Friday, September 30, 2011

Seriously Now - Hutchmoot 2011

I've toyed with a few posts about this year's Hutchmoot.  It is time for me to put in more than 20 minutes and get some real thoughts processed.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Hutchmoot in a Few Poems Called Clerihew

During one of the calls home during Hutchmoot I was told by my son that "I broke your hat on accident."  As odd as this proclamation may sound I knew it was true.  My hat was broken and he didn't mean to break it.  And for some reason it sounded odd but I was not surprised in the least.

I'm not sure how you break a hat, why he had my hat, how it was accidental, when he thought it was okay to need my hat, which hat (it wasn't my favorite one, Buttpaste is safe).  All of these mysteries would wait for another day.

My boy Caleb
without a mis-speak or a flub,
Informed me, he broke my hat.
I'm still unsure how he managed that.

At the mighty meeting I was asked if I was the Engineer Dan of clerihew fame.  I had been discovered, my identity revealed.  I was also once identified as "Mr. Incredible".  That identity is slightly less hidden as I wear the costume every Tuesday to work.  I receive strange looks but who wouldn't like a zip-on muscle suit. (I'm kidding, but I would like to wear it more often.)

Back to clerihews.  I like them.  4 line biography poem with the name in one of the first two lines and an odd form is acceptable or even encouraged.  They are short and threfore match my attention span.  They are an odd challenge in word play which I enjoy.

So with my clerihew hat revealed here's Hutchmoot in a few clerihew.  Not nearly a complete list and limited to the Moot speakers and some RR contributors (i.e. not other attendees).

Andrew Peterson
Surrounds himself with nerdy fun.
Where else would an introduction about "verbing" suit.
Except at a meeting called Hutchmoot.

Peterson, Pete
Organizing 'Moot is quite a feat;
He guided us better than Lance Corporal Guest
Who he sent alone on a train to Budapest.

I soaked up wise words from Jennifer Trafton
Her book holds strange lands, not with a setting sun.
Rather than stable earth that sits and does not budge
The rising, falling lands are explored by Persimmony Smudge.

Thomas McKenzie
Amidst the weekend storytelling frenzy,
Knows the secret to produce tears, happy or sad, enough to fill a cup.
Tell of gas station explosions or as Jill Phillips advised - Just Show UP!

Jonathan Rogers
Has a family full of police dodgers.
Shared of raccoon blood and pants-ing perfected.
With laughter we were all infected.

Randall Goodgame
(Wow! he has a fitting name)
For his recent albums, kids are his target ear.
I'm not sure he knows how much, to parents, he does endear.

And also there is Eric Peters
I love his music as my mind teeters.
Frustrating times, watching waters crash in
Yet pulled by grace out of our sin.

Sam - S.D. Smith
whom my Pitt battles with
I was amazed he used utensils at the dinner
being as he's from West Virginner

Andy Gullahorn
Sees music fame lacking and is forlorn.
For his shape he will not enhance
by wearing extra tight pants.

Keynote speaker - Sally Lloyd Jones
Her writing does rattle my bones.
"The Jesus Storybook Bible" brings tears when read to my young lot.
I shed them as Jesus and the Old Testament are woven and connected, dot to dot.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Hutchmoot - the morning after.

I wrote all of this during some time in the car.  I'll have more later.
It's 7:30am Sunday. I've slept for possibly 1.5hrs. Becky's pulled about the same. We've driven thru the night returning from Hutchmoot and we still have 1.5 hrs to go. The rest of the day will consist of us trying to be functional zombies thru feeding our kids lunch, getting them to soccer, me trying to coach, supper and then the Steelers playing tonight. Right now the clouds are a lovely blue-gray with a crimson thread laced into the bottoms. It's been awhile since we say a sunrise together. We've been awake at the right time before just never side by side facing the correct direction.

What better time and condition to write some notes about a weekend that goes like a whirlwind also.

We stopped by McKays bookstore in Nashville before sneaking into the moot. That place is huge. I feel like we only skimmed the surface pieces of gold and gems in that massive treasure chest. I'm jealous but it's surely a good thing that such a store is not in my neighborhood; I'd be broke.

