Jellybean Highfive stood in front of the back of a room, his back to the front of the wall. Directionally near to him sat a youth pastor on a stool.
“It’s going to be epic,” the youth pastor said, raising his eyebrows, which were thin and trimmed and raised.
“Really?” Jellybean asked interrogatively.
“Fo’ sho’ bro,” he said, grinning sideways and scrunching up his eyes beneath a wide-brimmed hat featuring a baseball logo of a baseball team called the Yankees.
I think this little video, from the theme to the art, is a neat fit for the vision of The Rabbit Room community. I especially appreciated Susan Cain’s point regarding a cultural shift towards overvaluing people gifted as dynamic, entertaining, charismatic personalities (celebrity pastors, anyone?) and undervaluing quieter people with humbler vocations.
“As we shifted from an agricultural economy to a corporate one, we started to admire people who could be magnetic and charismatic, because these were the qualities that seemed to matter for job interviews and things like that. And so in the earlier agricultural economy, our self-help books used to have titles like Character: The Grandest Thing in the World, but then the self-help books later on became the ones we know today, like Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, and those were all about teaching us to be more entertaining, more dynamic.” –Susan Cain
The video’s encouragement seems consistent with the Christian vision of diversity and unity in the Body of Christ which Paul shares with us in 1 Corinthians 12 (quoted below). We are not all the same, but are called to a complementary expression of community life. In our homes this is daily worked out in miniature (people). So, let’s love our little introverts (and extroverts, too) and scheme about how to help them live in the world God made, as he made it, with the gifts he has given them.
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
(1 Corinthians 12:12-27 ESV)
Originally Posted at Story Warren
Featured image courtesy of Rebecca Smith Photography
Jellybean Highfive sent a servant down to the auction hall to do his bidding. Well, Trevor couldn’t be classified as a servant per se. Jellybean thought of him more as a slave. Servants got paid after all and Trevor was not going to get paid. He had handed Trevor one-hundred American dollars in cash money to take down the street to Action Auction Hall and directed Trevor to bet on the portrait of Fredrick the Great Dane when the dog portrait section of Action Auction’s Active Auction Extravaganza was in process. Trevor, never one to want to stand still for more than a few minutes, took the money and ran. He ran like a running runner with cash and running on the soles of his feet like running shoes in the wind. Like a shooting star of golden glittering sun bombs of light.
Jellybean wondered if he’d ever see that money again. He hoped not, because he hoped it would be spent on a portrait of a dog named Fredrick the Great Dane, or, if he was unavailable or overpriced, one of Duke Hamlet, the greatest of all the Great Danes ever to live in the great nation of Daneland. Jellybean assumed this land of dogs was fictional, but he wasn’t sure. He thought it might be near Denmark, but his globe sat unused on his desk like a now-used thing which has time-travelled forward from the past.
Last year I read lots of books. I actually listened to most of them, as has become my habit. It’s been a good habit and it’s led to a certain set of skills. For instance, I can both stay awake at the wheel to audiobooks and fall asleep at night to them. Amazing, I know. I’m like the Dos Equis man of audiobooks.
I read lots of fiction, a little poetry, and of course in and on the Bible and theology. Then there’s history. I got on a Napoleon Bonaparte kick, spurred on by my shocking and profound ignorance, and gobbled up several on the man and his era. I read a few on the American founding and a few more on history of the Kings and Queens of England and surrounding nations. I love that stuff and keep reading more and more each year.
But this is the inevitable thing. After reading several history books last year, I’m more convinced than ever that I know nothing and should probably never open my mouth again. I’m also more informed than ever. How is this happening? I know, I know. “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” Thank you, Socrates. By the way, I loved you in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.
An old man kneels by a fire, telling imaginative tales to eager children. They hang on his every word, transported from their world to another. Their world is beautiful, but broken. He speaks into their hearts words that string together to form new worlds, anticipating the one which will surely come. These are the seeds of the unseen world.
N.T. Wright, in a lecture on the impact of the Resurrection of Jesus, has said this:
“Art is love creating new worlds; justice is love rolling up its sleeves to heal the old one.”
This is the hope of the artist with holy imagination. To work, and by her work, to serve. To plant a seed that may, in time, grow into a new world. A world that reflects, with eager anticipation, the bursting resurrection of the life to come.
Is our art truthful? I don’t mean ‘Is it a vehicle to carry truthful sayings?’ But is it truthful? J.R.R. Tolkien famously described The Lord of the Rings as a true story. But how can it be true? It didn’t really happen. Tolkien argued that it need not have happened to be true. The parable of the prodigal son almost certainly didn’t happen, but it is nonetheless true. Penetrating and true.
Every year we transition from Thanksgiving to Advent, a strange segue in many ways. But there’s at least one thread that passes through these very different celebrations.
