I had a wonderful experience this week at a “Chautauqua” Event in Homer, NY.
A Chautauqua event is based on the model of the Summer institute programs at Chautauqua, NY (www.ciweb.org). It includes classes, speakers, ecumenical worship, and music/arts. The Cortland (NY) Council of Churches has been holding this one-week event for many years. This year one of the class offerings each evening was a talk by a local author. I was privileged to be one of the presenters. The attendees were interested in hearing about how the book came into being, how it was published, and how fiction can be a powerful tool for theological reflection. I even sold a few books that I was happy to autograph.
From a personal perspective, I find that talking about “Community of Promise” and its process of coming into being helps me remember how exciting this whole experience really is for me. The story took on a life of its own a long time ago, but it keeps teaching me in deeper and deeper ways. In addition, it is touching to hear people describe their experiences of reading the book. One person told me how reading then novel creates a holy space for her. That echoes my own sentiment. While it is a playful exercise that looks at an old story from a somewhat eccentric perspective, it also illuminates some of the ways that people can relate to the divine. In some traditions, people try to restrict that relationship to very narrow terms, but I find that stories like this create a healthy expanded awareness of the rich diversity of relationships that people have with the “God of their understanding.”
If you haven’t read it yet, I invite you into the experience. If you have read it and enjoyed it, please pass the word along to others. Posts to Facebook and other social media about your experiences help immensely. Finally, if you wish to share your experience of the story, please comment here on this blog.
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Thanks for joining me on this journey.
“The Promised Land is within and among us.”