Why It's Breathtaking to Explore The Hidden Origins Of You
THIS IS MY REVIEW OF THE BOOK "DESIRE FOUND ME" by ANDRE RABE
What makes you, you?
Different people will conjure up different explanations. At various times in history, certain perspectives will come into vogue: “it’s your genetics.” “it’s your personal choices.” “it’s your upbringing.”
We know self exists. We’re the only person living in our own skin. “I think, therefore I am.” Descartes once said. I suppose it’s a good place to start, at least for ourselves: we’re looking out our own eyes, pulling the carry-on baggage of own memories.
We assume the human experience we’re having is the same one everyone else is, too. Sure, they have a different kind of upbringing and genetics, but they’re… human… right? So we find it fascinating when someone’s definition of self is so different than our own. When another person has to overcome a disability (by birth or midway through their life), or when someone sees differently than we do (as a synesthetic, or in cases of colour blindness), we find ourselves asking questions about their life experience. What are we so curious about?
What it means to be human.
Since the beginning of recorded history, humanity has been reaching outward. We’re trying to find meaning in the midst of our natural world. We find patterns and tease out principles. We follow suspicions and revere the things beyond our understanding. We create myths and narratives to stitch our perspective together with everyone before us, so we can pass our worldview on.
Have you ever been on a long walk with a naturalist friend? Perhaps they’re a bird-watcher, or maybe they know how to spot animal tracks. Maybe you are such a person. If you aren’t, however–and you are out on a walk with such a person–you know you’re in for a real treat. You will witness their passion swell to the surface. Their perspective keeps pace with the world around them, and they start sentences with exclamations like, “Look at this!” and “Can you believe it!” Sometimes you don’t quite understand the full implications of what they’re drawing your attention toward. Sometimes you can’t be sure if you noticed it the same way they did. But you find a deep, abiding joy in such a walk–because there is something divine about watching another person revel in their element.
“Desire Found Me” is a hike through beautiful new terrain.
Andre Rabe’s book is an ambitious redefinition of how we see our own humanity. He claims that you are not the “you” that you think you are. Your desires and passions aren’t interior feelings you possess–rather, they are the very forces which shape you! Instead of defining yourself by your memories, or your personality, or even your present beliefs, Rabe asks you to consider a new possibility: you have been formed by receiving and reflecting the desires of everyone around you.
Andre Rabe is a South African minister who leads an itinerant ministry alongside his wife, Mary-Anne. (Their website can be found here.) I first discovered Andre Rabe’s teaching on Youtube at the advice of a friend, and I’ve enjoyed following Rabe’s progression of thought as he developed the concepts he shares in “Desire Found Me”. Although this is his sixth work overall, “Desire Found Me” marks a turning point in articulating what has been several years of scriptural and anthropological research.
This kind of journey is a hike up to a higher terrain. Although the book is a modest size, and the ideas Rabe presents are only introductions to much deeper topics, some of the concepts presented in “Desire Found Me” can feel a bit daunting. I found myself needing to pause and reflect from time to time. The implications of some of Rabe’s ideas felt so massive, I had to remind myself: “This is meant to be a journey! Stop and enjoy the view.”
To push matters further, Rabe claims these truths about God, Self, and the way He created the universe have been laid out in the scriptures this whole time! He began unpacking thoughts about the Bible I’m still not quite sure I’m comfortable with. As I was reading, I noticed the air getting thinner.
In order to keep going, I had to keep my mind engaged and my heart disarmed.
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
I grew up in a Christian home, and developed a Christian worldview. I sang along with VeggieTales. I memorized passages of scriptures for candy every Sunday, and after several weeks of intense competition I won a Bible. I thought I had lost, when I arrived and looked at the sticker chart that fateful morning, and I burst into tears. I miscounted. They awarded me with a “Psalty Bible” and I left children’s church with my coveted prize and a handful of Kleenex.
It’s not instinctive for me to have other viewpoints. I wasn’t “indoctrinated”, per se. But I picked up this assumption: I figured that my Christian worldview had all the answers. I never considered the possibility that a more authentic Christianity would be more humble, and secure enough to join everyone else in the questioning!
When you have the “answer sheet”, you study for the test in a strange and broken way. You take concepts you haven’t fully understood and begin filing them near the front of your brain for easy access. In Christianity, it looks like memorizing a handful of verses a bullet points, and letting other smarter people wrestle with the other verses.
It looks something like this: Who am I? “A sinner saved by grace.” Why did God send Jesus? “To die for our sins.” What happens after you die? “If you’ve accepted Jesus, you go to heaven. If you’ve rejected Him, you go to hell.”
With those main questions answered in cliche, we hesitate from reflecting upon anything else. Even though the answers are vague and somewhat inconclusive, the scriptures are the answer–right? Surely, the Bible means we don’t have to question anymore?
But what if the Bible didn’t take away our need for questioning?
What if the scriptures were a record of the questioning?
Why did ancient religions commit animal and human sacrifices? Why are there so many common themes in various religious stories about creation–and what do the differences mean? Why does God seem so violent in the Old Testament, and then so loving and forgiving by contrast in the New Testament? How does satan fit into all of this?
You need humility, and you need maturity, if you’re going to start asking these sorts of questions.
Questions are often unsettling because we’re satisfied with our assumptions. Nobody forced me to think Christianity was the “right” answer–I bought into that, as a child, for safety’s sake. I assumed I had the cheat sheet, and all contradictions to my answers didn’t matter.
Unfortunately, that kept me from finding better answers.
A DIFFERENT OUTLOOK
Andre Rabe has written a masterful introduction to a new perspective on humanity, what it means to be designed in the image of God, and what this means to our Christian worldview. All of the answers he suggests-to these questions and several more–are worthy of exploring. He isn’t writing an argument–he’s drawing your attention to more beautiful ideas. He’s pointing out vistas along a hidden trail up the mountain face.
If you refuse to feel threatened in considering new ways of thinking about old ideas, you’ll find this book to be a joyful rediscovery of the Christian faith.
When your friend draws your attention to his favourite flower, or when he comments on the path’s direction, you do not have to feel upset or challenged by his convictions. In the same way, “Desire Found Me” acts as a primer to a whole world of thinking that invites conversation: you can come to your own conclusions.
It’s just so refreshing to ask the hardest kinds of questions with the lightness and simplicity of a walk through this beautiful world. So often theology (the study of God) is limited to the angriest and most somber voices. You might find a new love for studying both the scriptures and their origins after reading “Desire Found Me”–you’re in the hands of a teacher who has remained a student at heart.
You have to stay engaged to see the beauty in a world you’re only learning to appreciate.
“Desire Found Me” is not a difficult read, but Rabe does not talk down to you. He isn’t trying to build a camp around these ideas. You will extract as much insight and reflection from this book as your attention allows. If you are an explorer and adventurer at heart, you’ll find delight in pondering these concepts! If you can’t be bothered, you might want to stay in the car and skip the nature walk entirely. There are no modern distractions on this journey–and it takes another kind of maturity to know when to ask these kinds of questions.
A DIFFERENT LOOKOUT
“Desire Found Me” is a buffet of big ideas. The book spans the origins of the universe, the intent of scripture, the design of humanity, and the meaning behind the atonement. The scope is so wide because Rabé’s intention is to re-examine the nature of humanity–and in doing so, renegotiate our understanding of the Christian faith.
As with every great hike, the moment most remembered is often when you reach a high place and look out from that vantage point. Moments of reflection help bring all of life into perspective. It’s an awesome and sobering thing to rediscover the world around you, and the reward is to rediscover yourself along the way.