And I — I Took the One Less Traveled By …
Feb 10th, 2010 by Sonja

The Road Not Taken

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Robert Frost

It has become quite fashionable to write posts these days waving good-by to the emerging conversation, drawing a line in the sand and staking a claim to a new path into a new future.  I don’t quite know what to do with that.  I struggle with it.

On one hand I see these posts as asking valid questions and see the people writing them as having legitimate concerns with the direction that the conversation is headed and how things are currently going.  I have to say … I am in agreement with Sarah at Emerging Mummy who is uncomfortable with how commodified the conversation is becoming; more and more blog posts and comments seem to be platforms for someone to hawk their books, conferences, magazines, etc., etc.  But thankfully, no bobblehead dolls … yet.   I am really looking forward to Jeremy Bouma’s series that he has introduced here – Goodbye Emergent – Why I’m Taking the Theology of the Emerging Church To Task.  He’s asking some key questions about stands that leaders in the conversation have taken on original sin, whether or not the Gospel is important, how we view the Cross and the heresy of Pelagius.  You’ll have to read Jeremy’s post to see how he’s framed the questions and what (exactly) has grabbed people’s goats along the way.  I see it as an introduction, a broad brush and we’ll see the details in the weeks to come.  I’m sure I’m not going to agree with everything that Jeremy writes … that’s alright.  I’ve become accustomed to not agreeing 100% with anyone, not even my dearly beloved husband.  The only one who agrees with me all the time is my dog and his brain is the size of an orange (with a miniscule frontal lobe) … think about that for a while.

Mainly, I think we’ll disagree over Pelagius.  I tend to think that P-man got a lot right.  I think he’s often taken out of context and forced into the Greco-Roman context of Augustine where he makes very little sense.  We forget that, indeed, the fight between the two started over something quite small … the date that Easter would be celebrated.  And it escalated until Augustine finally won the battle to get Pelagius declared a heretic.  Augustine was a recovering alcoholic and Pelagius was a party boy, some even say a glutton.  They were diametrical opposites in every way.  That they came to (theological) blows is no surprise.  What if we return Pelagius to his homeland of 5th century Ireland and read him in that context?  I’ve never done this, but my guess is that his “heresy” might not be so glaring.  He was converting/pastoring Druids and Celts … not Romans, Egyptians and Greeks and that might be an entirely different thing.

So, on the other hand, I remember when I wandered all wobbly on to this road about 4 or 5 years ago.  I’d just started blogging.  I’d read a few books (Blue Like Jazz among them) and was asking a lot of questions.  A LOT!  I was going to a small church where some questions were encouraged and I started looking around the internet to see if there were more women like me.  I’d found some men bloggers, but I wanted to find women.  And in my search, I started to find more people who were asking some of the same questions I was asking.  I found women too.  Women like Julie Clawson, Makeesha Fisher, Linda (the blogger formerly known as Grace), Molly Aley and Christy Lambertson (both no longer blog).  The list of women grew and grew and so did the men.  Sometimes it kind of felt like the Old West in ways both good and bad out there.  But the wonderful thing was anyone could participate.  It was like my grampy’s old saying, “If you can read, you can do anything.”  If you could read and write, you could participate.  There were (and are) defined tiers of participation.  There are definite leaders who’s blogs get a bazillion hits a day (and some people can dismiss that, but … well … fine.  The rest of us know you’re being silly).  I’m about the 7th tier down … maybe further (in case you were wondering) and I like it that way.

Over the last year or so things have begun to change.  For a variety of reasons, some personal and some not, I don’t feel so comfortable in the greater conversation anymore.  I don’t know quite what has changed.  In some ways, yes, the conversation has changed.  I felt (at the time and continue to feel) that creating an organization around Emergent Village was a terrible idea.  I know it created efficiencies and abilities that were not available without the umbrella of an institutional organization.  However, that’s just exactly the problem.  Once an institution is created, then somehow that institution needs to be fed and maintained.  Someone needs to guard the gate.  Others need to dust the furniture.  Still others need to buy food and prepare meals.  And don’t even talk about the laundry!  Gradually, when all those people are doing all that work together to feed and maintain that institution a couple of things happen.  One is that they get to know one another and usually become friends.  Another is that they start get a sense of ownership in that institution; pride in what they’re doing and how well they’re doing it.  All of these are really good things for the most part and I’m glad for the folks who are involved in Emergent Village that they have that place.  But (you knew that was coming) there is a flip side to all of that chummy joy.  Eventually, other people come along who want to come into that institution, but they have muddy shoes and dusty pants and they leave their drink glasses on the table without using a coaster.  In short, they do not have the same respect, love and care for the institution that those who feed and maintain it do and pretty much, these outsiders are not very thoughtful of the help either.  Even when the newcomers stumble in and are appreciative, there is no possible way for them to appreciate the help (oldtimers) nearly to the degree which they deserve.  This is mostly because those on the outside really have no possible way of knowing what is going on on the inside.  It’s just the way institutions roll.

