Craig Barnes: Searching for Home: Spirituality for Restless Souls (Brazos) WITH AUDIO.

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May 7, 2004. (Due to technical difficultues there is a slight echo during parts of this interview. We apologize for the inconvenience.)
Well welcome everybody. You know, there’s an old Beatles’ song that said, “Once there was a way to get back homeward.” It was a phrase that gave voice to our universal longing for home. Well, our next guest has explored that subject exquisitely in his new book, Searching for Home. It’s published by Brazos. The subtitle is Spirituality for Restless Souls. He is Dr. Craig Barnes, long-time pastor, currently pastor of the Shady Side Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, and also professor at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.

Q. And thanks for joining us today, Craig.
A. It’s my honor, thank you.

Q. You know, you start with a very gripping and revelatory story from your personal life about your own father that gave indication to his restlessness of soul and raised questions about whether that restlessness is kind of an anomaly or a norm. Just briefly tell that story so people kind of get the context of the idea of restless souls from your own family life.
A. When my parents were of middle age they got divorced, they went different ways. My mother eventually settled down into another life, but my father just kept roaming and he could never kind of find a home again. And he died a few years ago in a camping trailer somewhere in the middle of Florida, all alone. And when I was at his funeral the idea of this book really started to come to mind. He’s a very extreme form of a restlessness that I think many people in our society live with today. And sometimes it’s more obvious in the extreme forms. But even in more subtle and socially respectable ways there are so many of us who are just wandering around looking for a place to belong and not finding it.

Q. You know, I got the sense in reading this book that this is, at one level you’re using Dante’s Inferno to kind of interact with the ideas. But I also got the sense that this is something that, while it’s true all of us wrestle with, that it’s something that you’ve really done a lot of thinking about and working through in your own life.
A. Well absolutely. You know, I’d have a hard time telling you where home is for me. Most pastors I know would because we don’t tend to any longer spend 40 years in one parish. And so we are also a bit on the road, it’s just that my story is a little more acceptable in society than my father’s, but it’s the same spiritual dynamics that’s operative, and I’m not really sure that I know where home is. We moved from Washington two years ago, and our 23-year-old daughter was just finishing college, so where would she say home is? Her parents aren’t in D.C. anymore. We were in D.C. for 10 years, but originally she was born some place else.

Q. Yeah.
A. And she certainly doesn’t think of Pittsburgh as home.

Q. Yeah.
A. When I was writing the book I interviewed a lot of her friends, her 20-something-year-old friends asking them where home is. And I had to spend a lot of time explaining the concept.

Q. Really.
A. They didn’t even know what I really meant by it.

Q. So let’s start there. When you talk about “home” and what it is, what are you trying to get at in this discussion?
A. Isn’t that fascinating that it’s even a question.

Q. Yeah, absolutely. But you’re right. And it’s interesting to me that these 20-year-olds are saying, What are you talking about?
A. Right. I mean, they know about where they’re staying right now, but they don’t have any expectations of staying there even the year, much less the rest of their lives.

Q. Yeah, absolutely.
A. But they’re very comfortable with that because it’s all that they’ve known.

Q. Yeah.
A. They’re what in the book I call, “They’re living nomadic lives.”

Q. Yeah.
A. There’s quite a bit of literature now being written about the new nomads, or one of the implications of globalization is that when the whole world is open to you, you can go everywhere.

Q. Yeah.
A. But you’re really at home nowhere.

Q. Yeah.
A. There is no one place that is your place. Now contrast that quickly with my grandparents, who were the sixth generation of North Carolina tobacco farmers to inherit this farm. We’ve got photos of all six of these generations on our wall in our dining room. It’s fascinating to see how these people belong on the farm. I mean, they look like farmers. It’s hard to tell where the farm stops and the farmers stop because the land is what it was all about for them. They could never imagine living anywhere else than on that dusty farm. That’s who they were.

Q. Yeah, absolutely.
A. And my daughter has no commitment to a piece of geography. She’ll think about her friends being home, but one of them may be in Florence, another one in Brazil, and another one studying in Tokyo. And they’ll get on line and they’ll talk to each other at night. And that’s her notion of home.

