Saturday, April 18, 2015

Book Review: Wearing God

There is a common saying that goes, "You shouldn't judge a book by it's cover." I admit if I saw this book on a store shelf I would most likely not pick it up. I'm not quite sure I understand the connection between the flying birds and the woman in the middle. However, that being said, I was intrigued by the title: Wearing God: Clothing, Laughter, Fire, and Other Overlooked Ways of Meeting God (Harper One, 2015) 

I was first introduced to Laura Winner's writing when she published When Girl Meets God. I've read a few of her other books and was interested in what she has to say about vocation, God, the Church, and our life in Christ. She is a professor at Duke Divinity School and has published many books on the spiritual life.

The Bible is full of metaphors. When we read the gospels for example we read that Jesus refers to himself as a vine, as a shepherd taking care of his sheep, as the bread of life. These metaphors are so common sometimes we tend to glance over them and don't realize their power. We don't spend time with each metaphor and say to ourselves, "Gee how is Jesus like a shepherd for me?" or "How is Jesus like a vine and I'm one of the branches." Metaphors are powerful for they put the indescribable into something tangible and real for us. They make what is ethereal and put them into a concrete image so that we can better understand the meaning of the text.

 Winner's aim in this book is to unpack some of the major metaphors in the Bible that speak of Jesus and God. She delineates her topics into a few sections:



Bread and Vine 

Laboring Women 



Of course there are additional metaphors that she could have included but the book would have been over five hundred pages! The Bible is full of wonderful metaphors but one cannot write about all of them in a book like this.

Winner is a fine writer. She writes as if she is sitting with you over a cup of coffee or tea, explaining the meaning of these metaphors to us. She has a casual tone, a result of many years preaching and teaching seminary students. Throughout the book she includes several quotations from major writers, both modern and ancient, as well as prayers and hymns from the liturgical year. A few of these would have been fine, however I did get distracted with the over abundance of them. Sometimes less is more. Yet throughout the book I did pause and read the quotations allowing them to speak to me as well.

Two of them caught my eye:

"In every culture, clothing not only is utilitarian but also symbolizes a person's or group's identity." Sarah A Chase

"The Lord Jesus Christ himself…is said to be the clothing of the saints." Origen

I never thought about clothing as identity. One day I may wear blue jeans and another day I may wear my khaki pants and polo shirt. Yet how many people wear uniforms to work, police officers, fire men, postal workers, janitors. When I see a UPS man in his brown shirt and pants I know immediately that he is a UPS man without having to see the sign on the truck.

If anything, Wearing God will help the reader return back to the Bible again and take a slow read, allowing the metaphors unpack their meaning. I found that all too often I read the Bible too quickly and miss some of the major points!

If you are interested in reading more about some of the metaphors that speak about our life in Christ than Wearing God is a book for you.

For more information about Wearing God click here