Friday, August 01, 2008

what now?



"Oh, you can't get out backwards. You've gotta go
forwards to go back. Better press on."



(please recognize that these are simply my own questions that i need to flesh out. i hope that none of the questions here make anyone feel like you need to be wrestling with these same things if you aren't. it's just what's on my heart right now. and so i bring the questions to you, my community, to throw in your two cents if you have any to spare.)


i've been getting around a lot lately. peeking into our history as a group and trying to chronicle events and perspectives that brought us all together. it's interesting so far. but even in this early stage of research, seeing where we are and how we got here, i'm left with a fairly large question. "WHAT NOW?!"

what is the next step, the next evolution for us? is there to be one? is this simply a place for honest conversation and relationship, or are the implications greater? there is something so healing about this "space". it is certainly a place, a where although it has no where. and i think about how i got here. about how most of us got here. and i think i agree with willie on this. even if i wanted to go backwards, i know i couldn't. i just have to keep following this road wherever it leads. and, if for a season, this road has converged with people who have found each other for healing, and acceptance, and free group therapy of the highest order, then wonderful. i want you to know i'm all for it and i am a fan. a group of friends who are always there no matter what time of day or night, is a pretty good group of friends to have.

but sometimes i think about how fragile this all is. and interestingly enough, tonight's incident with my page really drives it home. a flick of a switch on a server at blogger headquarters and all of this shit goes away.

and i think that one day it will. so i wonder, now, while i am here and i am lucky enough to be with you wonderful and intelligent people, what now? now that my wounds are mostly healed, i'm ready for practical application of all of these things we've spoken about. i want to know what it looks like in the streets and not just on digital paper.

i think it's all well and good to be able to identify the things about church that really bothered me or where i feel "they" are "off." but what do i have that's better? an ability to identify their faults? in a singular sense, i understand the differences between myself now and myself a few years ago super-churchified (now with more christ!) as the standard example of a mainstream poster christian. but what do i have, what do we have, as a group, that makes for better authentic community? is this it? just the time spent here? or should we be moving towards something physical as well to couple with the things we learn here, across the globe, together? we certainly have the capabilities and possibilities. but to what end?

WHAT NOW?

i'm not sure where this road is going to end. but it's been one hell of a story so far...

24 comments:

Valorosa said...

LOL It's true

Katherine Gunn said...

Yeah, there really are only 2 choices: press forward or give up.

Erin said...

That movie (the original) is chock full of these wise gems. I love it, I wrote them all down once a long time ago....lost it somewhere.

Yes. Press on. It's tough sometimes until I look back at the alternative.

Sue said...

Walk on, Jonno :)

Even though it sucks.

I was standing this morning, daydreaming, listening to the live version of Telegraph Road by Dire Straits, and pondering how life feels to me like a spiral, and we come out at the same places often, and we can sometimes think we are in exactly the same place as before because the terrain is the same, but if we look closely we see that it's slightly different, from a slightly different perspective.

Hang in, Jon. The best stuff happens when we can't see what the good goddamn is going on.

jON said...

wow, i wasn't really expecting this little post fragment to garner response. it's all i had time to do before daddy duties signaled the end of computer time today...

just for the record, everything's all cool with me. in fact, things are shaping up to blossom into something really wonderful for the first time in a long time. but to be fair, it is the absolute horseshit past 2 years that laid the fertilizer for the blooms coming now.

give me a moment to ramble out some thoughts, and hopefully the quote will make more sense in context...

weirdest thing. i can't access my actual page. my explorer won't even load it. (same with your pages, erin & sue) but i could backdoor in through the comments on my post management dashboard. so, hopefully i'll be able to post, even if i can't look at the finished product...

Sue said...

Horseshit and fertilizer. Dude, I know exactly what you are talking about. May thine flowers be large and bright :)

So when I was here before and I saw only the quote and pic - I wasn't imagining that, was I? :)

jON said...

no, you weren't imagining at all.

or were you?

Sue said...

LOL

Erin said...

Before I comment I wanted to say if you still can't view your blog, delete your sitemeter code. For some reason sitemeter's recent update locked some people out of their blogs. It might only be an internet explorer issue since that is what I have heard most and I use Firefox and have had no problems (another great reason to switch ;-)

Anyhow if you're still having trouble, try that. For more info you can go here.

Erin said...

Ok so now I just had the chance to read the post you added. For myself, I don't know. I don't know what I have that's better than church or where to go from here.

But I'm not sure we are supposed to know. I often think it's just in the realization of the ways we have changed and the willingness to move forward one step at a time...that being the reason God has us here.

And I can't help but think of the amazing people I have come to know over the internet...I think God loves that now he has a way to connect us all even over vast distances, so that we might edify each other. I think about all the bad on the net...porn, spammers, identity theft...etc. and then I think about me and us and you and Sue and Katherine and Nate and whoever else...and I see God redeeming the bad on the net by creating this subversive and undercover network of those of us who will be leading faith into the next generation.

That's not saying I'm one of these "next great move of God" people. I'm just looking at it as the fact that so many of us are feeling these changes in our faith and because we are able to know each other and support each other we will progress forward. If I had never met some of these people I would still be sitting in my old church wondering what was wrong with me.

See what I'm saying? It's because we know each other that we are able to take a step forward at all, but I think so much of what is wrong with the present state of church has to do with the obsession with planning, with figuring out what is next and making it bigger and better...I do think we have to let go of the need to know what comes after tomorrow. Tomorrow is the only step we need to know.

How is that for some comment-vomit? ;-)

Ruth said...

I agree with you Erin (Vomit and all) that the internet blogging community is very edifying. In the year that I have discovered blogs I have inhaled so much. I have always been a hound to find out what is going on spiritually around the world. But reading books and going to conferences don't give us the real & raw bones of where everyday believers are. And I have met so many great people!

