Friday, February 20, 2009
Last week I was in Rochester, MN for a two reasons . . . visiting my family (son, daughter in law and wife’s family) as well as attending the annual L’Abri conference. As usual it takes a week to dig out of work after being gone.
I think it was Wednesday night before I got back to the gym at Thrive. It was late and the evening news was over, so the only thing to watch, while I ran my 4 miles, was the HGTV program House Hunter’s.
The episode was about a couple from New Mexico, who considers themselves very, very “green.” There were scenes of them recycling cans and jars in the garage of their million dollar (plus) house. They were so “green” that they wanted a vacation home on the beach to be closer to nature. The husband studied a map of the US and decided on the coast of Oregon to start their search, because Oregon was a very “green” state.
The rest of the episode focused on their house search . . . for their 500K beachfront vacation home. The top requirement for their new home was being “green.” To them, that meant energy efficient appliances and etc.
They narrowed their search down to three homes. One a beachfront without energy efficient appliances, one that was a townhouse without a direct beach view and a third that was 100 yards from the beach. The third house, while not on the beach, did have energy efficient appliances. It was also attractive to them because it had been built on an official “wetland.” The builders had been so cognizant of the surrounding wetland that they decided to reduce the house’s footprint by tucking the garage under the house rather than beside it.
At the end of the episode, the couple agreed on the wetland house and bought it. Next they bought an entire house full of high-end furniture to fill their new house. The very last scene had the wife speaking about happy they were with their new “green house” and she was excited that the city had decided to develop the wetland around their house into a pond and walking trails.
I was left with a very odd feeling about that episode but I just couldn’t put it into words at first.
My pastor had asked me to buy him a tape or CD of one of the L’Abri lectures. I usually like Dick Keyes’ (L’Abri – Harvard area) lectures the most . . . although I didn’t attend a single one this year. The reason was I was attending lectures that my sons attended. So when I came time to buy my pastor the CD, I picked Sentimentality: A False Affirmation and a Challenge to Christian Belief, by Dick because I wanted to listen to it too.
It was an excellent lecture and I highly recommend it. I think it appealed to me so much because I’ve been so interested in honestly within the Church. I have to be careful about reading too many books or listening to too many lectures that agree with my point of view. For the sake of balance, I try to read or listen to opposing views. Dick’s book (linked on this page) is an example of a perspective for balance as it deals with the problem of cynicism.
But when I listened to Dick’s Sentimentality lecture, the morning after the Thrive incident, the problem with the “green” couple finally clicked. They were a non Christian expression of what Dick was referring to.
You have to listen to the lecture to understand the whole perspective, but it is the concept of being consumed with the emotions (or existential parallels) of an idea but not necessarily the idea itself. The most easy example is the ideal with a young man, or young woman . . . in spring time, being consumed with the concept of “being in love” while the person they are supposedly “in love” with is as exchangeable as a Rubik’s Cube's square.
One of the examples that Dick gives is how Christians become very consumed with the “feelings” of the fruit of the Spirit without understanding the work of the Spirit. But it’s more complicated than that. He tells how a pastor, who has interpersonal conflict after conflict at a local church until he can’t take it any more and decides to resign.
However this pastor and the entire church culture were so invested in the so-called “fruits of the spirit” of niceness, that they can exchange the realities (think Rubik’s Cube again). The pastor announces to the church that it is “God” who has called him to resign. So no one deals with the reality of the interpersonal conflicts, which are based in reality, because they are so deeply invested in the feelings of the “Christian niceness.”
Posted by MJ at 3:36 PM