Is God Just a Distant Concept? An Award-Winning Religion Correspondent is Convinced the Answer is No and Explores the Possible Relationship with Our Creator
Fox News Religion Correspondent Lauren Green uses her wealth of stories, vast network of contacts, and her own extensive study of theology to take the reader on a unique journey of spiritual discovery. With few female authors writing in the field of theology, Green provides an important perspective to all who wish to move closer to not only a deeper relationship with God but an understanding of what makes that possible.
Green gathers insight from some amazing guides along the way, through personal conversations with some of the leading minds in the world on the topic of Christianity. These include:
William Lane Craig
Sir John Polkinghorne
… and many more
Is God simply an accessory that we carry with us? Something similar to what we might download from a music site to suit our personal tastes—a personal assistant in a way? Or is He His law, His structure, and His authoritative Word contained in the Holy Scripture, an objective reality to which you daily shape your life? If we believe or know we should believe that it’s the latter, how do we make this happen? How do we live joyfully under God’s will in a world so drenched in the will of human desire?
Lighthouse Faith explores the heart of the Christian doctrine and a pathway of perceiving God as an interactive hands-on presence; a caring and loving being. The first commandment is a life-giving force loaded with information about the world in which we live. This law stands atop the other nine commandments as a beacon of light, illuminating the created order, just as a lighthouse lamp shines in a darkened space, heralding a way to safety.
|Publisher:||Nelson, Thomas, Inc.|
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About the Author
Lauren Green currently serves as Fox News Channel's (FNC) chief religion correspondent based in the New York bureau. She joined FNC in 1996.
Most recently, Green reported live from Rome in 2013 on the election of Pope Francis, as well as on the retirement of Pope Benedict XVI. Additionally, she provided live coverage of the beatification of Pope John Paul II from Rome in 2011 and Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the United States in 2008.
Prior to joining FNC, Green served as a weekend news anchor and correspondent at WBBM-TV (CBS-2) in Chicago, IL. From 1988 to 1993, she was a general assignment reporter at KSTP-TV (ABC-5) in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Outside of her career at FNC, Green is a reputable concert pianist with a degree in piano performance from The University of Minnesota. She has interviewed some of the most prominent people in the classical music world including Placido Domingo, Pierre Boulez, Joshua Bell and has covered such events as the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition and opening night of The Metropolitan Opera. In 2004, she released her debut album, "Classic Beauty."
A graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, Green was named Miss Minnesota in 1984 and was the third runner-up in the 1985 Miss America contest.
Read an Excerpt
God As a Living Reality in a World Immersed in Fog
By Lauren Green
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2017 Lauren Green
All rights reserved.
Therefore glorify the Lord in the dawning light, The name of the Lord God of Israel in the coastlands of the sea.
— Isaiah 24:15 NKJV
I have no doubt that there are places on earth with spiritual powers. They are abodes of solace and security — places like churches, of course, but also bucolic settings of verdant meadows, quiet rivers, or majestic forests. These serene locales are "living witnesses to the reality of God." But what may not be so obvious, is that common places also hold spiritual powers, made spiritually potent by what God chooses to reveal to us while we are there.
I have been in such a place. It was at my friend Cathy's summer home on Long Island, New York, the area known as the Hamptons. But her house is not one of those mega-mansions raved about in magazines and on entertainment shows, or one of the Gatsby-esque gilded estates of a long-lost era. It is simple, almost farmhouse-like, with a cottage on about an acre and a half. It's a property that has been in Cathy's family for several generations, before the narrow sixty-mile stretch of land between the waters of the Great Peconic Bay and the Atlantic Ocean became the summer playground of choice for the famous and super rich. Cathy herself is an extension of her home. I cannot separate that house from her incredible spirit. She is one of the true women of faith whom I have met in my life.
Cathy attends Mass daily and prays continually for her family, friends (including myself), and acquaintances. Despite her own tragedies, she seems always in good spirits and confident of God's ability to answer prayer. Like my own mother, she is a widow who, on top of losing her husband, has also suffered the death of a grown son. But you would never know her inner pain, for she radiates joy.
I hadn't known Cathy long when she first invited me to her summerhouse. We met through my work as a religion correspondent. At first I saw her as a great source for stories because she's a member of the much-maligned (thanks to Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code) Catholic lay organization Opus Dei. Opus Dei means "the work of God," and the ministry is founded on the principle that everyday activities can be made holy if they are pursued to the glory of God. In other words, life itself, in all of its ups and downs, is a calling. Cathy certainly lived out that doctrine, teaching by example that serving God is not a nine-to-five job. It's a way of being. And so it didn't take long for this spiritual woman to sense my brokenness and great need.
