This post will be painful to write. Following on its coattails will be even more difficult. Have you ever had a sense of where you might be headed? Let’s say you’re driving a car, and you sort of know where you are going but not quite. You pass a road that looks familiar. For some reason, your gut tells you it was the road to turn down, but you keep going anyway. You continue down the road. Eventually, you realize nothing looks recognizable. That road definitely was the road you were supposed to turn down. Finally, you suck up your pride, admit you missed it, and turn around. I have felt like this for almost two years.
I believe the time for me to turn around may be completely unavoidable. The results will look extremely dramatic. Over the next few days, I plan to whittle my possessions down to only what can fit into my backpacking backpack, engage in conversations about starting new ways of doing church, talk with folks about building intentional community for the sake of mutual aid and for resistance against the system, and, in the words of my great friend Andy Zook, go find my love. The reasons for this are many, but each person mentioned in the title contributed to my decision to u-turn and maybe go back to where I missed the turn off.
First, the Phillips family of Josh, Kaitlyn, Karen, and Randy have absolutely blown my top right off in the past few days. Primarily, Randy sat down with me and made me see that I love to have ingredients, but I am yet to actually make any dough. As a result, I bog myself down with information and more importantly, physical books. Why do I need to own books? As much as I love them, they really are superfluous. They tie me to physical locations in unnecessary ways. I can get any book I want from the library. Why do I need so many in my own home? I plan to rid myself of this weight in order to liberate myself from their burden that I feel with every book I buy. Second, hearing from someone almost identical thoughts that you have been having is inspirational. It makes you feel like you might not actually be crazy. Kaitlyn Phillips, in the brief 15 or 20 minutes I spoke with her on Sunday articulated a depth of dissatisfaction in every aspect that I have been struggling with while at the same time expressing commitments she feels unwilling to give up. I cannot quite explain this phenomenon as she tends to do this every time I see her (thank you Kait, if you read this). Thank you Phillips family for simply being excellent in every way. Keep up the good work.
I already mentioned Andy Zook’s lyrics to Sea Fever‘s song, “Go Find Your Love”, but I want to really enunciate what they have meant to me since I started listening to the newly recorded track. The song is about lovers who split up after the man becomes sickly obsessed with “Suzy B.”. I am that man; book smarts are my obsession. Possessions (yes possessions) are my fix. My plan to alter that course will hopefully take me to find my true love, which I believe to be G-d, for G-d is love.
None of this would have been possible without the brief but influential gifts of friendship and guidance given to me by the wise and inscrutable couple of Sue Ferguson Johnson and Wes Howard-Brook. Radical discipleship to Jesus is possible beyond the idealistic vision of a naïve college student, and they showed me that. I appreciate all that they have worked so hard to become.
I like to believe no one knows as much as I do, and some people have a knack for calling me on my bull shit. Johanna Shorack has proven, most recently, to be the absolute best at it. She said we do not have anything more to argue about (something I highly doubt), but her incisive questions over the last few months have been a personal apocalypse for me. They unveiled my hypocrisy, and I hope desperately to recover my integrity over these next few days, weeks, months, and years.
Theo Pulver, Matt Nguyen, Chauncey Handy, and Mike Zosel hear all my yammering about all sorts of different crap, and I just want to recognize them as key players in my premeditated transformation.
This post is turning longer than I wanted it to, but I must mention Don Whitman. Don, over the last few months, and our discussions have kept me grounded in G-d. Don’s insistence that G-d is totally, unbelievably incredible and should never be taken lightly has truly sustained me through my more agnostic phases that I encounter while thinking about political and religious revolution. Like Wes and Sue, Don has shown me that radical faith does not end with youth.
Finally, Bethany Chupp, who is a young high school student in Canby, OR, has continued to explode my mind with real hope. She does not know this, but her passion for the homosexual community finally convinced me to throw my whole weight behind the liberation of the LGBTQQi community. What is more, I read a blog post she wrote on an obscure blog she created in which there is only one post, and I felt incredibly moved by it as she mentioned the passionate political discussions we had over the summer. To see someone influenced by the struggle of thought I have put into my recent life was really touching. That blog post convinced me to write this one in which I note the influential people in my life.
I want to also mention other people such as Chelcie Blackmun, Kevin and Marian Neuhouser, Craig Bidiman, Rick Crawford, Hilary Watson, Jeanne Rempel, Kelsie Gayle Job, and I am sure many others whose presence in my life has been challenging and invigorating in the recent months. Thank you. I hope the next few months I spend transforming my whole world will be a gift to you in the way you are a gift to me!