In the mountains of western Massachusetts the Lord has built a foundry out of which are cast all manner of instruments for His service. These hammers, these nails - these scalpels and swords were fashioned from metals made molten by the crucible of confrontation, study, independence, and community. This experience and environment is unlike any other and has provided its products a peculiar ethic and a wonderful worldview. Those of us tempered in this foundry are a league of useful soldiers and in the kingdom we are the Lenox Order of Saints.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Healthy Discontent

The practice of tithing seems to be going the way of the gray flannel suit, the top hat, and the diagrammed sentence - "nice and proper and all but. . ."  Why do you suppose the younger generations aren't signing up for a regimented program of giving that involves forking over a percentage of their pay?  Is it the ascendancy of the secular values of personal peace and affluency as Francis Schaeffer warned?  Is it the despairing of ever seeing any appreciable return on their investment?  is it a conscious or subconscious protest against the traditional institutions?  Have we just lost our nerve?

Whatever the causes - as the infrastructure of our church's income crumbles so will its actual brick and mortar construction begin to crumble as well.  When the herd is thinned over the next fifty years and most of the little steepled buildings have been sold and "repurposed" will our children find a home in the megachurches that alone remain standing?  I doubt it.  Where, then, will they meet?  How will they meet. Why will they meet at all?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Permanent Fatal Errors

"Blindness separates us from things but deafness separates us from people." ~ Helen Keller

Our class of fourteen graduated on Saturday and their commencement address was delivered by Sue Thomas, a woman who has been deaf since she was eighteen months old.  She overcame her disability to lead a very successful and productive life - even working for the FBI for a time as a lip reader.  She shared with the class that what embittered her the most about being deaf was that it kept her from the thing she most loved and longed to have: meaningful relationships with people.  She wanted a friend.  What a wonderful thing it was to hear her tell of how she eventually found that friend.  The silence left her only to listen for the One whose voice is inaudible and whose fellowship unbreakable.  The silence she had despised became the sanctuary she adored as she came into a loving relationship with the Lord there.

Miss Thomas's remarks reminded me of an old Michael Knott song I used to listen to back in high school (Knott was in the band The Throes for all you alternative Christian music people out there).  The song's entitled Deaf and Dumb - it tries to explain why it would be desirable to no longer be able to hear or speak.  If the main delivery system for lies, deceptions, half-truths, and seduction is by what we listen to then wouldn't it be best to be deaf and if the vast majority of the utterances of my understandings only add to the sum total of all that is in error then wouldn't it be best that I be dumb?  You get the idea I think.  Obviously this is just the expression of the frustration we all feel with ourselves at times and not a viable plan of action - we'd never choose these disabilities for ourselves - not really.  The gifts of God are wonderful in the joys they provide and terrible in the accounting that must be given for how we've redeemed them.  I believe that BICS provides an opportunity for its students to be deaf and dumb for a year.  BICS can be a great place to be quiet and listen for the Word and its wisdom if one doesn't spit the bit, toss his rider, and gallop away.  Do you miss the silence?  

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Why They Might Frame Their Diploma

In the movie A Man for All Seasons Sir Thomas More takes his good friend and noble, the Duke of Norfolk, to task for his spiritual apathy.  He tells him that "the nobility of England would have snored through the sermon on the mount; but they'll labor like scholars over a bulldog's pedigree."  It was a difficult word but a well-driven one.  More, who would eventually have his head cut off by King Henry VIII for his unwillingness to forsake his private conscience for the sake of his public duty, loved his sleep-walking friend and cared more for the condition of Norfolk's soul than for his own life.

A BICS education is a lot of things - biblical studies in the deep end of the pool, personal finance out on the end of the limb, community living with the more simian quarters of the animal kingdom, and so on and so forth - but I wonder if the education we most appreciate now is the education we found most unnerving then.  I'm speaking of the education that came at us sideways while sitting across from PB in the corner office - those times when our self-examination was deemed insufficient for the job and the administration took over.  We were all taken to task at some point weren't we?  We were all loved and shown that discipleship was more important to Steve, Wes, Mike and the others than having the good opinion of a bunch of dudes and drama queens.  God bless them for it and, after sitting in on this year's exit interviews, may I say - they've still got it!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Our Fried Dough Friday Communion

Every family develops a culture all its own complete with a language, a calendar of high holy days, and a shorthand for the shared history of the family's ups, downs, and all arounds.  Now - in the BICS family life - is there a more beloved and hallowed bit of culture than that of Donut Day?  For the modern BICS student - the serving of fresh Dunkin Donuts bagels and doughnuts is an institution as fixed and routine as the morning manna for the wandering Israelite.  For those of us alumni who were here in more ancient times, we remember that the promise of a doughnut on Friday was much less sure.  But we've all known the peculiar pleasure of shuffling from class to the break room thick-headed from the morning lecture to find on the table boxes full of sweet fried dough topped with icing and sprinkles and powdered sugar!