What If? {Book Club}

Well, well, well, fellow readers. Here we are. Almost to the day, five years ago we had our first Book Club post. Anyone else wanting a little walk down memory lane and to see how far we have come, check out How devoted are you to devotionals?

Looking back through the comments, I love that some of us have been reading here since the beginning, others for a season. I love this space. When I started the Book Club, I wanted it to be different than other online book clubs I had found. I knew that a virtual club where we cannot see each other and it would be easy to wonder, “Is anyone else reading this?!” we would have to do things differently. And we have. And it has worked! And we have read and commented and shared reading loves.

Since this will be my last post, I was curious how many posts we have had in Book Club. Prepare to be a bit proud of yourself (and this is a not-so-humble-brag on all of us!). In the last five years, we have read 46 books and there has been a total of 255 posts (counting today). I was too lazy to count how many comments and words in total.

I also find it poetic that we end my time talking about sleep (and how sleep can mirror death for some people and leaving this space feels a bit like a death to me. This has been a very “meta” week as I’ve been thinking about books, sleep, death, me leaving, and God’s sustaining grace).

Once again, in Liturgy of the OrdinaryWarren packaged profound truth in phrases that stick with me, nudging me to confront the truth they contain.

Phrases like:

Habits of Restlessness — “If rest is learned through habit and repetition, so is restlessness.”

Our loves, our trusts, our limits — “Both gathered worship and our sleep habits profess our loves, our trusts, and our limits. Both involve discipline and ritual. Both require that we cease relying on our own effort and activity and lean on God for his sufficiency. Both expose our vulnerability.

I thought of how sleep reveals what we love as I struggled to go to sleep last night. Friends from my China time spent the night as they passed through town. We had stayed up far beyond my normal bedtime talking. Like Warren, “I love my close friends so I stay up late to keep a good conversation going a bit longer.” In my too-tired-can’t-go-to-sleep state, I thought of how we started this book by thinking of our belovedness when we wake up.

And here I was, full circle, back in bed and thinking of love and you and this book.

Disordered love and disordered worship —”[Our lack of sleep] is indicative of a spiritual crisis—a culture of disordered love and disordered worship. We disdain limits.”

This is so true. I know some of you live in places where the spirit world is very active and sleep is more easily disrupted. I was thinking of you, that even your sleep troubles are because of disordered love and disordered worship. How is the sleep culture where you live?

We hate being reminded — “Our bodily limits are our chief daily reminder that we are but dust. We inhabit a frail, vulnerable humanity. And we hate being reminded.”

Evangelicalism’s energetic history — “Evangelicalism’s energetic history has produced genuine and needed change in society, but it can also foster attitudes that depreciate sustainability and rest. When our zealous activism is coupled with a culture of frenzy and grandiosity, the aim of our Christian life can become a list of goals, initiatives, meetings, conferences, and activities that leave us exhausted.”

As she went on to discuss the “worn-out ministers’ fund” and the absurd solution to the problem, I wondered what absurd solutions we have implemented today instead of looking at the roots.

I’ve heard before (as I’m sure have you) that the Hebrew day begins at sundown. But it wasn’t until reading this that I thought about the influence of when the day starts. Even now, I sense myself thinking, “Oh what a difference it might make if the day started with me going to sleep. But it can’t because day starts in the morning.” Clearly, I have some work to do! Ha!

Let’s end with this question from the text. “What if Christians were known as a countercultural community of the well-rested—people who embrace our limits with zest and even joy?”

What if?

Yes, let’s be a part of that world.

Thanks to Sarah Hilkemann and Rachel Kahindi, we will keep reading, keep commenting, and keep growing as a community. Next week you will discuss one of my favorite Christmas reads:  A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote. You don’t want to miss it!

But before that, one last time I say, see you in the comments!

Amy

 

December will be short, stand-alone reads and book list posts, so jump in when you can!

December 4th — A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote

December 11th —The House of The Seven Santas (to read online go here, for free on Kindle go here) by John Kendrick Bangs

Other fun surprises to come in December. Stay tuned!

Photo by Kunj Parekh on Unsplash

8 Comments

  1. Maria Mullet November 27, 2018

    I’m a new member of this VA community- but am really sad to lose our Amy! You’ve so often helped me process the depths of what we’re reading —I wish you the best and may you be blessed for how you e blessed me and many others.
    And this topic of sleep – who knew such a base human need could showcase such a spiritual need in my own life? The striving I can circle back to, the “I’ve got this” mentality I can live with. And my need for sleep slaps those things right in the face sand shows how limited I really am.
    This book has been incredible. I feel like I could read it again and again and still find depths of truth.

    1. Amy Young November 29, 2018

      Maria, isn’t it good to read in community? In part, it slows me down enough to pay better attention so I’ll have something to say beyond, “I liked this.” and pushed me to the next level — why did I like it? What did I like about it? Also, people always notice things I missed (and I notice things they miss). So helpful!

      And the relationship she made with sleep and spiritual needs is so rich! Like you, I think this is a book to reread :)!

  2. Ruth November 27, 2018

    Thanks for all of your work on Book Club, Amy! I didn’t end up re-reading much of this book this fall :(, but I still love it and loved reading your reflections on it. I hope that it blessed members of the VA community as much as it did me the first time I read it.

    1. Amy Young November 29, 2018

      I understand . . . life has a way of filling in the cracks :). Knowing you liked it and vouched for it to be read in community helped move Liturgy to be this Fall’s book!!

  3. Bayta Schwarz November 28, 2018

    Your voice will be missed, Amy! At the same time, I’m looking forward to hearing more from Sarah and Rachel!
    Like you, I’m still trying to get my head around the concept of the day starting in the evening, with me going to bed. It’s quite a shift in perpective but one that seems very healthy in a difficult season.
    I was also so intrigued by what she says about her first experience of a liturgical church. I’ve not ever been part of a liturgical church for any length of time but what she said about “resting in the liturgy”, and the richness of the heritage that goes with it very much resonated.

    1. Amy Young November 29, 2018

      Reading your comment, Bayta, I realize how deep the “day starts in the morning” orientation is in me! I’m wondering how to start re-orienting my thinking . . . because I think it would ultimately do more good to/for my soul than thinking of it starting with the morning :). And like you, I look forward to hearing from Rachel and Sarah!!!

  4. Rachel Kahindi November 28, 2018

    This chapter had me from the first paragraph. “Rest takes practice.” I had a hard time falling asleep throughout childhood, adolescence, early 20s, until finally I googled enough to recognize that I needed a bedtime routine. I had to train myself to fall asleep. I love the parallel that “similarly, corporate worship trains us, over time, to cease striving to make our own way and our own righteousness and to receive grace.” But do we let it? Looking at my church, it seems more often we try to force the experience of worship that we want, which is making our own way, not receiving grace.

    The worn out ministers’ fund both blew my mind, that people could so miss the point, and also isn’t that surprising, considering the human expectation that we should be unlimited. Like, this is exactly how humans behave – try to come up with a solution without acknowledging the problem.

    Sleep and rest are not really valued in this culture. All-night meetings are common. Having a bedtime is not. Falling asleep in public as soon as you sit down is.

    1. Amy Young November 29, 2018

      “Rest takes practice.” Yes! I am so naturally wired to DO things (my parents both have joked over the years, “Where did you come from?!” and I tell them, “Double recessive genes!” Ha). I haven’t needed to learn the importance of sleep so much, but of resting during the day. And by resting, I don’t mean taking a nap, I mean not working all the time. My second teammate was the best at not working in the evenings and I learned so much by living with her for three years. And I look forward to your post next week!! Thanks for leading, Rachel!

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