Viva La Vida | a theological review of Coldplay’s new album

Note (7/22): This is the second draft of an article I posted last week. Many thanks to my editor Heather for all her help.

Growing up in the church I developed a strong faith, but I also grew up watching MTV and caring a lot about popular culture. Today, as a mid/late 20-something, I still have a fascination with popular culture (music, movies, sports, even celebrity gossip), but I also feel a desire to understand and share my faith. Bringing these interests together, I graduated from seminary this past spring with a master’s degree in Theology & Pop-Culture (a degree that didn’t exist until I created it). As a “pop-culture theologian,” I see the world through a unique perspective – seeking to interpret what is happening in today’s culture and translate it in a way that reflects God’s activity in our world. It is through this perspective that I would like to guide you on a search for the sacred in the (perceived) secular, by reviewing Coldplay’s new album theologically.

I became a Coldplay fan while on a trip to New Zealand in January, 2001. It was my junior year of college, and one of the guys I was traveling with wanted to listen to an album called Parachutes (their first album) on our group’s bus. We listened to it over and over while exploring NZ’s south island and it provided an incredible soundtrack to an amazing trip. I loved the music because it was both depressing and hopeful at the same time, much like the tension of real life. I downloaded Parachutes when I got back to campus, and seven years later I’m still listening to Coldplay’s music and they’ve become one of my favorite bands.

Along with millions of other Coldplay fans around the world, I spent the past year awaiting the release of what coldplay.com promised would be “the album people will remember them by.” That is certainly a bold statement to make about an album that was already highly-anticipated; especially since their last album, 2005’s X&Y, received some rather harsh reviews, but since Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends came out last month I have been listening to it on repeat. Although it took me a few weeks to move beyond simply listening to the melodies and feelings of the album, I have now begun hearing the songs on a much deeper level (i.e., the lyrics and meaning of the music) and to my excited surprise, I have come to realize that much the album focuses on issues of faith and theology.

An unexamined album is not worth listening to.

Nearly every song on Viva La Vida contains theological undertones and themes. Taking a quick tour through the track list (although not necessarily in the order they appear on the album), ‘Yes’ seems to be about personal faith and possibly even decision theology; ‘Cemeteries of London,’ ‘Death and All His Friends’ and ‘Violet Hill’ address death and the inevitability of dying; ‘Lost!’ explores the search for meaning and identity; and ‘Viva La Vida,’ ‘42′ and ‘The Escapist’ (the “hidden” song at the end of the album) focus on heaven/hell and the thought or hope of life after death.

While songs like ‘Reign of Love’ lead listeners to more theological questions than answers, I happen to believe that it is in the questions and the search for understanding that faith finds its home. The Greek philosopher Socrates once said “an unexamined life is not worth living,” and many theologians have borrowed from his quote to say “an unexamined faith is not worth believing.” I agree with both statements, and as a theologically-minded music fan, I would like to add another Socratic saying into the mix, “an unexamined album is not worth listening to.” Coldplay’s new album might not be a contemporary expression of Socratic philosophy or theology, but it’s definitely more than just another rock album.

Long live life!

“Viva La Vida” is a Spanish expression, and depending on who you talk to it means “long live life” or “live the life.” (“Viva La Vida” is also the name of a painting by Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, which is where Coldplay got the name of the song/album, although that’s not the art that serves as the album’s cover.)

All four members of Coldplay (Chris Martin, Jonny Buckland, Guy Berryman and Will Champion) wrote the lyrics and music of Viva La Vida together – at least they all share the credit in the album’s liner notes – and listening to this album as a whole you get the sense that they are all very interested, if not obsessed with thoughts of death and dying, as well as heaven and hell. Viva La Vida is a deeply theological album, and there are moments when Martin, the voice of Coldplay’s music, sounds more like a prophet or priest than a rock star or pop-culture icon.

At times, Viva La Vida hints indirectly at themes that seem somewhat theological – for instance, ‘Strawberry Swing’ is a happy song that creates the mood and images of what a “perfect day” in heaven might be like (either that or it’s about a marching band of Oompa Loompas) – but I would like to focus the rest of this article on a few songs that dive directly into theological waters.

