Monday, July 22, 2013

The Fire of God: Love or Hate?

Daniel Butler
I received a thoughtful, 8-page letter from a fan of our book in Austin, Texas, and got to meet the sender, Daniel Butler, an ex-evangelical who loves the lack of dogma and the social action in his Unitarian church but misses the sense of the sacred. We discussed all my favorite topics over coffee while his family vacationed in DC last week.

We are fans of all the same thinkers: Wilber, Haidt, Pirsig, Cayce, Tillich,and McLaren. He introduced me to the work of Hank Schaeffer, whose Sex, Mom, and God I'll write about next.

I ran him out to Highview to get an autograph from my co-author Bishop Thomas. Daniel thanked us for the example we set of being able to discuss contentious topics openly and affably.
Daniel Butler and Bishop Phil Thomas at Highview Christian Fellowship

"Teri was great to dialogue with, she just never got the part about God having a stern side as well as a nice side," Bishop said, referring to our chapter, "Learning to Love the Wrath of God."

"Oh I get it now," I said.

Daniel responded by telling us how Frank Schaeffer talks about the fire of God in his book, "Patience with God: Faith for People who Don't Like Religion or Atheism." Whipping out his Kindle, Daniel quoted a poetic passage about how some people could experience the fire or energy of God as terrifying while others could experience the same energy as radiating love.

Other topics from Daniel's letter that I may follow up on later:
  • New Thought as less flaky than he thought
  • Postmodern moral flatland
  • Christ consciousness
  • Three Faces of God
  • How to tell right from wrong
  • Polarities
  • Parallels between Evolutionary Enlightenment and fundamentalism 
  • Libertarianism
  • Homosexuality
  • Sex with sheep
His letter ends sweetly with this:
I like to think truth is a both/and dialectic where as you say, "Being and doing, faith and works, heaven and earth, conservation and progress, union with God and communion,"dance (awkwardly, but nonetheless, dance) together. I want to thank you and the Bishop for this glorious ride.

Daniel Butler, Teri Murphy, Phil Thomas

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