The Red Couch: Getting Involved With God Introduction

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I have a confession to make. Of all the books we’ve selected for The Red Couch this year, I’ve least looked forward to this month’s selection.

*hangs head in shame*

Here’s the thing. Before The Red Couch strives to be a different kind of book club. We wanted to read a variety of genres and authors, men and women, global voices, different backgrounds, races, and so on. We wanted to encourage a deeper conversation and we wanted to push people a little bit out of their comfort zone.

We wanted to push ourselves out of our comfort zones.

Getting Involved With God: Rediscovering the Old Testament is definitely out of my comfort zone.

Somewhere around high school, I began viewing theology as dull, boring, and inaccessible. I don’t remember being exposed to much overt theology before that, not even at my Christian grammar school. Sure, we had Bible class every day so I learned about God and the Bible but I’m fairly certain my teachers never touched on different theories, traditions, or stances.

Quite a few theological terms weren’t added to my vocabulary until I started attending a Baptist church after my sophomore year of high school. I went there because of my youth group. I endured the sermons regularly peppered with “sanctification” and “hermaneutic” and “justification.” “Eschatology” still makes me shudder.

In my mid-20s I decided to give theology another chance. After all, it’s important to understand why we believe what we believe and what other schools of thought are out there. A good friend led several of us through parts of Systematic Theology, parts of which interested me. We called ourselves the Dead Theologians Club and it lasted for a few months. But honestly, I couldn’t figure out why sides mattered so much and why this stance was so clearly more right than that one.

This may be why I never entirely fit in at that church.

To this day I can’t keep Calvinists and Armenians straight or why it matters. Half the time I can’t even remember what they call themselves. I also can’t remember what “anthropomorphism” means. I have friends who regularly use big theological words in conversation and half the time I smile and nod as if I know what they’re talking about. I’m interested because they care, while completely owning how much I don’t care.

Don’t get me wrong. I have opinions. I also have the ability to see things from every point of view. We may not agree on things but I can generally understand why you believe the way you do. I easily live in the tension and mystery and I believe God is big enough to encompass it all.

While I see the value in commentaries and other biblical resources, they’re not my wheelhouse. But I trust my friend Kelley’s judgment and she had high praise for Getting Involved With God when we were determining what The Red Couch should read.

She was right.

Every time I’ve sat down to read Ellen Davis’s words, I’ve walked away with a new insight. It’s accessible, it’s fresh, it’s compelling. Anyone who advocates for the cursing psalms and makes space for lament is fine by me. Her take on Song of Songs made me sit up straight. It’s worth giving her work a chance.

Am I going to turn around and go on a theology book binge? Not likely but I plan on checking out more of Davis’s work. I had the chance to hear her speak this past Saturday as part of an event with Wendell Berry and Norman Wirzba. (RIGHT?!) I was struck by her humility and willingness to discourse on difficult topics. She’s my kind of theologian.

Who knew?

 

We’re doing things differently this month. Instead of a big discussion at the end, the next 3 weeks will focus on specific chapters. No matter how far you’ve read, please join us in the comments. We’re excited to welcome two guest posters Wednesday May 14 and 21. Kelley Nikondeha will close out the book on Wednesday May 28. Join the Facebook group to share quotes and discuss the book throughout the month. On Twitter, the official Red Couch Book Club hashtag is #redcouchbc.

 

The Nightstand at SheLoves Magazine

 

*Recommended by Kelley Nikondeha, Antonia Terrazas, Emily Maynard

 

Will you be reading Getting Involved With God with us?

Disclosure : Amazon Affiliate links included in this post.  If you click through to Amazon, any purchase you make supports this site.

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Image credit: Kamil Porembiński

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Leigh Kramer
Leigh Kramer is on a quest; she’s living life on purpose. Her to-do list might look something like this: leave life in the Midwest for Nashville, Tennessee, followed by San Francisco, quit steady job as a social worker to chase her dreams of writing, suck the marrow out of life’s in-between places and revel in the now at every turn. Leigh shares this journey through words of transparency, heart, and just a dash of pluck at LeighKramer.com and on Twitter at @hopefulleigh.
Leigh Kramer

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  • antoniaterrazas

    adding one more Ellen Davis to the mix of recommended for further reading: The Art of Reading Scripture (with Richard Hays): http://www.amazon.com/The-Reading-Scripture-Ellen-Davis/dp/0802812694. Excited for this month!

    • Thanks, Antonia! I’ll update the Nightstand with that recommendation tonight.

    • I’m gonna add that to my nightstand!

    • Like there isn’t enough on my reading list…

  • I am excited to read this one, Leigh. Excited and fully DAUNTED. Kelley and a few other women have introduced me to Ellen Davis and I look forward to sitting at her feet. But, I know it won’t be an easy peezy read. Thank you for being honest … Thanks for leading us out!

    • Excited and daunted- that strikes me as the perfect posture for this. Glad you’re in it with us!

  • Nicole A. Joshua

    This is a great choice, Leigh. I quote Ellen Davis often, and her chapter on lament psalms spoke volumes into my life. Looking forward to reading this book with you.

  • Sean Gladding

    Ellen Davis is wonderful – good choice. And thanks for the shout out for my book in “The Nightstand”!

  • I’m looking forward to this book! I’m in a book club that meets every week. We go through theology (and theology-lite) books one chapter at a time. It takes forever to finish a book but we are able to discuss in-depth. I think some books need to be discussed along the way, not just at the end.

  • This book sounds interesting, and your words have me intrigued! I too don’t usually spend a lot of time reading theology, but this sounds like an important book. Thanks much for bringing it to the Red Couch, Leigh!

  • Lindsey Whitney

    Sounds like a great read. Hoping to join the discussion!

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