We got to Hutchmoot for session 3. We were in film with Thomas McKenzie and Chris Wall. My quick mental notes pouring out: some stories are best told as film, most (all) films are about redemption or the lack there of, “UP!” still makes me weep.

After lunch there was some time for small groups (6 ppl) with various RR staff who were available in ½ hour timeslots. I had some time with Thomas McKenzie and Matt Conner. I did this so that I could pick their brains on community in Grove City. My church is wonderfully supportive. My main burning passion right now is to draw any interest out of other churches or folks in the community. A few things I picked up from this – it is not my job or in my power to “wake up” other churches. Make the personal connections and then worry about the items. This was good.

Becky had been in a different small group and then we met up and snuck into the Justin Gerard small group. Justin is a superb illustrator. We just had free time and this had empty seats, just was such a wonderful conversation. He has fears. Voices that tell him he produces garbage and his work isn't good. He makes many things that end up in the trashcan as part of the building process. The idea that “I will draw this image, when I am better” - some illustrations need to wait.

After dinner (which was awesome) the keynote speaker was Sally Lloyd Jones. Sally is the author of the “Jesus Storybook Bible”. Other books too but this one was truly inspired and is truly a vessel holding something much more than human hands alone created. It tells the gospel in such a powerful way and the idea that “every story whispers his name” makes powerful connections. It is giving kids lessons that not only last a lifetime, they build for a lifetime.  These are lessons big kids need too.

Sally shared from many of her books. Her selection from the JSB was of “Daniel and the Scary Sleepover”. Last Sunday I was up for leading Children's Church at my congregation. After the Children's Sermon they get to go learn whatever lesson elsewhere. There wasn't much guidance on what to do so I took in the JSB we read this story, drew pictures and then read it again with some actions. The kids loved it, as did I.   I loved hearing it again too. Sally has a unique ability to write to a child and from a child's perspective.

Other take aways from Sally's address – value children; talk up to them, not down; simply told stories, not watered down; childlike not childish; don't ruin a good story by asking "okay, what does this mean?"; mystery is magic.

After Sally there was an oral storytime. It would be a disservice to try to retell the stories of others but I can state that this was fun. There was much laughter.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Moot Day 2

(this will be quick with minimal proofreading.)
I didn't have a day 1 post because it was a very nice meal and then a Square Pegs (and friends) private concert.  The concert was excellent.  Andy Gullahorn breaking out a new song "Skinny Jeans" was my personal highlight.  There is such a richness in all of the music, and each performer brought a different color to the canvas that made for a beautiful night.

Onto Friday.

Session 1 - Building a Co-Creative Community
Lead by Thomas MacKenzie and Matt Conner
I went into this with some faint hope of hearing a miracle solution of how to break thru the walls that are preventing Grove City churches from working together.  I didn't quite hear that.  It was more aimed at the creative person and telling them to step out, connect with someone.  You have permission to try to share your dream.  There was also a sentiment expressed of "live like you've already won the war".  Much of revolution is self serving - fighting a battle to get permission to hang art in the church for example.  Just show up with the art and ask "where do you want me to hang this?"

This was a refreshing reminder of the blessings of my VERY supportive church, a VERY supportive wife and some great recent community starts in Grove City.

Session 2 - Children's Literature
Lead by S.D. Smith (if that is his real name) and Jennifer Trafton
Despite being from WV, I enjoy Sam.  He brought a parents perspective to children's literature and the importance of story for growing into being "child-like" and not "childish".  Being able to reach back and enjoy rather than stuck and unable to reach up.  I think Chesterton nails this with his idea of gratitude. Roughly - if I can be grateful for stuffed Christmas stockings why can I not be grateful for legs to stuff my stockings every day.
Jennifer stole the show in relating children's literature from a writers perspective.  She had so much great insight.  Insight into not just writing for a moral or a point, writing for a story and character and the moral or symbolism might flow into the story but it isn't the story.  There is a rumor (she said it) her talk will be posted which will be well worth reading and enjoying again.  I am excited for any book she gets out there. 