In the album’s co-title track ‘Viva La Vida’ (the song featured in the colorful iTunes commercial), Martin sings “For some reason I can’t explain, I know Saint Peter will call my name.” To be completely honest, the first couple of dozen times I listened to this song I thought Martin was singing “I know Saint Peter WON’T call my name,” as if he thought Peter wasn’t going to be let him through the pearly gates. Even listening to the song really closely several times through didn’t help me determine if Peter “will” or “won’t” call his name. I think Martin’s British accent made it difficult for my American ears to decipher what he was saying, but I was also interpreting and making assumptions based on other songs on the album (see my thoughts on the song ‘42′ below). It wasn’t until I looked up the lyrics online (and checked at least four different websites to make sure they were correct) that I realized Martin was indeed singing, with what sounds like a sense of confused confidence, that he thinks Saint Peter WILL call his name and let him into heaven. This was quite a relief to me, since it hadn’t felt right driving around singing along with a song that was about not making it into heaven.

It’s a cool song musically; I just have no idea what it’s about.

The fourth track on the album is ‘42.’ The musical structure of ‘42′ will be familiar to Coldplay fans, as it starts out slow and peaceful – even somewhat boring (reminiscent of ‘Fix You’) – only to build and transform into an almost entirely different/driving rock song by the 1 minute and 30 second mark. In the second half of the song, after an extended instrumental interlude, the somewhat bizarre lyrics “You thought you might be a ghost” and “You didn’t get to heaven but you made it close” are repeated several times until the song ends with the same disturbing words it started with, “Those who are dead, are not dead, they’re just living in my head.”

I wish I knew who Martin was singing to in ‘42,’ or how he knows that the recipient of the song’s message didn’t get into heaven. As for what it means to “almost” make it to heaven? I’m not sure. Perhaps it’s a variation of the Catholic understanding of some sort of in-between place – not heaven, not hell (“purgatory”) – almost like a heavenly waiting room, where people hang out until learn whether or not they will get into heaven. It certainly seems to be based on an understanding of eternal life/salvation that requires good works. In some ways, it reminds me of NFL players, coaches and fans anxiously waiting to see if the call on the field will stand or be overturned after the referee reviews the play in question; since it’s all about performance and based on what happened (who did what, when and why). I personally have issues with understandings of faith that require anything, especially as it relates to salvation, but I will save those words for a different time and place.

Although there are only 10 tracks on Viva La Vida, three of them are two-for-ones (tracks that include two separate songs). Only one track is officially/appropriately labeled as a twofer (‘Lovers in Japan / Reign of Love’), but you can find titles for the other bonus songs online. (The song after ‘Yes’ is ‘Chinese Sleep Chant’ and the song after ‘Death and All His Friends’ is ‘The Escapist’.)

Although ‘Lovers in Japan’ is a nice tune that seems to be a fairly typical romantic love song, it’s the second song of the track (‘Reign of Love’) that is of more interest, for theological reasons. I can’t tell if the “reign of love” that Martin is singing about is of human or divine origins. There are a few spots in particular that confuse me. First, the word “locusts” is used in both the second and third stanzas. The word “locust” is not a very commonly used word these days – people usually just go with “grasshopper” – so when it shows up twice in a fairly short song, I notice. People familiar with the Old Testament/Hebrew Scriptures may recognize locusts as one of the Ten Plagues of Egypt that God inflicted on the Egyptians to convince Pharaoh to let the Israelite people out of slavery (see Exodus 7-12, locusts were plague #8). The last two stanzas of the song (the post-locust verses) require some theological analysis. I’ll let you read the lyrics for yourself, but then I have some questions for you to think about in response.

Reign of love
By the church, we’re standing (1)
Reign of love
My knees go praying (2)

How I wish
We’d spoken up (3)
Or we’d be carried
In the reign of love (4)

(1) Do you think “reign of love” is another way of talking about God, or God’s sovereign love?

(2) Who is praying and what are they praying about? Since Martin is the one singing, is he praying? If so, what do you think he is praying about? Who is he praying to?

(3) What do he wish they’d spoken up about? Was it perhaps an injustice that displayed a lack of love?

(4) Are they being carried in the “reign of love,” or not? Is the “reign of love” a call for universal love, a worldwide “reign” of love ruling over all? or is it something more specific to faith/religion?

Aside from the few songs that were analyzed theologically above, there is a lot more material on Viva La Vida that could be included in theological conversation(s). I will leave most of that for others to do, but here are a few obvious “God spots” that deserve some attention.

From ‘Cemeteries of London’

  • “Through the dark streets they go searching to see God in their own way.”
  • “God is in the houses and God is in my head…I see God come in my garden but I don’t know what he said, for my heart it wasn’t open.”

