Because life is a series of edits

Archive for May, 2013|Monthly archive page

Mizzou-Rah

In Friends, Holidays, Places on May 19, 2013 at 8:44 pm

I would have completely forgotten I graduated from college 20 years ago without this note (which, of course, also included a petition for funds) congratulating me upon the anniversary. While I doubt I'm too specifically "remembered," I'll give a shout out to all my MU peeps and offer a "Mizzou-rah" for all those times that seem like ancient history now.

20th---

(Shameless self-promotion: If you want to read more about my time at Mizzou, order a copy of TwentySomeone and skim it before you give it to your favorite graduate this May.)

The Unexamined Summer?

In Books, Parents, Students, Veritas on May 17, 2013 at 7:37 pm

I’ve been reading an excellent book entitled, When Athens Met Jerusalem: An Introduction to Classical and Christian Thought, by John Mark Reynolds, Provost at Houston Baptist University. Reynolds’ thesis is that reason and faith need to remain good neighbors within the City/Kingdom of God, for this pairing of the two is what true classical Christian education is.

But (and here’s the rub), it’s difficult and takes work. He writes:

“Thinking may be hard at first, but it is addictive with practice. People created in God’s image will ask questions, and questions demand answers. Answers seem to be what questions are for, but the Greeks soon realized that the first answers are not the end of the process. Good answers lead to better questions, and these questions keep the process of learning alive. It is possible to find a single truth, but one truth has a tendency to lead to the search for another, just as eating one honest-to-goodness potato chip generally demands a second. People began to question the old answers, sometimes finding them satisfying, sometimes not.”

As we’re one week away from school ending and summer beginning, it might be a good idea – both for us and for our students – to think about how we might continue the question-asking and answer-seeking to keep the process of learning alive.

While we all are ready for a respite, classical Christian education calls us to make sure it’s only that – a respite. There are too many questions ask, too many answers to seek!

What book(s) are we thinking of reading this summer? What documentaries are we thinking of watching? What journaling are we thinking of doing? What field trips are we planning? What museums are we visiting? What parts of nature are we exploring? What conversations are we hoping to have? What subjects are we wanting to study? And who might be able and willing to help us with any of this?

I realize that next week is probably not the week to get all this down on paper…but the week after might be! And I’m not advocating a schedule that resembles the school year, but I’m not advocating a vacation to Slug Island either. Many of us have as much to do across summer as the rest of the year, but that doesn’t mean we can’t fight for some time to ask ourselves what answers we’re finding satisfying, and what answers we aren’t.

Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Let’s make sure this can’t be said about our upcoming summer, either for our student(s) or for ourselves.

Leithart on Leadership

In Calling, Church, Education, Theologians on May 8, 2013 at 3:15 pm

I really like what Peter J. Leithart has to say at the end of this meditation on leadership:

“Leaders must regularly transgress settled boundaries because churches (and schools) constantly redefine themselves in ever new circumstances and in response to ever new challenges, in a way that is faithful to Jesus and His Word. Official leaders might be the ones breaking barriers. If they are not, then the real leaders of the church are the ones who do. If no one is breaking through old boundaries, the church is implicitly claiming that it has reached the eschaton and that it has no more growing to do. It might as well shut its doors, because it is dead.

Yet leaders that don’t love their people, who don’t plow the ground they want to plant, who give no indication of which direction they’re headed, who head this way and that way without warning or reason, will fail. They may be blazing ahead down a new and promising path, but no one will follow. And without followers, no one can be a leader.”

Good stuff, Maynard.

Sticky Note Processing

In Calling, Church, Education, Places, Theologians, Travel on May 5, 2013 at 12:07 pm

Minnesota

After finishing up another Biblical Imagination Conference (our largest to date – 150 wonderful people!), I'm sitting in the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, enjoying the Upper Midwest accents and waiting for my flight back to OKC. After a full travel day on Friday and the conference that evening and all day Saturday, I got to sleep in at bit this morning in my hotel room (which rarely happens at home), so I'm feeling fairly rested and reflective as I enjoy the free wi-fi.

