Hangin’ out with Don

An interesting Q&A here with Donald Miller as he sheds more light on his voluntary excommunication & the flare-up that ensued when he blogged his confession. I thought the following segments were particularly instructive:

  1. 21:48-23:05 where DM acknowledges a valid critique concerning his current community & confesses another reason “normal” church was/is hard
  2. 29:18-32:35 where DM sketches his idea about a possible future project he calls “Story Church”
  3. 33:28-34:30 where DM is asked how he thinks about his story in light of the church’s story
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I don’t connect with my family by reading ‘Little Critter’ books

Donald Miller has posted a follow up to his recent confession that he doesn’t go to church very often. Miller’s enlightened abandonment of the institution of the church has finally given me the courage to leave my wife and kids. Indeed, the cogency of his arguments opened my eyes to a new world of possibilities. So here goes:

Dear Chris & Children,

I’ve long since checked out of our home so I’m pretty sure this confession isn’t a surprise. While I was reading ‘Just Me in the Tub‘ to the little girls for the 4th time in 2 days I realized that I just don’t connect with my family in the traditional way. I mean, even if we were to read the best kid’s book out there I would only enjoy the quality of the story rather than the time I’m spending with my daughters. What I’m saying is that I’m just not wired to build intimacy with you all through the trappings that come with the traditional nuclear family: birthday parties, family dinner, date nights, summer vacation, etc. I know I’m nearly alone in this but like most men (no, that’s not a contradiction) I find monogamy & parenting somewhat unnatural and tedious.

But I’m ok with this (and you should be too). I’ve read enough anthropology books to know that the nuclear family isn’t for everyone. Research tells us that there are all kinds of viable alternatives to institutional marriage and our Western family tradition. My friend Gob says that when a man tries to build familial intimacy by watching his kids play or taking note of his wife’s interests that man is little more than a stalker & voyeur. I know you don’t want that kind of creep hanging around you & the kids.

In my spiritual growth & maturity I’ve come to realize that our family can’t be defined by the confines of a 4 bedroom-2 bath house. In fact, our relationship with one another will grow as we give each other the space to flourish as individuals. Call me crazy but I actually feel more connected to you & the kids when I’m out working to provide for my family. I really feel God’s pleasure when I’m earning a paycheck to mail to my family.

I know this may be hard for you. For you the nuclear family is still meaningful & fulfilling. I know members of our extended family won’t get what I’m trying to say. This letter will likely be misquoted & mischaracterized in an effort to demonize me. I get that. That usually happens when a man is honest about his thinking feelings. In time, I hope that this letter will help us to dialogue in ways that will draw us closer together. I don’t fault anyone for not seeing family in the same way I do. Most people are only equipped for binary thinking whereas I think about issues from at least a dozen different angles. (Incidentally, most of the other influential heads of households I know don’t spend much time with their wife & kids either–I’m talking about famous people that you would instantly recognize if I mentioned their names. That’s not insignificant).

I know that your chief objection to this transition will be that it seems to step outside the biblical definition of “marriage” and/or “family.” First, it’s quite a stretch to say that the modern, nuclear family (with all the modern-day trappings) is what we find when we look into Scripture. The Bible doesn’t provide specific instructions on how a family should look or behave. Let’s be honest, our marriage institution hardly resembles the marriages we see in the Bible: we didn’t wed when you were a teenager, neither of our families had a hand in putting us together, you have equal standing with me in society, and you rarely grant me the honor Scripture commands (when was the last time you wore a head covering in church? have you ever called me “lord”?). The point is that Scripture doesn’t give us a complete manual on how to build a home.

Second, beyond a few general commands to love your wife (I do) and not to exasperate your children (I don’t) God has granted much freedom for the family to evolve in form and function. By giving us shared agency in creating the family God would have us understand that he sees just one large family of mankind in which we live & move as we please.

Please don’t let my departure reflect poorly on you. I’m sure that there are plenty of other men who would thrive in such a family setting but I’ve progressed to something better.  I will always love you and the kids & you don’t need me around to know that.

Love,

Jonathan

PS-I trust God will continue to love the world through us both inside & outside our family.

Back it up, Don!

Donald Miller has created some buzz with his most recent blog post in which he confesses not going to church much because (a) he doesn’t experience intimacy (with God) in a traditional worship service (b) a traditional lecture (i.e. sermon) doesn’t suit him as a kinesthetic learner (c) he’s discovered he connects with God by working.

Whatever your thoughts on Mr. Miller’s confession I found his explanations disappointing in the absence of biblical support–even more so considering his stated erudition. For the life of me I can’t understand why he wouldn’t buttress his revelation(s) with any number of relevant passages that come to mind:

Exodus 20:8-10  “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy in the way that suits you best.  9 “Six days the kinesthetic learners shall labor and connect with Me,  10 but the seventh day is a break  from the LORD your God; they shall not do any work for they have worshiped Me for six days…

Ezra 7:9-10  the good hand of his God was upon him.  10 For Ezra had set his heart to build his company and expand it, and to sell his product among the people.

John 17:17  “Sanctify them in their business; Their business philosophy is truth.

Hebrews 5:12  For by this time you have studied psychology and education reform long enough to know a traditional lecture isn’t for everyone and you have need to learn by doing the oracles of God, you have come to need kinesthetic learning.

Hebrews 10:24-25  let us consider how to stimulate our co-workers to love their work 25 not forsaking the assembly of the team, as is the habit of some, but laboring together; and all the more as you see the weekend drawing near.

1 Peter 2:2-5  like eager entrepreneurs, long for a fulfilling career, so that by having your hand on the plow you may grow in respect to salvation,  3 if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord who gave you your mission and your team.  4 And coming to Him as to a living cog which has been rejected by the owners, but is choice and precious in the sight of God,  5 you also, as little cogs, are being built up as a spiritual machine to offer up tangible goods and services acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

1 John 2:19  They went out from us because they were not really auditory learners; for if they had been auditory learners like us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that the church is all around us.