So, we’ve come to a place where there are a goodly number of people who are comfortable with the way things are (or are headed) in the emerging conversation.  But there are also a goodly number of people who (for a variety of reasons) are no longer comfortable with it.  Me, I feel like Robert Frost standing at the two roads diverging in the woods.  Do we really have to choose?

Because honestly, the response to the questions and concerns of the people who are no longer comfortable has not been entirely welcoming.  And I know (believe me, I know) how it feels to be under constant attack from the heresy hunters.  There have been one or two here that love to drop by and call names, engage in straw man silliness and all kinds of hurtful evil in the name of Truth.  I understand the frustration of hearing the questions all the time (I have two teenagers) … but.  But.  I’m just not sure that choosing camps, engaging in hyperbole, and generally dumping the frustration of a thousand other blogs onto friends and fellow conversants who are now choosing a road less traveled is the wisest, or indeed the most Jesus-y, choice we can make right now.

So I’m wondering what will happen now.  Will emerging devolve into Augustians and Pelagians?  Will the institution that is Emergent Village become more important to protect and preserve than the individual people that are under it’s umbrella?   Will a “conversation” begun based on the tenet that it must be acceptable to question the faith of one’s elders, be able to survive the questioning of those who are now part of it?

Lillies of the Field
Jan 29th, 2010 by Sonja

The LightFamily’s favorite magazine is National Geographic.  We all like it and read it/browse it for different reasons.  LightBoy loves the articles about space and the ocean.  LightGirl and LightHusband love the photography and the articles about far away places.  Me, I love the articles about different cultures and people.  So we all get something from this treasure each month.  They get stored in a basket in our “reading room.”  Does your home have a “reading room?”  You know the one … with a “special” white “throne”.  Yeah … that one.

So this morning I wandered into the “reading” room and found an article in the December 2009 issue of NatGeo (as it is sometimes called these days) about one of the last hunter-gatherer societies to survive in these modern times.  There are only about 6,000 people in this tribe which makes it’s home in northern Tanzania in Africa.  And an expanding population is now encroaching upon it’s formerly uninhabitable territory.  The days of being just hunter-gatherers are probably numbered, but the article is quite good.  The author lived amongst the people with a particular camp for two weeks and does a remarkable job of giving a fly on the wall view of their life (including a baboon hunt with only his pocket knife).

I recommend this article to you if you like learning about other people groups and other cultures. It really is fascinating and the author writes it quite well.  But I was struck by his description of the way in which the Hadza live.  Specifically, by their lack of worry.  This is mentioned several times in the article, but strikingly here:

Dirt roads are now carved into the edges of the Hadza bush. A paved road is within a four-day walk. From many high points there is decent cell phone reception. Most Hadza, including Onwas, have learned to speak some Swahili, in order to communicate with other groups. I was asked by a few of the younger Hadza hunters if I could give them a gun, to make it easier to harvest game. Onwas himself, though he’s scarcely ventured beyond the periphery of the bush, senses that profound changes are coming. This does not appear to bother him. Onwas, as he repeatedly told me, doesn’t worry about the future. He doesn’t worry about anything. No Hadza I met, in fact, seemed prone to worry. It was a mind-set that astounded me, for the Hadza, to my way of thinking, have very legitimate worries. Will I eat tomorrow? Will something eat me tomorrow? Yet they live a remarkably present-tense existence.

This may be one reason farming has never appealed to the Hadza—growing crops requires planning; seeds are sown now for plants that won’t be edible for months. Domestic animals must be fed and protected long before they’re ready to butcher. To a Hadza, this makes no sense. Why grow food or rear animals when it’s being done for you, naturally, in the bush? When they want berries, they walk to a berry shrub. When they desire baobab fruit, they visit a baobab tree. Honey waits for them in wild hives. And they keep their meat in the biggest storehouse in the world—their land. All that’s required is a bit of stalking and a well-shot arrow. (emphasis added)

And I remembered Jesus’ words to us in Luke 12:

22Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? 26Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

27“Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 29And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

32“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

So was Jesus recommending that we turn back the clock even then (the year ~30 CE) to become hunter-gatherers?  I don’t think so.  It may seem somewhat idyllic to us now, because we did not take stock of the unintended consequences of our modern conveniences.  But turning back to what was is impossible, first of all.  But maybe there are lessons to be learned?

