Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

God Hides in Plain Sight 1

SacredSpaceNels.jpgChris Armstrong finishes his book, Patron Saints for Postmoderns: Ten from the Past Who Speak to Our Future, with a chapter reflecting on how these saints — ten of them, some unknown and some unusual — can be of help to Christians today. What makes these stories, these biographies of use to us? His answer:

“Because, for Sayers, as for Dante, and Kempe, and Gregory, the visible, physical world is loaded with spiritual meaning” (205). Armstrong’s book is a wonderful book for the Church, a real gift. Why? Because the church needs more contact with its past, and this is how to do it: by telling the stories within that Story of the Church. And, yes, I agree with him: the visible, physical world is loaded with spiritual meaning…
Which leads me to a wonderful new book by Dean Nelson: God Hides in Plain Sight: How to See the Sacred in a Chaotic World
. Nelson is a professor of journalism at Point Loma University in San Diego, and he has been all over the globe … and he’s got wonderful wit and an eye for the uncanny sense of God’s presence, and a broad spirit that reads all over the map. This book has taken me by surprise. “My purpose in telling these events,” he says about what will become dozens of little incidents, “is not to tell that I believe in magic.” No, he says, “I believe that grace goes before us as a way for God to say, ‘Welcome! I got here before you. I’ve been expecting you” (14).


Notice these words: “Grace pursues and precedes. It bends us toward God” (17). Grace says something like this: “Do me justice. Seem me everywhere.”
God does not hide; we are blind because we are not looking, because we are not attentive.
So he studies the sacraments, but he does so in an innovative way. “The sacraments, essentially, move us from here to there” (21). Dean Nelson encourages us to let all of life move us from here to there.
Join us in this new series: “God Hides in Plain Sight.” Those with eyes, though, see in the concrete realities of everyday life the presence of God.
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posted October 2, 2009 at 8:39 am

God is not hiding, we are blind because we are not looking, we are not attentive.
I love this statement.
Ordering Nelson’s book today.

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Jim Martin

posted October 2, 2009 at 10:23 am

Scot-Looking forward to this series. Just ordered Nelson’s book. Really like this line in your post:
“Because the church needs more contact with its past, and this is how to do it: by telling the stories within that Story of the Church.”
Absolutely right on both counts! We need more contact with our past and it needs to be through telling these powerful stories within the Story of the church.

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posted October 2, 2009 at 12:18 pm

I have a good story about grace going before me and God saying “I’ve been waiting for you.” In 1976 a friend and I backpacked through Europe with a rail pass, we could get off and on wherever we wanted without buying a destination ticket. That and Let’s Go Europe travel guide. We intended to go to swiss L’abri if we could find out how to get there, so all along on our travels, 3 months, we asked if people had heard of it. Ok.
We decide to go to this town in the Black Forest that was known for it’s cuckoo clocks. Let’s Go told us which bus to take to get to the hostel. But this was Sunday and the buses weren’t running. We see a big arrow sign for a motel, so we start walking that direction. We must have walked 10 miles and just stayed in residential district. It was getting toward dinner time and we stopped to decide what to do. 2 older women come out and with our translation books we get across that we’re looking for a place to stay. They point to a house half a block away that takes in travelers. So we went and they let us stay. They invited us to dinner, since we’d had none, and their daughter had just got back from Swiss L’Abri! We thought we were lost and we were right where God wanted us. In my immature, 20 yrs old, messed up mind, God still could direct us to where we needed to be. Gives me hope that the same is happening today.

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posted October 2, 2009 at 2:47 pm

I do believe that God hides to some. Take the case of hardcore haters of God as in extreme and arrogant atheism. I personally believe that in some of these cases, God retreats from their field of immediate consciousness and just lets them “be” out of deep respect for their decision to totally eliminate God from their lives. In my past debates with atheists I ask them “What if God was hiding from you because he knows you are wasting his time and just playing ridiculous ego-games, and not interested in real truth?”
Just my two cents.

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Dr. Mark

posted October 2, 2009 at 7:15 pm

Dr. Sam,
I totally disagree. I am convinced that God is not hiding even from the most hard-core atheists. Note the parable of the lost coin and lost sheep in Luke 15. God is ever seeking to bring home those who are lost.

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Ted M. Gossard

posted October 2, 2009 at 10:07 pm

Intriguing two books. I am getting a sense of sacrament doing that for me. And I certainly agree that there’s more than what meets the eye in what we see. And how important all stories are in the Story. We need to try to learn from them. Thanks, Scot.

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posted October 3, 2009 at 11:35 am

I just finished reading Nelson’s book, “God Hides in Plain Sight”. Terrific read! Witty, confessional, reflective, profound… Full of great stories that illustrate the sacramental moments in everyday life. Highly recommend.

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Karen O'Connor

posted October 6, 2009 at 4:43 pm

I felt I was listening to a kindred spirit. Everywhere I go I find that God has already arrived–just as author Dean Nelson says so well! And yes, when my eyes are open I do see God in plain sight. I highly recommend this well-written, provocative, entertaining, and very readable book.

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