Community Posts

Into the Wild

I just read this book by Jon Krakauer and I found it absolutely fascinating. It is soon to be made into a movie so I’d read it before then if you have the chance.

It tells the story of a guy named Chris McCandless whose body is found dead in an abandoned bus in a remote part of Alaska (I’m not giving anything away here, it says this on the cover of the book.) It is the story of the last few years of his life as he hitchhikes across the US and Mexico and eventually into Alaska. What is so great about the book is that it’s a collection of people’s first hand experiences with him, exerpts from his own diary, and quotes from books that he highlighted that were found with his body. It speaks volumes into the idea of adventure and community, or lack thereof.

I don’t agree with his stance on everything, but I’ve learned a lot of insights from his perspective. Here is part of a letter that he wrote to someone:

“So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiaitive to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.”

Pour Your Heart Into It

My wife and I have had an ongoing irony in our marriage from day one. She has a passion for coffee and loves Starbucks and has even worked at at least three different stores in two states. But I never really “acquired the taste.” This has been much to the frustration of my wife and many others. Still, I have sat on the sidelines intrigued by the success of Starbucks even though it was never my thing. Recently, I read a book by Howard Shultz, CEO and Chairman of Starbucks, called Pour Your Heart Into It. It has changed my tune.

Like many other critics of Starbucks I always viewed it as a viral infection taking over the world one store at a time. Every time I sneezed I looked up to see another store even closer to me than before. But after reading Shultz’s book I realize that many people don’t know the true Starbucks story or just how great a leader Howard Shultz really is. The book tells all about the many oppositions that he has faced in the life of the company. The thing that stood out to me the most was just how passionate he was for what he was doing. And I started to reflect on what this would look like in the church. For example, read a few of these exerpts and then apply the thinking to church.

“I had never heard anyone talk about the product the way Jerry talked about coffee. He wasn’t calculating how to maximize sales, he was providing people with something he believed they ought to enjoy. It was an approach to business, and to selling, that was as fresh and novel to me as the Starbucks coffee we were drinking.”

“What we proposed to do at [Starbucks], I told them, was to reinvent a commodity. We would take something old and tired and common–coffee–and weave a sense of romance and community around it. We would rediscover the mystique and charm that had swirled around coffee throughout the centuries.”

The last passage is especially intriguing to me. Imagine reading something like this about the church. “We will take something old and tired and common–the local church–and weave a sense of romance and community around it. We will rediscover the mystique and charm that has swirled around the church throughout the centuries.” It sounds like the church in Acts 2. I wish half of the Christians today had the same amount of passion for seeing people meet Jesus and experience Him in community that Starbucks has for something as trivial and fleeting as coffee. Keep it brewing Howard.

N.T. Wright on the Church

In his book Simply Christian, N.T. Wright spends a chapter discussing the church as it should be. I think he hits on some very true insights especially with the wave of people today who believe that social justice replaces the ministry of the church and that house churches are the extent of Christian fellowship and community that we need.

“…it is as impossible, unnecessary, and undesirable to be a Christian all by yourself as it is to be a newborn baby all by yourself. The church is first and foremeost a community, a collection of people who belong to one another because they belong to God, the God we know in and through Jesus. (210)”

“But ideally every Christian should belong to a group that is small enough for individuals to get to know and care for each other, and particulalry to pray in meaningful depth for one another, and also to a fellowship large enough to contain a wide variety in its membership, styles of worship, and kingdom-activity. The smaller the local community, the more important it is to be powerfully linked to a larger unit. The larger the regular gathering…the more important it is for each member to belong also to a smaller group. (212)”

Vanity on the Rise

A recent study has found that today’s college students are more narcissistic (characteristic of those having an inflated idea of their own importance) than previous generations. They attribute it to things like MySpace and YouTube.

It raises an interesting thought. Does our current cultural love of things like personal web sites (MySpace), shows about our peers and possibly us (reality tv), and websites where we can be famous for our own home videos (YouTube) foster an attitude of narcissism? Even as you read this you are reading off of my personal blog webpage! Maybe we are just fully tapping into the “American Dream,” the idea that anyone can make it big if they work at it enough. Or maybe we are heading a direction that few of us realize.

With technology always on the rise I fear that we may become more about ourselves and less about true community. Many people thought that technology would bring us together but it seems to be doing the opposite. How do we have an attitude like that of Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:3-5) and humbly put others before ourselves when it gets easier and easier to focus on us? Take it even further…why waste time with other people when we can be truly self sufficient? I believe that the Church (as it should be, not necessarily how it currently is) has to be on the forefront of helping people get back into true community with one another and with our Creator. Then maybe people would realize the value of fellowship again and see the beauty of God’s creation coming together in all of its diversity.