Friday, March 25, 2011

Join the Club

 When I was in middle school, my mother sat me down and explained that when people say "How are you?" (including when at church) it is a greeting not an actual question.  About the same time that I learned that it was a social faux pas to be candid about one's state of mind, I was realizing that most folks don't see the world the way I do. Luckily, the world is a big place and over the years I've found kindred spirits who don't mind my idiosyncrasies. We're a hodgepodge of mostly introverted geeks and we keep in touch via the miracle of the internet.  Interestingly, we span a large range of professions, theologies and fixations.

So what is the glue that binds us together?  I suspect it is the thing that "The Doctor's" companions have in common (yes, I'm a big Doctor Who fan)... the thing that Buckaroo Bonzai and the A-Team had... the thing that makes TED great... and it also seems to be the thing that attracts people to our approach at Friendly Planet Missiology.  

Without ‘it,’ it can be difficult to connect with someone no matter how similar they appear on paper.   So what is ‘it’?  I’m still working out a theory, so feel free to help me out. Folks that have “it” tend to
  • Be Out-of-Sync with the World. You find human behavior baffling, recognize you're operating out of a different paradigm, have concluded that you aren’t crazy (at least not when it comes to that), and have come to some sort of peace with this despite still wishing things would change.    
  • Appreciate Quirky Humor. There are plenty of people whose passion for social justice has made them so angry that they can’t enjoy a good joke.  I don’t mean biting sarcasm. I mean silly witty pun-filled banter.  Take the world’s problems seriously; just don’t take yourself too seriously.
  • Practice Radical Grace and Hospitality. Even if someone doesn’t quite fit in (like Penny in Big Bang Theory) your first-hand knowledge of how it feels to be rejected makes you committed to including all those in need of love---from Alexandra Wallace to Congolese Warlords.
  • Ask ‘How are You?’ and Want to Know.  You see people as individuals—not objects to manipulate to reach your career aspirations.  You even gladly make sacrifices for them.
  • Feed your Curiosity and Challenge Assumptions.  You love learning and will risk losing what you think you know in order to explore the deeper—or better—question.  No belief is too sacred to be reexamined, and no one is ostracized for asking an honest question.  
  • Take Action. You have a vision of a better way of living. Live into it and invite others to join you. 

So this is an idealized list.  I’d like to say it describes me, but it’s really a description of my favorite people. I have to frequently remind myself to not be so serious, to let down my guard, and to set aside my own thoughts long enough to stop and truly ask ‘How are you?’