A Third Way

Posted on October 20, 2009

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It has been awhile since I wrote out a post for the old blog. Twitter and my Tweets, the YouTube “News and Views” weekly video diary have taken over, are more immediate and are very easy to produce. Writing some of my blogs during the sabbatical would take several hours and be done over several days with a bunch of drafts along the way, and I was on sabbatical, wasn’t I? The last one I did write way back at the beginning of August was the longest and took me the most time to write. So I’m going to make the written blog a bit shorter and direct you to the Tweets and Tube. I want to use this written space to begin exploring a Third Way.

Third Way is what I’m going to call what has been struggling to be born here at St. Mary’s the last three years, another way between the extremes of salvation of the left and salvation of the right. It is not about boundaries but about an invitation to a deeper, enriching life centered in Christ which Jesus promised in John 10:10. Christ is the center of the Third Way.

So I’m going to begin rather gently and see how the narrative of the blog develops.

I have spent a bit of time studying and reflecting on Paul’s letter to the Romans. I have had it in mind to do a sermon series on Romans in the summer of 2010. So I have been doing quite a bit of study now in preparation and it has been an amazing ride. If you don’t know Romans I implore you to get to know it. It will be food for your soul for the rest of your days.

In Lent this year Barbara and I gave up watching television. In the summer we asked the church to discontinue our Comcast cable. It has really changed everything. I remember Jim Collins telling the 1995 Leadership Summit the importance of the “not to do list” over the “to do” list: he wanted to read 100 books a year, in order to accomplish the goal he had set for himself he had his brother-in-law come and take their television away and made him promise that no matter how much Collins protested, threatened, whined, he was not to bring it back. He looked at the crowd and said, “What you don’t do is more important that what you do, do.”

He’s right. I would never have accomplished the goals I set in research if I had television to call out her siren song. And there has been other benefits. Barbara and I discuss what we are going to watch and order through Netflix. It has become more of a couple thing that we share together than it ever was before. There is no longer any private viewing going on. And there is Hulu and Netflix watch instantly on the MacBook which we do together snuggled up on the couch! Priceless – the snuggling, that is.

While selecting a Netflix for us last night I spotted Neverwhere, the 1996 BBC dramatization of Neil Gaimon’s novel. You might remember last year’s Coraline? That was him. Neverwhere is set in the subway tubes and the tunnels underneath the streets of London. It isn’t meant to glorify but rather to intrigue the viewer into the lives of the street people who live in this underground world. The hierarchy, the theivery, and the rotten charcters of the underground, that we above ground seem to take no notice or pay attention to, get by in taking risks and chances with all the dangers implied or even created by the above grounders.

We’ve all walked passed or literally stepped over the Lazarus at our gates in the street people of our cities. Gaimon’s creativity and genius in this modest program should get every Christian thinking.