Monday, November 12, 2012

A (Slight) Lament

Meghan and I share the same love for a lot of different things. 

Some things I've picked up from her, like an appreciation for Yankee macintosh candles, sweatshirts, marriage, child-rearing, and even (slightly) the story of Anne of Green Gables. Some things she's picked up from me, like stove-cooked popcorn, theology, apolitical positions, or even (slightly) Boston sports. Of course, many other things we appreciated well before we even came together, like Christmas, driving through Vermont, the seasons, and Jesus.

Love has a way of drawing various parties together toward one another's interests and concerns. Surely that is part of what has happened for Meghan and I. I cherish this.

For one, we've loved to visit used bookstores. We've found them while traveling, spending time perusing, sometimes buying, but more often not. She heads for the children's and classics sections while I prefer theology and photography.  The best book stores are ones that have good coffee and some tables. We've frequented bookstores in Kansas, Vermont, and many places in between. Some stores are duds. Others have been more fruitful.

About a year and a half ago, we were in North Conway at a bed and breakfast thanks to the generosity of our church community. As we often did, we sought out a local used book store. A beautiful little building with a second-floor loft (children's section, of course), it was very pleasing to the eye and slightly exciting in thinking about the possibilities within.

But after some time spent browsing, I was rather disappointed. 

And realization set in. 

Theology books just aren't exactly best-sellers these days. While I'm truly okay with that (I don't mind pop theology dying, and these are usually the types of theology books that would be in stores), I lament it in that the space I used to inhabit in book stores doesn't exist like it used to.

And secondly, used bookstores are going the way of wagon wheels and landline phones. I am typing this on my iPad, from which I also do 90% of my reading these days. I love the minimalist nature that technology brings. But with the advance of the electronic (like books) goes the demise of the material (like ink and paper). 

Sad.

But true.

And by sad, I don't mean that it should be otherwise. I feel for bookstores and bookstore owners (Meghan apparently does too since she's watched the movie You've Got Mail about a million times). But in life, this is the way things go: things die. Out of them, new things grow. 

And so today, I lament.

I am up in North Conway at the moment, this time without Meghan. (It's likely that this post was birthed from our separation.) My father and I are together and he wanted to go to a bookstore, so I brought him to the one Meghan and I "discovered." I was even more disappointed today. The theology books in the inspirational section were limited to one by Joyce Meyer and a commentary on The Shack (not even the book itself). Wright, Newbigin, Hauerwas, and even Lewis and Lucado: all missing. There were five copies of Satanic Verses from the Underground (or some such thing). 

Inspirational, indeed.

And so I lament today. 

Of course, there are "much more important" things to lament. The list is obvious. Today though, this is on my mind.

But to lament is not necessarily to wish for something to be different. Instead, it may simply be to acknowledge that we don't enjoy the truth of a matter, however inevitable it may be.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Seeing the Church Again


The property next door to our chapel and parsonage has been under development for what seems like years. It appears that an end might be in sight for this project to restore an historic house and barn that sit on the property. As part of it, the developers are installing a new driveway that hugs our property line. And to be able to do so, they had to cut down a number of large trees where the new driveway will eventually sit. While those trees were admittedly pretty old and not-so-glorious, it's somewhat sad to see trees go regardless. In the end, it's the way of life sometimes. No big deal.

In another area, I'm dealing with a bit of angst at the moment. Unfortunately, it does have to do with the fact that it's November, 2012, and the first Tuesday of the month is soon upon us. Now as much as I've tried to deal moderately with the port-a-potty-and-spittoon-all-in-one that is the political scene in America (for one: I'm still undecided on what I will do - if anything - in regard to voting for a President at the moment), I was recently told by someone that he didn't feel welcome to accept my invitation to share the Table of Communion with me. While I'm not completely sure why that is (it may be simply because I am not able at the moment to choose a particular candidate), it gives me angst whatever the reason. I would like to think that any followers of Christ could feel welcome to gather at the table after an election regardless of whether or not they voted or for whom. And to think he doesn't feel welcome to do so with me makes me - to use a big boy word - sad.

I've been trying to get out and walk a bit more. This morning as I was returning from my walk down North Street, I saw our chapel from a new perspective. The fact that those trees that were cut down has allowed for a new view of the chapel from the east. Before, sight of the chapel was mostly blocked from certain angles to the east. But this morning, with those old trees cut down, I could see the chapel from an angle that I couldn't before.

Despite the early morning darkness, I had to stop and take a picture (the resulting blurry image above). As I was listening to a sermon that was encouraging the Church to always remember that the throne of the world is occupied by a slain little lamb and not any human nation or superpower, the image of a fresh perspective of the Church was encouraging. 

For many, there is a certain cloud, a mass of twisted trees: an object of blockage between who Christ would have his Church be and who she currently is in this nation. (I do think it's slightly better than four years ago, but that may simply be due to my perspective and geography). 

And oh...for God to come and chop down those trees, burn the chaff, and make way for a Spirit to blow through and sweep away the leaves...so the Church could be seen as she should be: devoid of human division.

Tuesday's passing will be wonderful - both personally and corporately. It's sad that it has to pass for some things themselves to pass, but oh well. It'll take it. 

I'd like to see the Church again.