On Thursday, 1 February 2018, Jamie Dedes honored me by publishing my review of the new book by Paul Moses, The Saint and the Sultan: The Crusades, Islam, and Francis of Assisi’s Mission of Peace. I found the book engrossing. In fact, even its omissions were engrossing. And Moses' entire text was provocative, touching issues on history, ethics, religion, and the psychology thereof. In fact, Paul Moses' book was too good to keep. So -- with Jamie's permission -- I am taking the liberty of reprinting my review here.
For a religious person who is “seeking God’s will,” the most reliable indicator that you are in serious trouble is the belief that you have found it. Paul Moses has, perhaps unintentionally, written a brief but fascinating account of a case in point: The Saint and the Su
This will probably sound strange coming from me. But … here goes … I miss God.
Well … even that is not quite accurate. If by the term “God” you understand the traditional, orthodox conception of God as basically “a really, really, really big Person writ large,” then … no … I do not miss that God, the kind of God Samuel Taylor Coleridge, somewhere or other, referred to when he said that the average Englishman’s conception of God is as “of an immense Clergyman”; the kind of God Whose eye is on the sparrow; the kind of God Who numbers the very hairs of my head (in my case, a task easy even for human beings, let alone God); the God Who browbeat poor, innocent Job. In other words, I do not miss the kind of God who Sees Things And Runs Things, the Great Cosmic National Security Agency,
A Meditation from the Works of Julian of Norwich
Stained Glass window of Julian of Norwich,
Church of St. Julian, Norwich UK
For just as our bodies are clothed in garments,
our flesh enclosed by our skin,
our hearts centered in our body,
so are we, spirit and flesh,
clothed head to toe in the goodness of God.
But this metaphor hardly does justice,
for all things will decline and wear out.
God’s goodness, however, is everlasting,
and is incomparably nearer to us than our very flesh.
Julian of Norwich 14th century Anchorite
We are clothed in God, clothed in the goodness of God. These words have been especially comforting to me today as last week was an especially difficult one. Just knowing God, Spirit, and Christ are closer to me than my own flesh has kept me going.