Thank you, Wesley Hill.
I’ve just finished Washed & Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality. I had the distinct pleasure of sharing in Mr. Hill’s talk at the Story Conference last weekend and was PROFOUNDLY impacted by his exposition of Romans 8. I identify with much of what he shares and has shared. I am not a homosexual person, but I have long struggled with a sense of alienation and loneliness that comes from a life as an eccentric intellectual. I fear deep relationships with men because I have been hurt in the past. I do have one dear soul-friend who possesses wonderfully thoughtful intelligence, a soft wit, deep passions, and a same-sex attraction, and so I quickly made time to read Mr. Hill’s recent work.
One of my most favorite parts of Wesley Hill is his exceptional giftedness with language. He spoke SO well at Story and his writing continues to display his firm grasp of rhetoric. I am not surprised to find him a Wheaton alum (I feel a loss for not having afforded the seemingly idyllic school, with its preeminence in the world of Christian Intellectuals). Mr. Hill is well on his way to earning his place in the world of Christian thought-leaders and intellectuals and bears the torch of Nouwen and Lewis in his care and concern for piercing, humble and carrying prose.
I need to own my own role as an intellectual, and face the burdens in my life with a full face. I learn so much from Hill’s description of struggle. I am alone because there are few who share my passion for beautiful ideas. I have a darling wife, but there is a limit to everyone’s patience with eccentricity. I feel most alive when in rabid discussion, when new information is pouring into a lively and fair conversation. I press my colleagues in ministry with what must seem like nonsensical essays in failed attempts at hosting a delicious interaction, but with no avail.
I have let others define me, dutifully following their charted course for me even when it steered away from my own desires. I have the unfortunate ability to pass almost any written test and am now the proud bearer of two degrees and a teaching license but fully lacking in quite the right breed of passion for those fields. 8 years later I still am searching for the right beautiful idea.
I need to own the reality of this constant longing for what I may never fully embrace. My own eccentricsm is an unrequited desire like my dear friend’s and Mr. Hill’s romantic and personal desires. Honest recognition is required even if satiation is impossible.
After reading Washed And Waiting I feel I need to come to terms with my identity as a Christian intellectual. I’m driven by beautiful ideas, and seek to be known as a creator and curator of them. Unfortunately, I have other gifts that can be used by the ministry marketplace, but they do not fulfill me. The ability to learn and carry out new tasks serves those that lead me very well but does precious little for my own spirit. The burden and longing of Romans 8 is one I know well. I think we could learn a lot from Washed And Waiting.
For a beautiful example of what thoughtful and wise self-examination looks like in print, as well as the reality of a holy life in a fallen world, please read Wesley Hill’s Washed And Waiting.