It’s been a long time since I’ve had a productive streak of quiet times: portions of the day devoted to scripture reading and prayer. From a young age, I was indoctrinated into the importance of said practices. We even had to check off boxes on the outside of our offering envelopes to let the world know we had been faithful stewards of our time. I feel a little guilty…sometimes.
So I was delighted to get a copy of Disquiet Time: Rants and Reflections on the Good Book by the Skeptical, the Faithful, and a Few Scoundrels, edited by Jennifer Grant and Cathleen Falsani. The book includes contributions from some of my favorite writers, ministers, scholars, and thinkers. These contributions range from deeply personal essays about traumatic religious experiences and struggles with scripture, but in many cases the healing and transformation the authors have found in community or in God. Others are scholarly engagements with, what Phyllis Trible once called “texts of terror,” those difficult passages that confuse, unsettle, or downright scare the hell out of us (or into us, as the case may be). You know the ones I’m talking about: the flood, a mountain of foreskins, cutting off our hands, or the entire book of Revelation.
For those of us who have ever been made to feel guilty for questioning their faith or interpreting scripture differently, you’ll find some friends among the contributors to Disquiet Time. In that respect, it is at least a reminder that we are not alone on our journeys of faith. For those of us firm in our beliefs and interpretations, some of these essays will be gentle proddings for us to reconsider our approaches to the text. Ultimately, Disquiet Time is a reminder of both the pitfalls of Christian tradition, teaching, and history as well as a beautiful assertion that within that same tradition lie images, stories, and lessons that can transcend oppression, break down barriers, and give us hope.
Disquiet Time (Jericho Books) is available through Amazon (print and digital) and other outlets including Google Play and Barnes & Noble.