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(The inspiration behind Glimpses. Why it's unique among Books About God.)
We were out practicing how to get the collapsible stretcher into McDonough County Hospital Ambulance No. 2. I had finally figured out where the body bags and pneumatic splints were stowed away. The other orderlies and I joked around on the green lawn in our stiff hospital white. Any excuse to get off Third Floor, with its bedpans and patients under restraint, was welcome.

And then I looked west.
The sun was setting with a melodramatic farewell over the horizon, brushing magenta and vermilion over a swirl of clouds that seemed to form a corridor increasing in splendor toward a finely etched ball of fire. The colors splashed in counterpoint all across the expansive sky that loomed over our flat Illinois cornfields.

I had seen dramatic sunsets before. But this one seemed orchestrated to a thoughtful climax. It suggested something out there incalculably more than my life, and at the same time undeniably a part of it. It had an irresistible appeal.
I had been introduced to death and decay up close in our daily rounds at the hospital and on our wailing spins through the county. Yet here, simultaneously above it all, was this glory that, for me, swallowed up everything else.

This book about God is an attempt to put a face to that glory. It is a documentary of the personal qualities of the God of Heaven, showing (rather than just telling) what people have experienced of His holiness, power, compassion and patience.

The book builds a series of pictures of God in action, in a way similar to film. Slices of contemporary life, biblical events, and personal experiences down through history combine to create a vignette of each divine attribute discussed.

Systematic theology often turns God into something of a math problem. His formal properties are divided, subdivided, and inserted into esoteric abstractions. That's typical of books about God.  You find fifty pages of densely packed exposition on “God’s Incommunicable Attributes.” The living, breathing Person disappears.
Building a consistent picture of God on the basis of experience has its problems too. The great variety of subjective data tends to blur His image. We could make God into anything from “Being” to a poached egg on the basis of what people feel.

So I’ve chosen what I believe to be a reliable framework for organizing the information of experience. My reference points are based on the Judeo-Christian Scriptures. I’m sure that others of the world’s great spiritual writings could give us some suggestions on what God is like; there are plenty of upward reaches of the soul to respect and learn from. But at the same time I don’t want to make this picture a lowest common denominator of all religions. God defined by committee is quite uninspiring.

In this book I propose to make the picture of God coherent, using facts the Bible gives us, but also painting it in living colors through human experiences that flesh out those facts. I want to bridge the gap between a formal theology of God (objective but often less than meaningful) and the what-you-feel-in-your-heart conception of deity (meaningful but subjective).

In fleshing out Scripture, I’ve tried to gather evidence from a wide range of sources and from all periods of history. But because I restricted myself to those events verified by eyewitness testimony, contemporary accounts are more numerous. For example, there are an abundance of miracles stories associated with medieval saints, but firsthand reports are hard to come by.

I’ve tried to translate the specs of a ponderous machine: immutable, inscrutable, omniscient, into the traits of an individual: intense, consistent, insightful. God is a compelling Person. Our descriptions of Him are too often as tedious and flat as computer manuals. This book about God molds the experiences and perceptions of Mexican Indians and Black Panthers, Chinese evangelists and romantic poets, L.A. commuters and medieval mystics into a full-color portrait of our Lord. I believe we can understand the Heavenly Father in a way that echoes both the system of theology and the depths of human experience. It's a book about God as biography.