Q. Yeah.
A. It’s got nothing to do with a particular city.

Q. Yeah. So how have we transitioned ¢€œ you talk about this in your chapter on “Nomadic Wanderers” ¢€œ how have we transitioned from settlers to exiles to nomads? I mean, what happened in our society and in our lives?
A. What happened was a tidal wave came over us which dis-settled us. For generations and generations and generations people were settlers, they settled land or they settled in urban neighborhoods, and home was a particular geographic region where your language was taught, where the old customs were inculcated, and where your identity was provided for you. Somewhere in the 1950’s, a whole bunch of social forces started working together to invite my father’s generation really to leave the farm. The GI Bill, the birth of a new thing called The Land Grant University made it possible together for ordinary people to get college degrees, something that never crossed my grandfather’s mind. It never occurred to him that his children could have a college degree.

Q. Uh-huh.
A. And then when they got these degrees they got jobs with a new thing called the multi-national corporation, and that corporation put them at a brand new thing called the suburbs. So they were living away from the farm, away from the old ethnic, urban neighborhoods in these new places called the suburbs, but they never really thought of the suburbs as home. That’s why in the book I refer to these as “exiles.” Exiles aren’t living at home, but they know where home is.

Q. Yeah.
A. Well what¢â‚¬¦ I mean, they enjoyed their homes there, the homes were very comfortable, but every time Christmas would come around, you know, my brother and I would get loaded in the back of our parents’ station wagon and said, We’re going home for Christmas ¢€œ

Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œ which they meant the farm. Well, things have transitioned from that to, now we’re a couple of generations later, we’re so distant from the land or the old ethnic neighborhood that we don’t have any notion where home is. And that’s why I start referring to the 20-something generation. And actually, they’re only the epicenter for what we’re seeing in all generations now ¢€œ

Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œ of a more nomadic way of life. Nomads don’t know where home is.

Q. Yeah. Well you’ve got¢â‚¬¦
A. Just wandering around.

Q. You also add in the piece of technology like the automobile, and suddenly we had homes, you say, “with garages but no porches.”
A. Right.

We’re going to move next ¢€œ and we’ve got to take a break ¢€œ we’ll be back in just a minute. We’re visiting with Craig Barnes. His book is Searching for Home: Spirituality for Restless Souls. And we’re going to move next into the kind of alienation that can happen with nomadic souls, as we continue our discussion. Fascinating subject and as Craig says, Suddenly you’re seeing a lot being written about this. We’ll be back with more right after this. Don’t go away.

(Break)

Well this is Dick Staub back with you. We’re visiting with Dr. Craig Barnes. He’s pastor of the Shady Side Presbyterian Church, professor at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. In the time I’ve known Craig, he’s pastored up in Wisconsin, he’s pastored out in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., and he’s now in Pittsburgh. And what he’s describing is not untypical of many mobile Americans. And given his bent towards understanding society, understanding faith and scripture in our tradition, it brings him to a most-fascinating look at spirituality for restless souls and our search for home.

Q. You talk about Peter Berger’s research and work in understanding what happens with these nomadic souls. You talk about the alienation that happens, the loss of self that has occurred. You talk about the day timer that says it’s all about you. Talk with us, Craig, about the alienation that is happening with nomadic souls.
A. Traditionally throughout history, traditionally home is what tells you who you are and what your mission is. Even if you didn’t like that identity necessarily, at least you knew what it was. It was something that you could rebel against. But it was your home ¢€œ and not just the house you grew up in but the community around you ¢€œ the familial identity that gave you a sense of identity. Now we say just the opposite. Now we tell our kids you’ve got to go out and figure out for yourselves who you are. Family is like the last place that young people are looking to for identity. So now the sense is you have to leave home to discover who you are. When my daughter graduated from college last spring I was amazed to hear the commencement speaker peddling the same dribble I heard when I (break in tape) time ago, which was you can be anything you want to be. Set your goals high, dream your own dreams, and go out there and make us proud. You’re among the best and brightest, and so forth and so on. What he might as well have said is, Look, we’ve got no identity for you to inherit. You’re on your own. So now the identity is something that you have to construct. And people try to make this construction through their choices, which is what college do you choose? What major do you choose? If you don’t like the major, you choose another major. Then you go out and you get a job. You don’t like this job because this job is defining you, then you get another job. If you don’t like marriage you get another marriage. The point being is, if you don’t like the life you have you can get a whole ¢â‚¬Ëœnother life just by making different choices, which is a completely different under state of how a life is constructed than we’ve ever seen in history until this moment, that you’re on your own to put life together. And a lot of people are burning out trying to construct their own lives. I mean, no matter how many choices they make they can’t seem to get it right. And so the feel is wearing down because it doesn’t do well with fundamental confusions about things like identity and mission.

