“As the tide washed in, the Dutch Tulip Man faced the Ocean.
“Conjoiner, rejoinder, poisoner, concealer, revelator. Look at it, he said rising up and rising down, taking everything with it.”
“What’s that?” I asked.
“Water” the Dutchman said. “Well, and time.”"
Peter Van Houten, An Imperial Affliction (via fishingboatproceeds)
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What I came to discover is how much the world craves a listening ear. The biggest problem I have with evangelizing is that you enter into a relationship with a prescribed intention, and that stands in the way of listening well.
You can’t listen well when you are carrying an agenda.
You can’t listen well when you are looking for ways to fortify your own position.
You can’t listen well when you are searching for what is broken in your conversation partner, in order to introduce the solution.
On the other hand, if you are wanting to be evangelized, you learn to listen deeper, because you are trying to uncover truth. You search for the beauty in your neighbor to find points of connection — you are seeking to be saved by them. You become the student, longing to learn from, instead of preach at. You voluntarily place yourself in the inferior position of need and find that your own vulnerability compels others to shed their masks. Your courage to admit uncertainty disarms, until all that is left is raw honesty and frailty of our common human condition.
I am not trying to dismiss the profound biblical mandate of the Great Commission, to go and make disciples. But we must assess the context within which we stake the particularity of Christ. The mission of the church is going to look different when you’re in the remote Tibetan tribes of China or in the pluralistic progressive cities of the West. Increasingly, the way we carry out the mission must find distance from colonial proselytizing. As Pope Francis has recently been quoted, “The church grows by attraction, not proselytizing.”
Proselytizing limits the wildly beautiful story of God and God’s people into a sample script. I agree we need more conversions in this world, but at least as many conversions need to take place within the church as outside of it. Are we willing to evangelize each other by offering and receiving a plethora of stories which may diverge from a single narrative? Can we make space for stories from minority groups, the Global South, the Left and the Right, the rich and the poor, the mega churches and the struggling congregations? Can we be evangelized by each other and practice the art of listening deep and listening well?
Our best hope for connectedness lies in having our stories heard. We earn our right to speak into other people’s lives when we have logged enough hours listening to their truths, and been willing to be changed by their beauty…"
"The church grows by attraction, not proselytizing"
so here’s a fun story about this movie. guess who loves this movie? me! i do! i love this movie. i love this movie so much that when i was in the 7th grade and i saw “first wives club 2” on pay per view i was like: HELL YEAH!! FIRST WIVES CLUB TWO!! NO ONE TOLD ME THERE WAS A SEQUEL!!!
here’s the synopsis for first wives club 2:
disgruntled first wives take their ex-husbands’ new lovers under their wing.
sounds great, right? awesome viewing material for a precocious 11-year-old.
so i buy this movie, and like, three minutes into it i’m starting to feel suspicious?? like it’s really low quality and my girls are nowhere in sight?? how come none of the first wives are the same?? how come they’re alone in a bedroom with mood lighting?? why is she taking off her shirt?? why are they both taking off their shirts?? WHY ARE THEY—
here’s what i did not know about first wives club 2:
- it is a lesbian porno of no relation to the beloved 1996 classic.
so of course i, horrified that i’ve accidentally bought porn on my family’s account (and in that state of panic that kids work themselves into whenever anything regarding sex is mentioned), quickly shut off the TV and go upstairs and watch an episode of veggie tales to like, cleanse my soul and apologize to jesus, and that’s that.
EXCEPT, OF COURSE:
- you have to pay for pay per view.
so the end of the month comes and i have completely put this incident out of my mind, haha, i accidentally bought porn, how funny, TELL NO ONE. right? and i’m sitting at a nice dinner with my mother, my stepfather, and my very religious aunt deb, and we’re just talking about farm things, whatever, when suddenly my mother puts her fork down and says, “okay, there’s something we need to discuss. as a family.”
- AS A FAMILY.
and i’m like, running through a list of people i know who could conceivably be dead, and fantasizing about my mother announcing that she’s going to buy me My Own Computer Just Because U Earned It Kiddo, and she pulls out a piece of paper that says DIRECTV across the top. and i’m like: OH NO.
"i received the tv bill today," my mother said, and i was like, shoveling potatoes into my mouth as fast as i could because i knew that when i went to PORN PRISON they weren’t going to feed me this kind of quality starch. "does anybody want to tell me who purchased the pornography?"
as a reminder, a quick table survey:
- my mother, surprised and disappointed by the porn bill (innocent)
- my stepfather, a grumbly old cowboy who just wants to sing along to kenny chesney and watch the hunt for red october (innocent)
- my aunt deb, a super religious catholic whose best friend is a nun named Sister Placid (innocent)
- me, the 11-year-old with a mouthful of potatoes who definitely purchased the lesbian pornography
my mother said, “i’m not going to ask again.”
my aunt looked at my stepdad. my stepdad looked at my aunt. NOBODY LOOKED AT ME, THE 11-YEAR-OLD WITH A MOUTHFUL OF POTATOES WHO DEFINITELY PURCHASED THE LESBIAN PORNOGRAPHY.
my mother shook her head and put the bill down. “this was incredibly inappropriate,” she said. “skip, deb, whoever. buy that shit on your own time. i’m not paying for it. what if molly had seen it?”
- WHAT IF MOLLY HAD SEEN IT?
"don’t expose my kid to that crap."
- MY KID
- TO THAT CRAP
"if you want to watch porn, fine, but do it in private and don’t expect me to pay for it. i can’t believe one of you did that in the living room."
- I CAN’T BELIEVE ONE OF YOU DID THAT
- IN THE LIVING ROOM
but molly, why didn’t you own up to it and explain that it was an accident?
- are you fucking kidding
- i did not want to go to porn prison
the fun conclusion to this story is that i never owned up to it, which means that there are 3 people in the world who have not solved the mystery of the lesbian porn. a quick survey:
- my mother, who lives every day wondering whose porn she paid for
- my stepfather, who probably wishes he knew less about his wife’s sister’s porn preferences
- my aunt, who probably wishes she knew less about her sister’s husband’s porn preferences
but molly, why don’t you own up to it now, with the safety of time and distance and the knowledge that porn prison isn’t real?
- are you fucking kidding
- this is the best thing i’ve ever done
what an amazing story
"I looked at my arm with the chemotherapy needle poking out, I looked at my life, and thought, ‘I have to come to terms with who I am.’" She gave herself a goal: to come out by the time she was 35. "Thirty-five is half a life," she says, sadly. "I can’t lose the other half. I’ve lost so much living as a shadow of a person."
If he was unknowing of it’s powers, why was he waiting for something spectacular?