I am always slightly embarrassed to talk about how much I love religion (in general) and God (in particular), how important spirituality and faith are to me and my life. In undergrad, it just so happened that every single elective that I took had something to do with religion, which was how it came to pass that I was only one class (3 credits) shy of having a Religious Study major. Even now, I confess that the idea of going back to school to earn my PhD in the study of disability within the context of religion is very appealing to me.
Why am I telling you all this?
Because I am not a Christian and because I recently read Amy Julia Becker’s book, Small Talk. It’s all about the practical application and thought behind Christianity and daily life parenting small children. I want people to understand that you don’t have to be a Christian to like this book; you just need to have an appreciation for Christianity and people who walk the talk.
Small Talk is structured so that Amy Julia begins each chapter with a central spiritual concept that she wants to explore – such as “forgiveness”, and talks about mistakes made in her home, things she struggles with, how she tries to apply the teachings of Jesus to her day-to-day life.
As she has a child with Down syndrome, she also talks about Christianity and disability, saying,
…what is most remarkable about Jesus’ posture toward individuals who we might call “disabled” is that it is the same as his posture toward everyone else. He makes no distinction for people with disabilities. He sees brokenness. He sees need. He sees possibilities. He sees belovedness. He treats every one of them, every one of us, with the dignity every child of God deserves.
Questions Without Answers
Maybe another reason why I love Amy Julia’s writings on Christianity is that she does not have a lot of answers for tough questions. She puts forth her questions and struggles for her own understanding both honestly and vulnerably.
In Small Talk, she tries to understand and explain Easter and Jesus’ coming back to life to herself and to her children. She tries to understand and explain Christmas too, and how to reconcile “American” Christmas with “Christian” Christmas. The Trinity, too, falls under Amy Julia’s analytical and enquiring mind, and she beautifully writes,
My poetic sensibilities gravitate toward the Spirit, the animating force, the mysterious, beautiful, unpredictable power and grace of God here and now. Yet I still wonder how the Spirit works, what it means to walk in step with the Spirit, to hear the voice of the Spirit, to really be so connected to God that I represent God’s activity inn the world…I like the incomprehensible nature of it, the way God can’t be defined. The way the Spirit is, as the Bible says, like wind, like water, like fire. Flickering. In motion. Consuming. Indescribable. One who can be experienced, perhaps, but never fully understood.
I enjoyed joining Amy Julia in thinking about how the teachings of Jesus can be applied to real life, when real life includes parenting small children who seem to simultaneously challenge and teach; inspire and learn.
This is a beautiful book, one in which I – a non-Christian – took pleasure reading.
Amy Julia Becker is giving away a copy of Small Talk to one reader of this blog – kindle version if you live outside the US; regular paperback if you are in the US.
Just leave a comment to enter, or answer this complex question: “small talk or no small talk?”
*winner picked by random.org in a week (- January 27th 2015, announced on this blog’s facebook page).