Skip to main content

inside : out


I just returned from a weekend in New York. It was a rather quick trip but we managed to squeeze in most of the essential experiences: getting lost in Brooklyn, being honked at by impatient New York drivers, eating fresh bagels (and having a lady tell me Montreal bagels were not real bagels in comparison to the New York variety), gawking at Times Square, getting serenaded on the subway, taking the elevator to the 45th floor of the Marriott, and haggling for bargains on Canal Street.
By far the most important thing we did (I went with 3 other females) was hang out with our friends, the pastors of the Brooklyn Vineyard, and their co-horts during their weekend church meetings and in their home. They most generously let us stay in their basement apartment and fed us a brilliant meal on Saturday night complete with several bottles of wine and after-dinner cigars. I have not been a city-dweller for most of my life and have always said that cities are isolating places. Not so. This time in New York was different than any other time I have been there. I expected to be embraced and included by our friends and their church community, but it went beyond that.
We met people on the street who were friendly and and considerate; we encountered some of the most helpful and personable staff in a store called Sephora; people on the subway actually talked to us; and our hosts are living proof of how you can make friends with everyday people in your life like restaurant and bar owners and invite them into your community. I admit I do not know how to do community all that well. We are trying to do that in Montreal, but I have a lot to learn in the areas of opening my life and home and time to people when honestly, some of the time I would rather just be left alone. But I am getting better. Every waitress in the restaurant, every guy behind the counter at a gas station, every bus driver, every bank teller, every hairdresser and fellow student is someone in need of community and I am learning to drop my guard and stop looking at them as strangers and service providers and instead see real people with real situations and real needs.
Yesterday on the way home, I stopped for gas at a little out of the way place on interstate 87 and started to talk to the man in the small store. He was from Turkey and asked me where I was from, what my ethnicity was, if one of the other girls was my sister, etc. In all likelihood, his Easter Sunday had been quite a lonely one as he spent the whole day by himself with an occasional visiting motorist. I was happy to chat with him a bit and wished him a Happy Easter as I left.
Mike T said some very cool things in his sermon yesterday morning. He said that God is changing the world from the inside out. You will most likely not see the power of God evident in miracles and dynamic changes in world situations first - you will see it in the hearts of people and then it will begin to work its way through the rest of life and the world. This was what Jesus did - he brought the reality of living according to the principles of life instead of death, he stopped the effects of death and sin in our lives. God is putting this world back into proper working order, but it has to start from the inside out.
Check out this video about our friends: http://www.northbrooklynvineyard.org/trashbar/
This photo was taken on April 7 in Times Square, Manhattan.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

what binds us together?

For the past few weeks, I have been reading a book by famed psychiatrist M. Scott Peck which chronicles his travels (together with his wife) through remote parts of the UK in search of prehistoric stones. The book is part travel journal, part spiritual musings, part psychology, and part personal anecdotes. A mixed bag, to be sure, and not always a winning combination. At one point, I considered putting the book aside, not finishing it, but then Peck started writing about community. He is no stranger to the concept. He has led hundreds of community-building workshops over the years, helped start a non-profit organisation dedicated to fostering community, and written a compelling book about the topic, one which greatly impacted me when I read it oh so long ago.[1]

In preparation for a course I am teaching next year, I have been doing quite a bit of study on unity and community. Once you start thinking about it, you see and hear evidence of it everywhere. (See my blog on the impact of b…

job hunting

I am on the hunt for a job. PhD in hand, I am a theologian for hire. The thing is, not a lot of places are hiring theologians these days, and if they are, they are usually looking for scholars with skills and experience outside my area of expertise. Today I found job opportunities for those knowledgeable in Religion, Race, and Colonialism, Philosophy and History of Religion, Islam and Society, Languages of Late Antiquity, Religion, Ethics, and Politics, and an ad for a Molecular Genetic Pathologist. Not one posting for a Dramatic Theologian with  a side order of Spirituality and a dash of Methodology.

I know, I know. My expectations are a bit unrealistic if I believe I will find an exact match for my particular skills. I know that job descriptions are wish lists to some extent, so no candidate is ever a perfect match. I also realize that one must adapt one's skill set according to the requirements of the job and be flexible. But there are so few jobs which come within ten or even…

lessons from a theological memoir and a television series about lawyers

It's a hot Wednesday afternoon, so let's talk about false binaries. Basically, a false binary or false dichotomy happens when a person's options are artificially limited to two choices, thereby excluding all other possibilities. Insisting on the limited choice of either A or B leaves no room for middle ground or another, more creative solution. In other words, a false binary assumes the rest of the alphabet (after A and B) does not exist.

Binary thinking is quite prevalent in our society. Either you are for me or against me. Either you are guilty or innocent. Either you are a Democrat or a Republican, conservative or liberal. Either you are a Christian or a pagan. Either you are all in or all out. Admittedly, it is convenient to see things as either black or white, but we live in a multi-coloured world and not everything fits neatly into two categories. This is why insisting there are only two choices when, in fact, other options exist, is labeled as a fallacy in logic an…