As for Something Else Jon - you definitely have a unique and cozy little spot here. I think it has a lot to do with the way you get the conversation going about the heart of things and foster real honest and open diaologue. There is a welcoming atmosphere between those that come here too. It's like being part of a real conversation between people....hey pass the chips!

Katherine Gunn said...

Hmm... I think, for me, what Erin said has a lot of truth. Too much planning is wasted energy. I look at the last couple of months in my life... Trying to figure out how "I" am supposed to do this. *Smiling* I'm not the one that has to figure it out. Just do today what is up for today and let tomorrow take care when it comes. HA! Far easier said than done, But I am being to see the rhythms of Grace...

"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." Matthew 11:28-30 (Message)

One Voice of Many said...

I just want to say that I love you guys - all of you. If I had not found you I wouldn't be wondering what's next?. I would be in complete despair convinced that there is nothing.

It does seem that we are all turning a corner and I wonder if that's because the universe is somehow bringing about a sense of change or if our companionship here has us all, more or less, on the same page and we're all moving toward some positive states of mind. It doesn't matter; I'm just thankful for it and for all of you.

Michelle

One Voice of Many said...

Oh - and a side note: I also LOVE Willie Wonka! I love the first one, I love the second one. I love the dreamworld I suppose. My kids like the latest version of it. I watched it this morning as we all were lazy in my bed.

Michelle

Erin said...

It's interesting, and I'm not sure when it happened, but my "online friends" somehow have ceased to be my "online friends", now they are just my "friends".

One Voice of Many said...

Erin - I agree. I stop making those distinguishes a while ago. I call you all friends as well.

jON said...

"...and I see God redeeming the bad on the net by creating this subversive and undercover network of those of us who will be leading faith into the next generation."

precisely my thoughts as well. which is why i meditate on this question. not so much in a frantic, planning sort of way. (though it IS like that some days) it's more like ruminating with child-like wonder. what i have seen develop and become a part of in the past 3 years blows my mind. (my 3 year blogiversary is tomorrow, 8/4) and i wonder where this will lead next.

i realized early on in this that gathering here every day, and having these conversations, and making these things a regular part of my life gives me greater internal progress than your average "faithful" church goer who attends twice a week. not that there aren't more opportunities to "serve" for the ultra faithful, the days of connecting and learning and studying amount to sundays and wednesdays on the average. being "here" every day over the course of just one year gives us the equivilent of 3.5 years worth of days together in just one year. which has given me 10.5 years over the course of the last 3. and the growth feels like it in a very good way.

but now, as before, my spirit is crying out for the practical. for ways in which these newfound ideas and ideals and realities that have begun to grow can spill out in radical ways to impact the world around me. not in a "taking this city for christ!" bullshit kind of way. i mean reaching out to broken people in compassion on one front and tearing down the world's systems that grind people up without compassion on the other.

kind of like jesus did.

and wondering, if anything, just what part this motley group of folk will have to play in it...

jON said...

ruth - thanks for thinking this dark little corner is a cozy place. i sure think so. it has been my desire since early on for this to be that sort of place. i'm glad you can handle unadulterated me as i can be a little on the vulgar side, but decided long ago that this would be the one place i wouldn't censor myself. you have no idea how many a2a cards in my head i haven't played...

jON said...

katherine - i certainly agree with letting god figure things out and be the guiding one. it is interesting to see how he guides us together and creates dynamics in the group. as well as comes up with great ideas like a2a!

michelle (&everyone else!) i, too, consider you all to be very real friends. not just in an ethereal way. these conversations and relationships are in many ways much more real than the surfacy ones i have to maintain with co-workers and the like because they are not ready to handle anything more yet.

i think about you guys, i talk about you guys, and i pray continually for you all. except for you michelle. i just ask milky for random blessings for you ;-)

here's to whatever's next for us...

Erin said...

What you said, Jon, about how seeing people online every day vs. twice a week at church reminded me of something Steve Martin said in The Jerk:

"I know we've only known each other four weeks and three days, but to me it seems like nine weeks and five days. The first day seemed like a week and the second day seemed like five days. And the third day seemed like a week again and the fourth day seemed like eight days. And the fifth day you went to see your mother and that seemed just like a day, and then you came back and later on the sixth day, in the evening, when we saw each other, that started seeming like two days, so in the evening it seemed like two days spilling over into the next day and that started seeming like four days, so at the end of the sixth day on into the seventh day, it seemed like a total of five days. And the sixth day seemed like a week and a half."

Erin said...

Besides, this is the only blog I know that serves food and drinks!

What's not to like?!

One Voice of Many said...

ole' milky

LOL
I might need to revisit my blog on prayer and consider it some more. I still don't know about it but I have to admit I still find myself whispering a prayer now and again without a milk jug in mind. lol

Happy said...

jon - i will probably have more to say later, but i'm with you on the "what's next" question... i too have been feeling a need to DO something with the changes in how I think and what I think about - to not just let the conversations and thoughts that i've had over the past year and the online community i really feel a part of be isolated to cyberspace and never go further than that...

if you guys had to sum up, what would you say are 5 major themes of things that kind of "unite" our very diverse community? i'm not trying to create structure, mind you... ;) just reflecting (being newer to this group, and often just a wallflower at that) on what it is that brings us together, and the places in our lives/souls that God has met through this crazy virtual world i've come to love so much.

Nate said...

Unfortunately I have been in abscentia for a while, but, now is the time for community in my mind. We are all looking for that place that we can go, and enjoy the people there. No reason to do anything else really at this point. Other than to allow our faith to settle down to bedrock. This group will never STOP asking questions, and never stop pondering them. Just let it flow, for now. God will tell us the "what next" in His time.