Sunday, 29 March 2009

good ol' Charlie Brown

Garrison Keillor was born here in Minnesota, which was something I didn’t realise, but has meant I’ve warmed to the place and know have to go home and dust off ‘Lake Wobegon Days.’ Another famous Minnesotan, whom I have read much more, is Charles Schulz who comes from here in Minneapolis – it’s a great shame the Charles Schulz Museum is in California where he lived during his latter years. The most disappointing thing I learnt today was the fact that the amusement park in the middle of the Mall, which I didn’t like, used to be ‘Camp Snoopy’ – now that I would have loved! Apparently, according to our guide, the wonderful pat Ellison, the Schulz estate wanted more money, after Charles had died, than the Mall was prepared to give, so they re-located. Charlie Brown was excellent at theological reflection. Theological reflection, as I understand it, is something I’m committed to, but the phrase itself be quite misleading. It seems to me that thinking about God and his ways (theology) was never intended to become the end in itself we so easily make it. Maybe it’s spending a few days with people who are mostly theologians before anything else I’m getting anxious to see the practical outworking of some of the conversations we’ve been having. ‘Theological momentum’ is what we need. Speaking with Danie and Frederick, both here from South Africa, I can understand why they feel aggrieved by the European writing off of what is a phenomenal move of God’s spirit across the continent as being ‘a mile wide and an inch deep’. How can we become so arrogant when we’d love to see a small part of the fruitfulness they are witnessing? Sure, they’ll be the first to say they need more depth, teaching, maturity, but I’d swop a bit of ‘maturity’ for some of their fruitfulness any day. ‘Reflection’, even when it is about God, can become like being on a roundabout. Sometimes you get off with your head so dizzy you think you’ve gone somewhere, whereas in reality you’ve merely moved around the cycle a little, but remain unmoved and unchanged.  British Baptists can do round-abouts, but I wouldn’t want to swop places with some of the situations I’m learning about from Scandinavia, Germany and Holland, for example. Not a question for me, at least, of the grass being greener on the other side.

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