The Pilgrims left the Old World, hoping to find in the New World a place where they could worship in liberty. A place to be with God. They did and did not find it. Since the first century, Christians here and everywhere have been living in the tension of having, and waiting to have, the New World.
Come, Lord Jesus.
Advent is a period of focusing on the longing we feel for the true New World, when the dwelling place of God will be with man and each man will sit beneath his tree and we will be home again on earth. New Earth. We long for that New World, the new heavens and new earth, completed recreation in and by the Second Adam. He was conceived as a man as the Holy Spirit hovered over the formless void of the virgin Mary’s womb. So began the New World. He arrived and nothing has been precisely the same since. Glory to God, the King has come.
A Few Thoughts About Thoughts To Make Your Heart Sing That Might Cause Hearty Singing in Your Thoughts
It delights me to think that my daughter will be spending time with her attention focused on Sally Lloyd-Jones’ new book, Thoughts To Make Your Heart Sing. Why? I’ll tell you why. I’m getting ready to tell you why in just a minute. First, there needs to be a dramatic barrier to overcome. Sally Lloyd-Jones has been impacting my family through her wonderful writing for quite a while now. We are big fans. But I was not so sure at first.
I was skeptical about The Jesus Storybook Bible before I read it, even after hearing that so many people I respected were using and loving it. My skepticism had two branches, like a double-branched tree (which isn’t that many, really). One concern was that I had seen so many Children’s Bible storybooks distort, or even dramatically subvert, the primary messages of the Bible. I’ve seen kids trained into deeper and deeper self-reliance and moralism, believing that if they would just, “be brave like Daniel,” or “fight the giants in their life like David,” or (horribly) “not lie and deceive like Jacob,” then they will be heroes of the faith. This trains kids to embrace a “do, do, do, so” religion, when Christianity is a “done” religion. The work is done by Christ, who is the climax of the Bible, the hero of the story, and the happy, holy center of all this Book has for the people of God. Most “Children’s Bibles” I had seen did more than fail our side on this crucial front, they actually seemed to me to fight for the other side. No!
I sat in my seat like a sitting sitter. I was preparing to watch TV with my eyes. So far, so good. On the TV? The GOP Convention, live from Tampa. Ha ha. Time for scorn. I’m so scornful I even feel scorn towards uber-scornful “above-it-alls” like Jon Stewart. That’s really, really scornful. I was prepared to let my superiority drip off my nose and mingle with my potion of negativity and cynicism. They make that drink, yes. I was sure all the speeches would be dull, insincere, pandering designed to trick independents, and to inspire the brain-dead bought-ins with shallow sloganeering for the sycophantic. In short, I was prepared to judge like a majorly judging judger.
Then I saw on Facebook that a friend of mine was one of the people writing the speeches for the convention. Uh oh. I thought about this friend, her face recalled in memory. She’s smart, sincere, sensitive. She cares about the work she does. She believes in doing what’s right, has a passion for her nation. She isn’t a brainless party hack. I’ve heard her thoughtfully disagree with her party’s decisions, or representatives. She’s a nuanced thinker, a clever, kind person working to make things better in America. She’s someone who has encouraged me many times, valued my own comparably unimpressive work, bucked me up with bracing words. Also, she’s a sister in Christ.
My plan was falling apart.
Clay Clarkson will always have a place in Rabbit Room lore. ‘Twas he who provided the world with that puzzling, but perfect name for the Rabbit Room’s annual conference/gathering: Hutchmoot. He is more than just a namer of things, he is a shaper of lives and a wise guide for the path of whole-hearted parenting.
Clay’s book (written with his wife, Sally), Educating the WholeHearted Child, is truly wonderful. Reading it was a joy and a relief. Finally, a book on home-education I can…wait for it…whole-heartedly recommend. Seriously, this book means a lot to me, because it hits just about every button. It is enjoyable and well written. It is graceful in tone and message (and this is fundamental to its charm and power). It is not only full of grace, but is also truth-saturated. It’s faithful to Scripture. It is well layed-out and profoundly helpful. It is simply a brilliantly constructed book, a treasure for parents of any variety, most especially those who are considering, or are engaged in, home education.
Clay was kind enough to answer a few questions and reveal at least one more of his famously coined words. –Sam
1. You have spent many years working to serve families. What is the core of the message you love to share with families? What would you say, “Miss everything else, but don’t miss this!” about?
My son scampered around the graveyard, having to be reminded not to be too rambunctious. I asked him to stop playing on the gravestone pictured below and got his happy, “Sure, Daddy.” I commented that I loved the shape of the marker, and he agreed. “Look at this spaceship, Daddy. I think it’s pointing to God.”
But this wasn’t the grave we came to see.
I have seen a few famous grave sites in my 35 years, but none of the graves I’ve seen in Arlington, Lexington, New York, London, or Durban quite measure up in importance to this one in Galax, Virginia. Lillie Cooley is not famous outside our family, but inside our family? She’s a central character in our story, an unrivaled heroine.