seeing the ways that Scripture has buoyed up, informed, and amused many people of faith. Disquiet Time gives readers permission to question, play with, and even rail against the Scriptures.
- The voices are various, compelling, and tell honest stories.
Our contributors range in age from their twenties to seventies. Doubt and spiritual numbness don’t belong to the Millenials. Regardless of the decade into which one was born, all people struggle spiritually, sometimes find themselves confounded by the Scriptures, and wrestle with disappointment and doubt. Adolescents, seniors, and even middle-aged church-goers like me wrangle with our faith.
Disquiet Time isn’t geared toward Millenials or “nones” or any other particular cohort. Its agenda isn’t to convert or “jolt,” but to give readers the opportunity to listen to what these particular writers have experienced in their lives of faith.
Both Cathleen and I, over the several months when we were editing chapters and curating the project, were struck by the emotions that the contributors expressed. Well-known authors worried that they couldn’t complete the task. Others confessed to being kept up nights, wrestling with the fear of over-exposing themselves or being misunderstood. But they all had important stories to tell. And they wanted, some for the first time, to say:
“To tell the truth, this is what it’s felt like for me to be a person of faith.
These are my struggles.
This is what makes me laugh.
This is what confuses me about the Bible.”
- It’s fun.
When we corresponded with our contributors, we promised not to censor them. We said, on more than one occasion, Disquiet Time doesn’t need to earn a PG rating. Among other topics, our contributors write about sex, bodily fluids, or the Sunday School hymns that both inspire or have echoed in a toxic, taunting way throughout their lives.
All to say, this weird and wonderful collection of narratives will be of value to ministers and seminarians who aim to understand and articulate spiritual joys and longings, but to all who want to better understand how variously – and particularly – the Scriptures speak to us today.
There you have it.
Join general editors Cathleen Falsani and Jennifer Grant, along with contributing authors Tripp Hudgins, Jay E. Johnson, Carolyn Reyes, and Anna Broadway for a lively discussion of their contributions to the new book Disquiet Time: Rants and Reflections on the Good Book by the Skeptical, the Faithful, and a Few Scoundrels.
Saturday, November 8
American Baptist Seminary of The West
2606 Dwight Way
Learn more here: http://disquiettime.com/
Follow them on Twitter: @disquiettime