Cosmos from Chaos

At the encouragement of a mentor friend, I am reading two selected works this summer that discuss the intersection of being a Christian and an artist. I would say that the selections were hand-picked by the Spirit, because neither were recommended, but both have already invited me into an important conversation that has been latent in my life. The two books are Creative Call, by Janice Elsheimer and Walking on Water, by Madeleine L'Engle.

I am just wading into these books, but these authors have already served me by helping me slow down and remember to just be.

We are fools if we continually rush around in a flurry of hurriedness or even do nothing with a gravity of guilt or slothfulness. I am given to both and I need the encouragement of these writers - who are channels of the Spirit's voice to my spirit - to help me remember that in being we can listen, we can remember, we can heal, we can receive from our heavenly Father whose "greatness no man can fathom."

In being, I can perhaps be still long enough to hear the call to become like a child and in that becoming, to be filled with a rush of wonder, imagination, emotion, creativity, simplicity and worship. Perhaps, then, I can grow eyes to see the world about me as my Lord sees it. Rather than continually looking through things with cynical eyes, leaving me in a vacuum of loneliness, pride and despair, I can receive new eyes, trained to see the unseen - "the impossible, but probable." That is when creation happens, as a human participating with the divine, forming "cosmos from chaos" with contours of Beauty and tones of Truth.

Quote of the Weekend

While walking along the country road near my folks' house, I notice the usual array of beer cans strewn by the road side. Mom says in response,

"Yeah, I can tell the economy is better. I used to see mostly Keystone. Now I'm seeing more Miller Lite and Bud Light."

Leading with a Limp

Coming off the coattails of Chesterton's book that draws attention to paradox, I am fittingly now reading Leading with a Limp, by Dan B. Allender.  Our staff team is reading it simultaneously this summer, in hopes that we can review and discuss the themes during our leadership retreat in early August.

Drawing on years of experience, particularly from his journey in starting, building and leading Mars Hill Graduate School, Allender has collected his failures, wisdom and encouragements in this accessible and helpful book for leaders of any context.

Allender writes without pretense and accelerates the reader quickly to the foundational leadership principles that he writes from. I'm just a few chapters in, and these are a summary of the principles he expounds on:

  • Leadership is not glamorous; it will be the battle of your life.
  • If you have someone following you or you are influencing even one person - you are a leader.
  • It's not your great strengths that will serve you, but rather leading honestly with your weaknesses.
  • God wants reluctant, broken, failure-riddled leaders.

For those who are familiar with the Jacob narrative, you might guess where the title of Allender's book comes from. Jacob wrestled with the presence of God and was both given a new name, pregnant with promise and covenant, but also he was wounded in his hip and received with a limp. That limp was a constant reminder of his own weakness, but more importantly a reminder of the strength and character of God that he so desperately needed.

Well, that was a brief introduction. I hope to bring some personal reflections and questions to the table soon enough.

The Man Who Was Thursday

I recently read my first work by the highly acclaimed British author, G.K. Chesterton. I've been anticipating a chance to get acquainted with Chesterton for some time and this first book, The Man Who Was Thursday, did not disappoint.

The pace with which Chesterton advances the story is addictive, and his writing style is imaginative, vivid, entertaining and smart. I really enjoyed how he exposes mystery and paradox as the unavoidable and alluring truths of our existence. Each of us is a barrel of paradoxes, floating in the currents of a paradoxical existence. There is more mystery in and around us than we care to admit, and though we like to see mysteries revealed, the unveiling is often unsatisfying at worst or a Pandora's box of new mysteries at best.

The main character, Syme, could not conquer mystery or paradox, but rather got very friendly with both. As the story unravels, you feel as though you are Alice tubmling down the rabbit hole into a world that you don't really understand. The story ends with more questions than it began with. That type of story doesn't translate into a summer blockbuster on the big screen.

I enjoyed this book on many accounts, but among those reasons, I found myself contemplating the extent to which a man would stretch himself to abide by his own word. What will force our hand?

I also enjoyed the fictional primer on 19th century anarchism and the socio-political, economic and spiritual questions that the philosophy invokes.

I was forced to think about the tragedy and comedy that are cloaked in singular ideas, such as peace or grandness. Without strife and battle, we don't know peace. Without a sense of what is big, other-worldly, holy, we don't know smallness or reverence.

Besides, anytime you have a story that includes fencing duels, car chases and disguises, it's got the raw materials of a potentially fun story.

Summer Book Reflections

I just finished a classic work by G.K. Chesterton, The Man Who was Thursday. I look forward to writing some reflections soon.