Tuesday, June 06, 2006


We need good teachers. I've had a few. We need teachers who will challenge our beliefs, who will not only agree with what we believe, but also call us in new directions. A few of my teachers:

Brett is a modern-day mystic. In many ways, I am not. Rather, I tend to be a mystic in the company of pragmatists, and a pragmatist in the company of mystics. I'm a contrarian. Brett and I met regularly for coffee by Green Lake in Seattle. We talked into the evenings as the sun set over the many rollerbladers and joggers circling the city lake. Brett taught me to be comfortable with questions, to allow paradox it's place. As I pushed for cohesion, he quietly made room for contradiction. Brett lives the Mystery. And he continues to teach me.

Kevin was my boss when I worked for Summit Ministries. He and I spent hours debating - arguing. He was Reformed Presbyterian. I was... well, I don't know what I was. Just not Reformed. Kevin was very well read, knowledgable in many areas of classical apologetics. The New Age movement, Postmodernism, Secular Humanism, Relativism. I (without knowing it at the time) sided with the existentialists. The "concretists." Those whose launching point for understanding the world was the lived life, not the abstract world of ideas. Kevin unintentionally drove me to voracious reading binges, searching for the vocabulary to battle his world view. He was eloquent in his arguements while I stumbled and stuttered my way in the world of thought. Although he would be horrified to know it, he helped guide me away from "absolutes" and "objectivity" to the beautiful and terrifying leap of faith.

Some teachers need speak only a few words. Liam was a professor (who I never had) at Mars Hill Graduate School. He also is the founder of Lothlorien, a study and retreat center modeled after L'Abri. I only had three conversations with Liam, but he opened new vistas for me to explore. He taught me that my suffering is not a "lesser-suffering." The pain I experience on a daily basis - loneliness, doubt, anxiety, etc. - is just as legitimate as the pain suffered by those in less fortunate countries. Just because I have a full stomach does not mean that my suffering is of no concern to God. Liam also taught me to be practical in my philosophy. Concrete. And he also allowed me to call myself a "writer."

I had the opportunity to know Brent before he died in a rock climbing accident. Annie and I attended his conference on The Sacred Romance, and I have never been the same since. My conversations with him led to a true paradigm shift in my thinking about God, theology, philosophy, literature and film. He offered me water when I was dying of thirst.

I hope you have good teachers.

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