Miniblog #148: According to NPR, I Don’t Have a “Relationship with God”
T.M. Luhrmann is a professor of psychological anthropology at Stanford University. Months ago a number of friends recommended her book, When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God. It sounded like a fascinating work about a theme I’ve long wrestling with, but it got lost in the shuffle. Thankfully, during date night/camping I heard a wonderful NPR interview with Dr. Luhrmann about the subject. In the introduction, David Bianculli queried, “What does it mean to have a personal relationship with God, as many evangelical Christians say they have, to believe that God cares about your welfare and interacts with you like a friend? Those are some of the questions our first guest Tanya Luhrmann set out to answer in her book[.]” I was hooked. My entire life those around me have been insisted that the christian life is, first and foremost, about a relationship with God. Yet it has never made the least bit of sense to me. I mean, seriously, the whole thing eluded my grasp. It always seemed like well-intentioned, pious gibberish. Since 2006 I’d been exploring this intently without making significant headway, but on Friday night the whole thing finally began to gain clarity.11.To be clear, I’m not saying I began to experientially take part. Quite the opposite, the segment made clear that I don’t have a relationship with God as commonly understood within the broad evangelical schema. What I’m saying is that, for first time, I’ve begun to understand what others mean when they say they have a relationship with God. It has been enlightening. Whether you’re someone who openly professes to have a relationship with God or a person like myself who can’t make heads or tails of it, I cannot recommend this NPR interview highly enough. If you’re interested, here’s the link: ‘When God Talks Back’ to the Evangelical Community.