Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Semi-Worms (Exiles 5)

I didn't really anticipate writing a Series of Worms out of my reading of Frost's Exiles: Living Missionally in a Post-Christian Culture. This certainly doesn't qualify as a proper book review, which may be why nobody ever asks me to review books! It was more of a series of ponderings provoked by Frost's tome.

I'd probably advocate this book as being near the top of any list of books to read about the emerging/missional church. I found this book, at times, to provoke the following reactions:
  • deep thought
  • hearty agreement
  • "you're reading my mail" resonance
  • I'll have to think more about that, and
  • Frosty, I'm about to drag you through shards of broken glass before dumping your bruised and bleeding carcass into a swimming pool filled with iodine...
I think any book that can evoke such a range of reactions would qualify as a good read. I'll get to the reason behind my last reaction in a later post, but this one will just comment briefly on Frost's chapters on justice, the poor, and the persecuted, and also on ecology and environmentalism as part of our stewardship of Creation. Frost cranks out such a long list of human rights abuses around the world, horrendous recountings of torture and murder of Christians, observations and predictions of the ecological rape of Planet Earth... well, at the end of these two profoundly disturbing chapters, I felt overwhelmed and useless.

I had not a clue as to how I could possibly even begin to delve into these issues. The implications of each of these areas was mind-numbing and soul-sucking in its enormity. I mean, I do have a link to Operation World at the top of this blog, as well as a link to Voice of the Martyrs in the sidebar, but that suddenly seemed woefully inadequate -- almost juvenile in its naive assumption that somehow having two simple little HTML links on a blog could actually make a difference. I mean, I guess I could add more links to justice-oriented sites, like One: the Campaign to Make Poverty History, but would providing more links help, or just serve to blind and deafen people through a heavy-handed brow-beating?

What I finally came around to was simply this:

Pick one.

Poverty. The persecuted church. Justice for the unborn (remember abortion? is it an issue of justice, or is it too embarrassingly "Christian Right" for uber-cool emerging missional types?). Ecological responsibility (which may or may not include some kind of political activism).

Just pick one. Do something. Anything. Don't get overwhelmed by the enormity of it all.

Pick one.


  1. I hate FREAKIN' worms, Robby! Enough already. And puhleeze, turn off Snap Preview for the love of all things Ontarian.

  2. although i am interested in what prompted the shards of glass and pool of iodine response...

    i liked this post.
    i get overwhelmed by the amount of heartbreak and heartbreaking issues. like you, what good am i really doing about it?

    i like your response...find the one that speaks loudest to your heart and DO something about it.
    make a goal. and do it.

  3. How about pick all, but do what you can for all of them in only one place (where you are). It's impossible to champion every cause every where, but can we in word support those causes (I mean actually verbally say we support them) and in action (by what we actually physically do) support what is happening 'in our own backyard'? And then rely on the God-given passion & compassion within you as well as the Holy Spirit to guide you in your response.

    I agree though, it can be completely overwhelming. Thank God for a God who is bigger than that stuff.

  4. It's nice to hear that I'm not the only one a little frustrated with portions of the book. I have a couple chapters left, and then I'd like to go back and remind myself of the parts I really liked.

  5. having read similar things about the book, I decided to wait until a time i felt particularly "tough" to pick it up. good point about picking one cause. when we're doing okay with one, we can choose another to add.

  6. My children quit trying to do my job for me.
    You are useless, and my strength is perfected in your weakness.

    Sovereign Abba

  7. ps
    Try reading my book for a change.


  8. I just love it when Swedish bands show up.

  9. Bill,

    I'm so sorry to hear of your wormaphobia. Although I must confess, invoking Ontario doesn't exactly move mountains for us Westerners (however transplanted we may be). :)


    The shards 'n' iodine will become clear very soon.


    I hear you; I just need to have some starting point, or I'll angst myself into paralysis trying to encompass it all at once!


    I usually find that when I recommend a book, I have to be careful to be clear that my liking a certain book doesn't mean I agree with everything in it. Usually it's a mixed bag, but if it makes me think, challenges me, and even if it really chafes my buns at times, it's worth recommending.


    Yes! Start somewhere and add as the journey unfolds and the Spirit leads.

    To He Or She Who Presumptuously (And Perhaps Blasphemously) Impersonates A Deity,

    I completely agree: "Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me.

    "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing." (John 15:4-5)

    And thanks for the reminder to read God's Word, which certainly trumps Frost and possibly even Andrew Jones.


    Good to hear from you! Has Sweden ever apologized about Abba and their contribution to the cultural downfall of the late 1970's?

  10. Robot - we shouldn't blame Sweden for ABBA, but rather the entire continent of Europe. It was, after all, Eurovision that put them on top, wasn't it?

    People who pretend that they're God on the internet are silly.


  11. Robby, I finished Exiles today and like you, I'd reccomend it as a must read. The temptation is to start a book group to discuss it and study it at length, but as with the bible in general and the gospels in particular, that would be totally missing the point that the author was making. This is about changed living, about taking action in some very specific ways. I'm sure there's a bunch of people who feel the same, lets hope and pray we all actually start living it - and that we live up to the words that Michael Frost wrote.

    Great book and I hope it has a massive impact on how you live the rest of your life.


  12. Forgive me if I overstep, but I want to add to your pick one... Pick one that comes to you after prayer and seeking how God has impassioned and gifted you. Look to your calling and to the Holy Spirit to help you in that search as you determine how to serve in the Kingdom.

    May we not be as the servant who took his one mina or talent and simply hid it. Invest the talents/minas you have been given into the Kingdom.

  13. Duncan,

    Funny you should mention a book club approach to Exiles; Emerging Grace and I were lamenting our geographical distance from each other and people like Brother Maynard, Jamie Arpin-Ricci, etc. We thought it would be a good discussion, but -- as you point out -- only if we were in the position to put things into practice in our own context.


    Amen to that! What's that saying? "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step?" Or maybe, "Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things." (Matthew 25:21)


    No over-stepping, not at all! Thanks for the Spirit-led reminder. Kinda takes us back to Emerging Grace's phrase (which I really like and use wherever possible): "Charismissional" (Spirit-led Missional Living).

    Thanks for stopping by and leaving some wisdom!