I may be a city kid that enjoys the comforts, noises and business of civilization but that does not mean that I do not have a taste for the outdoors as well. I grew up the son of a farm kid turned civil servant and thus spent some time out on the farm too and was raised with an appreciation for nature. I still remember going camping as a family in the musty, canvas, tents that would make up our home on the range for a couple weeks each summer – although in full disclosure we did switch to camping in a trailer in my teenage years. The tent was never permanent. It was not particularly water proof. It smelled funny with a combination of dirt, mold and water damage. It did not provide much security. It was home though. It was okay for a while for a change, but ultimately we all longed for the ability to settle down into the four solid walls of our house again.

I feel like I am living in a tent again. I do not have real place to set down roots in a safe, secure, defined environment. Every few days it seems someone else comes by to tell me that I cannot stay in the same place I have been making camp and that I need to move on to different places. Places that are full of trees without much level ground and that seem generally pretty lonely without much other human settlement around. Even if I realize there are other people in the same spot as me it is tough to really connect with them because we all live in our own tents and do not really get to stay in the same spot long enough to stick together. Honestly, it is getting a little tiring.

I guess it is not much different than the spot that God’s people have been finding themselves in for millennia now. The Israelites wandered around living out of tents for a long time until the settled in the promised land, and God himself had only a tent for a dwelling until Solomon built him a temple. Even later after Jesus came, the son of man did not have a place to lay his head. Should it really be much of a wonder when it feels like I do not have a really solid place to make camp right now?

It seems like the city that the neo-reformers like John Piper and Mark Driscoll have built and reside in is pretty sturdy – maybe too sturdy.  The walls they have built up are way to tight for me and keep so many wonderful people out that I would really like to have the chance to get to know and share this journey with.  On the other hand the village that the Rob Bell‘s and Brian McLaren‘s of the world have constructed seems to have so many holes in the walls that it can barely be called a village at all.  There is no comradry or security in a camp seems to allow anyone in or out, but clearly condescends to anyone who might choose to live elsewhere. I do not think I can really feel at home in either place.

Like I said, I realize there may be more places to set up camp than these two and that there are likely many people who feel just as torn and lost as I do in the wilderness between these two waring factions right now: not belonging to either and feeling like inevitable collateral damage. I fear for the others stuck out in the cold like me and hoping and praying that we might somehow be spared and find a way to set up camp together. I do not know where that ground in between is yet, but I certainly hope to find some people to travel with and set down roots with eventually. It is getting a little lonely out here.

  1. jonkramer says:

    Good thoughts.
    To run with your theme here – I think it’s much more fun to go camping with people you know than outspoken Christian celebrities.
    By all means, still read the books and engage on that level – but I think theology is best done with the flesh and blood around you – as opposed to the ether.
    That, at least, is what I think today.


    • benyamen says:

      I agree with you Jonny. By no means am I looking for a celebrity “Survivor” experience: hanging out with big names that I have no real connection to. I think my issue is that the Christian Celebrities shape the thoughts and directions of our people and churches and it would be nice if there were some reasonable voices living in the middle of the tension that our people could hang out with once in a while instead of always having to travel to the polarizing castles and villages. The only theology that really affects my life directly is that of the people I share my life with, but it’s impossible – and not even desirable really – to have them unaffected by the thoughts and actions of the public figures.


  2. mike says:

    Camping…I like that. Best done away from the cities & villages. Best done with friends & our local church communities. Best done around late night conversations and s’mores. Best done when we can occasionally look each other in the eye and ask questions.


    • benyamen says:

      If this is the case – and I think I agree with you it is – what role should the cities and villages play in the process? They are always going to be a pull to the people we go camping with and we need somewhere to go for supplies once in a while.


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