From ‘Yes’

  • “Then we were dying of frustration, saying, ‘lord ‘lead me not into temptation.'”
  • “God only, god knows I’m trying my best. But I’m just so tired of this loneliness.”

From ‘Violet Hill’

  • “Priests clutched onto bibles, hollowed out to fit their rifles. And the cross was held aloft.”

From ‘The Escapist’

  • “And in the end, we lie awake. And we dream we’ll make an escape.”

Coldplay’s tour in support of the new album began in July, and as part of the tour, they are offering a free song for download to people who purchased tickets to a show. The song is titled ‘Death Will Never Conquer’ and it sounds a bit like a hymn. It includes the hopeful line “I hope sweet heaven is a place for me,” which seems to express a Christian understanding of eternal life and the hope of spending eternity with God. What do you think?

Is Viva La Vida the album people will remember Coldplay by?

Only time will tell how or if Coldplay will be remembered 30 years from now, and Viva La Vida certainly hasn’t been out long enough to determine whether it will be the album that defines their music (like Radiohead’s Ok Computer); but for now one thing is certain…it is a very good, if not a great album, and it says a lot about their beliefs in God, life, death and whatever comes next.

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In case this wasn’t enough Coldplay for you, here are a few extras:

Rolling Stone recently featured an interview with Chris Martin titled “The Jesus of Uncool” in which Martin opens up about a whole slew of issues related to life, music and even his experiences growing up in the church (a portion of the article can be read on RollingStone.com).

Dan Kimball (pastor of Vintage Faith Church in Santa Cruz, CA and author/speaker in the emerging church) wrote an interesting response to the Rolling Stone article on his blog a few weeks ago (it includes a few quotes from the interview that aren’t included online).

Chris Martin was interviewed by coldplay.com just before beginning their current tour and he talked a lot about what’s involved in taking their show on the road, how much control they have in making decisions about the production of their concerts and what you can expect to see if you see Coldplay live.

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already/not yet…when and where is God’s Kingdom?

“Your kingdom come, your will be done. On earth as it is in heaven.”

In the middle of Jesus’ training prayer with his disciples (Matthew 6:9-13), he spoke this phrase in reference to God’s coming Kingdom and will (or plan) for the world. My mom forwarded me an email this morning discussing this passage of the Lord’s Prayer, it was actually an excerpt from a book and the title of the daily devotion was “Where have you had a taste of the Kingdom?” This is an intriguing question, especially since we all experience “the Kingdom” in different ways, times and places – and many people probably wouldn’t describe these experiences as “Kingdom moments” – and as for the “how” of the question, it implies that we are apparently able to use our senses (including taste) to experience these moments.

I could write a lot about the imagination and possibilities involved in the wording of this question, but regardless of the when, where or hows that are involved in people’s experiences with the sacred/spiritual in our world, I want to include Richard’s Daily Meditation from today because I think it offers a good/brief description of when and where the Kingdom of God is found here on earth today.

“Thy kingdom come” means very clearly that the Kingdom is something that enters into this world, or, as Jesus puts it, “is close at hand.” Don’t project it into another world. It’s a reality that breaks into this world now and then, when people are like God.

When that can happen in terms of structures or groups, when you have a free group of people who love the truth more than themselves, then you have a taste of the Kingdom descending to earth.

“Your Kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” is my favorite and most-used phrase from the Lord’s Prayer. I’ve used it in several papers and sermons as a way of not only talking about what God is doing “right here, right now” but also because I think it calls us to do something, to actively work with and on behalf of God in the world – in whatever ways we see possible – to help Jesus’ prayer become a reality.

George Eldon Ladd was a seminary professor during the 1900s who taught that the future Kingdom of God – what many people believe we are waiting for, heaven – is already here on earth (through the church), but it won’t be complete until Jesus returns (again). This has become known as the “already/not yet” theology of God’s kingdom.

What about you? How do you understand the Kingdom of God? How have you experienced it in your own life? Where have you seen God working in your world? Have you ever witnessed people doing God’s will and helping bring glimpses of God’s Kingdom to earth? What senses have been involved in your experiences with God moving closer to us, to meet us here and now? Where have you had a taste of the Kingdom?

