Nancy Ortberg has just published a book that Kris and I both enjoyed, and now our daughter, Laura, is reading it (Nancy was one of Laura’s leaders in the days of Axis at Willow Creek). There’s a depth as well as an angle on what genuine Christianity is in this book. Nancy isn’t afraid to step on toes or to say what she thinks. So, now we’ve got Looking for God. Nancy was willing to answer five questions I sent to her about this book. So, here you go … No, before that let me say this. I read this book in ms form and I told her that one chp was too short; she wrote back, “That’s all I had to say.” I loved it.
1. What “holy discontent” led you to write “Looking for God”?
I got so tired of being told about these very few, highly introverted [spiritual] practices, that were supposed to be the only/the best way to build a relationship with God and to deeply know Him.
And while I have certainly benefited, in deeply foundational ways from things like quiet times and journaling, I was finding that I was profoundly experiencing God in many other arenas.
I also think that it is extremely important, and theologically correct, to first understand the goodness of God, and the repetition and sameness of the quiet time/journal routine, was not pointing me in that direction.
2. Why might it be easier for women to write books for Christians but still difficult to find themselves facing Christians as teachers on Sunday morning?
First, I think one that even though it is easier for women to write the books, if it is a woman author, it most often gets categorized into a ?book for women? while if a man writes it, that is usually not the case. So women get niched in ways that marginalize their influence by that very thing.
As far as teaching on Sunday morning, I think most women lack an opportunity extended to them by their church. It seems if they are interested in working in the nursery or teaching kids under the age of jr. high, that is welcomed, but I don?t often see the opportunity offered for women to teach beyond that.
3. Which books or thinkers are closest to your vision in this book? Why?
That is hard to answer, I was just thinking aloud when I wrote the book…kind of scary, huh?
4. Where did you get your uncanny ability to tell stories?
One of my most vivid church memories, when I was about seven years old and attending church most Sundays with my grandmother, was about when the pastor told a story. I remember thinking, ?doesn?t he ?get it?? When he tells a story, you could hear a pin drop in that room, after it is over, there was shuffling, coughing, and not the same kind of focused attention.
I think one of the reasons many of us are drawn to Jesus, is he taught through stories. I think our brains and hearts are hard-wired to respond to that.
5. When people put your book down after reading it, what three things would you hope they would store in their memory?
What a lovely question. It delights me to think that my words might prompt memories:
That God is staggeringly good.
That our experience of that goodness is for our enjoyment, as well as to reflect to us the nature of a good God that we can fully trust.
That sometimes, counter intuitively, God can be most deeply experienced and known, during our most difficult times…and He is still staggeringly good.