A couple years ago, back when I was 39, I had my mid-life crisis. We had just left our last church (the only time we’ve ever walked away from a church). I was just beginning to get acquainted with the Christian postmodern conversation. It was a time of great angst for me, because I had to question the way of thinking I had devoted myself to ever since I became a Christ-follower at the age of 11.
“Deconstruction” is a big part of postmodernity; it’s a big word for tearing down basic assumptions. Deconstructing myself — that was what I was going through, and it was painful, scary and lonely.
The trouble was, Kay wasn’t going through her own deconstruction. She had anger and sadness over all the reasons we left our church, but she didn’t identify with the questions I was raising about our faith. This only increased my loneliness, for I thought, “Nobody understands me or shares my feelings… not even Kay!”
Way back in the days before we had children, Kay & I used to read books — together. We would snuggle up, and I would read aloud to her. We read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings in this way! And I suppose this experience prepared me for my nightly ritual with my children, when I gather them to read another chapter from whatever book we happen to be reading.
Well, I bought a copy of A New Kind of Christian and decided I wanted to read it with Kay. So we read, and talked, and read, and talked some more. What we discovered lifted me from my despair:
She never was a modernist Christian.
The reason she did not identify with my angst-ridden deconstruction of my dogmatic, modernist, analytical, black-and-white faith was that she did not identify with that kind of faith to begin with. Her difficulty was in trying to “fit in”, to try to be a “good Christian” the way it was expected of her. She tried hard, but the shoe never fit.
In terms I learned from Leonard Sweet, I was an immigrant in the new land. But she was a native.
Relief flooded over me, over us both, as I realized there was no need for her to share in my self-deconstruction. Instead, we came away from reading A New Kind of Christian each saying the same thing: “So I’m not crazy.”