I met Tamara Jorell at a Minnesota N.I.C.E. meeting. N. I. C. E. stands for Novelists Inspiring Christian Excellence. It’s our local chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers—except that Tamara doesn’t write fiction. She writes true stories—“narrative non-fiction,” as she refers to it. In a blog called My Blonde Life in the Hood she tells stories about her neighborhood in North Minneapolis. It’s a place that reminds me a lot of where we used to live in Indianapolis a few blocks from the Butler University campus. Tamara’s neighborhood is racially, economically and spiritually diverse, full of real people, not statistics or headlines. She and her family have made it a point to get to know those people and be available to them for the sake of the Kingdom of God.
I am racist.
I think we all are racist. In this world we cannot help but be influenced by the color of our skin. Much as I love my brothers and sisters at Solid Word Bible Church where we worshipped when we lived in Indianapolis, my white skin has given me different life experiences than their black skin. I cannot help but view the world from inside my white body.
I recently read Walk in Her Sandals, a collaborative effort including a friend of mine, Stephanie Landsem. (Note: I received a free e-copy of this book for review purposes. You can read my full review on Amazon or on Goodreads.) I marveled at how a book with ten authors could come together so beautifully. Walk in Her Sandals combines devotional reading and Scripture with Biblical fiction, thoughtful questions and suggestions for putting faith into practice. The authors are Catholic and their intended audience is Catholic, but as a Protestant I found very little with which I didn’t identify.
My husband and I have recently returned from a road trip to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Usually on road trips a favorite praise song runs through my head, becoming a sort of theme song of the journey. This time the song that kept returning to my mind was “America the Beautiful.” We saw no shortage of amber waves of grain and purple mountain majesties, but it was not the familiar first verse that ran through my mind so much as the later verses.
America! America! God mend thine ev’ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!
I recently read American Sniper by Chris Kyle. It isn’t great writing, just an ordinary soldier (make that an extraordinary soldier) telling about his experiences. I’m American, but let’s just say this was a cross-cultural experience for me. The book showed up as available on my library app, and I had heard a lot about it when the movie came out, so I thought, why not? “It’s a really good book,” I was told, and I certainly can’t fault it for excitement. Kyle was definitely an adrenaline junkie.
But I found Kyle’s attitudes hard to comprehend. He is a brother in Christ according to his own testimony; we believe the same things about Jesus, see Jesus as the same highest priority in our lives and yet, Kyle finds war fun? He kills people for a living. How can that be?
Francis Schaeffer and the shaping of Evangelical America by Barry Hankins is not a new book. It was published by Eerdmans in 2008, but I’m just now getting to it. It was a hard book to read. Schaeffer profoundly shaped my thinking as a young adult. The love with which the Schaefers received both European and American young people at L’Abri (“the Shelter”) in Huemoz, Switzerland, was as powerful an apologetic for his conservative Christian faith as his tireless teaching. Although I visited L’Abri only briefly in 1976 (and that at a time when the by-then-retired Schaeffers were away), I heard him speak several times, most notably at Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Tennessee. Hankins’ summary of the contents of Schaeffer’s trilogy (The God Who is There, Escape From Reason, and He is There and He is not Silent) brought me back to the roots of much of my thinking that I have taken for granted for many years—the importance of worldview; the upper and lower stories that divorce faith and reason; the mannishness of man, separating us from the animal kingdom; the need to engage culture if we are going to win a world for Christ.
Sunday evening I spoke at the Minnesota NICE chapter of ACFW on "Getting Started with Scrivener," a popular writing program. Here is the related blog with links.
I recently discussed the recently popular dystopia genre on International Christian Fiction Writers.
I’m now at that stage in life when my kids are grown with families of their own. When they were small, I saw them every day and sent up hourly prayers for their wellbeing. Now it is a little more challenging to know what to pray beyond, “God bless my kids and their families.” There is so much that I want for them, but despite Facebook and Google Plus, I know so little of the details that need prayer.
LeAnne Hardy has lived in six countries on four continents. Her books come out of her cross-cultural experiences and her passion to use story to convey spiritual truths in a form that will permeate lives.