Silence is an interesting part of relationships. It can be incredible awkward; it can be soothing; it can be a sign of intimacy. I’ve definitely experienced my share of halting conversations, filled with horrible gaps because the person I’m trying to talk with and I just haven’t clicked or haven’t mined through enough experiences to hit a connection. I have close friends with whom I can chat for hours but I can also share companionable silence. We don’t need to always fill the space. When I was teaching, I would get home a couple hours before Frank. I used that time to walk Daisy quietly around the park, and then sit in silence – no music, no TV – after a day filled with chatty 8-year-olds. Even now, nap time is sacred quiet time.
In his book Aloof: Figuring Out Life With a God Who Hides, Tony Kriz equates silence with hiddenness. His experience with God is that if God is not a booming voice from the Heavens or communicating through a fiery bush, he is simply not present. He longs for a tangible experience with God and, in Kriz’s mind, tangible means God is audibly speaking to him.
Based on a series of memories that build a case for God’s silence, Kriz takes us through his experiences of looking for a hidden God. As a young man, he feels that the more he does to prove to God that he is faithful, the louder God will communicate. As he grows older and has more life experience, Kriz realizes that perhaps God doesn’t communicate loudly. Perhaps it is up to us to stop and listen to how God is showing up already in our lives.
This book was filled with quippy stories about growing up evangelical and solving a crisis of faith through missions trips and seminary. While I can think of quite a few of my friends and acquaintances who would enjoy this book, I just never connected. Perhaps it was the constant references to our faith in terms of superheroes; or perhaps it was Kriz’s romanticization of God showing up through buccaneer maps and mercenary images. (I believe more in a God of restoration rather than a God who conquers.) I struggled too much to connect with these images.
I also wished for more reconciliation. More than three-fourths of the book was dedicated to stories of how God and the church failed Kriz’s expectations. He would end each chapter with a one-sentence epiphany and the last few chapters were devoted to how he has now realized that God’s silence does not equal abandonment. However, I wished the book focused more on that hopeful side of his relationship with God and less on the ways in which he had been hurt. I left me feeling a bit depressed and hoping that Kriz continues to have these epiphanies of how God is actually showing up in his life.
Again, while I didn’t personally connect with this book, I can think of many people who would read it with a completely different lens. For those who have struggled with God’s silence, or who have felt that the church has “sold” them something other than love and hope, I can see them resonating with Kriz’s journey.
How do you interact with God? Do you look for a burning bush experience or do you enjoy the silence?
GIVEAWAY! I am giving away my copy of Aloof. To enter, leave a comment about how you relate – are you a talker or do you enjoy silence? I’ll randomly select a winner on Friday, March 6, 2015. (United States addresses only.)