In 1986 Dan Taylor gave to the evangelical world a gift called The Myth of Certainty, a book that didn’t justify doubt so much as let many of us know that we were not alone.
In 2007, twenty years later, Daniel de Roulet has done the same with his Finding Your Plot in a Plotless World, a book published by Baker Academic. What Taylor did for that decade de Roulet does for this generation. But, instead of offering consolation for those with doubt, de Roulet alters the landscape by offering consolation to those who struggle with plotlessness or perhaps even meaninglessness.
Some questions: Do you often run into a sense of plotlessness? Or a sense of “why?” Is your church afraid of those plots in the Bible when God’s best folks seemed to have lost their way? What about getting the big picture but struggling with the day-to-day?
Both are English teachers; both have a gifted pen dipped in the inkwell of graceful prose; both are pastoral enough that they don’t scandalize. Instead, they offer not some simple answer but the genuine Christian solidity called hope. The hope that sustains a struggle of faith.
In brief, de Roulet suffered from two dizzying experiences: his father died suddenly and tragically and it ripped apart the fabric of his life. Eventually he found his way into a Christian community that offered consolation and instruction; he and his wife Terry both did PhDs (she now has her M.D. as well!). Then the second tragedy struck: his son, Eric, was diagnosed with autism.
What haunts this book is the knowledge that in this world the so-called Christian plot of getting saved and then everything working out just fine wasn’t their plot. How do you, de Roulet asks, deal with finding a plot when the world around seems so plotless?
To lead us into his journey, de Roulet explores the theme of struggling to find a plot within plotlessness by dipping in and out of both biblical plots (Jacob is a favorite of mine in this book) and literary plots — he explores some writers I haven’t read but I’m sure many of you have read: Lee Smith, Anne Lamott, A Prayer for Owen Meany, Groundhog Day, Anne Rice, Leif Enger and Babette’s Feast.
This just might be the Daniel Taylor of the emerging movement.
What do you think of this sentence: “I have had to come to the hard conclusion in my own life that moments when I feel that God’s plot has been lost are sometimes moments when I am trying too hard to hold on to my own conception of it” (147).
I’d love to see some folks read this and blog about it. It surely deserves it. Maybe my top pick for book of the year on this blog.