So the next words from Jesus after telling us not to worry, are … but you need to worry.  That it’s a tension to be managed.  A balancing act … that going over the edge either one way or the other is not good and not what He wants from any of us.  He wants us to be watching, yet reclining, relaxed and worry-free.

35“Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, 36like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. 37It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. 38It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the second or third watch of the night. 39But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”

41Peter asked, “Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everyone?”

42The Lord answered, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? 43It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. 44I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 45But suppose the servant says to himself, ‘My master is taking a long time in coming,’ and he then begins to beat the menservants and maidservants and to eat and drink and get drunk. 46The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers.

47“That servant who knows his master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. 48But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

The Hadza

They grow no food, raise no livestock, and live without rules or calendars. They are living a hunter-gatherer existence that is little changed from 10,000 years ago. What do
they know that we’ve forgotten?

The Hadza tend to be gregarious people, and Onwas readily agreed. He said I’d be the first foreigner ever to live in his camp. He promised to send his son to a particular tree at the edge of the bush to meet me when I was scheduled to arrive, in three weeks.

Sure enough, three weeks later, when my interpreter and I arrived by Land Rover in the bush, there was Onwas’s son Ngaola waiting for us. Apparently, Onwas had noted the stages of the moon, and when he felt enough time had passed, he sent his son to the tree. I asked Ngaola if he’d waited a long time for me. “No,” he said. “Only a few days.”

Hmmm … So, I wonder what do they know that we seem to have forgotten?

Good News!!
Aug 11th, 2009 by Sonja

In his own words the Blind Beggar, Rick Meigs is going home!!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009 11:54 AM, PDT

This is Rick sending greetings! Will be going home Thursday and hope to be online more. I’m using a computer at the rehab. center and doing this with left hand, so I’ll keep this short.

Rick Meigs

Two months to the day after his near-death accident, Rick is going home.  He spent weeks in a ICU in Boise, ID.  Two more weeks in a regular ward in a Portland, OR hospital.  Then a little more than a week at nursing home center in Portland and has been in the Rehab center since August 1.

Rick, his wife Fran and sons will continue to need prayer for his continued healing.  That he will continue to be able to carry on his business and that their re-adjustment process will go well.  Most of all that they will be able to lean into the process and rest, just as if they were floating away on Aslan’s breath.

The Blind Beggar Needs Prayer
Jun 13th, 2009 by Sonja

I received urgent word via Brother Maynard this evening that Rick Meigs (aka Blind Beggar) has been critically injured in a hit and run motorcycle accident today:

I wanted to let everyone know that Rick Meigs was at a Motorcycle rally at Hell’s Canyon and was clipped by a vehicle which crossed the line and clipped him head on.  It was a hit and run.
He is in critical condition with two collapsed lungs and a ruptured spleen.  His wife Fran is in Texas and trying to get to Baker City before they fly him to Boise.

Please be praying for him and his family.

He had really been looking forward to this rally and trip to Idaho to visit friends and ride his best beloved bike.

In whatever fashion that you pray, please do so with fervor and often in the days to come.  Rick has poured his life out in prayer for others over the years and now is a good time for us to help him.

Should I Twitter?
Apr 23rd, 2009 by Sonja

That was the question posed by a friend in response to my FaceBook status this morning.

I found my reply somewhat cynical and that surprised me:

Hmmm … I don’t know.

I’m feeling more and more out of the loop even though I’m sort of in it.

It’s a weird liminal space where you’re sort of connected, but really, you’re not. It’s just people hurling information at you. Most folks are following so many people that if you try to start a conversation or ask a question, it gets lost in the flotsam.

As I sat back looking at what I wrote with the objectivity of a stranger, because I was really that surprised by myself, Hamlet’s famous soliloquy came to mind:

To be or not to be, that is the question;
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing, end them. 

And I wondered, is it really blogger suicide to not Twitter?

Many of us have joined.  Some more enthusiastically than others.  Now Twibes are forming.  Hashtags are being used for convenience.  I’ve been a tweet or a twit or whatever-you-want-to-call-it for quite some time now and have over 2,000 updates … most of them useless pieces of information about my life that really no one should care about except me.  Strange thoughts and errant conversations.  Clogging the information highway with my little automobile of me.

