October 30, 2012

Bonhoeffer in the Valley

I arrived, the leaves have changed, and now it is cold.  I have been here for just over five weeks.  Over that time there have been several things of note.  The first of which, I finally finished the biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer I was reading.

I finished Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Propher, Spy by Eric Metaxas.  Amazing read about a remarkable man.  For those who have not read books giving the details of the rise to power of Hitler and the Nazis, read it.  For those who enjoy being a well-read layman of the church, read it.  If this is the first time you've ever heard of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, do yourself a favor.  Read it.

Metaxas is a Christian thinker writing about a Christian thinker, but he does not over-intellectualize DB's life nor does he soak it in so much Christianese that it is unreadable to those without a NIV and the latest edition of Strong's.  If you don't know what I mean by Christianese is, walk up to me when you've got a spare week and ask me my thoughts on the several versions of predestination are.

I loved reading about DB's life because he was a very real man.  The way he presented his ideas was not always kind to his image when his saying were taken out of the context of their time and audience; he was prone to speak to a very specific issue with very specific got creative with how these ideas were presented.

He read the Bible and found things that other Protestants had been ignoring since the schism, and held to these things and was often stared at for his funny proceedings.  While I don't think any one person can "get it right," he was tuned in with God and His Word and that was expressed through his unique way of thinking as DB.  The reasons behind his teaching methods and preaching style were to glorify and honor God to the fullest; the same reasons put inside someone else could easily produce much different results (varying in style but not in honor).

Some of the most exciting stories about him come from the records of the people he was around.  Those who observed him in prison were amazed at how he took it all perfectly in stride, this man who had been quite high-born, well-to-do and intellectual.  His students witnessed the love of God that was in him, the humility and love for the teaching of the Word of God.  When he wrote a book on ethics, he began by saying it was not a book on eithics; e.g., not a book on how to be a good person.  That question was irrelevant, he said; the true question of "ethics" is "What is the will of God?"

Another point of DB's that he lived out was breaking down this notion of so many things in the world being apart from God.  Of course sin is, and the world is broken.  The beauty of art and nature and music and human relationship, though, to DB all pointed gloriously to their maker.  In that sense he had a wide definition of worship and an appreciation for all the beautiful things in this world that God created.  It was this philosophy that he pitted against the day's version of dualism.

Also, his last name means "Bean Farmer."

October 8, 2012

f(young adult attendance) = (flashiness of website)x(# of restaurants open past 9PM)

I likened the Christian Young Adult (CYA) scene in Warrenton to a used brownie pan.  Most of the CYAs (brownies) had left the pan (town) already, but there were some leftovers hanging out in a few corners of the pan.  Thus began an effort to scrape the edges of this metaphorical dessert tray and through social coercion (emails and mass texts, mostly) get the CYAs hanging out together.  In Warrenton, it met with some success and I was very blessed by it.

Staunton seems to be a much different situation, but the course of action may be quite similar.  There are plenty of young adults (read: unmarried and/or under 30ish) here; I work with them and see them around quite often.  The problem is that very few of them are sold out to Jesus.  I have found 2 that I'm certain have solid faith and have managed to actually hang out with one of them.

Staunton isn't a brownie pan.  It's a bag of Skittles and I'm looking as hard as I can for the red ones.

The first church I visited had 1 or 2 CYAs.  The second had a small handful more, though there didn't seem to be any structure or pattern to facilitate spending time together (I inquired).  This has led me to do something I am nearly ashamed of to reveal publicly... 

I looked for the church with the flashiest website.

Don't worry, I checked out their affiliations and statement of faith and church structure as well.  My reasoning is that if I want to find young adults, and they seem to be sparse,  I'll see if their gathering at the church with the flashy website.  I think there is a rough correlation between trendy-websitery and young-adult-attendishness.  

That said, there are things I am looking for in a church beside the presence of CYAs.  My goal at the moment is to see if they are concentrated somewhere so I can make contact and discover what kind of Christ-centered community they've got going on.  I am above all praying for God's guidance and direction with the choice of a church home, and I am working CYA recon into the search process.  I may need to encourage ecumenicism and take names and start making some things happen.

All things considered, my Average Emotional State is much better than it was in Warrenton.  The proximity to town, higher density of people and (almost forgot this one) GETTING PAID TO WORK IN A THEATER AND FINALLY ACHIEVING FORWARD MOTION IN MY DREAM CAREER are helping out.  Just a little.

I finished Eric Metaxas's bio about Dietrich Bonhoeffer last night.  More on that later.

What? No, of course I don't cry while reading non-fiction!  What a silly question.