I've been a part of these conferences for two-and-a-half years now, developing the program and serving as emcee/educator for the first year-and-a-half through the gospel of Luke, and now finishing up in another two weeks the past year with our final Mark conference. Matthew starts up in September and will run for a year-and-a-half, and then we'll finish out with John for almost two years. When it's all said and done, it will be a total of six years that I've been involved with this initiative.

Stickies 2

One of the things I try to facilitate during the conferences is a warm, funny (often "punny"), and vulnerable atmosphere that lends itself to folks being comfortable enough to listen without defense and contribute without suspense. A great way I've found (or more accurately, stolen from my friends Bill, Bruce, and John) that lends itself to meeting this goal is "sticky note processing" – asking conferees to write down a thought on a sticky note in response to a question, discuss it with each other, and then post it on the wall for all to read. Everyone can then check the stickies out over the breaks, and I read a few at the beginning of the next session and comment so folks know we're taking them seriously.

Yesterday afternoon, after a session on the "unmiraculous miracles" Jesus did in the New Testament and now does in our daily lives, I asked attendees to complete the sentence, "Lord, give me the eyes to see your miracle in/concerning…" The responses were both heart-breaking and, if you're involved with people to any degree, sadly all too familiar:

Lord, give me the eyes to see your miracle in/concerning…

…bringing faith to unsaved friends and family.

…my prodigal sister disowning our family.

…giving our children the daily knowledge and experience to grow up healthy and happy and desiring to know You more.

…my joy.

…contention in the church body.

…the lost in our state, country, and the world.

…my daughter being critical of everything that her husband says or does.

…the lives of my grandchildren.

…healing my relationship with my ex-wife to be able to communicate over family matters.

…the healing of our son-in-law's body and finding a job for him.

…Your vantage point always in every moment.

…my 3-year-old adoptive daughter and her progress and ability to talk.

…our daughter and son-in-law's marriage and how they treat and talk to each other.

…our children's lives.

…the two years of pain and suffering and death of my mother because I don't understand it.

…my job search and where you want me.

…our daughters.

…giving me the courage, wisdom, and opportunity to teach my young grandchildren about You.

…my wayward daughter.

…my youngest daughter as she truly is, not as her illness makes her.

…the effects of a Christian friend on a unbeliever.

…bringing my brother and his wife into relationship with You.

…my child.

…our church, its growth and vibrancy, and how it can touch our community.

…how to stop the persecution of Christians.

…in our finances and living situation.

…my faith in Your plans and times for the future.

…my personnel problems at work, my family conflicts, and my own depression.

…my prayers to open the eyes of close family members.

…our son watching our daughter-in-law crack under the pressure of living overseas in such an oppressive culture that devalues life.

…our budget despite the loss of income.

…our son's death.

…my son in med school who seems so far away from his Christian upbringing.

…Your work through my work.

…the loss of a visa and job in east Asia.

…my husband's careful and loving provision for me – always a model of how You love us.

…the starving people in the world.

…restoration, healing, and wholeness for my children who grew up in lots of chaos and crud, that they would be able to forgive me for their past pain.

…my 21-year-old son, who is very introverted and not motivated to move forward in life.

…returning our pastor to our church.

…the broken relationships with my youngest son and my two daughter-in-laws; I stay away to avoid troubles, even at the expense of not seeing my only granddaughter.

…my oldest son, who struggles with You, his faith, and himself.

It can be overwhelming reading all these, but when shared in the temporary community of the conference, it's amazing how God enables people to find and hold each other up in the midst of the hurt. My prayer is people can do the same in their local church communities, but it isn't easy when all of us wrestle with our own versions of the list above and have to relate longer-term than across a short weekend.

Still, by God's grace, perhaps folks can get a taste at the conference of what's possible at home and pursue this potential within a local expression of the Body of Christ. It's a lonely and lamentable existence otherwise. All it takes are a few sticky notes to figure that out.