I was at one of the lowest points of my life. There were so many changes and traumas that seemed overwhelming at the time. One of those changes was a transition from one position to another at Fox. Although I love my current work as a religion correspondent, I had previously also been the news cut-in anchor for a popular morning show, and it seemed like a demotion. The move was made more intense because of a recent failed relationship, leaving me no loving shoulder to lean on, no domestic stability, and no anchor of my own to keep my vessel steady.
I was a single woman supporting myself in one of the most expensive and competitive cities in the world. A disruption like that, not of my own choosing, was rattling to the point of earth shattering.
I have to admit that I don't handle change well. I felt trapped in a cruel world, abandoned by the God I had believed in all my life, as if the God I was devoted to was removing his blessing and instead was bringing me to a place of wilderness, then leaving me there to fend for myself.
So coming to Cathy's simple home was like coming to a sanctuary. I felt reborn and rejuvenated. Instead of coiled up like a fetus in my New York City apartment, I was able to stretch my limbs both physically and emotionally in the home's welcoming arms: its cozy fireplace radiated a sense of security; the stuffed sofa and chairs in the living room cushioned my contorted conscience, and the front porch where I'd sit staring at the lawn brought a solace I had long forgotten. Couple that with lots of family photos on the walls and the constant whir of conversation and cooking in the kitchen, and it restored in me the belief that my life had meaning and purpose, that relationships mattered immensely, and that one in particular was guiding me ever so lovingly and mercifully.
And it was in Cathy's home that I began to realize that God had not forgotten me after all. It was quite the opposite. In fact, he was blessing me. He had brought me to a place in my life to get my attention; first emotionally with turmoil, then physically with this sanctuary. What looked to me like adversity, calamity, and disaster was actually God looking beyond my faults and my wants, and seeing to my needs. Through Cathy, the grace of God shone bright. I knew it for certain because of one quiet moment when God spoke to me through something so ordinary and so common — the depth of relationship and the calming presence of his created world.
I return to Cathy's home often. In the years since that inaugural visit so much has changed. I've learned that I must wholly lean on God no matter the circumstances, a daily challenge. Then later, I became comfortable with the new position at Fox. And finally, I met a wonderful man to whom I am now married. We often stay at Cathy's place to get away from the city. But several times before we dated or even met, I would go there on my own or with my niece Nicole, just to be part of Cathy's big family gatherings.
Many times I would go there to write. The early-morning solitude and quiet opened the portholes of my mind, unburdening it of pettiness so that the God I serve could speak to me. It was on one of those times at Cathy's place that I happened to take notice of a small framed photo of a lighthouse. The photo had always been there, sitting on a dresser, but I'd never really taken study of it until that one quiet summer morning when God chose to reveal himself to me. There were no blaring trumpets or quaking revelations. Just an ordinary moment taking note of a photo. It's an old black-and-white, grainy image of gray skies and a white-washed brick lighthouse with tiny shacks nestled on either side. A white picket fence encircles the entire group of buildings. Although whoever built the tiny dwellings and fence may have thought to protect the lighthouse from would-be usurpers, the picture gives the impression that the structures are huddling close to the lighthouse for their own protection.
Lighthouses are like that, you know. Their mere presence has been an assured sign to both mariners and land dwellers throughout the ages that all is not lost, that there is hope for safe journeys. That tiny photo of a lighthouse was certainly a sign of hope for me. I had come through a storm, and in that moment of quietness, God showed me it was his light guiding the way, his omniscient care shepherding my steps. So I began to try to understand the attraction to these lighthouses, these sentinels of the sea.
What I quickly learned was that lighthouses were, for many years, deeply necessary, because the sea can be an unforgiving master, the rocky shores a tempestuous beast. Stated beautifully by a wonderful documentary called America's Lighthouses, "The lighthouse lamps provide a few visual aids for vessels plying treacherous waters." Without lighthouses, those at sea would not only have been lost, but would also be in serious danger, or worse, suffer death.
That lighthouses also possess spiritual symbolism is no surprise; we all search for a ray of hope in life's darkest moments. And lighthouses are physical symbols of that and other spiritual truths, which we will explore in more detail.
Practically, of course, lighthouses are built of earthly materials. Stone, brick, glass, and iron are all arranged into high towers of varying heights. The early lanterns needed oil for power, which the lighthouse keeper would bring up the winding staircase several times a day.
And the lighthouse keepers are almost prophet-like, as immortalized in R. L. Stevenson's The Light Keeper,
The brilliant kernel of the night,
The flaming lightroom circles me:
I sit within a blaze of light
Held high above the dusky sea.
