The Heart of Christianity: Rediscovering a Life of Faith
by Marcus Borg
Library section 3 B: General Christianity.
Borg compares the more traditional way of looking at God “somewhere out there,” as opposed to seeing God in, around, and under us. Borg says that rather than God being “interventional” God is “intentional” and “interactive.” This distinction was new to me and went a long way toward explaining why pain and suffering exist. He introduces the concept of a Christian “heart.” To Borg, the word “heart” means more than feelings. It is a metaphor for the inner self as a whole. With a closed heart comes limited inner vision, self-deception, lack of gratitude, and insensitivity to wonder or awe. Open hearts lead to the opposite: a deeper, inner awareness of God with us.
Borg says that humans have two dimensions of reality – the visible world of our ordinary experience – and God, the sacred, Spirit. Thin places are where our two realities meet and intersect – where God shines through. Thin places open our hearts. Nature, music, poetry, literature, and the visual arts can be thin places. People can become thin places, Jesus being one. Geographic locations can be thin places: Iona, Jerusalem, a street corner, a church, an operating room. I think of thin places as where we glimpse the divine, the sublime.
Christian practices open our hearts, and that is why Christians worship as we do. This was an “A-ha!” moment for me. Singing hymns, saying the creeds and Lord’s Prayer, hearing the Bible read, communing together – all these are thin places where God surfaces and reaches all around us.
Another little tidbit: Borg tells a story about a 3 year-old girl who asked to be alone with her newborn brother in his nursery, with the door closed. The parents, having a baby monitor, gave the little girl permission, knowing they could listen and intervene if needed. They heard the little girl walk up to her brother’s crib, and say, “Could you tell me about God? I’ve almost forgotten.” To me this story means that we DO come from God, and that there is another plane – a second reality which is God, that even small children can sense.
There are so many riches in this book. Read it! It will change the way you think about faith. It will open your heart. You will be better able to sense that God IS with us.