Sick Thoughts

I’ve been unwell the past few days—a bad reaction to a new prescription preceded by either a worse reaction to another new prescription or a 24-hour virus. My mind has been off wandering aimlessly around some abandoned part of town while I got to spend 48 hours in bed, waiting to feel better.

Normally, I’d be giddy with the thought of spending some time lounging around, reading books I’ve wanted to read, with no responsibilities and no interruptions. But when every part of your body is on strike—my skin even protested the gentle spray from the shower, and more so the towel afterward—and the thermometer says 102.3, lying around loses its luster.

I used the time between naps to do a lot of reading, so my days weren’t a total waste. Skye Jethani has a thoughtful new post, “Gay Rights & Religious Liberty.” I’d love to know what you think about his ideas. Jamie the Very Worst Missionary is now Jamie, “The Very Worst Pastor’s Wife.” She’s hilarious, refreshing, and well worth your time. If you want something more serious, read “When The Bible Isn’t Enough” over at Prodigal Magazine. And Matt, over at The Church Of No People, wrote a post about a topic I covered last year (I think his might possibly be, um, better) with “God Will Always Give You More Than You Can Handle.”

When I finished those, I picked up the first of three books Pete brought me from the library. A novel by Nobel prize winner Margaret Atwood, The Day of the Flood, was first. At first I thought that Atwood might have been a bit satirical in her depiction of an eco-back-to-the-land cult struggling to survive in a future ruled by corporate greed. Then I realized she was quite serious, if a bit blatant. Meanwhile, I hope my beleaguered brain absorbed at least some of her prodigious writing talent. (At least I’m remembering to use words like “prodigious.”)

I moved on to Anne Lamott, another very gifted author. I had previously read and thoroughly enjoyed Bird by Bird, her book on writing. This time I read a couple of autobiographical accounts about her faith journey: Grace, Eventually and Traveling Mercies. As I read, I realized that in many parts of life, our perspectives are complete opposites. For example, she’s extremely political and extremely liberal. I dislike politics, and frequently (but not always) vote for conservative issues and candidates. Realizing that we’re sisters in Christ opened my mind to the vast scope of God’s kingdom and the incredible diversity it encompasses.

Why subject myself to someone whose opinions I vehemently disagree with? They make me think. I can compare my sources, thought processes, and conclusions with theirs. Often, I come away strengthened in my beliefs. Sometimes, I realize there’s more to be considered than I had realized. And every so often, rarely, but enough to keep me a bit flexible, it dawns on me that I was… wrong.

While I intentionally look materials that present a point of view different from my own, I have some ground rules. No rancor. No ad hominem attacks. The writer must be respectful, the article well researched and well-reasoned. And I prefer to read about the issue rather than debate it in public.

One reason I avoid face-to-face “rigorous discussion” is because winning an argument doesn’t really come with a prize. You might feel vindicated, but the other person simply concludes that you’re a jerk. But my main motivation is that I’m a wimp. Conflict reduces me to a bowl of blubbering custard. Let me hide behind my computer screen, of curl up safe in bed, and mull things over a bit. Later, I might post a comment on your blog. Or not.

Finally, I squandered my evenings wallowing in a fantasy novel with no real redemptive value, but more than 500 pages of mind-numbing mental escape, with just enough intrigue and excitement to keep me awake. Now that I’m up and about again, I hear the siren song of the sequel, waiting at the library. Work? What work?

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