Poverty, Chastity, Obedience…[Updated]
One of my favorite professors from college was fond of telling us that we should seriously consider taking a voluntary vow of poverty sort of like monks. Bear in mind that this was in the mid-nineties, before the current popularity of Christian movements like the New Monasticism. (I’m pretty sure Shane Claibourne was doing what he’s doing now, only mainstream Christianity neither knew nor cared much about it. BTW – we were at PTS together. Pretty sure doesn’t remember me and as you’re abouto read, I thought radical stuff was, well, ‘weird.’)
When I first heard him say it I thought, ‘weird.’ Ok. I pretty much thought it was weird all the way through college. I was way too traditional an evangelical to think that intentionally changing the way I lived could have spiritual benefits for me. I’ve been pretty slow to learn that lesson, truth be told.
Here’s the weird thing about me. I seem to be getting more radical the older I get. It’s weird because as I look at all of my friends from college, I’ve noticed that they are emphatically _not_ getting more radical.
Granted, I was pretty conservative in college and graduate school. I mean, frankly, I dressed like an old man through most of both. Seriously. My wife thought I was married and had a job while we were in seminary because I just kinda looked like a married dude. Please note: it is a *miracle* that this woman married me.
And I’m not radical now in an especially external way. I’m more of an interior radical. Most of my radicality (is that a word?) is in the life of my mind. From the outside I’m pretty boring, but inside, I’m like freakin’ Che Guevara. [At least when compared to my other suburban friends.]
Honestly, I think some it has to do with being a third culture kid. I’m reading a lot of Lesslie Newbigin right now and I love it. I love it because in his work (I’m reading _The Household of Faith_ at present) he speaks of translating the Gospel for a given culture. He writes [wrote, he died in 1991 I think] as a bishop in the Church of South India (btw – look it up on Wikipedia, it’s pretty cool) and as a western european living in a very foreign culture. More importantly, when he returned to the UK he was able to right some incredibly helpful stuff about Gospel and culture in the west precisely because he’d spent most of his time outside of it.
Not that I want compare myself to Lesslie Newbigin, but having spend a good portion of my formative years overseas, I think I have something of that ability in me. More on this later. In short, there are a lot of things I like about North America and some that I don’t.
So in 2009 we’re hoping to make some changes with the hope that we can be more intentional in living out the values we profess.
In coming posts I’m going to write about some ways we hope to be more counter-cultural including our plans for the garden, the CSA (nothing to do with the confederacy, sorry), and fixed hour prayer. Stay tuned.
[Update] – Anna tells me that she didn’t think I was married, but that she did think I dressed like a politician or something. Again…it’s a *miracle* that this woman married me. Also, by radical I really mean *counter-cultural*.