Last week I joined my wife and sister-in-law in a walk down to the U of C’s Rockefeller Chapel to see author Neil Gaiman. @neilhimself was visiting Chicago as part of the Chicago Public Library’s One Book, One Chicago program, a citywide book club that had chosen Gaiman’s Neverwhere for its Spring 2011 selection.
Neil was charming and engaging, being a Brit and all, but as he spoke from the high pulpit of that gothic chapel I found myself thinking beyond entertainment for its own sake. Go figure. Neil writes stories in which good and evil are all mixed up, in which the gods of ancient myth lurk in the shadows of the present day; Neverwhere itself spins a tale of fantastic (and terrifying) worlds hidden beneath the urban alleyways of contemporary London. You won’t find Neil’s books in the “Christian” or “inspirational” section of the bookstore, but, truth be told, his work continues to deepen my thinking about Bible stories, faithful living, and the meaning of Christ in our world as much as anything you’ll find there.
In Faith as a Way of Life: A Vision for Pastoral Leadership, seminary professor Chris Scharen laments the way our lives have become compartmentalized, “Christian” things here, “non-Christian” things over there. But, Scharen argues, it doesn’t need to be this way. As Rob Bell puts it in Love Wins, there are rocks everywhere; living water flows from the places we may least expect it.
So it is that this seminarian will participate in the Great Three Days this weekend, but he will also try to make sense of Lady Gaga’s latest single, perhaps in light of U2’s screw(tape)y work a generation ago. As Gerard Manley Hopkins put it, “the world is charged with the grandeur of God,” and it is our sacred calling, dear preachers, to name that grandeur wherever it may be.
Soli deo Gloria.