So, why do we do this?  Why do we want to connect on Twitter and with our FaceBook status and on Plurk and all the other social media that’s out there beckoning?  Bob Hyatt wrote a compelling piece on this matter the other day that’s worth a read about why we need to keep this all in proper balance.  But I’m wondering about the deeper magic of why?  LightHusband even came back from a defense contracting conference last week and told me that the upper level management people (i.e. in their 50’s and 60’s) were talking about how to use these sorts of platforms in the workplace to engage young people as they come into the various agencies; how to secure them, etc.   What?!?  Defense agencies want to use social media??  Surely Jesus is about to return.  😉

So what do you think?  Do you Twitter? Or FaceBook?  Why? or why not?  What do you think of the social media revolution thing?

The Price of Belonging Is Silence
Mar 10th, 2009 by Sonja

I’ve been on FaceBook for a couple of years now.  When I joined there were mostly college kids and just a few emerging church types around.  For the longest time I had about 30 or so friends.  I’d gain a friend or so here and there and then I had 50.  And then my blogging network grew and I gained some more friends.  But still it was hit or miss.

Then the floodgates opened up.  Anyone could join FaceBook.  And they have.  O Mi Goodness.  Grandmothers (as in people old enough to be my mother) are on FaceBook.  And people from my long lost past have been finding me.  And I’ve been finding them.  It’s been a grand adventure.  Some particular joys have been finding friends from college.  I’ve been to a couple of high school reunions and I do hear news of those friends from home from time to time.  But college friends?  Well, when I left college, I was done.  In the words of Jesus, I wiped the dust off my feet and got out of town.   I thought I didn’t care if I never heard from anyone ever again.  But it turned out that I did.

Now I have.  Several in fact.  And I’ve been having a ball exchanging news of families and children and lives.  Not all is great news, of course, but it’s catching up with one another.  So that is good.  I may indeed have the courage to go to our 30th reunion in four years ;-).  Who knows, through the wonders of FaceBook, alot of colleges may see a ressurgence in reunion attendance.  That would be an interesting statistic to look at.

One thing I’ve noticed on many of my old/new friend’s profiles is attendance or notation of their 30th highschool reunions this year.  And realized … hah!  Mine should be as well.  Not that it will be, because our class (rather than an alumnae association) is in charge of such things and we’re notoriously unorganized and under-unified.  The class before us and after us … hyper-together.  Us?  Not so much.

In any case, it’s got me thinking about highschool too.  I don’t remember terribly much about highschool.   Most of you wouldn’t recognize my highschool experience.  I went to highschool in the mid to late 70’s at a school which was designed to be both experimental and experiential.  By the late 80’s it had morphed to a more traditional format, but when I was there it was fairly cutting edge in terms of educational theory.

When we didn’t have a class scheduled, we had free time and could do anything we wanted to do.  Literally, anything as long as we did not disturb another class that was in session.  We called our teachers by their first names (with only one or two exceptions).  We had a smoking lounge for kids who smoked.  We had a regular lounge to just hang out in when we had free time.  We could hang out in the library.  Or the science lab.  Or the art workshop.  Or with a teacher.  Or outside on the lawn if it was a nice day.

We had great class selections too.  Not your standard English classes … I remember a great class in science fiction one semester, another class in movie-making.  One year for science I took a hands on earth science class wherein we disproved the standing Vermont Geological Survey’s theory on the direction that the last glacier had taken through the state.  Our class’s Adamant Pebble Campaign was written up and published in Vermont Geological History.  That happened when I was in ninth grade.

All of it sounds fairly idyllic.  And some of the time it was.  For many of the students it was as well.  However, for many of my years in highschool my father was chairman of the schoolboard.  For all of my years there, he was on the schoolboard.  I love my dad.  I think my dad is pretty wonderful.  But those years were hell.  Because my dad is a stickler for fiscal responsibility and is financially extremely conservative.  The mid to late 70s were not years when any local community had a spare sou to rub together.  So he was probably a great person to have in charge of the school’s budget during those years.  But not if you asked the teachers.  Add to that the fact that he was a reformed smoker and he took the teachers smoking lounge away from them.  Many of the teachers were mature enough to be able to separate me, the student, from my father, the schoolboard chairman.  But there were many who could not, including a few who I had once been close to.

I don’t remember talking to my parents about it.  But I do remember wishing that my father would just shut up.  I could not figure out what drove him.  Why did he have to make such a stink?  Why couldn’t he just let it be?  Let the teachers have their stupid smoking lounge?  Let the budget go?  Didn’t he know how hard it was … how the teachers were talking (and falling silent when I came by) and looking?  Even the bus drivers looked sideways at me sometimes.  I think I might have asked my mom once or twice and she tried to explain.  But I couldn’t verbalize what was going on at school, and as I look back on it now, I’m not sure it was really that important.

