that overall you’re seeing this shift of
people done performing. I’m not going to
keep going because my parents did. It’s
not expected culturally anymore. Then
what is it that is tethering us to these intentional communities of people who
FT: So how can the Church send a genuine
“please come back” message?
SB: A big part of my message is that it’s
okay. The church is bigger and wider and
includes more stories than we think. It’s
okay to lean into those questions. And it’s
okay to take a break.
When we give ourselves permission to
go on those journeys, we are often brought
back to where we started, but with new
eyes. I left church for a sustained amount
of time. I felt in my church context there
wasn’t room for my grief and my questions. There wasn’t a huge faith crisis, as
much as it was questions
and doubts and wonderings, and the grief made it
unbearable. I couldn’t
pretend I was fine.
My tradition had to do
with certainty and answered prayer and victory. When your life isn’t
adding up to the formula
you’ve been given, you
feel you don’t belong
anymore. I found other
traditions within the
Christian faith that I
didn’t know were connected to me. Whether it was finding life
within the Anabaptists or Anglicanism,
I touched all those places over all those
years, but then ended up back in a similar church to how I had grown up. I
brought all of that with me and was able
to have more tenderness in my heart toward my story.
F T: What did dipping into those other traditions
SB: The things I used to be able to do to
connect with God disappeared. I didn’t
know what I thought about Scripture,
about church, about signs and wonders,
all those things. And so in some ways it
felt like I couldn’t part the weeds of my
own tradition to really encounter God
Rather than that being a time of crisis,
I discovered God could meet us anywhere
– that I didn’t need to be afraid, that God
was with me on that path. Being able to
understand that and be able to rest – I feel
that is one of the things the Anglican
Church gave me was a bit of rest. It took
me out of me being a central player, but
made God the Father and Holy Spirit the
central piece of why we were gathering.
Even during all those years, when I felt
I couldn’t pray in the way I had been
taught, in that “overcomer, faith-filled
way” anymore, praying the Hours meant
I still could pray. It gave me language. It
introduced me to parts of Scripture that
had skipped my notice because we tend
to park in favourite parts. As a charismatic, who comes from that third wave
of Pentecostalism, I feel
the liturgy gave me back
FT: And your shout is?
SB: Being reconnected to
the ancient practices of
the Church reconnected
me to the Holy Spirit
again. That helped me
almost be rebaptized into
the places of wonder and
goodness in the Holy
Spirit. It helped restore
me to the traditions of
my charismatic background.
If you had told me 15 years ago I would
be more charismatic now–
Now I find that not only do I keep all
those ancient practices other traditions
give me, but they helped me love again the
traditions that I had begun with.
FT: So there’s a sense of drawing from multiple
threads of Christian tradition.
SB: I think in some ways we can feel as we
live into the life of Christ, it makes you
feel you belong everywhere, but not anywhere. You need the full expression of the
Body of Christ. That is a beautiful thing,
but also a lonely thing. I’m in a church
similar to the one I grew up in, and I love
it, but this church will never be liturgical.
If I had tried to write Out of Sorts six
years ago, it would have been such a different book. At that point I thought I had
been set free. I thought I didn’t need to go
to church anymore. I felt set free and so
enlightened, as we think in the arrogance
of our realizations.
You have to live in it a bit longer and
often your own story surprises you. I wonder in ten years what will have changed?
If you’re not changing in response to the
unchanging Christ, we are kind of missing
FT: You speak and write about doing theology
and use the term “we all get to play.” Tell us
more about that. Some of us are accustomed to
reading theology written by people who have
been to seminary and have doctorates.
SB: I think that oftentimes we embody too
much of the either/or. In those conversa-
tions of doing theology, which is a bit of a
misnomer, we are really just wrestling with
what we believe and hope about God.
Here’s the thing. I think that a lot of
times you need both. You need the full
story of all of it. I’m not anti-education or
learning, I lean heavily on it. It’s one of
my main areas of geeking out. I’m appre-
ciative and thankful for the work scholars
and leaders and ministry people do.
However, for too long we’ve dismissed
the ways regular and ordinary and maybe
not as formally trained people encounter
and experience God. It’s important for
them to be at that conversation and at
I have a quote in my office – “Who is
this that dares to question my wisdom?”
from Job 38. Well, we all dare to do it.
Scripture is replete with people daring to
question God, daring to question what
they believe. Jesus surrounded Himself
with the marginalized, the uneducated.
One of the aspects of why I’m so pas-
sionate about it is that those hallowed
halls of learning are a place of privilege,
often overwhelmingly white, male and of
a certain socioeconomic class. That is one
of the reasons why it’s important to ex-
pand our listening circle. I learn to know
and love Jesus more when I learn from
people different from me.
In some small ways I count myself in
THE FT INTERVIEW