One of the founding pastors of The Refuge in North Denver and a regular blogger, Kathy Escobar delivers her latest book, Faith Shift, for those who find that church as they know it just isn’t cutting it.
Why am I even a Christian? Do I still really believe in God? Is my whole life of faith a sham? Why have I given myself over to the church for years when it has consistently used me? How could I ever have belied some of the things I have been taught?
It’s questions like these that drove her to found The Refuge and to write this book, hoping to help people find freedom in their questions and a greater understanding of how they are loved by God. Escobar breaks down “Fusing” (Believing- Learning- Doing), before looking at various degrees of ‘separation in “Shifting,” “Returning,” “Unraveling,” and “Severing.” But she doesn’t leave us there: the various forms of “Rebuilding” take up the second half of the book!
Points I’d highlight include:
-Escobar’s “Ten Commandments of a Fused Faith,” which are humorous… and deadly at the same time, ranging from “You shall vote Republican” to “You shall always work hard to earn God’s love.”
-God can handle your process of exploring your faith, challenging what you question, and tearing down the false altar of religion. As Escobar writes, “If God is going to consign me to the pit of hell because I start asking some really important questions or let go of religiosity, then I’m not interested in that kind of God anyway”… right before she quotes Romans 8:35,38-39!
-Escobar quotes Rachel Held Evans, Anne Lamott, Alex Haley, and Paul Tillich (via Peter Rollins). Lamott: “We learn through pain that some of the things we thought were castles turn out to be prisons, and we desperately want out, but even though we built them, we can’t find the door.” Rollins: “The serious rejection of God is a deeply sacred act. For when someone rejects the notion of God because of the wars that have been fought over that name, as well as the abuse, the fundamentalism and ecological destruction that is bound to so much religion, they are demonstrating a profound concern for both people and the planet… The result is a proclamation of the sacred.”
-Escobar espouses a hopeful realism, worded nicely in the poem by Australian Cheryl Lawrie based on Ezekiel 37, launching us deeper into the rebuilding-to-resurrection stage.
-Escobar embraces our need to recognize that we are paradoxes, clinging to what we know yet desperate to find the real, as ingrained in this Richard Rohr quote: “A paradox is something that appears to be a contradiction, but from another perspective is not a contradiction at all. You and I are living paradoxes, and therefore most prepared to see ourselves in our reality. If you can hold and forgive the contradictions within yourself, you can normally do it everywhere else, too.”
Ultimately, Escobar’s book revolves around what you believe God’s church to be- and if you can move your faith/beliefs from “thou shall nots”/rigidity to freedom in the spirit of what God is calling us to be. It’s a different kind of read- and will challenge most- but it’s from the heart of a healer/counselor who longs for everyone to find their space in God’s kingdom.