enigmas and anomalies

Years ago at the Clinical Pastoral Education course that I took, another student who was extremely frustrated with me yelled out at me in front of the whole class, David, you are an enigma! At the time, I wasn t sure how to take it. He intended it as an expression of his frustration with me, and so I took it as an intended insult. However, when I thought about it further, I decided to take it as a compliment. Enigma: somebody or something that is not easily explained or understood. I m inexplicable, and it frustrated him. Then, just this last weekend, I met a woman who is a very successful book distributor to Christian book stores. She had shelves of extra copies of books that she wanted to give to Lisa and me as a gift. We got to know her and her husband, and through our conversations, she discovered what my interests were in theology and pastoral care all that stuff. She discovered that I read everything from Barth to Torrance to John Paul Jackson and T. D. Jakes. She said that she doesn t really carry anything of the Barth variety because Christian book stores just aren t interested, not only because it is often considered uninspiring and too intellectual, but also because it doesn t sell. She was perplexed that I read such a wide variety of literature, but mostly that I read such a wide variety of theology. She looked at me and said, You are an anomaly! I ve not come across someone like you. The people I meet in the business are either intellectual or charismatic. Not both. That is rare.   I took it as a compliment. Anomaly: something that deviates from the norm or from expectations something strange and difficult to identify or classify. I m a deviant! I realize, because I ve taken enough psychology, that being strange and difficult to classify could stem from my unwillingness to be known and understood. I know that it could be my defense-shield against intimacy and vulnerability. That may be true. But what I feel is truer is that I long for the marriage of the two: intellect and emotions the head and the heart the mind and the soul whatever. I long for the heights of intimacy with God and the manifestation of that in passionate worship and joyful living the mystic s path. But at the same time I long for the depths of wisdom and knowledge, and that the manifestation of that in meaningful living, justice, freedom and love. I want to know Christ not just with my mind, but also with my heart. And this is what I long and pray for in my church.

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