The Common Good

Rob Bell Is @&^*!ing With Me: Part, The Third

The Rev. Crankypants himself, trying to tune his banjo on the beach. Meh. Photo by Cathleen Falsani/Sojourners.

Reentry is often a pain in my ass. 

It's true. I get a chance to get away from it all, to spend some time with friends and begin to unwind and it's glorious. But then there's the return trip home. It always takes longer. It's like slogging through Chicago slush. Painful. Unpleasant. So, after years of dealing with this side of my personality, I've tried to develop a habit of articulating the positives of leaving. Here's the audio recording of one such attempt.

I offer the above as a confession of sorts, a witness to what actually went down and what I know to be true. Sometimes I need the reminder.

I rise on the wrong side of the bed the day after spending time in contemplation and wonderment. It happens. I apologize to Spouse and try not to step on any toes.

The Rev. Crankypants is in the house. 

So, to undo the crankyness, I want to thank Brother Rob for his kind attentions over the last few days. I want to thank him for letting me use his name in such a scandalous way as I have. His coattails are long. It's astonishing how using his name in such a title can bring traffic to one's blog. It's a little embarrassing, really.

Rob is a good man trying to do some radical stuff. He has a ministry to those who understand the call to be fully awake and alive in this world as a radical posture.  

Again and again I have said that life together is not about agreement. It's not about liberal or progressive or conservative, but it's about being awake. It's about being in love with one another. 

But there I sat in Laguna Beach on our last night trying so desperately to speak without shouting for no apparent reason. I wanted so badly to be known, to be heard. It's arrogance, loneliness, and not just a little jealousy. Forgive me, but there it is. To keep myself sane, I kept returning to this sermon from St. John Chrysostom

Let no one grieve being poor,
for the universal reign has been revealed.

Let no one lament persistent failings,
for forgiveness has risen from the grave.

Let no one fear death,
for the death of our Saviour has set us free.
The Lord has destroyed death by enduring it.
The Lord vanquished hell when he descended into it.
The Lord put hell in turmoil even as it tasted of his flesh.

Isaiah foretold this when he said,
"You, O Hell, were placed in turmoil when he encountering you below."

It's just a snippet. I encourage you to read it all. Hell is vanquished. It's done. That I insist on reinventing it for myself is an ongoing curiosity. That communities of people recreate it for their neighbors is an ongoing crisis for all of us. What if we were to awaken to this truth? What if we were to awaken to the truth that the tables have been overturned and the cruelty of society is simply our own cruelty? It's us. It's not God. It's not karma. It's not divine judgment or even a crusade. Cruelty, evil, sin...it's all real. It's all from us.

This means, I believe, that health, love, sweetness, tenderness, kindness, love, and mercy are also ours to enact. They are for us to bring. We don't need to wait for them to come. Instead, we are called to act.

Not enough love in the world? Be loving.
Not enough courage in the world? Be courageous.
Not enough graciousness in the world? Be gracious.
Not enough tenderness in the world? Be tender.

That's all it takes. It's on us. We owe it to one another. We need to do this for one another. Such actions as those listed above are not intended to be selfish. Not at all. These are actions for others. Love somebody. Be courageous on behalf of someone else. Be gracious to someone. Be tender to someone. 

Rob would remind me that to do all of this we have to care about ourselves enough to be awake. Be awake. Sleepers, wake! 

I'm trying, Rob. I am. I just keep getting up on the wrong side of the bed. 

Thanks for everything.

Tripp Hudgins is a doctoral student in liturgical studies at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, Calif., and associate pastor of First Baptist Church of Palo Alto, Calif. You can read more of his writings on his longtime blog, "Conjectural Navel Gazing; Jesus in Lint Form" at AngloBaptist.orgFollow Tripp on Twitter @AngloBaptist.

Read the Rev. Crankypants' earlier entries about his experiences with Rob Bell (and others) this week by clicking the links below:

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