Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Observations from a Brief Vacation

Last week was spring break for four of my kids (two in college and two in high school). My daughter (17) went on a school trip to Japan. My son 20, had to work. So my son 21 and my son 15 went with my wife on I on a 4-day mini-vacation. What was our destination? First to Powells’ books in Portland. It is considered one of the largest bookstores (new and used books) in the world. After that we headed out to the real-Washington coast (vs Puget Sound where we live).

Observation # 1: Is going to a book store for vacation really that weird?
We went out to dinner and a play with friends the night before our departure. They asked us where we were going and we told them. The wife literally burst out in laughter asking, “A bookstore for vacation?”

Is that really that strange? I mean, we usually do things more exciting, like last spring break of hiking trough France, Italy and Egypt. Our kids (most thanks going to my wife) see very little difference between a real-life adventure and entering an imaginary adventure through a book. I think that’s healthy and doesn’t have to be on opposing ends of the scale (real-life adventurer Vs literary fiction).

The bookstore was a wonderful experience. We bought about 15 books between us, and spent the next couple of days reading them. I (very rare for me) finished a book Portofino by Frank Schaeffer in one day. The content of that book will be a new posting of its own.

Observation # 2 The Today Show and the Sovereignty of God

On my first day of vacation I slept in and watched most of the Today Show from bed. They had on the show (I am sure carefully orchestrated by the publisher of their just-released book) the two families who’s daughters Laura Van Ryn and Whitney Cerak were mixed up after a tragic motor vehicle accident in Michigan. Both families are confessing Christians. The well-meaning father of the girl that died, Don Van Ryn, says that the whole ordeal was directed by the hand of God for a purpose. This includes the tragic car crash that killed five other Taylor University (a Christian school) students and the subsequent mix up where they thought that their daughter was the one that survived.

I am a Calvinist and probably attend the same type of church as do the Van Ryns (with a name like “Van” they must be Christian Reformed . . . formally known as Dutch Reformed). This concept of God the puppeteer is widely accepted by Evangelical Christians from all walks of life. However, when we come at tragic events in life in two angles, God is directing, or micromanaging every detail and He loves us very much and has a plan for us . . . we quickly paint ourselves into a corner. I really want to examine that in detail in a future posting, because, once again, Dualistic thinking is leading to this misunderstanding.

Observation # 3: A large portion of our society is becoming out of reach (culturally) by our traditional Evangelical churches.

Hanging out at Powells bookstore (the home, stomping grounds of Don Miller) I saw a spectrum of people, different people. I think the unifying theme is an emphasis on cultural freedom. Goths, a man in a kilt, people dressed as actors in a fantasy game, gays, cross dressers. The main cultural (at least fashion) narrative that I sensed, is simply that there is no narrative . . . and no one stared at the more than 50% that were alternative.

We need a new kind of wineskin for the church that these people would go to. I hope to discuss that much more in the future as well.

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