16 April 2015


Pastors from many of the meetings of Northwest Yearly Meeting are here at Twin Rocks Friends Camp, a few miles north of Tillamook, Oregon. Yesterday evening MaryKate Morse led us through an exercise of naming the values we cherish in our Quaker community, and Bob Henry drew up a sort of minute in the form of a cartoon. Some of the references might be obscure if you didn't hear the stories that evoked the images, but I think many are clear enough. They help me understand why I feel so much at home in this specific community of believers.

Today Becky Ankeny, our superintendent, spoke about the preciousness of home -- whether it's our church, our yearly meeting, our vocational community -- and about the risk of letting that beloved home become an idol, obscuring the reality that our only true and constant home is in God. It can be incredibly painful when we're separated (by our choice or by someone else's) from one or another of the places that we've grown to call home, where we've found shelter and anchored our identity, but which ultimately cannot be home.

For me, this year in the USA, away from our home and work in Elektrostal, has made me think about what home means to me. I'm not a nest-builder and could live pretty much anywhere there are books, music, and friends. (Judy jokes, with some justification, that I really define home as "where Judy is.") I've lived in six countries and seven states. My father was Norwegian, and my mother was a German born and raised in Japan, so I come by my portability honestly. What makes things complicated is that all of these places have claims on my heart.

Elektrostal and the Moscow community of Friends, however, have a peculiarly powerful claim at the moment. Maybe it's because of the international tensions that have grown over this past year, and in our absence we've been mostly powerless to work for mutual understanding and Christian reconciliation. And we're missing a whole year of our students' progress; some of them will graduate without our being there to cheer them on. I even miss the rhythm of shopping and visiting our landlords and celebrating the holidays and washing the holiday dishes.... I miss the music and subtleties and endless humor of the Russian language.

It's a good discipline to remember that God is a constant home, a home that puts distance and boundaries and alienation in their place.

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. (Ephesians 2:13-20, NIV.)

My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going. (John 14:2-4, NIV.)

Home, part two.
Home, part three.

How churches can prepare for disasters.

The short, secret life of academic articles. "What articles have influenced you or do you return to the most?"

Conversations on race ... What "national conversations" actually need to cover.

The problem with hating Rob Bell. "We forgive people an awful lot when they don't come from within the camp."

"The EU's technocratic approach to Ukraine sleepwalked us into a crisis." Bring the humanities back! Here's more from Vsevolod Samokhvalov's article:
The institutionalist and technocratic approach cannot answer the question why, despite all our efforts, Ukrainian society tolerates controversial and mutually exclusive modes of existence: to aspire for European values, but to ignore Europe's advice on how to build a European way of life; to accept Europe's technical assistance, while returning to authoritarian rule. To make sense of these contradictions, Europe needs an ethnographic insight into societies like Ukraine in order to understand what they value, what they dream of and how these and other conditions transform our policies in these regions.
Oops. When it comes to untrustworthiness, the US trumps Iran. Is this a fair article? Why or why not?

Last week's taste of Otis Spann's piano just made me want more.

1 comment:

Derek "Longshot" Lamson said...

Thanks Johan, you're officially part of my Sanity List. I've almost got that little blues in A settled down; I'll play it for you next time I see you.