I remember making that nerve-racking phone call.
Me: “Mr. H., I have a question to ask you.”
Mr. H. “Hold on. I think Mrs. H. better be on the other phone for this one.” Mrs. H. picks up the other phone.
Me with trembling voice: “Okay. Mr. & Mrs. H., I would like to ask your permission to ask your daughter for her hand in marriage?”
Mrs. H. “You only want her hand? What about the rest of her? Don’t you want all of her?”
Yep. That was my (now) mother-in-law’s quick-witted response to my nervous fumbling over how to ask them for their blessing on our plans to get engaged and married. “Don’t you want all of her?”
How do you respond to that?! I am sure I stammered out some sort of response – though even now, I’m not sure that it was even halfway intelligible – and they graciously helped me finish the conversation and gave us their blessing.
My mother-in-law’s question “Don’t you want all of her?” has stuck with me. And though the context is somewhat different, I have found myself reflecting on it quite a bit lately.
(This post continues yesterday’s thoughts on “How Far is Too Far?” It’s probably helpful to read that one first.)
A few weeks ago, I hand delivered a letter from our church Council to City Hall, expressing our deep concern and opposition with a proposal to locate a casino in downtown Hamilton. I made the seven or eight block walk there, texting with my wife and one of my kids as I walked. I delivered the letter to the City Clerk’s office and turned right around to head back to the office. As I cut across the parking lot entrance, I put my phone away and looked up. Something about the buildings caught my attention. So I stood there between Jackson and Hunter, looking up and down one of the high rise housing complexes. It’s a pretty plain building. Nothing remarkable in terms of design or decor. But I looked it over still the same. I slowly wandered down the street. Continue reading
“How far is too far?” I’ve been asking myself that question a lot lately. It’s normally a question we ask while attempting to navigate the sexual desires and angst of relationships before (and regrettably, sometimes outside of) marriage. We have this internal awareness that there is a limit to how far we can go before we cross a point of no return, a threshold where the relationship changes from friendship to playful flirtation to something much more intimate and of much deeper consequence. And so, we ask ourselves – and on our good days, we might even ask others – “how far is too far?” How far can we go before everything changes?
That question has been in my heart and mind lately, only in a very different context. Continue reading
I have been struck by the announcement this morning that Pope Benedict XVI is abdicating his office as Pope at the end of February. It is quite a remarkable step for someone in his role to step aside – not simply historically speaking, but for someone with that type of power and authority, access to resources, etc. As I reflect on this, I am also struck by some comments made by a pastor recently, asking whether the denomination I belong to could ever envision itself coming to the end of God’s purposes for it, or if we simply assumed that it must and will exist forever. (He was drawing from Brueggemann’s The Prophetic Imagination.) Continue reading
I took some time this week to dig out a few reflections that I wrote a couple years ago. Some of them were short papers written for classes in my doctorate program; others were musings that I had started sketching in order to get a few ideas on paper…or at least into a Word doc. One of those papers included some reflections on homelessness and displacement in our culture, prompted in large part by my engagement with Bouma-Prediger and Walsh’s Beyond Homelessness. A section of my paper where I asked a series of questions about my own potential contributions to displacement grabbed my attention again this morning. At that time I wrote: Continue reading
I had a flat tire yesterday. Not that uncommon, I suppose. Most of us who drive a vehicle on any sort will at some point run over a nail, hit a pothole, or simply wear out our tires to the point where they refuse to hold air anymore. The problem for me yesterday was that even with the help of the CAA service, we couldn’t get the spare tire to drop down. The release mechanism had rusted in place – and from the looks of it, the spare tire was rusted, too. So, the CAA driver added some compressed air and the tire held it long enough for me to make it to a repair shop a couple kilometers up the road. Other than a little reordering of my schedule, the flat tire really did not disrupt my day. The rusted release mechanism got me thinking, though. Continue reading
In a recent post, Scott McKnight sketched an outline of a lecture he gave on the Mission of God. I appreciated his attention to missional identity being rooted in the Trinity and in God’s sending. It’s a good foundation for understanding the grounding of our inclusion in God’s mission. From this foundation, Scott transitions to consider how to identify a missional Christian. It’s to these reflections on what it looks like to be a missional Christian that I have been reflecting this week. In all fairness to Scott, I have not heard the lecture nor is this post the only thing he has every written on being missional. Yet, what struck me about Scott’s sketch of God’s mission was what appears to be left out of his caricature of a missional Christian. Continue reading
Abandoning the industrialized approach to discipleship and embracing an organic approach to discipleship that Bryce Ashlin-Mayo is calling for (see yesterday’s post) is not an easy transition to make, if for no other reason than we are a people who like numbers.
We are convinced that to make something count it needs to be counted, particularly financial numbers. We look for them in our entertainment industry. Nowadays, the quality of a movie is often simply depicted in terms of how much money it grosses in its first three day weekend. The content is secondary to the perceived popularity determined by how many millions of dollars the movie grosses. We watch numbers with our celebrities: who was the highest paid actress last year? How many downloads has an artists new video or song had? Where does a person rank on the list of the world’s richest people? Our economy, likewise, is healthy or not based largely on the number of job losses or gains in a given month. We constantly poll the popularity of government leaders and of government itself, determining whether they’ve done their job based on whether the people answering their phones have a favorable impression of our politicians – an impression that is shaped primarily by the most recent sound bites the media, spammed email, or a boisterous talk show host has fed them. The quality of their work is understood by popularity polls. Continue reading
I was on twitter this morning. I usually check it most mornings, even when I don’t tweet something new. This morning, I saw a tweet from Leonard Sweet (@lensweet) mentioning a colleague’s blog on discipleship. I’ve been doing a fair bit of thinking about discipleship in our church lately and how to cultivate a culture of missional discipleship. So Sweet’s tweet caught my attention. I clicked the link and was drawn in quite quickly. It’s honestly one of the more well thought out blog posts I’ve come across this year. Bryce Ashlin Mayo reflects quite profoundly on a post-industrial call to discipleship, exposing and critiquing the church’s insistence on efficiency in discipleship making. Playing off a brilliantly done Chipotle video on returning to sustainability, he invites his readers to consider what it might look like to pursue discipleship more organically. He even draws on the tendency toward uniformity over diversity through the greenhouse industry, recognize that the same potential for a “greenhouse disease” exists in the Christian church as much as it does in the agricultural industry. Continue reading