In defense of church
Harry Emerson Fosdick said the preacher should preach in such a way that the listener wishes to come over later and visit the preacher in his office. Lillian Daniel has written a book that makes you wish she were your preacher—and that you could be seated next to her at a long, multicourse dinner party.
When “Spiritual But Not Religious” Is Not Enough is a feast of words—funny, ribald, tiptoeing to the edge of sarcasm, yet full of love and unflinching hope. Daniel has a pastor’s heart and is clearly a tender lover of the church, yet she writes with an edge that catapults her away from ever being dull or sappy. This isn’t a book so much as a smorgasbord of delicacies, complete with an essay, a brief piece that feels like a blog post gone viral, a lecture, and the sort of op-ed you print and hand to a friend.
The primary theme of Daniel’s book is the wonder of the church—not some grand, impeccable, impressive church but the bumbling, homespun, mundane church, the one most of us actually belong to or drive past. Daniel harbors no illusions about this church: she is like a spouse, married for decades, who has shed all fantasy and misimpressions about the beloved. According to Daniel’s deft assessment, it is the endearingly laughable aspects of real church life that are essential to the life of faith.