But it could be that our faithlessness is a cowering cowardice born of our very smallness, a massive failure of imagination.
Dillard writes about God and faith all the time. Her understanding of the natural world is filtered through the lens of Christianity. When she sees a muskrat or monarch butterfly or the Perseid meteor shower, she knows all the sciences--biological and ecological and astronomical. But she also nurtures a sizable sense of awe and grace. Dillard is a rarity: a serious Christian writer.
Christianity has gotten a bad rap in recent times. This has something to do with small-minded conservatives who disguise their small-mindedness as a form of Christianity. For example, they claim homosexuality is an affront to Christianity, even though nowhere in the Bible does Jesus Christ utter a single statement about homosexuality. How about this one: marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman? Donald Trump, the Chosen One for many so-called Christians in the current United States presidential election, must really believe in the sanctity of marriage: he's done it three times.
One of the best Christian writers working today, Marilynne Robinson, says this about the current state of politics and religion: "Something called Christianity has become entangled in exactly the strain of nationalism that is militaristic, ready to spend away the lives of our young, and that can only understand dissent from its views as a threat or a defection, a heresy in the most alienating and stigmatizing sense of the word." Robinson gets it on a deep level. She sees the danger in this brand of Christianity.
No, I'm not getting on a soapbox tonight. My point is that I appreciate the fact that there are writers like Annie Dillard and Marilynne Robinson. They don't water down their Christianity when they write. They embrace it in complex and meaningful ways. It's not an easy faith they write about. It's real faith, sometimes full of questions and doubt. That's a faith I understand. That's my brand of Christianity.
My faith is limited by smallness, as Dillard said in the quote above. My imagination sometimes doesn't allow me to embrace the immensity of love that exists in God's heart. All I see is what my limited vision allows. Dillard and Robinson see something grander in their writing.
That's the kind of writer Saint Marty wants to be.