Review: THE SEEKER'S WAY
Reading The Seeker's Way by Dave Fleming has been an experience in itself. Forget about trying to write a review; I just need to soak a bit in the thoughts that there's not only a proverbial MORE out there, but it's there for those who look for it.
I almost put the book down over this excerpt:
Our common need to seek is an intentional part of our design. It is the centerpiece of our existence, placed in us by the Divine Mystery. (p. 3)and this footnote below:
Divine Mystery is the name I will use often for God. (p. 3, footnote)Substituting "Divine Mystery" for "God"? That was looking too new-agey, too out there for even me. But I kept reading, mainly to see if Fleming brought the prose back around from a feel-good-mysterious sentimentality to something I'd be able to stomach. I wasn't disappointed, turning the page and finding this:
Even your particular religion is not my concern. Like you, I have intellectual beliefs about the world and life. I have a strong affinity toward certain spiritual ideas and systems. My faith tradition is Christianity. I embrace it as the path home. Yet I have grown uncomfortable with the view that God cannot or will not work in a person's life until that person has embraced my tradition. My aim is not to impose a religion on you but to invite you to a wonder-filled journey towards home. (p. 4)Where some readers might see, "oh my goodness, is he going after pluralism?", I think I see Fleming simply saying that God is big enough and loves us enough to draw us to Himself no matter where we might be missing the mark. And the premise of this book might just be "we're all seekers - so let's seek together and figure it out with the help of One who wants us to find Him more than we want to find Him" - or something like that (he's the author, not me).
The first thought process that messed with me in reading this book was in chapter two, From Answers to Experience.
Perhaps the first step away from an answer-driven spiritual life is to view answers in a new way. What if answers became more like doorways into another space where the search can continue? Instead of ending the search with finite and rigid answers, these new insights can move us deeper into life's realities... [A] belief in God was never meant to create a smug sufficiency but rather to deepen my pursuit of the Divine. A belief in God is not an answer that ends the search but one that makes it possible to broaden and deepen the search. (p. 20)I am on that journey, with my whole call to ministry pretty much being wrapped up in asking questions, leading others by getting them/us to look at life through different and better questions. I've come to accept my "skepticism/cynicism" as a "gift" that forces me to look at issues differently, to bring reality to bear in new and meaningful ways. That means looking for answers that will almost always lead to better, more significant questions.
Another freedom-giving thought came from the chapter titled "From Performance to Expression". Maybe it's the artistic authoring bug that drives me to write that looks for new ways to enlighten folks about old concepts that have dried up or been left out of our mainline Christian traditions. But I grab onto the thought that I don't need to "perform" in order to feel accepted or necessary in the kingdom:
[We] feel an unhealthy pressure to perform in any given moment. Whether because of internal pressure or because of others' expectations, the desire to get life perfect can be intense. the stress of it all can seize our emotions and wreak havoc with our bodies. (p. 106)Being encouraged to live out an expression of Christ's love in my life, rather than perform to a set of fairly arbitrary and often fluctuating standards, is something that's still working through me.
I don't think I can recommend this book to everyone I meet, to everyone I know. I can't even articulate what these passages and others have done to me internally and how they're being worked out in real life. There are certain books you would tell a stranger about, certain books you'd tell your pastor about - and I don't know if this is that book or not. I'm just recognizing that this book will stretch and pull in fairly specific areas of our lives, and if you're already moving or deconstructing in those areas, this book might bring some new thought, some new growth, some new encouragement. That's what has happened to me, but I realize that not everyone's on that path. Yet.