More notes from the L’abri Conference:
- Beauty: “My exposure to extreme beauty makes it more difficult to love the true beauty all around me… Don’t hold the forces of decrepitude at bay, embrace them… When you are real you cannot be ugly except to those who don’t understand.” -Richard Winter.
- Perfectionism: The pursuit of perfectionism creates an appearance of perfection, but not the reality of it – it creates a rose-tinted reality, minus the warts, which is not reality at all. There are assets and liabilities of perfectionism. It is good for a surgeon to strive for perfectionism, it will heal people, but when the surgeon goes home and demands perfection or nothing in her relationship with her husband or her children, she will have the nothing.
- Modernism and Postmodernism: The church will move through many countless cultures across history. The church’s commitment is to God and the unchanging truth of the gospel speaking into a changing culture. The church’s commitment is not to any one of those cultural movements, neither modernism nor postmodernism nor anything else. Christianity must not swear fealty to any culture, though the church itself is filled with people who see the world through the lens of how their culture sees the world. Christians must be transformed, able to live between two worlds. The choice between either modernism or postmodernism is a false choice. We need the glories of both, but our tendency will be to fall into one or the other. It is not a question of which is better. God employs both equally. There are three option, it seems, for the future: A. Hold to the sinking ship of modernism B. Embrace postmodernism and move toward paganism in Christian language C. Be aliens and strangers. The third option means to repent of all unchristian commitments to the sins of modernism and postmodernism and live holding the glories of both in two hands. “Let us pray that the bride remain true to her groom.” -Jeff Dryden
- The Christian Mind: “We must have our thinking shaped to take on the contours of the Christian mind.” -Denis Haack. This means seeing all things through a Christian worldview, and knowing something of the story that it is a part of, that of creation, fall, and redemption. It means looking for the glories in anything that we encounter because it is a part of God’s world and the it’s goodness cannot be entirely erased no matter what it is. It means being realistic about the brokenness in every new thing, and being able to see and name the wrong in things.
- The Power of Story: Stories can help us see through another’s eyes, which is a real grace. Stories can allow us to see inside a faraway global reality. They can show us images that it is right to have burned into our imaginations because this is the reality of our world. Stories can allow us to see cultural shifts. Artists cannot escape putting their worldview into their art, and artists are often the most sensitive of the population. If something is changing in a culture it will be reflected in the art. Stories allow us to see into hearts, our own included. The view inside ourselves is hard to come by, except by the grace of God.
- Real Humanity: It is hard to see what is a real man or a real woman in this fallen world. Ask 100 different people and you will get 100 different answers. It is like trying to tell left from right and up from down when you are spinning in a free fall. In this sense, we have never stood on solid ground, but when we do what it means to be a man and what it means to be a woman will plainly address itself to our senses. We will each be what God made us to be in the fullness of our genders without the confusion that comes from living in world where even your relationship with yourself and others has become fractured.
- Technology and Community: Technology and social changes have built division into our lives, but the need for community has not left. We needed something else to come in and fill the vacuum. We have developed new technology that will fill the void and give us a sense of community and connectivity. TV, internet, cell phones, ipods, etc. let us hear the voices and see the faces of people in our lives and so fill that felt need of community. They also create new problems, however. I question whether or not they truly and deeply fill our need for community or if they just give us enough of a dose of surface community to sate a felt need, without us ever having to really engage real loving, real sharing, or real vulnerability. In the pursuit of connection we have drawn a bubble around us that actually serves to insulate us from the depth of connection we need, and we stop looking when the edge is taken off of the loneliness. We have been too easily satisfied.
- The Problem With Africa: “The problem with Africa is a lack of a biblical worldview.” -Darrow Miller. The gospel has come to Africa but not a biblical worldview. For missionaries the gospel has relevance for Heaven, but not for this world. The West pours money into Africa, but that won’t solve the problem. What it needs is to see that God’s truth applies to every aspect of the human life. Not only what you do on sunday morning, but what you do when you are working, loving your wife, raising children, driving down the road, haggling for a price, etc. If Africa learns this lesson, she has the potential to lead the world.