Do You Have an Anchor-Hold?

Long ago, I was taught that reading fiction requires “suspending our disbelief.” Today we have to suspend our belief so that we can determine what is fiction. Perhaps in 2017, we can call truth a “shape-shifter,” transforming its form at will.  Actually, all values seem wavy today, morphing in the mind of the beholder.  Is there any solid rock any more?

Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, former managing editor of Sojourner, former General Secretary of the Reformed Church in America, and author of Unexpected Destinations, An Evangelical Pilgrimage to World Christianity,  has a word for those of us who feel as if we are living on shifting sands.  That word is anchor-hold. He says:

“In the middle ages, Christians who entered a radical form of solitary life, seeking the experience of God through prayer and interceding for the world, were called “anchorites.” In her wonderful book Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Annie Dillard explains her own experience with that image: ‘An anchorites hermitage is called an anchor hold; some anchor-holds were simple sheds clamped to the side of a church like a barnacle or rock. I think of this house clamped to the side of Tinker Creek as an anchor-hold.  It holds me at anchor to the rock bottom of the creek itself and keeps me steadied in the current as a sea anchor does.’

“In this unexpected era of Donald Trump’s presidency, threatening to catapult us from one discordant act to another in a swirl of anxious reactivity, we need to find places and persons who will become our anchor-hold, we must examine where we will go, what we will do, and whose company we will seek to provide a trustworthy experience that connects our lives indissolubly to God’s love.  Let us create and name our anchor-hold” (Sojourner, April, 2017).

What is your anchor-hold?  Maybe it is your church, or a community within your church. Perhaps it is a group of close friends who are willing to be in “solidarity” with you and your concerns.  Maybe the Bible stands as your rock in times of uncertainty.  Maybe it is a group of experts or commentators or magazines, newspapers, or websites that help you find your way. Maybe it is a lovely spot in nature in which you can refocus.  Maybe it is all of these – or something entirely different. Whatever the case, we all need support, an anchor-hold, which will provide “a trustworthy experience that connects our lives indissolubly to God’s love.” And we need to provide that anchor-hold for someone else.

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4 Responses to Do You Have an Anchor-Hold?

  1. covenyk says:

    This is a good one, Karen. I like the description “anchor-hold.

    This sentence is missing a word – Maybe it is lovely spot in nature in

    *”To me, every hour of the day and night is an unspeakable perfect miracle.” *

    *Walt Whitman*

    On Sun, Apr 9, 2017 at 5:56 PM, Living as Apprentices wrote:

    > livingasapprentices posted: “Long ago, I was taught that reading fiction > requires “suspending our disbelief.” Today we have to suspend our belief so > that we can determine what is fiction. Perhaps in 2017, we can call truth a > “shape-shifter,” transforming its form at will. Actually, ” >

  2. Nancy Miller says:

    The book is Pilgrimage: My Search for the Real Pope Francis by Mark Shriver.

    The “willing suspension of disbelief” is a phrase I use quite often when discussing fiction and poetry with friends. They can be so critical of anything that isn’t “real” enough, etc. In fact, just few weeks ago some members of our CM book study group were critical of a short story because it wasn’t believable enough. “A willing suspension of disbelief” got them to take a closer look at the story. Coleridge know what he was talking about.

    As for the “anchorites,” is that what one of the protagonists in a Frederic Buechner novel was? Godric, maybe?

    On Sun, Apr 9, 2017 at 5:56 PM, Living as Apprentices wrote:

    > livingasapprentices posted: “Long ago, I was taught that reading fiction > requires “suspending our disbelief.” Today we have to suspend our belief so > that we can determine what is fiction. Perhaps in 2017, we can call truth a > “shape-shifter,” transforming its form at will. Actually, ” >

  3. I just read a great novel which is based in reality (but not always). It was beautifully done. I highly recommend it: “The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley” by Hannah Tinti. (warning: some violence). I also read a biography of Robert Lowell (“Robert Lowell, Setting the River on Fire,” by Kay Redfield Jamison) which seems more like fiction because he was a raging manic-depressive and yet a ground-breaking poet. It’s LONG and I almost gave up in the middle, but I’m so glad I didn’t!!! I cried a bit at the end of that one.

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