Or was it?

I learned something really important from those teachers during those years.  It had nothing to do with readin’ ‘ritin’ or ‘rithmatic.  Those years were my first brutal lesson that the price of belonging is silence.

I’ve had to learn it over and over again since then, to be sure.  Most people prefer the status quo.  They want the easy road, the way things are or the way things have “always been done,” to change.  They prefer the wizard in the back pulling levers and their green spectacles, to having a full spectrum of color on their own.  When you point out the wizard … you will be expelled, you may be sure.

I’ve learned with my father that sometimes you have to speak.  You can’t not speak.  The price of belonging may be silence.  But, sometimes, that price is too high.

“I Was Afraid Of My Big Fat Butt”
Jan 15th, 2009 by Sonja

“Well … I was!”  That’s what BlazingEwe said to me yesterday as she tried on my dress.  “I didn’t think my butt would fit in that dress.”

“I knew it would.” I assured her.  As is usual for us, we were sharing clothes in a fashion emergency.

What could possibly be a fashion emergency for two 40+ suburban moms with not too much on our minds?

I’ll tell you what.

Last minute tickets to an inaugural ball … that’s what.

BossManDan gave LightHusband his four tickets to the Texas State Society Black Tie and Boots Inaugural Ball.  As a lifelong Republican, he would not be very interested in celebrating the inauguration this year.  But he knew we would be, so he gave the tickets to us.  Yippee!  He’s a very good friend.

It’s a fashion emergency because neither of BlazingEwe nor I have ever been to a black tie affair.   Never anticipated it either.  So neither of us happen to have a ball gown hanging in our closets.  We also happen to have a certain zaftig, curvy … full-blown figure.  Hers is more hour-glass or pear-shaped.  I’m more of the apple variety.  Together, we make a nice fruit salad with our nutty husbands.

Generally speaking, we’re not so happy about this state of affairs.  But we’re not so unhappy that we’d actually do anything more than complain to each other about it.  Most days we can find clothes that we like and feel beautiful in.  This day was not that day.  Just try finding ball gowns for a certain zaftig figure …

They make polyester, shiny flour sacks and put a few baubles on them.  And charge about $200 for them.  To make you look fatter than you already are.  Don’t even fool yourself that anyone will make a silk gown in that certain size.  What kind of fool are you to think you can be zaftig AND beautiful AND dress in silk?

Being beautiful is only for thin folks.  As the saying goes … you can never be too rich or too thin.

But I tend to be stubborn and willful and have this insane desire to tilt at windmills.  Reading Don Quixote in Spanish in 11th grade didn’t help.  So I decided to make my dress.  And I am.  I found some gorgeous emerald green dupioni and a beautiful matching print silk organza.  I might even have time to make LightHusband a matching green bowtie to wear with his tuxedo.

But what would BlazingEwe wear?  Then I remembered the dress I’d bought for the company Christmas party and never worn (because it was too much and my back was in full spasm by then).  It had shown up on the “evening gown” page of the on-line store where I’d purchased it.  But it was not evening gown material for me … I’m too tall and it would not be long enough.  BlazingEwe though?  She tried it on and sure enough.  It fit.

I’m thinking though about this dearth of beautiful clothing made from natural fibers for larger women.  It might be a windmill worth tilting at.

Missional Tribe – Coming Out
Jan 6th, 2009 by Sonja

Missional Tribe LogoMissional Tribe – Not Just Another Use of the Word “Missional”

Do a Google search on the word “missional” and you’ll get 1,200,000 hits. Search “missional” at Amazon and 1,238 missional products appear before your very eyes. It’s the Western Church word of the moment. The key to all that ails the church. The promise of a bright future – beginning with a boldtomorrow. That is, if we only knew what it meant.

This recent quote from a church website accurately demonstrates “missional” confusion.

We have made a commitment to being a Missional Church, reaching into the community and inviting people to come and experience what we are doing. We should have “standing room only” Services every Sunday. There should be a buzz in the Community about [church name removed] and all the wonderful activities available for most people’s needs and wishes.

Well, not so much.

Last June (2008), in response to this kind of confusion, Friend of Missional’s Rick Meigs challenged the blogosphere to respond to the question,

“What is Missional?”

“I have a continuing concern that the term missional has become over used and wrongly used.

“I think it is time to make a bigger effort to reclaim the term, a term which describe what happens when you and I replace the “come to us” invitations with a “go to them” life. A life where “the way of Jesus” informs and radically transforms our existence to one wholly focused on sacrificially living for him and others and where we adopt a missionary stance in relation to our culture. It speaks of the very nature of the Jesus follower.