Open your imagination to the endless possibilities of how God can work in and through any part of creation. God can use music, art, nature, technology, even the media to speak to people and whisper a message of hope, joy, love or forgiveness. Individuals can be inspired to get involved in efforts to make a difference in the world – God’s movement in and for the world – by watching a movie, hearing a song, reading a book or even seeing others make a difference on the news or a TV show. Allow yourself to be free of any perceived expectations and simply follow the Spirit into the world to make a difference in whatever ways are available to you. Maybe it’s something small, or perhaps it’s something big. Don’t worry about the specifics, just start with the simple prayer that God’s “Kindom will come and God’s will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

confession and forgiveness (remix)

During worship at Journey tonight we discussed 1 John 1:8-2:2, which is where some of the text from the Lutheran Book of Worship’s (LBW) brief order for confession and forgiveness is found (pdf). This piece of liturgy is probably familiar to people who grew up in traditional Lutheran churches because it most likely would have been part of worship every Sunday since they were young. Being part of a Lutheran congregation (Calvary Lutheran), we try to stay true to our Lutheran heritage, but we also make efforts to simply be Christian while “doing” and “being” Church in new/different ways that are meaningful to people, regardless of whether they grew up in a church or not. So tonight, during worship, we took time to discuss the words of confession and forgiveness from a hymnal that is now 30 years old, and in groups of 2-3 people throughout the sanctuary, we re-wrote the liturgy in our own words. Each group was assigned a short segment of the liturgy and during the music-worship after the message, the pieces that each group re-wrote were typed together and put onto slides (because of the way it was constructed, being written in small segments by different groups of people, it reads a bit disjointed). Then, before the last song of the night, we gave this new version (or “remix”) its first public reading. It was a very cool thing to witness and be part of, and it could have never been done without a congregation that is open to trying new things, filled with imagination and of course, technology was an important element as well (since without it, the words could have never been put together so quickly and displayed on screens for the entire congregation to read together).

Here is what we came up with.

Brief Order for Confession and Forgiveness (remix)
Written by the Journey worship community at Calvary Lutheran in Golden Valley, MN on June 15, 2008

Leader: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

All: Amen.

Leader: Almighty God, you know us and our lives. Clean up our hearts and minds by your example. We will try to love you – to show you what you are through the things we say and do, by the power of Christ’s life, death and resurrection.

All: Amen.

Leader: We have to stop being egotistical – to go against society – and be honest with ourselves. Fortunately, if we admit to these sins, God, who is a constant and reliable source for every need and the ultimate judge of all truth, will forgive us for all the ways we turn against him and give us a fresh start.

(Silence for reflection and self-examination)

Leader: Most merciful God,

All: we admit that we are prone to sin and we need your help to free us. Every day of our lives we sin against you with our actions and our inability to act, as well as our hurtful words of painful silence – we continually drop the ball – sin has consumed our lives and there are a lot of things we have not done but should be doing to glorify your name. We have held back from loving you fully. We have focused on loving ourselves, and with what we have left, we have not reached out to our neighbors. Your son sacrificed and died for us. Show us your mercy, forgive our sins, refresh our hearts and guide us through our days. We love you and want to be like you. We are thankful for your grace so that our sins do not permanently separate us from you.

All: Amen.

Leader: We are in need of a savior – in need of mercy – and God provided Jesus who loves us so much he died for us. Through Jesus’ love, God has forgiven all our sins. If you have faith, you belong to God’s family and have been sealed with the Holy Spirit.

All: Amen.

(Please feel free to use this version in your own worship settings, but if you’re looking for a new way to incorporate confession and forgiveness into worship I would strongly suggest having your community write (or re-write) something new and create a more organic/homemade liturgy. If you have questions about the specifics of how we went about doing this at Journey, you can email me.)

Subject: Can I share?

[If you haven’t been following the emails I’ve been sharing between me and my friend Jenny, you can click HERE to read Jenny’s first email and then go through and read the rest in order (they are all linked together). You might notice from the time stamps at the top of each email that we seemed to stop writing after only about 3 days, but we have actually continued writing (although not as regularly) for the past six weeks, and we brought a few other people into the conversation as well. After struggling to coordinate schedules, four of us actually got together at a friend’s house last week to have dinner and a really interesting conversation about a lot of the questions in these emails. I sent Jenny an email a few days ago to thank her for bringing everyone together for a great conversation and ask her if it was okay to share some of our emails here (her response is below). I want to thank her for allowing me to share these with you, not only because it is a bit of a window into her life and faith (and that can be a scary thing to share with people, especially in a space like this), but also because I think her specific thoughts and questions express the way many people think and wonder about God’s role in their lives and the world. Although I realize I don’t have any of this figured out any better than the next person, I hope someone got something out of reading all these emails. If you have thoughts you’d like to share (or questions you’d like to ask) in response to anything in particular, or even about the conversation as a whole, please leave a comment.]