Q. Yeah. You talked about Douglas Coupland’s book, Girlfriend in a Coma. And this woman comes out of a coma, having been started the coma in ’79, and now 20 years later. And when she’s asked about her impressions of the ¢â‚¬Ëœ90s she says, A lack. A lack of convictions, of beliefs, of wisdom, or even of good old badness. No sorrow, no nothing. The people I knew when I came back, they only, well, existed. It was so sad. I mean, talk about how that is a reflection of this kind of soul-weariness that comes with the nomadic soul.
A. Because a nomad is wandering, they’re not just wandering about geographically, they’re wandering about from identity to identity. They’re wandering about from value system to value system in search. And the old term for it is “lost,” lost trying to figure out what is a right, what is a wrong, what is bad, what is good. It’s even hard to say that something is bad anymore. And again, that starts to just shave away at the soul after awhile.

Q. Yeah.
A. People who are wandering into our parish here, they’re just lost. And they’re trying one more thing. But every time they try one more thing that doesn’t quite work they get all the more confused. And they’re bumping into this church that’s full of traditions and this old text that we read from. And it’s so novel to them that you would allow an old ancient text to read the story of your life. Because¢â‚¬¦ Or even in our church they think it’s weird that we say “creed” which is even more bizarre today, that you would allow someone who wrote something 1,700 years ago to tell you what you believe.

Q. Yeah.
A. We don’t believe in creeds today, we believe in vision statements and¢â‚¬¦

Q. Yeah, exactly.
A. And people are¢â‚¬¦ But that’s why again people are getting lost out there. Because there is a severing from a tradition that again, historically, has always given people their identity and their mission. Richard Ford, another typical postmodern novelist has said in one of his novels, “All we want is to get to the place where the past can explain nothing about us and we can get on with life.”

Q. Yeah.
A. I think that is very much the typical agenda today.

Q. Well you know, it’s interesting you talked about in your previous pastorate spending the first year trying to find out what people were looking for. And what the phrase that you kept picking up and the theme you kept picking up was “sanctuary.” People wanted some kind of a safe place. And you were in the D.C. area when September 11th happened. And that was kind of a moment where a lot of people defined the severity of their alienation, their loneliness, and their need of a safe place.
A. Right. Any time there’s a crisis, that’s when the longing for home becomes particularly acute.

Q. Yeah.
A. And the September 11th crisis people were flooding into churches in D.C. and in New York because they, well, when you’re in trouble you want to go home. And so one of the primary motivations of people coming to church today ¢€œ again, I think whether they realize it or not ¢€œ is this searching for a celestial home. You know, we were created to live in paradise. And even though we’ve wandered far from Eden, the traces of paradise are still on our soul. We’re looking for that place where we’re in communion with God. And again, especially when you’re in trouble, you just want to be home. You don’t want to be on the road.

Q. So when people are becoming acutely aware of their soul-weariness and they want to begin their journey home, you talk about it involves kind of a waking up and a going down to go up and a descent into confession. I mean, talk about this kind of beginning of the return to home.
A. This is the reason why I chose to use Dante’s Divine Comedy and the three books of these wonderful 14th century poems. He traces the journey of one who goes all the way down to the bottom of hell, and has to get to the bottom of it before he can climb up the mountain of purgatory and at last, and the third book, Make It Home to God and Paradise. What I take that to be is a wonderful metaphor of the whole process of confession, which feels like the descent into hell. And then repentance, which is a turning away from being lost, like I’m confessing of all the things I’ve done to kind of be my own savior, to construct my own life, and it’s just gotten me more and more lost in some rung of hell. I don’t have to spend a lot of time trying to convince people of that. What I have to convince them of is that it’s possible to turn, and to turn out of that, and by grace to discover God has made a way home to them and that God is looking for them. And that’s much of what the church’s ministry is about is to show them this God who has come searching for them. And the New Testament has these wonderful images of a God who became homeless, in Christ, in order to kind of create a new home where two or three gather together in his name.