“To help reclaim it, I propose a synchronized blog for Monday, June 23rd on the topic, ‘What is Missional?’”

50 bloggers responded with their understanding of the word – and a lot more conversation was generated both in real life and on the web. Brother Maynard did a great summary of the missional excitement. There was a sense of accomplishment – the 50 people and the hundreds of commentors had refocused the word missional.

But then each blogger wrote other posts – dislodging their Synchroblog posts from the lead position. Soon these posts disappeared from the front pages of 50 blogs – only accessible if one knew exactly what you were looking for. The sense of accomplishment was ephemeral.

A few of us who had met face-to-face at the Allelon Missional Order event in Seabeck, WA in October, 2007, talked about the best way to keep those posts and ideas evergreen. We’d also been part of the Wikiklesia Project: Voices of the Virtual World. Perhaps a book would be effective. By the fall, seven of us were in ongoing conversation around how best to serve the”missional” mission – Sonja Andrews, Peggy Brown, Kingdom Grace, Bill Kinnon, Brother Maynard, Rick Meigs, and Brad Sargent.

Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody and Seth Godin’s Tribes helped to inform our discussions.  Missional Tribe’s first iteration was as a Wiki. Then the mini “blogstorm” around Out of Ur’s Dan Kimball Missional results post convinced us that what the conversation needed was a place to discuss, share stories, watch videos, ask questions, and grow together. Where all of this can easily be tagged and indexed for rapid access in the future. The Missional Tribe social network was born (

Less than two months after the decision to launch a social network, the beta of the Missional Tribe site launches today – Epiphany, on the church calendar. We would like you to join us in being a part of this non-hierarchical network.

From simply reading and commenting on posts and in the Forums, to creating your own Missional Tribe blog or posting a video – Missional Tribe is a place to track and expand the missional conversation – as we follow the Lord back into the neighborhoods where he has strategically placed each one of us.

To become involved, please join Missional Tribe at .
Want more information? Contact info at missionaltribe dot org .

Jan 4th, 2009 by Sonja

We’ve had a special guest visiting here at the LightHouse the past few weeks.  She has been a very good guest and has made no intrusions in our routines.  She hasn’t asked anything particularly difficult of us.  She’s very bright and inquisitive and, importantly, gets along well with Sam and Monty.  Her name is Sally and we are really loving her.

Sally and me - Christmas day

We’re taking care of her for a friend while he visits his parents until early next week.  She’s going to leave a hole in our hearts when she’s gone back home.

Sally being cuteIt has been amusing watching all the pets get used to one another.  Sam has had the worst time of it.  You see he has no concept of his actual size and does not understand why she gets to *be* a lap dog and he does not.  After all, to his pea-sized brain, he’s earned it.  She’s done nothing but waltz in here, jump onto the sofa and look cute.  What’s up with that?

We had a really funny moment on Christmas morning.  Both Sally and Sam had been given rawhide bones to chew on as a special treat.  Sam took to his right away and went through about half of it before losing interest in it because he wanted to go outside for a while.  Sally then took over.  Well, not exactly.  She came to the bone.  Sniffed it.  Realized it was too big for her and promptly decided to stand guard over it.  None of which the humans were aware of.  We did know, however, that Sam had left the bone in the midst of the walkway from the door at the back deck to the eating area in the kitchen.  Pretty soon, Monty (the cat) came in through the door and nonchalantly made his way toward the eating area.  He was on a mission to his food dish in the laundry room.  He was also unaware of the bone.  As most of us know, rawhide bones are beneath the notice of any self-respecting cat.  Sally had not received that memo.  Everyone in the room was startled by the sudden eruption of snarling, barking and growling that Monty received as he attempted to walk past the (non-existent to him) bone.  No one was more surprised than the cat.  Sally was very pleased with herself and promptly came to me, wagging her tail and smiling, proud of a guard job well done.

Monty spent an hour in the livingroom wondering just what had happened to him.

It was hilarious to watch.  And there was absolutely nothing we could have done to change it.  There was no explaining to any of the animals how they didn’t need to worry about each other.  It’s just been something they have to learn.

I’ve been thinking about that incident quite a bit lately.  It was funny to be sure.  Remembering the look on Monty’s face has elicited a laugh on more than one occasion.  But I’ve also been wondering about it a lot too.  I’ve been thinking about all the times that we humans do the same thing that Sally did.  How many times do we do that?  Do we lash out, snarl, bark and growl to protect something that was never being threatened in the first place?  We think someone walking by our *stuff* is out to get it so we lash out at them, but the reality is they’re on their way to the food bowl in the other room.  Then we’re pretty happy with how well we’ve protected our *stuff* (whatever that stuff might be) so we turn to our communities with our metaphorical tails wagging and we go to them seeking approval.  But for no earthly reason we just sent someone into the livingroom wondering what the h*ll happened and why.