Lunch was catered by Baja Burrito.  No wonder this place is so well loved.
For dinner Evie had some wonderful homemade bread, salad, and Italian Wedding soup.  I don't know who the Italian is who got married, but they sent over some yummy stuff.

The Jason Gray launch concert was great.  Jason has a stage vulnerability and humility that is charming and inviting.  The build-up to the powerful closing of "Thank You Jesus" was incredible.   A great show.  I can throw superlatives and comparisons at it and it still won't be adequate.  Powerful and moving.

One last thought - an epiphany thought.  Jason mentioned Genesis 3 and being cursed to toil the ground and work; there will be thistles and thorns.  A lightning bolt thought hit me to how God uses the very curse to crown Jesus.  There's MUCH more depth to that, I just had to write it down before it slipped away. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Hutch 1! Hutch 2!

Hutchmoot is this weekend. What is a Hutchmoot? (click to read)
I made it to the first one last year, HM-MMX, and am even more excited for this year's convention.  I get to have my wife with me.  Last year was awesome. Food. Fellowship. Music. Stories. And as cool as that 1.5 days were, they paled to the growth & transformation out of it. (see here)

For this year, we missed the six hour window during ticket sales and ended up on the waiting list.  And we waited to the point of assuming we wouldn't get in.  Last Thursday we received an e-mail that spots had opened up and we could get in.  We talked & prayed and decided to take the plunge.

This is nerve racking for a few reasons.  My dad has graciously and wonderfully volunteered to burn some vacation time and watch our kids.  Can he handle a 3 y/o ninja?  It costs money.  Can we swing it?   It's a 10hr drive each way.  Will the car hold up?  Will the conversation hold up?  Will we be held up?

I woke up around 3:30 last night.  I saved my 7 y/o from a scary stuffed animal (she called it scary and I agree; it was truly intimidating, it kept looking at you) and then laid there for about 20 minutes.  No sleep met my eyes so I went downstairs and read.  I tried that sleeping thing again around 4:30.  It was like the mountain in the distance that never gets any closer; and it never got closer.  Crawl out of bed at 5:00 and start routine to head into work.

The entire time of being awake my mind kept stirring.  It was an odd mix of nervous anxiety for the trip and preparations, as well as anticipation for a full weekend of excitement.  Like the pressure of having to build all the kids toys the night before Christmas and still being excited for Christmas morning.  I'm trying to not pester Becky with my flitting between the two extremes; not sure it's working. 

I'm also trying to keep a limit on my expectations.  Last year I had high hopes and was blown away.  What are the chances it can repeat?  I'm trying not to ponder that, trying to just go and enjoy it.  Enjoy the spiritual feeding and a quality weekend Becky.

I'm pretty sure Wednesday night may require an extra toast to the end of the day (Straub) to help me sleep through the night.  To the Moot.

"We talk of art as something artificial in comparison with life.  But I sometimes fancy that the very highest art is more real than life itself.  At least this is true; that in proportion as passions become real they become poetical; the lover is always trying to be the poet." GK Chesterton

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Bridge Jumping

Stonebridge is on the outside of town (Mount Joy) on Pinkerton Road.  It was built in the 1880's and has withstood time better than most modern bridges.  The simple and lasting design has a spirit of integrity and thinking of the future.  A stone bridge.  It straddles a creek that isn't wide enough to skip stones across.  With some practice you can skip diagonal or down the length where it bend.  Even with a good angle you might get 5 skips before hitting the other side.

As a bored teenager in a small town somehow we developed a game we referred to as "bridge jumping".  Some evenings we would sit at the top of this high arch bridge and talk, sometimes smoking cigars, and solve all the worlds problems.  This was actually the setup to the game to talk until the first indications of a car was coming.  Then we would sprint away from the car down the arch until it was estimated to be a safe height to jump over the side to the ground.  The idea was to remain "unseen" even though our ride was generally 50 feet away on the side of the road. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering 9/11

10 years ago I was working 3rd shift at USAirways.  3rd shift is weird.  I could come home and eat a bowl of spaghetti, enjoy steak & beer, or go for a bowl of cereal.  All seemed to fit because 3rd shift was so unnatural it made everything else natural.