We’re going to pick up there when we come back. We’re visiting with Dr. Craig Barnes. The book is Searching for Home: Spirituality for Restless Souls. We’ll be right back.

(Break)

Well this is Dick Staub back with you, thanking you for joining me this afternoon. We’re visiting with Craig Barnes. His book is Searching for Home: Spirituality for Restless Souls, a fascinating look at our move from people who were settled, to exiles, to nomads, something that has happened in terms of our geography, but something that geographically serves well as kind of the metaphor for our spiritual sojourn as well.

Q. We were just talking about beginning the journey home involves a waking up and almost what feels like a going down before you can go back up. And then, Craig, you get into this idea of climbing the mountain. And the first thing you have to do is deal with the baggage. And you have this just amazing opener to that chapter about standing at a baggage carousel and suddenly getting an image of kind of what the work of the pastor often is these days. Talk about what is involved in dealing with baggage and even how we today, who don’t believe often theologically in purgatory, need to at least understand the conceptual framework of it and how it relates to finding our way back home.
A. Right. Keep in mind I’m using Dante’s poetry. I don’t think of that as a theological type of book. It’s just simply, as all good poetry is, a metaphor of eternal truth. And even if you don’t believe in the doctrine of purgatory, which I don’t, I do find it to be a very helpful metaphor for the need to find healing. Aquinas said that purgatory is the place where the wounds from our sins can be healed before we go to heaven. Well, who doesn’t need to find healing from the woundedness of their separation. That’s what sin is, it’s separation, when the real home that we’re longing for isn’t a house, it’s our place with Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And because we’ve become separated from that we’ve become wounded from it. And people have got a lot of baggage from their wounds. That’s why I was using that metaphor. I was standing at the airport carousel watching these bags come down and go around and around and around and had this déjƒ  vu experience that finally occurred to me was a memory of pastoral counseling, as all the baggage people have just comes out. And every time I think we’re done with an issue I discover it was just out of sight for a little while and it’s going to circle back around pretty soon. And my job as a pastor is not to carry all that baggage for them, as if I was the [Skycab], but my job is to invite them to leave it, and to learn that they’re never going to make it home with so much baggage from all of their hurts.

Q. How do you let go of that baggage? How do you let go? You talk about the wounds and the love that brings you home.
A. The wonderful message of the gospel is that in Christ there is healing, there is this wonderful thing called grace. And the more we start to focus on the grace of Christ and the less on our own desperate efforts at getting the life we want, we find that the healing comes, ironically, from discovering that it was never about me. Again, we get all turned around in this because we’re products of a society that has put the focus on me to construct me. And again, what a real understanding of home provides for you is this freedom in knowing that it was never about you. It is about this greater family commitment that you have with¢â‚¬¦ The Spirit has adopted you into the Son’s relationship with the Father, and so you’re made a part of this glorious triune communion, you get your focus off of you and onto your triune home with God, the healing occurs by grace.

Q. I want to pick up on the triune home with God. But you were talking about understanding it’s not about you, and particularly the younger generation you mentioned earlier, is trying to kind of piece together their own life through the choices you make. And you use the illustration of Kate, who perfectly illustrates this kind of choice overload and having to come to grips with the upside and the downside of so many choices. Talk about Kate and how she helps us understand that issue of choice in relationship with letting go and getting home.
A. Well, it’s a woman who came to see me, like many of the young adults I talked to when I was in D.C. who are overwhelmed by the number of choices that they have. And their understanding of spirituality is that God’s going to help them make the right choice. And frequently they’re all in a lather over choices that don’t really matter, but they don’t want to miss God’s perfect will and so they’re trying to reduce the work of God in their lives to whether or not they should move to Boston or New York? Or should I stay here or should I go to the West Coast? Should I be an accountant or should I be an attorney? And they’re just paralyzed with fear that they’re going to make the wrong choice, as if God cannot work even through wrong choices. That’s a very limited God who is limited by our choices. C.S. Lewis said that “God uses all the wrong roads to get us to the right places.” So my job as a pastor is to try to get them off the hook for having to be right all the time. That’s humorous, it’s one of the deadlier sins.