The keepers' sacrifice and steadfast devotion can be almost savior-esque, like the ailing William Major Perry who died kneeling in prayer in the Killick Shoals Lighthouse in Chincoteague, Virginia, rather than abandon his post.
Unfortunately, in later years automated systems made lighthouse keepers obsolete. The human senses of eyes that see, ears that hear, and a heart that cares would no longer be needed for saving souls on open waters. Radar, GPS, and the vast assortment of technological gadgetry now help vessels navigate safely. But regardless of the science that's replaced the tower beacons, we cannot replace their poignant relevance.
Henry Osmer could tell you about that. He is the resident historian of the Montauk Lighthouse, which overlooks the waters on the far eastern tip of Long Island, New York. It's the large lamp sitting high on a bluff, illuminating the space where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Long Island Sound. Osmer can recite to any visitor, as he did to me, about its strategic spot where nearly two hundred fifty years ago, British troops camped and plotted against General George Washington's forces during the American Revolutionary War. He can tell you every detail about why, a few years later, President George Washington commissioned the building of the Montauk Point Light, knowing its importance to the country's commerce and trade.
However, Osmer, now well into his sixties, choked back tears when he recalled his first sight of the lighthouse, when his father brought him to the point back in the early 1950s.
"I was only seven years old," he said. "But you know the thing is, I can still remember what it was like to see that. I mean, I'd never seen a lighthouse before. And it just mesmerized me. Just, the way it looked ... this tall tower. I didn't understand what it was for. But the amazing size of it, how it was standing up there so big and beautiful, it stuck with me."
Osmer isn't alone in his love of lighthouses.
Extreme fisherman and minister Matthew Buccheri shares those sentiments as well. He's a lighthouse enthusiast and the Montauk Lighthouse is one of his local favorites. I first knew Reverend Buccheri as one of the pastors at my church in New York City. I was always struck by how he looked more like an '80s rock star than a man of religion, with his spiked, jet-black hair, black garb, and one earring. But on top of being a "fisher of men" like the apostle Peter, Buccheri, as a hobby, angles for flounder or striped bass on the shores below the Montauk Lighthouse. When I spoke to him after service one Sunday, he told me he was writing a book about lighthouses, that they fascinated him. I told him, too, about my new writing project titled "The Lighthouse," and it seemed like fate that we should talk more. A few weeks later we met for lunch in a crowded Thai restaurant in New York's Lower East Side. Despite being surrounded by bustling city noises, Buccheri described with clarity the sights and sounds of the Montauk Lighthouse.
He told me, "Down underneath that light ... and in the middle of the night in a fog ... they have a horn that goes off at that light. 'Whooooooo!'" he said, mimicking loudly the fog sound, his tone never making any of the typical New Yorkers in the restaurant blink twice. "And you see the light, it comes around in the fog, you sort of feel secure. Even though you're not a boat, I'm just fishing, you know you're on solid ground."
Buccheri says lighthouses are just "fires on a stick." So simple a mechanism, and yet they create a powerful effect. "There's kind of an aura, when you're standing in a lighthouse," he pined. "And it's ... it's almost like a life. It has a spirit. It almost wants to speak to you."
But what could it be saying?
The Dark Night of the Soul
So, on a visit to Cathy's home, I returned to that snapshot of the lighthouse to further study this visage, to ponder and grasp more of its message. And I noticed something that I had missed before in this simple archetypical emblem. Entwined in the feelings of comfort and strength, there was something more stirring. There was sorrow. It was easy to miss because, of course, there is comfort to those seeking security, and there is strength for those seeking a pathway home to safety after a tiring journey. But the sorrow, it was for those who could not or would not look to its beacon for help. It was the first time I realized that God, through his infinite love and power, had not only shown me his care like a dutiful parent leading me to safe passage, he had also felt my pain. He had cried with me. He had taken up the burden of my hardship and bore it as his own. He had not stood far off, shaking his finger, and saying, "Next time do better." He knew I had lost my way, trying to find solace, security, and salvation through my career and relationships. They had become my beacons of hope. But when those things were shaken, I felt like all those who lose their way, and sometimes their lives, when they could not find the light in the darkness. I felt that in my darkest hour I was living out those lyrics from a haunting song by Gordon Lightfoot: "Does anyone know where the love of God goes when the waves turn the minutes to hours?"
It is a question that many of us have asked in our own way; the sentiment of "Where is God in my hour of need?" is universal. It speaks to the human condition that ponders existence, questioning whether there is a God at all, or at least one who cares. It harbors resentment and anger at that same God from whom comfort, salvation, and redemption are sought. These are the words of Thomas Aquinas's Dark Night of the Soul.
