Just average?

Posted: July 31, 2014 in Uncategorized

I was at a community meeting this morning and one of the people opened with a reading. The words were those of some fluffy motivational writer and the selected section was some diatribe on how being “average” was chiefest sin among all sins. If you’re average, said he, you are not only a disappointment to yourself but commit an offense against God and all humanity. What a waste, average.

All the time that the words are tumbling toward the garbage disposal of my mind I am thinking, “Who is he talking about?” The answer, based on any practical measure, including that of a representative slice of the general public, is “most people.” Most people are average, give or take. But according to this writer If you’re not exceptional your life is a waste. Well, think about that.

First of all, average in what ways? No one can excel in everything.

But more importantly, the definition of “average” is based almost exclusively on external measures. What if you are an “average” gardener but exceedingly loving? What if you are a “C” student but intuitively know when people need a friend?

And most important, in my mind, what if this notion of “being average” is a concoction of a driven personality that believes he has to earn his worth as a human being as opposed to receiving it by virtue of being created in the image of God?

Garrison Keillor famously describes Lake Wobegon as a place where “all the women are strong, the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.” He says that satirically, tongue in cheek, and we know it. Because we know he doesn’t really believe what he is saying we also know he is critiquing a false and unrealistic attitude toward being human, what is possible and important. The truth is that not all the children are above average. But they are loved of God. To miss that would be the real disappointment and a terrible misunderstanding of the creator who made them.

Charles Portis The Arkansas born and bred author, Charles Portis, wrote more than True Grit, a feat that is itself a remarkable one. I just read the last line of The Dog of the South and what a last line to an engaging book it was. Next on my reading horizon is Masters of Atlantis. I suppose I’m on a Portis jag.

What is it about Portis? Not only does he get you on True Gritthe inside of his characters’ well-developed heads, but he describes the transactions of the plot with uncanny and humorous insight. Like a Garrison Keillor, he has the ability to paint a picture of the peculiarities and deficits of human nature without dehumanizing the character.

The Dog of the SouthIn a 1998 edition of Esquire Magazine Ron Rosenbaum wrote a review in which he referred to Portis as “a maddeningly underappreciated American writer.”

He has a way of exposing folly and absurdity that has not been imposed on the characters and plot but is found interlaced within them and it. It takes a the keen eye of the attentive observer of human nature to do that. And he has it.

 

Six Doors Moran Quote

WIPFSTOCK_TemplateIt’s finally here! Sure you can order your own copy of Six Doors to the Seventh Dimension direct from our publisher, Wipf & Stock: https://wipfandstock.com/store/Six_Doors_to_the_Seventh_Dimension

This collaborative devotional creation escorts the reader through the metaphorical house of your life. Creative partners Genevieve Howard, Jenny McGee and I co-created a narrative, artistic, poetic journey that leads from one door of your life to the next. Where it all leads is, well, part of the mystery!

For more information visit our web site at http://sixdoorstoseventh.com. And if you are local to Columbia, Missouri join us for the book launch celebration on Friday, September 5, 6-8pm at the Columbia Art League on 9th Street. Join friends for a taste of wine, cheese, words and image. And of course to pick up your copy of the book if you haven’t ordered it!

By golly the newest book on the block is going live on the Wipf & Stock website in two weeks and then Amazon in six weeks! Hugs to co-creators Genevieve Howard and Jenny McGee!

Take a second and click through to our new website: http://sixdoorstoseventh.com

Coffee Stains on Mark

Posted: July 8, 2014 in Uncategorized

When I am in a retreat setting, at a camp and conference, in nature, traveling in the developing world I instinctively read in Mark’s Gospel. It’s elemental, earthy, direct, powerful in its simplicity. That’s how it was just now as I read and drank my coffee … and accidentally splashed it all over chapter 3. After mopping it up I look at the now permanent stain. “What is going to be highlighted in coffee color from here on?” And it is:

“A house divided cannot stand.”

Rocheport RiverThis old river town, Rocheport, has served as home for many in the passing centuries. It has quietly hosted the Osage Indians as they hunted its woods and fished its rivers, the passage of Lewis and Clark, homesteading of the Boones, the passage of settlers and pioneers toward the Santa Fe and Oregon trails, traveling preachers like Alexander Campbell and Barton Stone, riverboats, then trains, and then roads and highways and bridges. Today it is a sleepy town peppered with antique stores and B&Bs. And it is a new home to me.

Tonight, as I walked the KATY trail along the Missouri River in the cooling evening, the words of Robert Frost came to mind. No matter that they originally emerged in the depths of winter, the darkest day of the year. They work just fine for July, too. For a moment, in the continuity of time and that which reaches beyond time, they became my own:

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.