Friday, September 26, 2008

New is not always new!

So I have been intermingling school and my life on this blog, but the reality is that it is ALL my life. I hope to be posting another natural theology book review in the next few days, but thought I would tease it a little in advance. I am currently reading "A Discourse on the Natural Theology of the Chinese" by Gottfried Leibniz. His original paper was written in the early 1700's but took over two centuries to be translated into a language I can read (English). The thing that I have found most fascinating about Leibniz's thought in this book is how apropo it is for our current pluralistic world. He was engaging with ancient Chinese writers and Jesuit priest that were attempting to understand how God had revealed himself and and through the Chinese culture. Two of the five priest penned a letter to the Pope in Rome arguing for a contextualization of the gospel message, but were quickly rejected by the papacy. Rome found it to be impossible to allow the Chinese to continue living out their culture, and become members of the Holy Roman Church. This disgusted Leibniz and certainly created a grotesque fracture in the relationship of countless Chinese and the message of Christ.
I do not think that it is ironic that we are discussing similar questions today in our churches and our seminaries. God is working in all contexts and locations on His Earth, and it is essential that we seek His wisdom and discernment in understanding on the "essential" message He is trying to convey to us. We like to think that the questions we are wrestling with are some how new and only relevant to "our time," but this is clearly NOT true. We need to be seeking out the wisdom of those who have already engaged the topics that we are struggling with. To use the cliche, we do not need to reinvent the wheel on most issues. Scientific advances are something completely different, but we are not talking about science here. I charge you to take some time when you are faced with a perplexing question or troubling conflict and seek out some wisdom from the past because chances are others have dealt with it too.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

House and home.

This past weekend I went to visit my mom (and Ben, Kim, Isaiah, Dom, and Lincoln) in Ames Iowa. My mom recently moved to Ames and purchased a new house that she now calls home. As we drove to Ames my wife and I wondered what it would be like to be in my mom's new house and in a town that was home to a portion of my family, but not me. I have often wondered about the question, "Where are you from?" and the saying, "Home is where the heart is." Well, this weekend I was able to fully understand those two simple, yet complex sentences.

As we pulled into my mom's new driveway I did not know how I would feel upon stepping through her front door. Would it feel like my home or would it feel strange and foreign to me? Entering through the front porch I realized that my mother's home will always feel like home to me. The same old couch my brothers and I used to wrestle on placed securely behind the cedar chest that Ben spent days refinishing in the garage at 404 East 15th street. The white house that is deemed the residence of my mom is not my home, my home exists wherever my mom and her things are located. Looking around the new house I was drawn back to our old house in Yankton and the memories of vaccumming under the dining room table, and trying not to brake the white wash basin in the bathroom. I am certain that my mom will move away from Ames soon and buy a new house, but she will never need to buy a new home.

As for the answer to where I am from...well, lets just say I will always be the Displaced Dakotan from Yankton. I have lived numerous places around the country, but will always be from the first capital of the Dakota Territory that is nestled along the Missouri river.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

What would you give for what you love?

Yesterday I received my October edition of Runner's World magazine, which I feverishly fingered through to see what the highlights were going to be for this particular issue.  The first article that caught my eye was entitled "Life and Limb."  It chronicles the lengths Dr. Tom White went through to retain his ability to walk, run, hike, and simply live the life he wants.  Oh, did I mention that Tom had to have a portion of his left leg amputated to retain the life he desired?  

Tom was a national champion cross country runner in his collegiate years and had his senior season of cross country and track robbed from him by a drunk driver.  While riding home from work one summer evening, Tom was clipped by a drunk driver and had his left tibia and fibula severed to the point of near amputation.  He begged the attending physician to not cut off his leg, but save it so that he could continue to run.  After intense rehab and recovery Tom had made a full recovery and had become an ultramarathoner who was competing in races of 50+ miles.  However, Tom's leg could not last forever, and after 26 years of running on a "patched tire" he could barely walk without significant pain.  There was really only one option for Tom if he was to continue his active lifestyle, remove the malfunctioning portion of his leg.  So he did.  After months of contemplation and doctor appointments, it was finally time to remove a portion of Tom's left leg and foot.  This was hardly the end of the story.  Tom spent months in rehab trying to learn how to walk again with his new prosthetic leg and wondering if he really had made the right decision.  Although he was having to learn how to walk again, he was bound and determined to become a runner again.  Last year, on a trip to Europe, Tom did just that, became a runner again.

This story of grit and determination really made me wonder if I would ever a limb removed, in order to retain the ability to participate in an activity that I love.  Would you choose to have a limb amputated to continue participating in an activity that you love?  What do you love so much that you would give a major piece of your body for?  Is there anything you can't live without that would cause you to become an amputee?  Is this guy crazy?  Does Scripture not speak of gaining the whole world yet forfeiting your soul?  How does that Scripture inform your thinking about this story??  I have to say that I would make the same decision Tom made!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Running Distinctions?

If you have ever seen two motorcycles pass one another on the highway, you may have noticed them wave at one another as if they knew each other. "The wave," is an unspoken part of the motorcycle culture that demonstrates the common respect and comorodery that exist between those who ride on two wheels. I thought that same cultural practice was present within the running world, but have found my theory in need of adaptation over the past few weeks. I recently journeyed down through a prestigious portion of St. Paul where I knew many runners frequented and expected to be warmly welcomed by the other early morning athletes. I was sadly mistaken. Most people that I encountered along my route would look right passed me as if I was one of light poles that lined Summit Ave. I attempted to make eye contact, smile, and deliver a "good morning" to all those who ran by me, however, few and far between would return a greeting. I was shocked and disapointed by the cold shoulder that I recieved time and time again. Were these people not hearing me? Did they not see the smile on my face? Were they in the zone and dead to their surroundings?
I thought about this phenomenon for a number of days and sought out to test it again on Tuesday, in my neighborhood, on the trails of Roseville. The first runner I encountered I gave a warm smile and "hello!" Sure enough, they smiled back and greeted me with a "hello" in return! Maybe this was an issolated incident, but the next runner proved that theory wrong. Each runner, or walker, that I encountered would return my greeting with at least a smile, making me think that there is a difference between the runners who frequent local trails, and those who choose to run in highly touted areas of the metro. So I began to think, the people on the local trails run for the love of running and enjoy the company of a fellow runner, while the people running in high profile areas are running to be seen running. They do not care about the larger running community and the comrodery that we all share with one another. I hope that I am wrong, but encourage you to test my theory. The next time that you are out for a run, wave at all the fellow runners and walkers, and see what happens. Do they see you? Do they care about your shared passion? I am anxious to hear what you find, and hope that you can prove my theory wrong!