Q. You talk about God owning all the roads, and you insert Virgil and the idea of letting pleasure be your guide. I mean, how do those help us in this issue of choices?
A. Well what Virgil ¢€œ who is accompanying the pilgrim on his journey through hell and purgatory into paradise ¢€œ what Virgil is trying to do is not make sure that this pilgrim that he’s guiding through all of this always makes perfect choices. He’s trying to help him understand the most important choice, which is again, the healing of the wounded soul. The reason we make terrible choices frequently is because we’re choosing out of woundedness. Rather than getting preoccupied with the choice, what Virgil is saying the more rational thing to do, which is what Virgil represents, is to find the healing of the soul because the soul is then free to choose. Again, that’s what I’m trying to do in my pastoral ministry to these people. I’m not telling them God wants them to go to either Boston or New York, or to be an accountant or a lawyer, that’s such a reduction of God’s work in their lives. I’m trying to help them find the joy of being back at home with God. And when they have that, then they’re free to make all kinds of choices.

Q. Yeah. Just parenthetically, there is a huge movement in our society of people who are trying to kind of buck the tide, resist the tide of being nomadic, are trying to recapture a sense of home. They’re looking for a geographic place that can, in fact, provide that rootedness. I mean, is that ¢€œ understanding that the spiritual dynamic and the metaphorical importance of coming to grips with home being God ¢€œ is that a bad thing for people to try to recapture? The rootedness of place?
A. I think it depends on, again, the motivation behind what they’re after. I don’t think that they’re going to find what they’re looking for by saying, All right, this is it. From now on we’re moving to Montana and we’re never moving again.

Q. Yeah, exactly.
A. Even the whole notion of choosing a home is a new thought. Historically, it’s always home that chooses you.

Q. Yeah.
A. But what people are doing now is they’re shopping for homes.

Q. Yeah.
A. So there are all these lists that come out about the really cool cities to live in.

Q. Yeah.
A. And if you can get a job where you don’t have to go into the office, then you can move to some cool city and kind of¢â‚¬¦

Q. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
A. Well, that’s a whole different understanding of home also. That’s a commodification of home.

Q. Yeah, exactly.
A. And it’s not going to do anything for the soul just because you find a particular ¢€œ

Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œ piece of geography to stay rooted in.

Yeah. That’s the heart of the matter is that home is a spiritual place, not a geographic place. And no matter what you do to change or rearrange the chairs on the deck of the Titanic, you still have to deal with certain realities spiritually. We’re going to pick up there when we come back. And our guest this afternoon is Craig Barnes. A wonderful, wonderful book, Searching for Home: Spirituality for Restless Souls. We’ll be right back.

(Break)

Well this is Dick Staub back with you. We’re visiting with Craig Barnes. His book is Searching for Home, a book that deals with a really important subject, a timely subject, and does it through a wonderful integration of our understanding of our faith and in literature and the metaphors of literature. And one of the pieces that Craig Barnes draws in is G.K. Chesterton’s House of Christmas, that includes the line, “to the place where God was homeless and all men are at home.” And that becomes a chapter in Craig Barnes’ book, “Is God Homeless?”

