In the past few years, I’ve found an interesting place to discuss theology: Twitter.
Is it possible to discuss deep topics when limited to 280 characters a post? If the person understands the medium, yes.
One such person is Traci Rhoades at @tracesoffaith. I stumbled across her posts sometime back and followed. Rhoades has a great way of asking questions about faith and religion, and her followers give very thoughtful answers from a variety of denominations and backgrounds.
She also has a weekly newsletter “Seven Things,” which can be joined from her main Twitter page. As the title suggests, it is a list of seven things she’s come across in the past week. It includes links to recent articles on religious subjects, and sometimes to recipes. A recent link was to a story about how the covers of romance novels have changed to appeal to a broader audience. Rhoades also reviews books in her newsletter.
This week, Rhoades is talking about her own book, “Shaky Ground,” published by Morehouse Publishing.
The premise of the book is that the bottom drops out for everyone. Things may start solid — including a person’s new faith in Jesus — but eventually things get shaky. Rhoades spends time showing that has been true throughout history.
She mentions the church’s answer to those in a shaky time is usually “Follow Jesus” but often there is little explanation of what that means.
Rhoades’ book describes different spiritual disciplines that she feels can help a person find stability through the shaky ground.
She said in a newsletter, “The working title for this book was ‘Spiritual Toolbox,’ sharing about the spiritual practices I’ve discovered across our Church traditions. It’s still about this idea, but we realized early on that we desperately need these practices when our world goes shaky.”
Part I of the book looks at silence, perhaps the most difficult for many of the disciplines she mentions. Rhoades shares her journey of silence and how it speaks to her and shares how others can learn from bits of silence. She finds that silence is a way to stability even when life is still shaky.
Part II gets into prayer. Rhoades visits many Christian traditions, and she reads writings from many of them. Here she describes how prayer books — something she didn’t have growing up Baptist — play into her prayer life. She describes how memorized passages from various sources got her through a crisis. She recommends many places to look for prayers.
Part III speaks to reading Scripture. As she visits many churches, Rhoades also reads many Bible translations. Her current mode for daily reading is a chronological Bible. She suggests ways to read the Bible and to study the Bible.
The remaining two parts of the book look at attending church, Communion, baptism and more. All are presented as spiritual practices. She even tackles doubt as a normal part of a spiritual life.
This book is short: 199 pages. Part of that could be from life in the Twitterverse.
Rhoades said, “This book incorporated so many ideas from conversations we have on Twitter, and I wanted to acknowledge that partnership. The book dedication page and the acknowledgments section credits my Twitter friends.”
After the acknowledgments, Rhoades made other lists. There is an Appendix of Practices, where she lists a practice, describes it briefly and lists books for reading. And if you want to follow up deeper, Rhoades lists all the books she references in her writing. Both of these give the reader a quick method to begin to study these disciplines in more depth.
“Shaky Ground” is a good reminder that faith doesn’t mean a steady path but that our faith can help us steady ourselves. The book’s brevity makes it a good reminder for those who have years of faith, as well as a good starting place for those new to faith.
The book officially releases Aug. 19 and can be purchased at Amazon, bookshop.org, Baker Bookhouse, Walmart and Target.