From: Jenny
To: Andy
Subject: Re: Can I share?
Date: Wed, Apr 23, 2008 at 1:22 PM

Hey Andy. I don’t mind at all if you use portions of our emails on your blog, and thank you for taking time out of your night to meet with us. I think one of the biggest things I came away with last night was the fact that faith is more of a journey, and not a destination. I think I kind of already knew that, but many of the things you shared really drove it home for me. I know life is very busy, so I really appreciate you taking the time to meet last night!

Thanks, Andy!

Jenny

______________________________________________________________________

If you would like to continue reading or thinking about the questions and issues raised in these emails, I would highly recommend the book Letters from a Skeptic by Greg Boyd. Boyd is the senior pastor at Woodland Hills Church in St. Paul, Minnesota and this book is a collection of letters between he and his father (who was not a Christian at the time). In the relatively short time I have taken issues of faith and theology seriously, I have found very few people who are as knowledgeable and understandable as Greg Boyd. If reading a book – or even buying a book and putting it on your bookshelf with the intention of reading it someday – seems like more of a commitment than you’re ready to make right now, I gave a 20-minute sermon on the question “why keep believing?” at Journey a few weeks ago (responding to several of the questions and doubts that often trip us up in our faith). You can listen to it here. (Note: In no way am I trying to imply that my short message summarizes Boyd’s book or even compares to his level of communication, but it’s just an option for anyone looking to think more about all this — I suppose it’s also a shameless plug to get people to listen to my sermon, but I can live with that.)

Whether you listen to my sermon or not, there’s something I’ve been wishing I had said in that message, and even though it doesn’t necessarily fit here, I’m going to share it anyway…

I believe God loves the whole world (John 3:16 says, “for God so loved the world”). I also believe God is present and active throughout the world; even in remote villages that missionaries haven’t visited yet, or nations where people aren’t waving the flag of Jesus Christ. God loves the world and God is doing the best God can do–given the current situation of the world and who God has to work with (us)–to make positive changes in the world.

Subject: Re: I have a few questions #3

[The email below is part of a conversation between me and my friend Jenny. If you’re just joining in, it will probably make more sense if you go back to the beginning and read them in order (they are all linked together). Click HERE to read Jenny’s first email.]

From: Andy
To: Jenny
CC: Sarah
Subject: Re: I have a few questions
Date: Sun, Mar 9, 2008 at 11:44 PM

Sarah, sorry I forgot to include you on the last email. I’m glad Jenny copied you on her response so you could keep up with our back and forth thoughts…and to make sure you stay in the loop on the planning for our first session. Feel free to add in your own questions and responses if you’d like, or just read along.

Jenny, I’m glad you feel comfortable enough to ask your honest questions and if anything I’ve written has helped you make better sense of things, then I’m thankful. I think Letters From a Skeptic is a perfect book for you to be reading, along with Matthew’s gospel. Greg Boyd (Skeptic author) does a great job (with the help of his dad’s letters) of addressing some of the biggest God questions ever asked, and he responds to them using some of the most ordinary/everyday language possible (which is quite an accomplishment).

Both of you, let’s make plans to get a small group together and chat about some of these questions. Fridays are typically a good day for me because I don’t have class. I don’t remember meeting Becky, but Sarah says I’ve met her before, and she sounds like someone with great questions as well, so hopefully the four of us can have coffee or lunch together to see if we can figure out what God’s up to in the world and in our lives.

Sarah, I hope your night at work went better than you expected.

Jenny, I hope the kids behave well so you can continue your quest for spiritual wisdom and understanding.

Andy is going to bed because he’s a tired dude.

Peace out.

[Click HERE to read Jenny’s last email and my summary of this conversation.]

Subject: I have a few questions #3

[The email below is part of a conversation between me and my friend Jenny. If you’re just joining in, it will probably make more sense if you go back to the beginning and read them in order (they are all linked together). Click HERE to read Jenny’s first email.]

To: Jenny
From: Andy
CC: Sarah
Subject: Re: I have a few questions
Date: Sun, Mar 9, 2008 at 11:08 PM

Andy,

Please do not ever worry about how long it takes you to respond to my emails! I do not want you to feel any pressure about getting back to me asap. I never know when I am going to get back to the computer and if I do, many times I am called away before I even get to type in my password.