I guess doing that makes us human.

Then I look at Sam and his insatiable desire to be noticed, loved on and sit on my lap.  This would not be a bad thing except for the fact that Sam weighs almost 90 pounds and has a lot of fur.  A lot.  He’s a golden retriever.  They are known for many wonderful qualities … being a lap dog is not one of them.  Poor Sam.  He just cannot reconcile how Sally gets to waltz through the door and onto our laps.  She gets to sit there, cuddle up and sleep.  He has to take his daily 10 hour nap on the floor.  And wonders why he’s been a bad dog.  Or what Sally has done to merit such undeserved favor.

You’d think from Sam’s attitude and behavior this week that no one has noticed him since Sally came to town.  That he never gets fed, loved, petted or anything.  However, just the reverse has been true.  We’ve spent more time with him in an effort to overcome his feelings of inadequacy.  And we’ve played with both dogs together.  Now that is an interesting sight … playing with a 90 pound dog and a 25 pound dog together.  But they get along famously and do well side by side.

How often do we do that?  We humans do this all the time.  We carve out little kingdoms for ourselves … tiny areas of carpet and declare them ours.  Then someone else waltzes in and does it better.  Hops up and gets all the applause.  I remember the first time I recognized it in myself.  I’d learned how to cook and bake when I was quite young and by the time I was a teen made all the desserts in my family.  Then my younger brother came along and learned how to bake bread from scratch.  At first, I was so jealous and annoyed with his ability that I could not even enjoy his bread.  It only took two or three batches and I overcame that tendency.  I mean … who can withstand freshly baked bread!!  And he has the knack for it.  I’ve never been able to quite get it with the yeast.  So … I do a lot of other things well (like cake :-) ), but bread has escaped me.  Big deal.

What about in church?  How many times are there people who have a place they’ve made for themselves and believe it to be “God ordained” … then a Sally waltzes in, hops up on the sofa and they’re left sleeping on the floor.    How can that be?  Their place, their kingdom … it was God ordained, no one else can have it.  Certainly not that Sally-come-lately.  She must have some nefarious purpose.  He must be up to something evil.  Whoever they are, that Sally-come-lately, they are out to get Sam.  They want to knock Sam off his standing in his community.  That’s what they’re up to … make him/her lose their status, standing or favor.

Here’s the thing … Sam was never wired to hop up on the sofa and he doesn’t see that she does sleep on the floor sometimes.  He also doesn’t see that Sally adores him.  Or that the whole family doesn’t care that he can’t get on the sofa (in fact, we prefer that he doesn’t).  We love Sam for being Sam and there are things he can do that Sally cannot (like run and catch a ball).  We love Sally for her traits.  And despite the fact that Monty wakes us up in the middle of the night more consistently than our children ever did, we love him too. I think it has something to do with his really loud purr.  But we never expect Monty to act like Sam, or Sam to act like Monty or Sally to act like any of them.  We respond to each of them individually and love them each individually.

Admittedly, Sam and Sally and Monty are pets and rather simple to parse out.  A church is made up of people; a much more complex behavioral system and far more difficult to work our way through. I think, though, the principles are the same.  Sam and Sally and Monty can be symbolic of both individuals and groups within a larger group.  Some are lap dogs, others are retrievers, and still others are cats.  Some people are oblivious to that bone  and/or area of carpet you’re so zealously guarding.  When you growl, snarl and bark at them, they are going to retreat in horror and wonder what the h*ll happened.  Sometimes it will take them years to nurse their wounds … especially if you add a parfait of deceit, gossip, emotional bullying, and condemnation to their head as they leave.  Some people are wondering why it looks so easy for the Sally-come-lately and others don’t know she was once an abandoned dog with problems of her own.

The thing is the church, however you want to define that sacred space or community of faith, is supposed to be different.  Jesus gave us a beautiful description of what we’re supposed to look like in the book of John.  He said, “… you’ll be known by your love.”  Further on in his first letter to the church at Corinth, Paul gave us a description of love that has withstood the test of time:

 1If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (italics are mine for emphasis)

I think this is a description of God’s economy.  The economy we were created to enjoy.  The one in which there is enough for everyone.  Enough love, enough money, enough time … enough.  That economy where greed, and pride and envy do not rip and tear at us every day.  Unfortunately, the economy we live in is limited and finite, rather than infinite.  We forget that we have access to the infinite, especially to the infinite love that God has made available to us.  And church, that sacred space, that community of faith becomes just like any other group of humans.  Mean.  Nasty.  Brutish.  And short.  To (mis)quote Thomas Hobbes.  We lose our grip on the Divine and hang on to the corporeal plane with our fingernails.

