BookMarks

September 3, 2007

“And now a few words from our president.” The countless opportunities that the president of a seminary has to make himself heard could produce nothing more than pleasant chatter. But in the hands of Mouw, an accomplished philosopher and theologian and president of Fuller Theological Seminary, these short reflections are chewy rather than soft, and they stick to one’s bones. The title essay explains why the author prays in fast food restaurants: “If I am hurrying through a crowded mall and suddenly meet someone I know, I greet the person, even though I haven’t had time to get into an especially friendly mood.” The noise, impersonality and grease of Burger King are actually, “properly understood, gifts from the Lord.”

A Dynamic God is a continuation of Mairs’s acclaimed “spiritual autobiography,” Ordinary Time, and of her book Waist-High in the World. The subtitle of this book says it all: Mairs, who was raised a Congregationalist in New England, has lived much of her life in the Southwest as a “cafeteria Catholic,” or what she sometimes refers to as a Zen Catholic. She doesn’t attend a conventional Catholic church but instead participates in a house church that is committed to inclusion and politically progressive causes. Despite the fact that she lives with the limitations of multiple sclerosis, she is committed to “the daily discipline of repairing the world, about which the Jewish Mishnah instructs that we are neither required to complete the task nor permitted to desist from it.” For Mairs, this world is all there is—there is no expectation of an afterlife.