I was asleep on the couch and Becky called to tell me an airplane crashed.  While plane crashes are tragic and rare, they happen.  As an "insider" we tended to watch them and follow them more closely.  Sleep to my weary eyes was a more pressing need than watching news about a plane crash.  And return to sleep I did.

She called back about 45minutes later and told me this looks more serious.  I watched the news all the rest of that day.  Numb is the best word to describe it.  You wanted answers: who? why? where? how many? Is any of my family in danger?

Those answers would be filled in over the next few weeks and months but the real ache of "why" could still be lingering today.  "Why" doesn't always get answered.

 Andrew Peterson wrote "The Silence of God" out of that tragedy.  It puts words to it better than I ever could.  It still stands as one of my favorite songs.

So here 10 years out it is a time to remember.  The world doesn't always make sense.  There is evil in the world.  Even tragedies have heroes.  The tragedies don't define heroes it just helps us to see them; and they tend to be the people who defy the tragedy to just do what they do.  Thanks to all police, firefighters, and military for doing what you do.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

My New Favorite Passage

"This paradox is the whole principle of courage; even of quite earthly or quite brutal courage.  A man cut off by the sea may save his life if he will risk it on the precipice." Orthodoxy, GK Chesterton

John 6:60-69.
60 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”
61 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! 63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit[e] and life. 64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65 He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.”
66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.
68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

I have a new favorite passage.  It may only be there for a few days (3 now), it may reside for the rest of my life.

 It has been awakening and refreshing to me for a few reasons.  This sticks in my head (along with the rich young ruler) as a time when the hard teaching presses followers (or potential followers) to the wall and some walk away.  Then Peter's response rattled my bones.

First, Jesus's teachings are not always easy.  The more you look at them the harder they are.  That's refreshing at a time when so much seems to get fluffed up and sugar coated to be consumable.  All the while losing substance and leaving you empty.  From the world, it is generally assumed and taught that Jesus was a pacifist and sought some middle road to make everyone happy.  He was a candyman handing out happy treats to  followers and churches should do the same.  Lie.  He told his followers to be ready to bear a cross.  1.A is that I shouldn't expect to be able to offer the truth as a message of ease and comfort.  This is more a point of conviction rather than rejoicing for me; I'm not seeking to upset people and generally keep my mouth shut rather than stir up people I don't know.  Truth in love may (and will) mean teaching hard things.

Second, people stopped following and went away.  This was a dividing line teaching (Jesus came as a sword, Matt 10).  If the faith of the followers was a logical ascent to something higher, or chasing a candyman they went home at this point. If my faith is only worth following when it makes sense or when it makes my belly happy I'm in trouble.  It isn't faith at all it is a convenient rewards program.

Third, I love Peter's answer to the question of "You do not want to leave too, do you?"  It wasn't a matter of wanting to leave, he answers - where am I to go?  You hold life.   Not completely unrelated to the point above, I may not always understand the truth but I can trust and know that the source is the the source of life and the only source of life.  There may be points during a confusing time when the desire is low, but that doesn't change Jesus being the source.  It actually reinforces the need for drinking straight from the source.  "We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God".

Fourth, is that all of the other teachings may be mental ascents or candyman chasing as well, there will reach a point where you have to chose to go home or press on.  The only reason to press on is if it is known and trusted as a life giving source.  When the path gets tough; or the formula or rituals crumble under the weight of the world; are you left saying "huh, I guess I'll go home" or at a point of belief and knowing "I can go back to a house but it is empty, I need to stay by the side of Jesus for that's where my life is found".

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tell me the story...again

"In painting and music we are inferior to many other nations; but in literature, science, philosophy, and political eloquence, if history be taken as a whole, we can hold our own with any.  But all this vast heritage of intellectual glory is kept from our schoolboys like a heresy; and they are left to live and die, in the dull and infantile type of patriotism which they learn from a box of tin soldiers." - GK Chesterton

In school, I hated history.  It was boring memorization of dates and names; and never the story of the people involved.  It was left as small-talk "hi", instead of interesting "story".

2/3 of my kids start off to school today.  They may be too young to delve too deeply into history but when it does occur I hope their teachers are storytellers and not small talkers.