We bark and snarl and snap at people who are oblivious to our rawhide bones or other preciously guarded objects.  We are jealous of others’ talents or abilities as they waltz through the door and seemingly into the spotlight.  We cause wounds on the souls of others that may take a lifetime to heal in response to them just being.  This is not the church that Jesus called us to.  This is not love.  This is humans being human rather than humans in constant contact with the Divine.

As I face 2009 and am now nearly two years away from my CLB, I’ve come to realize a number of things.

I am unforgiven.  When I left my CLB, the most hurtful thing that was said and done was to tell me that I could not be forgiven for obliviously walking past the rawhide bone.  I tried apologizing, but since I didn’t know what I’d done (and, um, walking through the room isn’t wrong in the first place), my apology was not very well done.  And, you guessed it, I walked through the room again, so I was deemed unrepentant as well.

It has taken me nearly two years, the help of some wonderful friends and a really good counselor, but I’m finally at the place where I’m strong enough to say that being unforgiven is not my problem.  My state of condemnation is not my doing and it’s not my undoing.  It is not my responsibility.   Eventually, I will also be free from the guilt and harm that came with it.

Doing these things, participating in these things, having these feelings … those things do not make one evil.  Those are all human qualities.  However, when one wallows in them and fails to allow Jesus to pull them out of that muck; preaching one thing on Sunday morning (for instance, a passage from James about only thinking the best of each other) then using your position as leader in the church during the following week to spread lies, slander and gossip … in the church this is known as evil behavior, in the secular world it is known as bullying behavior.  Using your position as leader to triangulate and create divisions … that is evil.  Using your position to attempt to create division within my 19+ year marriage by telling my husband in meetings, “I know this is going to be hard for you to hear, but you don’t really know her …” bullying, evil behavior.

For nearly two years now I believed there was some grain of truth to the lies and the slander.  They did untold damage to me, to my relationship with my husband, my relationship with my children, they wounded my husband and my children as well.  They wounded my best friends and my relationships with them.  It is doubtful that our family will ever darken the door of a church again.  The wounds have caused my children to turn their backs on their budding faith; they no longer want anything to do with the things of God, nor want Him spoken of in their presence.  The poison is bitter.  But I’ve come to the place where I know that initially I did nothing wrong.  I did not respond well to attack and I am gravely sorry for my part in defending myself.  But walking through the room on my way to the food dish is nothing to be sorry for, nor is being able to jump up on the sofa when others are not.

I have to say that I am glad 2008 is over.  It was not nearly as bad or hopeless as 2007, but it came close.  I’m looking forward to 2009.  I’m looking forward because I’m ready now to turn around and look ahead.  I’m ready now to let this all go; it is finished.  Will I continue to grieve?  You bet.  But I think the worst is over now.  I’m slowly (re)learning what it’s like to be in communitas again.  Really be in community with people who listen.  It’s an amazing experience and a true gift from my Papa who continues to love me.

Comments are closed on this post.  People who have earned the right to speak into my life know how to contact me.

The Cat Is Climbing Out of the Bag
Jan 2nd, 2009 by Sonja

Cat Almost Out Of Bag - MTIf you’ve been reading me during the last couple of weeks, I’ve alluded to something being up.  That I’ve been busy with a big project.  It’s really big.  It’s a tribe.  Missional Tribe.

And the cat is climbing out of the bag.  Bill (Kinnon) has been writing about it.  Rick (Blind Beggar) Meigs has been writing about it.  Peggy (Virtual Abbess) Brown has been writing about it.  The rest of my fellow Instigators (Brother Maynard, Kingdom Grace, and Brad -FuturistGuy- Saargent) have been more demure.

Our beta test period is almost done.  Our virtual space is going live on Epiphany.  January 6.  Be looking for Missional Tribe then.

Missional Tribe is a social networking space with a purpose.  As Rick wrote:

It is a space for “… those involved in any aspect of the missional movement can gather for virtual communitas, will launch. It is a space where story and praxis is given emphasis over the theoretical and conceptual. It is a kinship of diverse people who practice “the way of Jesus,” a way that informs and radically transforms their very being. It is a place where the great conversations around the missional paradigm can be brought together so they are evergreen and accessible.”

So … be looking for more information here early next week.  I’ll be posting more about it then.

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