Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Simple Way

I don't read many "Christian" books anymore, but I kept running into this one, so to speak, or it kept finding me. I decided to purchase it as a gift to a missionary friend of mine because I heard it was good, so I thought I'd better pick up a copy and read it myself too, in case it wasn't. Come to find, it's a really terrific read, challenging, and worth discussing with others. I understand why people thought I might like it. Though he tends to share more about successes than failures, the things that turn out versus the things that don't, I find Claiborne courageous, and well, ordinary as he likes to put it, which makes his story really hopeful for all of us. I find his take on the small and unassuming refreshing (considering Epic's story of growing smaller and smaller), and his redefinition of success as relationship, not bigness, a welcomed find (considering again, Epic's emphasis).

Anyone who has traveled to Iraq and on a whim spent a summer with Mother Teresa has the chops to say something. His story about his time in Calcutta alone is worth the read.

He is the co-founder of The Simple Way community in Philly.

Some notable takeaways to journal here so I don't forget them:

"Mother Teresa offers us that brilliant glimpse of hope that lies in little things: 'We can do not great things, only small things with great love.'" (p. 319)

"It is easy to fall in love with the great things, whether we are revolutionaries or church growth tacticians. But we must never simply fall in love with our vision or our five-year plan. We must never fall in love with the 'the revolution' or 'the movement.' We can easily become so driven by our vision for church growth, community, or social justice that we forget the little things, like caring for those around us." (p.319)

"Not too long ago, I was speaking at Princeton, and some of the students asked me how they were to choose which issue of social justice is the most important. The question made me cringe. Issues? These issues have faces. We're talking not only about ideas but also about human emergencies. My response to the well-intentioned Princeton student was, 'Don't choose issues; choose people. Come play in the fire hydrants in North Philly. Fall in love with a group of people who are marginalized and suffering, and then you won't have to worry about which cause you need to protest. Then the issues will choose you.'" (p.293)

"We can admire and worship Jesus without doing what he did. We can applaud what he preached and stood for without caring about the same things. We can adore the cross without taking up ours. I had come to see that the great tragedy in the church is not that rich Christians do not care about the poor but that rich Christians do not know the poor." (p.113)

"Mother Teresa always said, 'Calcuttas are everywhere if only we have eyes to see. Find your Calcutta.'" (p.89)

The New Sin City?

Pretty much everyday I pass by the local Chuck E. Cheese on the way to and from the 57 freeway with its smoked windows, blinking lights, and promises of a good time. I pretty much can't stand the place, and one of the beautiful things about my kids getting older is that they no longer desire to go there.Just the other day I was thinking, man, Chuck E. Cheese is the Las Vegas for kids!

Consider the parallels:

1. Overstimulation. Enough said.
2. From the inside, you can't tell what time of day it is outside.
3. So-called stage "entertainment." [By the way, what's up with the rat mascot?]
4. The place sounds like a casino.
5. You leave your money: You buy $20 worth of tokens, the kids hit the "slots" accumulating 100 tickets in half an hour, all redeemable for a plastic spider ring and other worthless &%#*!