Monday, December 03, 2012

Farewell, Old Friend

After 8 years of (mostly) being here on Blogger, The Grenz is moving to Wordpress to be a part of my new platform, Come join the new conversation.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

My Experiment with a Simple Diet

We have started new Experimental Collectives at Vintage. Right now, we are focusing on simplicity, realizing that Jesus invites us to find a whole new way to think about our money, our stuff, our clothes, our time, our anxiety, and our stress. Jesus invites us to a more simple life in which we find our security in God. 

We decided to focus on simplicity in November and December very intentionally. If there is any season in which we need to experiment with less, it is the holiday season. And so, we've gone at our cultural pressures head-on.

The Experimental Collective that I am in is using Jen Hatmaker's book 7 as its jumping off point. 7 tells Jen's story of radically addressing seven areas of excess in her life. It's a really interesting read. In our collective, we decided to each pick an area of excess and try to simplify it. We took two weeks to prepare - one to pick an area and one to make a plan. Now, we are spending a month living out our plan and experimenting with simplicity.

Here's what I'm learning so far:

Having things intentionally simple does not necessarily mean having things easy. I'm beginning to think that simplicity may not be the opposite of complexity. Things may be simple and still may be complicated. It's paradoxical, I know, but most of the best truths are.

I'm beginning to think that because simplicity is related to peace and beauty, its opposites are actually clutter and chaos. Things in my life are least simple when they are out of control. 

I chose food as my area to simplify because food is out of control in my life. I eat when I'm happy. I eat when I'm sad. I eat too much. I eat too much of the wrong stuff. I feel better when I eat. I feel worse about myself when I eat. Food has become chaotic in my life. It is out of control. There are no boundaries. I feel like it has been mastering me instead of the other way around. 

And so, for the next month, I am experimenting with radically simplifying my diet in hopes of bringing food under control.

Here's how I'm going to do it. I've decided on twelve foods that I am going to eat and three drinks that I'm going to drink. (I know that Jen Hatmaker only ate seven foods for a month. This is my experiment, not hers.) For the next month, my diet will consist of:

Sweet Potatoes
Whole Wheat Bread
Dark Chocolate
Red Wine

My hope is that during this experiment, I will learn that food doesn't have to be the master of me. I can make good and consistent choices. It doesn't have to feel chaotic and out of control. I'm also hoping to lose a little bit of weight - I've never been fatter than I am right now.

This experiment in food simplicity won't make my life easier or less complicated. This morning when I was fixing oatmeal for Vanessa and the kids, it would have been easier to just fix a fifth bowl instead of frying up an egg for myself. This simple diet will make grocery shopping and menu planning for the family more complex. I've read Jen Hatmaker's story and the stories of some of my friends who did the 7 food experiment. I know it's not going to be easy.

But I think it will bring me some peace and beauty. And that's why I'm doing it. That makes it worth it.

Here we go.


Monday, November 26, 2012

I Did Not Write Fundamorphosis To ...

I've written several times about why I wrote Fundamorphosis: How I Left Fundamentalism But Didn't Lose My Faith (herehere, and here). I've talked about some of the process and what I hoped to accomplish by telling my story. Today I thought I'd flip the coin and talk about some of the things I didn't write Fundamorphosis to accomplish.

These things were not my goal:

1. I did not write Fundamorphosis to convince you to agree with me.
The book is my story not yours. I hope that some of you will find yourself in it, that it will resonate with you in some way. But I don't judge the success or failure of Fundamorphosis based on how many people I persuade to agree with me. I don't mind if you disagree with my theological conclusions. I'm ok with it if you think I've gone down the wrong road. I'm cool with you saying, "Yeah ... I just don't agree with that." I think there is something much more beautiful than theological homogeny. I love the variegated beauty of truth expressed in the church. In fact, I think the church will be weaker and uglier if everyone thinks and believes like I do.

2. I did not write Fundamorphosis to make you emergent.
I self-identify as "emergent." That is a label that is anathema to some people. I've been told that the emergent church is "dangerous" and is the precursor of the one world religion of the AntiChrist. It's also a label that some think is already outdated and no longer useful. One friend who was a leading voice in the early emergent church conversation told me not to use the term at all. And, for a lot of people, it's a label that means absolutely nothing. As a proud member of gen-x, I'm supposed to eschew all labels, but I kind of like self-identifying as "emergent." And I don't mind if you don't.

3. I did not write Fundamorphosis to make you hate fundamentalists.
This book is not a polemic against fundamentalism. I tell my story and highlight what I think is wrong with fundamentalism, but I try to be very careful not to denigrate fundamentalists or their faith. I have a deep respect for fundamentalists like my grandfather, Bob Ryerse, who risked much to stand on their principles and resist what they thought was encroaching modernism in the church. As I say in the book, I could not be who I am if I had not been who I once was. I am not angry or hateful or bitter. I'm just glad that God has moved me on.