At the climax of life's most defining moments of tragedy, trauma, or loss, we look to something outside ourselves to bring us through the storm, to make sense of it all, and to give weight and purpose to the feeble few years we have on this earth. I had looked to earthly sources. But Lightfoot's words, perhaps unknowingly, point to an ultimate source of hope.
So it's not surprising that his profound ode was penned in response to one of the most mysterious shipwrecks of the twentieth century, the sinking of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald. For many years now I have been intrigued by the story of the Fitzgerald and its doomed voyage. Perhaps because I have never forgotten hearing the ballad on the radio as a teenager, or the shock of learning that it was the story of a real ship that sunk in what we Minnesotans would consider our backyard. The Fitzgerald went down in the icy, fresh waters of Lake Superior in 1975 during a particularly nasty and wicked storm, known to mariners as "The Witch of November." Twenty-nine sailors were aboard. All were lost. Those words from Lightfoot's mournful ballad describe the iron ore carrier's last remaining hours of life; not the technical readout of the ship's metal hull while being assaulted by stormy waters, but the heartfelt desires of every soul on board during those traumatic minutes.
They were hardworking men, none of them perfect, but all understood that life had its good and bad days. And where one couldn't say for sure if any of the men were armchair philosophers or Bible-thumping believers, we can be assured that, like most sailors who spend ample time on water, they understood they were not totally in charge of their lives. They knew there was an uncertainty to life adrift in a vessel not of their own making. They knew of forces outside of themselves demanding to be respected and heeded. An authority that dictated how fast they traveled, what routes were taken and when. To challenge it recklessly could bring destruction or even death. For "the waves and wind still know" their master's voice. And it is not man's; it is God's.
And in a very real sense, we are all mariners on the sea of life, traveling in these fleshy vessels not of our own making. From heartbeats and hymn singing, to the joys and sorrows of jobs, family, and friends, life's many rhythms mimic the motion of the waves, its pulses drive us on toward a distant shore, to the home we long for, where there is perfect peace, perfect love, perfect happiness. We look for light in a darkened world to guide us.
Maybe that's why lighthouses hold such fascination for many; they strike at some fundamental need for a light in the darkness, for a source of salvation and hope. So it's worth taking a deeper look at light, the element that gives lighthouses their peculiar personality, and the characteristics of which are the first natural law that we'll explore together. While light's ubiquitous presence in our lives — as sunlight, moonlight, or the flip of a switch — is easy to take for granted, light itself is a most curious phenomenon and has been since the dawning of time.
Excerpted from Lighthouse Faith by Lauren Green. Copyright © 2017 Lauren Green. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 The Lighthouse 1
Part I The Covenant 19
Chapter 2 Law Born of Love 21
Chapter 3 A House, a Home 37
Chapter 4 A Temple and the Choices We Make 53
Part II The Sacrifice 67
Chapter 5 The Tears, the Blood, the Power 69
Chapter 6 Lessons from the Vineyard 85
Chapter 7 Love Language and Sacrifice 99
Part III The Glory 115
Chapter 8 The Song of My Soul 117
Chapter 9 The Song of My Heart 131
Chapter 10 Messiah: Lessons from a Divine Date with Destiny 145
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
In her book, Lighthouse Faith: God as a Living Reality in a World Immersed in Fog, Lauren Green does a beautiful job of exploring the question, "Where is God in my hour of need?" It is probably the most asked question down through the ages and one, we all have asked or will ask at some point in our lives. In the darkest nights of our souls, we wrestle with life and its meaning. We search for a way to make sense of it all as we seek comfort, security, and strength as we journey. Lauren Green takes us on a powerful journey exploring the questions we ask. She points us to three truths: "We need and look for light in a darkened world to guide us." "Light is a source, outside of ourselves, which we desperately need." "Jesus Christ is the light we must value above all other forms." Much the way a lighthouse helps a ship to navigate its way to shore, our relationship with God through His Word is meant "to illuminate the way to freedom, to define a covenantal relationship with God, to help us navigate through any storm in life" (page 13). Written to engage our hearts and minds, we are made to think more deeply about God and His love for us, His people. It was most difficult to put the book down once I began reading as every word spoke deeply and confirmed truth in a meaningful and illuminating manner. Lighthouse Faith will challenge every reader to live each day in a way which loves, honors, and serves God more fully. This is a challenging book from start to finish and one we all need in these days we are living. One well worth the time to read! ** I received this book in exchange for my review from Cross Focused Reviews. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”