Monday, April 25, 2005

Sing your song

" We were all born to sing - let not the contrary be said. But it is not a question of being born for the purpose. The fact is that whoever was really born in spirit, and not only in the flesh, sings, and sings because he was born in the spirit; if he does not sing, it is because he was born only in the flesh."
Miguel de Unamuno

How are you going to sing your song, in flesh and in spirit, today?

A Dad

How glad I am to be a dad.
Glad to sit and read to little Silvi, her blue eyes searching for the voice reading The Power of One to her in the darkness.

How sad I am to be a dad.
Sad to hear my daughter cry, while I - helpless - can only rock her and whisper that the sun will soon return.

How glad I am to be a dad. How sad I am to be a dad. Mostly, glad.

Friday, April 22, 2005


I've been reading Spanish philosopher Miguel de Unamuno between diaper changes and making up very cheesy songs for my daughter. He frustrated many of his readers because he usually refused to reach final conclusions. He defied labels. He saw himself as someone full of contradiction, as one who said one thing with his heart and the contrary with his head. For him, this internal conflict was the very stuff of life.

I'm still trying to figure out what God meant when he said to come to him, that he would give us rest. I believe that it is possible to live in the tension of contradiction and be at rest at the same time, but because of our nature, we swing from one extreme to the other. This conflict, says de Unamuno, unifies our lives and gives it its practical purpose.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The wrong questions

I live in an age of wrong questions. Everywhere I turn, it seems those in charge are asking the wrong questions. Abraham Joshua Herschel says that philosophy may be defined as the art of asking the right questions. So what are the right questions when it comes to talking about community, about what it means to be the Church?

I'm more than a little hesitant about addressing topics like community and the Church. They're being talked about everywhere. The reason I feel like I want give my two cents is this: None of the answers that are in abundant supply in countless books, sermons, blogs, and websites answer the questions I am asking.

Can I trust you? Will you trust me?

There's a reason not many are addressing these questions. It's much easier to discuss theology, form and function, worship techniques. And those who do address the questions I am asking often provide ethereal, fluffy answers that don't touch me in my day-to-day life. I've got a little too much Charles Sanders Peirce in me to embrace Thomas Merton. I've got too much Merton in me to embrace Francis Schaeffer. I've got too much Schaeffer in me to embrace Jacques Derrida. And I've got too much Derrida in me to embrace, well, anything.

I hate my questions. So, touchy-feely. So, narcissistic. I want to be satisfied with sitting around talking about things like perichoresis and interpenetration and postfoundationalism. But I'm not. At least not right now. As the Church struggles to redefine itself, I, a branch on the vine, ask: Can I trust you? You, sitting next to me on the pew, on the thrift store couch, across from me in the coffee shop: Can I trust you? Do you trust me?

Trust is the springboard of love. And love is the greatest witness to our age. But if all this touchy-feely stuff is boring you, we could just talk about a great article that I read on theology and science without dualism.

More wrong questions

I've been sitting here, editing a TV commercial for the Minnesota Better Business Bureau, thinking about my post on trust. The MN Better Business Bureau exists because there is no trust. We need an organization to tell us who is trustworthy and who is not.

Am I trustworthy? Would you find my name in the MN Better Business Bureau guide? Hmmm...Back to editing.

Friday, April 15, 2005

And then there were three

The world looks different at 2 am. Silvi is a night owl, and fights the world from about twelve until two in the morning. She beats her little fists against my chest and has more vocal range than Constantine on American Idol. I introduced her to the animated film The Incredibles last night, although she seemed to be more entertained with the collar of my shirt. Sorry Pixar. My $14.99 shirt swept your $100 million film last night in the 0-to-1-week age range.

I feel like I'm supposed to begin writing about the three areas that I want to engage in this journal, but right now I just want to tell you how awesome my daughter Silvi is. Awesome!

Thursday, April 14, 2005


I now understand why new parents are so anxious to send pictures of their new child; there are no words to capture the experience. My daughter, Silvi, joined Annie and I in the wee hours of Monday morning. She was born through laughter and tears and pain. And pain. So small, so fragile. I'll never forget how startled Silvi looked as she left the body of my beautiful, lovely wife. Annie lost a lot of blood. Silvi fell asleep in my arms as we sat next to beautiful Annie, mother, and the doctors worked for two hours to make her whole again. EdTV, with Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, the only program on besides Infomercials, helped the time pass, and reinforced the need for Hollywood to take another long look at itself. You never know when a new mother will need a story to help her through the wee hours of a Monday morning.

