June 11, 2006


Too young in spirit to be an expert on (mostly) old men’s thoughts, she is, at once, hefty and flighty in mind. She seizes every idea and refuses to let it go until it has been fully digested, taste-tested for quality. She is, however, too kind to reject outright the many uncooked samplings that are sent her way. She likes to hear herself talk about God, yet she is not arrogant. Not at all: she likes that she can talk about God, that she is allowed, that she has allowed herself. The connections fire in her mind like those little Chinese firecrackers on a such a long string: one lights the other, then another. The shortcuts she hastily creates in order to recount what are otherwise entire galaxies of logic, these are always funny: mini-caricatures that ring the truth yet quickly point to their own obvious limitations. In the same way Oprah slips noticeably from white country-club-speak to you-go-girl jive, her command of the material and its accompanying dignity frequently give way to a casual, stand-up comic routine of theological summary for dummies. Not that the former is charade, but that the latter is comfortable. For an inadequate incarnational theology: “Get down there, son. Put on this flesh!” But soon comes the point, however circuitously arrived, and suddenly the erudition returns. It was never lost, only parked on a siding while the express rolled by. In the end, her theological enterprise is the seismology of several massive tectonic plates, each with its own internal logic and rules. As they float around in her head, she is searching for those workable unions between them that beckon as sweetly as they evade. Unlike many of her peers, especially on her left, she is willing to live with only a few viable connections between these seemingly incongruent worlds. And yet those connections are precious when she discovers them: reciprocal lifelines through which a large enough vision of God is nourished, sustained.