Why Christianity needs both Tim Challies AND Ann Voskamp (and maybe a Catholic or two--thrown in for good measure)
So, here's how the shizzle went down: Challies threw the first punch by writing smack about Ann Voskamp's book, THEN! Ann Voskamp turned the other cheek by inviting him to dinner and THEN! THEN! in a stunning turn of events, Challies apologized. The apology heard 'round the world ticked off Christian Pundit who was all: Oh, no he didn't! And THEN! the Calvinist Chicks who were all: Did Challies just apologize to a pantheist?! He should be coming to MY house for dinner. And then Beth Moore was like: NO, *I* wanna go to Ann's house for dinner!
The best part? Although no Catholics were invited to dinner, everyone was totally talking about us! You know! Catholics! Those idolatrous, mystic, pantheist, statue-worshiping, false gospel preachers! It was so awesome! It was like we were totally the stars of the party without even being there, yo!
Alas and alack, they forgot to mention that in addition to being "dangerous," Catholics like myself are also masked Underwear Crusaders. All for one and one for underwear, that's our muskateering motto. Oh, wait. I'm mixing metaphors. Muskateers are way different than crusaders. My bad.
The point is, as a Catholic, anything I say should be taken with at least a pillar of salt (and probably a shot of tequila). But I digress.
I really have just one thing to say: "Can't we all get along?" And by getting along I mean: it's time for a song. Cue High-School Musical. We're alllllll in this together! (See? We Catholics DO occasionally sing songs other than Ave Maria).
Ahem. Now, let's get serious. Christianity really is big enough for all of us. And that means we're all in desperate need of grace, so let me begin by confessing something super embarrassing: last year at the blogging conference Formerly Known As Relevant, I fell asleep during Ann Voskamp's keynote speech.
Yes. I did. I totally nodded off. Her voice was so soothing that somewhere between farm metaphors and gratitude lists I fell asleep and started dreaming of chubby baby pigs. Which is to say, Ann Voskamp is better than Ambien. Somebody needs to bottle up Ann Voskamp in a lullaby soundtrack so I can listen to her voice each night as I fall asleep.
Here is my second confession: Tim Challies makes my blood pressure skyrocket faster than a squirrel on Ritalin. I actually had to stop reading Tim Challies' blog because it was making me do things like grab fistfuls of forks and jab them into walls. Also, it made me post ranty tweets on Twitter.
On the plus side, Tim Challies keeps me awake. So, maybe he's better than coffee. Tim Challies: like a triple-shot of espresso, but only for the Elect.
I used to think these two bloggers were mutually exclusive. Like, you were totally either a Voskamp devotee or a Challies die-hard. And never the twain shall meet. Because, you know, devotees nurture stuff and die-hards kill stuff.
But I think I might be wrong (gasp!) about all this. Christianity needs both die-hards and devotees. We need poetry AND manifestos. Christianity requires both Ambien AND espresso.
Christianity really is big enough for all of us. You don't have to agree with my veneration of Mary and I don't have to agree with your crush on John Calvin in order for us to find common ground; mainly, our shared love for Jesus Christ.
I love Henri Nouwen and you love John Piper. No problemo. Rock on with your bad self. Speaking of my bad self, I have something else to confess. John Piper scares me.
As in, I had to unfollow him on Twitter because every time I read one of his tweets, I started crying. But then I would go search for his tweets and read them anyway because, yeah, the guy is brilliant. John Piper: like Pope Benedict but with better hand gestures.
See, here's one upside of being Catholic: Catholicism has been around so long that it's sorta outgrown being all shocked and surprised about mysteries. Visions and voices? Yeah, yeah, that's so 300 A.D. American Protestantism, on the other hand, is still young and all wigged out about poets finding gratitude in soap bubbles and plates of grated cheese.
Ultimately, the tie that binds us all is Jesus Christ. And maybe we Christians can choose our friends, but we don't get to choose our family. If we follow Jesus, we are family. As Thomas A Kempis wrote: "If in all things thou seek Jesus, doubtless thou wilt find Jesus."--The Imitation of Christ, Book 2, chapter 7.
Instead of trying to determine who is IN and who is OUT, can't we honor all sincere Jesus seekers?
Let's start with me: Tim Challies, forgive me for ranting at you. In the name of Jesus, I call you my brother. John Piper, I totally don't get you but I still love you. Mark Driscoll? Um, let me pray about it, k? No matter what, y'all are welcome to dinner at my house.
Because even if you think I'm a heretic from the Whore of Babylon *wink-wink*, I still make awesome soup.
p.s. Ann Voskamp? Call me.