I appreciate you dealing with me because I do feel like I am going in circles sometimes! I feel like I get things figured out and then something else brings me right back to the beginning. I will resist the urge to ask you more questions tonight.

As for getting together, I would LOVE to. I do have a friend that I would like to invite along in addition to Sarah~I don’t know if you have met Becky. I used to teach with her and she and Sarah are friends as well. She was also in our group when Sarah, myself and others read The Purpose Driven Life. I think we have a lot of the same questions. Becky and I are also reading the book of Matthew together. Neither of us have read much of the bible and so we decided to dive in together. Have I convinced you yet that she would be a good candidate to include in our discussion?

I also decided to get back to reading Letters from a Skeptic. I started it a long time ago, and never finished it, but I am pretty sure it deals with a lot of the questions I am having.

Thanks again for all your thoughts and your time. I will look at my calendar and throw out some dates for a possible gathering. I would have my people call your people, but I am afraid that my peoples’ inexperience with numbers, the calendar and reading for that matter would just confuse things.

Take care,
Jenny

[Click HERE to read my response to this email.]

Subject: Re: I have a few questions #2

[The email below is from a conversation between me and my friend Jenny. If you’re just joining in, it might make more sense if you go back to the beginning and read them in order (they are all linked together). Click HERE to read Jenny’s first email.]

To: Jenny
From: Andy
Subject: Re: I have a few questions
Date: Sun, Mar 9, 2008 at 10:01 PM

Jenny,

Sorry I haven’t been able to respond to your last email yet and I don’t have the energy to do it tonight because I’m thinking an early bedtime is in order. I will offer a few quick general comments though.

As a general rule, big God questions (like the ones you’re asking) only flow out of really honest faith. If people didn’t have faith they wouldn’t have much reason to ask questions (or at least not to care about the questions and the implications of their “answers”). I think a lot of people assume that having questions and doubts means they don’t have faith, and I can understand this assumption, but I don’t think anything could be further from the truth. I used to talk about this with my dad a lot, and I remember a conversation with him on the phone while I was in college when he said “doubt is not the opposite of faith, but doubt is part of faith. Disbelief is the opposite of faith.” I’ve thought about this a lot over the years, and it’s continued to make more sense as I’ve come to understand what it means to “have” faith and come to some deeper realizations of what faith actually is. If you spend a few minutes just thinking about what faith is, you’ll eventually realize that faith cannot possibly exist without doubts – they’re mutually exclusive to each other. Having faith is believing in something that we can’t see, touch, hear or experience in any other ways that fit our earthly/human understandings. Soren Kierkegaard, a Danish philosopher and theologian from the 19th century explained faith as “a person blind-folded walking down a pier on a foggy night, not knowing where the pier ends, but taking the next step.” The imagery of this definition has been helpful to me as I’ve continually attempted to deepen my own personal faith. I bring my biggest questions to God, not because I doubt God’s existence, strength, power, love or plans, but because I believe those things about God and I trust that God is the only one who can handle those questions. Simply having questions about God proves to me that I believe in God, and the act of asking God those questions shows me that I trust that God can respond to my questions. Where faith enters into the situation and gets tricky on a day-by-day, minute-by-minute level is when we have to live without knowing the answers (or in our misunderstandings of how God has been trying to respond to our questions). Another helpful quote for me about all this is from C.S. Lewis, who, when he wasn’t writing about lions, witches and wardrobes, once wrote the statement “I believe in the presence of God as surely as I believe in the presence of the sun. Not merely because I can see it, but because by its light all things can be clearly seen.”

Sorry for not responding to any of the specific questions in your last email, but I hope some of these more general thoughts are helpful. I’ll try to keep up with your questions and would actually love to get together to talk (maybe with Sarah and anyone else who’s interested) about any or all of this in person sometime, but for now email works just fine. I just can’t make any promises that I’ll always be able to respond right away. This is fun for me, so never feel like you’re inconveniencing me with your emails.

And by the way, I didn’t talk to any of the girls at Panera (most of them seemed to be going out to eat with their boyfriends…boo!).

Have a good week.

Andy

P.S. If you’re looking for something to do with 18 minutes of your life, my sermon from Journey last Sunday (on servanthood and Jesus washing his disciples’ feet) is online, click here to listen to it.

[Click HERE to read Jenny’s response to this email.]