… in September 2009. It’s something I started working on about eight years ago, and it’s called God Hides in Plain Sight: How to See the Sacred in a Chaotic World, published by Brazos Press. The idea for it came while I was sitting in my living room reading Thomas Merton. Merton is one of the reasons I wanted to be a Christian as an adult. I was a believer as a young person partly by choice and partly by being raised in its subculture, but when I became an adult and saw that life was a bit more complicated and unexplainable, I had another choice to make — did I still think it was true? Merton was the key. A deep, thoughtful, intellectually stimulating man who gave voice to some of the same questions I had, Merton seemed to embrace Mystery and Doubt as part of the Christian way.
In the middle of reading his book Disputed Questions, a thought came to me — it seemed like our culture was missing something by no longer emphasizing the seven sacraments of the ancient church. What if I took a fresh look at those sacraments and tried to show that they are recognizable throughout every day, if we were just paying attention? In other words, if we saw the sacramental nature of everyday life, we would also see the activity of God in everyday life. That was one of the things that Merton taught me — it’s not that God isn’t moving and creating and redeeming and reconciling all of the time; it’s that we’re not paying attention to it. We’re blind. So, my thinking went, if we started looking at the traditional means for experiencing the grace of God (sacraments) everywhere, then maybe we could see the work of God more clearly in the world and in our own lives, which would lead to our wanting to participate in that work.
My school (Point Loma Nazarene University) gave me a sabbatical to work on this, and I was excited and energized to do it. I called it Ordered Disorder (With Sudden Bursts of Revelation). It was a definition of jazz that I heard years ago, and it sounded like how I think God works. That’s not the title we ended up with, but you see my point.
I use a lot of references to film in this book, such as Shawshank Redemption, The Mission, Babette’s Feast, as well as to novels by Wendell Berry, Richard Russo, Walker Percy and others. And I quote a lot of my favorite Christian writers — Frederick Buechner, Anne Lamott, Eugene Peterson, Flannery O’Connor and many more.
But essentially it’s a book that says we can see baptism, confession, communion, confirmation, vocation, marriage and last rites within the details of every day, as well as in those prescribed moments in a worship setting at church. And by seeing those sacraments in the details, we see that God is in the details.
You can pre-order it here: Dean’s Book at Amazon.com >