Q. And Craig, I’d like you to just spend a minute talking about the importance of the incarnation, the Word becoming flesh, and the fact that finding home is not about going back to the past or recapturing something that was lost geographically, it really is about understanding who God is and where God dwells. Talk about the incarnation for us.
A. One of the things which fundamentally shifts from the Old to the New Testament is this loss of the geographic understanding of holiness. In the Old Testament, you know, there was a holy land made holy because it had a holy city in the middle of it. And the city was holy because it had a holy temple in the middle of it. And the temple was holy because it had a holy of holies in the middle of it. All geographic understandings of holiness. The coming of Christ, that shifts dramatically because he says you can tear this temple down and in three days it will be risen again. Of course he’s identifying himself now as the new holy meeting place between humanity and God. At his death people know the temple veil was ripped from top to bottom and the holiness runs out of the holy of holies throughout the whole earth. The church is put on the move, just as Jesus himself was. He leaves his home in heaven, he’s born to people who are not at home ¢€œ Mary and Joseph are on the road ¢€œ in fact everybody who saw the birth of Jesus were not at home. Everybody who was at home missed it. And as he arrived so did he continue on the road. Then after his resurrection he sends his disciples out on the road. You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and Judea and to Samaria and to the ends of the earth. So the church then loses its temple orientation. If it’s anything, it’s a little bit more like the tabernacle which is being carried on the backs of the people as they go throughout the world. And wherever two or three are gathered in the name of Christ, he says, he’ll be there in their midst. And we’re on the move towards a kingdom or home that’s moving towards us. So the church’s ministry these days is not to try to get people nailed down again. I’m not trying to restore people back to being settlers or exiles even. I think that the goal of the church is to turn the meandering nomad into a pilgrim. Pilgrims are people who travel with purpose. And so the movement metaphor that’s going on in society right now is actually a good thing, as long as there’s movement with purpose and we know why we’re moving and what we’re moving towards. That’s a very New Testament image to be on the move.

Q. So our home, then, while on the move brings wonderful blessings. You talk about¢â‚¬¦ And you’ve been mentioning the trinitarian nature of home, the holy embrace. You talk about blessings of emotion and beauty. What are the blessings of home? How are they secured? How do we find home?
A. We recognize what God is doing to us. The real home that we had really is with Father, Son and Spirit. That’s what we were created for. We were created for God. Earlier I mentioned that the role of the Holy Spirit is to adopt us into this triune fellowship. That’s our home. I sometimes cringe when I hear people talk about “church home.” Well, as someone who spends an unforgivable amount of his time hanging around Christians, let me tell you, if church is the home that we’re looking for we’re in bigger trouble than we know. Church is not home. Church is the place where the longing for home is rightly directed.

Q. Yeah.
A. And we’re calling people to realize that what they’re really looking for is the fellowship that is shared by Father, Son and Spirit. And when they have that then they get all of these time-honored blessings of home, such as identity. Once again, then you know who you are. You know your family name, you know your mission. Your mission is the same mission Jesus Christ had. You know your freedom. You have all the freedom that Christ had. You are loved. As the Father called the Son the Beloved at his baptism, well then so are you then the beloved of God, and all of these wonderful blessings that people are actually looking for trying to construct their own lives.

Q. But what you are describing is counter-cultural. It requires a redirection. I mean, we believe somehow that we will find home through choices that we make, through satisfying something in ourselves through, you know, some¢â‚¬¦ You talk about consumerism. You talk about that the really evangelical church in America today is beset by misdirection. And what you’re describing is finding our rootedness in a name that makes a prioritization of willing one thing, to know, love and enjoy God.
A. Right. That’s exactly right. And frequently the church is the problem because the church is just peddling more products ¢€œ

Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œ in people’s efforts to construct themselves, and that’s not really the church’s role.

Q. So now you’re both a pastor and you’re teaching young pastors. And I just taught a class last night. And a young guy that wants to be a pastor was vexed in spirit about his recognition already, before he even goes into a church, of the expectations of the church and the brokenness, as he would see it of evangelical sub-culture and its consumeristic, felt need driven orientation and the recognition that to pursue the path of trying to direct people towards home in God is actually counter-cultural to Christian culture in America today. Is he wrong? What advice would you have for him?
A. I think that when you know what you are really about, as a pastor, then you know that you don’t have to play even the church game of ecclesiastical consumerism. When you know that, when you know that you’re really about drawing people back home to God, helping them to find the freedom of that relationship, your ministry takes on a completely different form. And it becomes, I’m finding, very attractive to people who just don’t really believe that the church is actually going to have anything that’s going to make them all that much happier than the new job or the new boat that they’ve bought. When they’re coming to church they’re not really looking for that.

Q. So if I looked at Craig Barnes’ ministry in the early days to today, would I see noticeable changes? Or is it more something inside yourself?
A. No, I think you would see¢â‚¬¦ I’ve made some changes on this because I was where the student was that you were describing early in my ministry. I was knocking myself out to give people what they wanted. But now I’m discovering that that’s not really my call. And I have the freedom to talk about what God wants in their lives. And I find that people are actually quite drawn to that.

