Quiet Time: Not Just for Conservative Christians Anymore


Every conservative Christian boy or girl knows that there are at least three things they must do regularly to stay in God's good graces: evangelize unsaved people, pray before they eat a meal, and have a daily "quiet time" where they get alone and read the Bible. Now a new book has made the third action accessible for spiritual misfits, agnostics, skeptics, and none-of-the-aboves. In Disquiet Time: Rants and Reflections on the Good Book by the Skeptical, the Faithful, and a Few Scoundrelsreaders will find dozens of sassy reflections by varied voices such as Reformed theologian Steve Brown, progressive author Brian McLaren, humorist Susan E. Isaacs, and Liberty University professor Karen Swallow Prior. The foreword is penned by Eugene Peterson, translator of the The Message version of the Bible. [tweetable]Disquiet Time offers is something to challenge, encourage, and royally piss off just about everyone.[/tweetable]

Here, I discuss the message of the book with award-winning journalist Cathleen Falsani, who co-edited the volume with Jennifer Grant.

RNS: Disquiet Time seems built on the idea that we've misunderstood the Bible. If so, how do you hope to lead people to a better understanding?

CF: Disquiet Time isn’t meant to be a corrective. Quite the opposite, actually. We want to invite folks to the table (or, rather, to the Bible) who might otherwise feel unwelcome because they’re worried about “doing it wrong,” or because they don’t believe what many Christians say they’re “supposed” to believe, or because they’re carrying around a lot of hurt and baggage and woundedness and resentment from interactions with so-called “Christ followers” and churches. But the invitation God and Jesus extend is to everyone, and it’s a come-as-you-are invitation.

If we can’t be real with God, who can we be real with? Therefore, when we read the Bible or reflect on scripture or have our “quiet time” or however you choose to describe it, if we have to leave part of ourselves behind or secrete some of our feelings or doubts, what’s the point? We wanted to take the pressure off, to remove the fear from interacting with the Bible.

RNS: What are the passages from Scripture that haunt you or confuse you?

CF: The story in Mark 7 and Matthew 15 where Jesus encounters the Syrophoenician woman whose daughter, we’re told, is possessed by demons is not my favorite. It’s difficult for me to hear Jesus call the woman a “little dog,” and I find it confounding that he would seemingly act or speak unkindly. Jesus as a jerk is about the most disquieting thing I can imagine.

The general misogyny found throughout the Bible is troublesome, even if I understand how women were perceived and valued at the time. But even the instances of less systemic, more particular misogyny — where women are raped and murdered or traded like so much chattel — pale in comparison to “jerk Jesus” in the giving-me-the-willies department.

RNS: Is there a passage you wish you could rip from the pages of Scripture and how have you made peace with it?