Chris 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.