I've apologized to Silvi. She looks alot like me. Sorry dear girl. Life is hard enough. Annie and Silvi and I stayed in the hospital through yesterday, and Annie slowly began to feel whole again. Silvi helped. So did family. How amazing it is to watch someone's face transform at the sight of new life. My daughter has created community.

(Pictures, and more pictures, to follow.)

Sunday, April 10, 2005

A hallowed day

In a few hours, on this beautiful Sunday, the beginning of a not-so-ordinary week, we are leaving for the hospital to welcome Silvi into the world. Annie and I are at her parent's home right now, and soon all the family, my parents included, will be here to celebrate and wait until we make the mad dash to the hospital.

It is a hallowed day indeed.

Saturday, April 09, 2005


My wife and I often spend Sunday mornings at a local bakery down the street called the French Meadow. It's a time to catch up, to just be with the other for awhile. The French Meadow is in a neighborhood known as Uptown, an area of Minneapolis that attracts young, urban singles and families, as well as many artists. Sunday mornings are packed, and the latte's are superb.

In a way, this bakery is my "church". My wife and I break bread together, our laughter must be some kind of worship and we often reflect on the preceding week with God. And if, as I believe, we as the Church are called to be some kind of witness to the age, surely the sight of a husband and wife loving each other well must count for something.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Tick, tock

Eyes on the clock, waiting, waiting, waiting...

A life observed

My daughter, Silvi, will be born any minute now. At the risk of being a stereotypical new father, I feel this huge, almost overwhelming, desire to change everything about myself, and the world, to ensure that Silvi is safe and loved. As someone who tries to control the chaos of life, I realize just how much there is that can come between that safety and love. Life is dangerous, and love even more so.

I have chosen to call this journal Narrow Ridge because I believe that I must walk along the narrow ridge in this world. I must live between hope and despair, between certainty and doubt, between laughter and tears, between community and solitude. Truth be told, I am not very good at walking the narrow ridge. It is all too easy for me to slide into a life of despair and doubt and sadness. And solitude.

As my daughter joins our family, I realize that I will live a life observed. Lately, I've been feeling as if I'm about to meet my inlaws for the first time and they will be staying with me for a week. I got rid of all our old coffee mugs because none of them matched. We now have six new matching coffee mugs. I sold half of my books. I took three carloads of clothes and lamps and old furniture to the thrift store. The closets have been straightened, the dishes done, laundry washed, floor swept, carpets vacuumed, and we're buying a new coffee table this week. And I bought a soccer ball to lose the spare tire(s).

None of those things, of course, address the real issue. I want my daughter to look up to me, to respect me, to love me. And there's just so many things about me that are, well, unfinished.

This journal is an attempt to share just a little of a life well-lived along the narrow ridge.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Lazy Saturday

Annie's out with her sisters and mom, drinking bad latte's at Caribou Coffee. I'm lounging around, re-reading parts of Peterson's Subversive Spirituality, listening to Midnight Oil, enjoying the sun filling our living room. Doctors ran tests on Silvi; she'll make her appearance when she's ready. Yesterday was her due date. Kind of glad she won't have to endure an April Fool's day birthday. Especially in grade school.

Back to my lazy Saturday morning.


Some friends I haven't seen in a long time stopped over last night to see Silvi. One of them is in the process of leaving his church of eight years or so. I say in the process because he still enjoys listening to the sermons, but he has no fellowship with the huge congregation.

He attended a conference in Colorado put on by Aussies Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch, where they spoke of their book, The Shaping of Things to Come. I'd never heard of the book, but I guess it's stirring the waters. My friend and I talked about it, about incarnational living, about this whole community thing. I enjoyed the conversation, but I woke up feeling very frustrated.

I just want to get there. Wherever there is. I've been actively deconstructing Church for nearly five years, and it is so old. Once, when I lived in Seattle, I spent a few hours sitting overlooking the Puget Sound with a prof. from Mars Hill Grad School. We talked about breaking out of the deconstruction circle. He believes that it is possible to break free, at least enough to find some rest. He said that what's often lacking is someone to come along side of us and say, "Psst. Look over here. Here's a small door you can walk through. And I'll go with you.

I feel like I've been walking through a lot of doors. Which one is the small door?And who will go with me?

But I digress into self-pity again. I just need to serve more, read my Bible more, pray more, be Missional. No, no. I just need to do less, allow God's voice to penetrate the silence, become less and less. Wait, I've done all those things. What's on tv?