Q. Well, I think the next generation, this nomadic generation, at least one thing is true, they constantly talk about authenticity. And I think what you’re talking about is the authenticity that they’re seeking and what, unfortunately, a consumer-oriented religiosity is caught up in has already run its course and they recognize that it’s never going to work.
A. That’s exactly right. The younger the parishioners are, the more this makes sense to them. They really don’t think that the next thing they buy is going to make them happy, like their parents often did.

Yeah, wow. Craig Barnes, wonderful stuff. We’ve only scratched the surface. You can spend more time with him by picking up your own copy of Searching for Home: Spirituality for Restless Souls, published by Brazos. And our guest has been Dr. Craig Barnes. We’re going to be back with more right after this. Don’t go away.

Quotes from Searching for Home
Craig Barnes

“There were a number of home-dismantling effects from all of this progress. One of the greatest of these was that the automobile became not only a necessity to get to all of these places, but a means of living in isolation from others. The new suburban houses were built with garages but not porches¢â‚¬¦”

“In far too many places ¢€œ in pleasant suburbs as well as city streets ¢€œ the home is a place to sleep and eat and watch television; but where it is located is not community. We live in too many places and so we live nowhere. Long ago Alexis de Tocqueville foresaw the fate of people without community: ¢â‚¬ËœEach of them living apart is a stranger to the fate of all the rest ¢€œ his children and his private friends constitute to him the whole of mankind; as for the rest of his fellow citizens, he is close to them, but he seeks them not; he touches them but he feels them not¢â‚¬¦he may be said at any rate to have lost his country.'”

“In his book Girlfriend in a Coma, Douglas Coupland, one of the nomadic literary voices, has recreated the tale of Rip Van Winkle. After falling into a coma in 1979, a young woman wakes up twenty years later. When asked about her impressions of the nineties, she responds, ¢â‚¬ËœLack. A lack of convictions ¢€œ of beliefs, of wisdom, or even of good old badness. No sorrow; no nothing. People ¢€œ the people I knew ¢€œ when I came back they only, well, existed. It was so sad.'”

“As Dietrich Bonhoeffer warned in Life Together, there is nothing more dangerous to authentic community than our dreams for it because we love those dreams more than the people around us. Community is not a human ideal, he says, but a divine reality.”

“Writing to the Romans, Paul said, ¢â‚¬ËœDo not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God ¢€œ what is good, and acceptable, and perfect.’ The verb conformed in the Greek is in the middle voice, which means it is something that we do to ourselves. By contrast, the verb transformed is in the passive voice, meaning it is something that happens to us.”

“I was in the airport, standing quietly beside other weary travelers in that little circle of prayer that always gathers around the baggage carousel at the end of a flight. Eventually a buzzer blared, the little red light on the carousel started blinking, and the bags began to tumble down the chute, one after another. As I watched the bags circle around and around, I was overcome with a sense of déjƒ  vu. What did this feel like? Then it hit me ¢€œ pastoral counseling.”

“In The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis describes a similar, but more modern, journey to the one Dante depicts in Purgatory. Lewis’s story begins with a bus from hell that deposits ghosts at the base of a mountain. Walking up the mountain is hard on the ghosts’ feet, but the more progress they make, the more real they become as Solid People and thus the easier the journey becomes for their feet. Many of the ghosts don’t make it because their attention is focused back on the hell they have created for themselves. Halfway through the journey this is explained. ¢â‚¬ËœThere are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says in the end, “Thy will be done.” All who are in Hell, choose it.”

“As a pastor, I have found that people are tempted to despair when they are in a place of disorientation. My job is to tell them that there is actually more hope for them in this stage than there ever was in the illusion they once loved. There can be no room in the human heart for authentic love, the one that will bring us home, until we first have the illusory loves pulled out of us. But again, that really hurts. Climbing a mountain isn’t easy.”

“G.K. Chesterton has captured this power of the subtle arrival of God in his poem, ¢â‚¬ËœThe House of Christmas’:
To an open house in the evening
Home shall men come,
To an older place than Eden
And a taller town than Rome.
To the end of the way of the wandering star.
To the things that cannot be and that are.
To the place where God was homeless
And all men are at home.”

04/26/04

Posted in DS Interview, Staublog in June 2, 2004 by | No Comments »

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