What’s your story?

Good morning everyone! Since I am at a women in leadership conference this weekend called Convergence, we have a guest blogger this morning.

Jeff Peterson is one of my dearest friends in McMinnville. He is a sociology professor at Linfield and has a passion for integrating students into their surroundings. He is also a man with deep faith and a passionate heart. I think you will enjoy what he has to say…..

1 Corinthians 1:18-25
1:18 For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

1:19 For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

1:20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

1:21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe.

1:22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom,

1:23 but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,

1:24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

1:25 For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.

I’ve spent a lot of the past couple of weeks talking about a very dangerous concept – post-modernism. I’ve covered it in class with students, friends have asked me to explain it, and I’ve found myself using it as a tool to explain some of the things going on around me.

My best, brief, and not terribly sophisticated, summary for you is that post-modernism is a collection of ideas used by sociologists to counter notions that give privilege to the idea of “modernism,” or the thought that somehow we are “progressing” from the concept of “primitive,” to the modern.  You may often recognize a post-modernist, because s/he uses terms like “identity,” “discourse,” “deconstruction,” and if they are really hard core, words and phrases like “diachronic” and “inscription on the body.” (It’s okay, I have to look up “diachronic” all the time too…). Post-modernism is difuse, unorganized and not entirely really a theory about behavior, but a collection of ideas about them, and it drives many colleagues nuts.

But, on the other hand, post-modernism, is beautiful for it’s decentering, for the way in which it takes away that comfortable idea – that somehow we are “progressing” towards something that feels like we should be working toward (modernism). It forces us to go out into the world and listen to people, to, as I was telling a friend last night, go out and find a way to let people tell THEIR story, because each and every story, each and every person has a way of looking at the world, understanding it and then using that information to guide their behavior.

When I read the scripture above, it reminded me of my recent conversations – it is decentering, it is a mind-numbingly different order of things, and the people of God are being told that all that they knew and understood was now different. The Jews and the Greeks are being told their previous ways are not valid anymore, and that new ways of “knowing” the world are in place, and that is a very scary thing.

I would also argue that this is not a call to battle, to go out and beat people over the head for Christ. It is a call to go out and learn about others. The scribe, the debater, the person who sits in the room and simply tries to discern, are all people who are disconnected from the world, in the sense of having any real connection to God and God’s will. The scripture calls for us to accept that we may not be wise, and it frees us from thinking that we are “God-like” and instead suggests that we need to be “Jesus-like” as we go out into the world, and those are two different things, to me.

So, how are we going out into the world? How are we not only gathering stories from others, but giving those stories the power, validity and weight that they deserve? Do we truly know what it is like to be homeless and not have anyplace to go? How do we find wisdom, not in our own personal power or reflections, but through the people with whom Christ would have interacted? And how do we support each other as we make our way, often stumbling badly, in this world? Because it is decentering, there is no one way, and knowing that sometimes, the only and best comfort that we have is the fact that we do not have to be as wise as God.

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