I spent the weekend in the Ozarks at a wilderness retreat center where the horses ran loose and there was no cell or internet signal. It was lovely.
When you're sharing a few lodges under these circumstances with 60 other wedding guests you begin to see small glimpses of who we are aside from our instagram feed and twitter stream.
When the means to tell the world what we think is so readily available, I think we think less and talk more. For instance, if we read a piece that is rife with sentence fragments and poor structure, but one sentence resonates deeply in us, we want everyone to know that This Is A Really Good Piece, when it's clearly not. On the other hand, we can't be bothered to read full paragraphs hardly at all anymore because Who Has Time For Full Paragraphs When There Are Fragments To Be Read Instead? The problem is that the less we read full paragraphs, the less we spot a fragment when we see it. In fact, an entire piece could be made of fragments and we wouldn't know it.
I know the arguments, "Who can decide what is beautiful to another's eye?" and all that. I understand that beauty is in the eye of the beholder blah blah blah. But if the beholder can only be beholden to look at garbage all day long, the garbage will begin to look delectable.
I am no purist in the sense that I'm against language changing, but I am a purist in the sense that it is very important that we understand what Good really is, or even Half-Way-Good. And that we don't find ourselves calling what is Not-Good or Very-Bad, good.
The only way we can do this is to feast our eyes on what really is good. And the only way we can do that is to promote what is good. It doesn't help to promote bad art just because everyone's a winner. Everyone is not a winner, and if they must be, that's fine, but we don't all have to be a winner at the same thing. If words ain't yo thang, try another thang. There are so many, many things in the world to try that are infinitely more beautiful than words, it's just that our words have never, ever been so free to be bandied about to the four corners of the earth in an instant.
All this has me thinking about the Gospel, of course, and how slow we are to spot a counterfeit when it is present. A little bit of leaven leavens the whole loaf, said Paul to the Galatians when speaking of tossing a little law into the Gospel. But the only way to know and understand the fullness of the Gospel is to feast on the real thing every day, with more clarity and more wonder at its beauty and sufficiency.
So I am a purist, in a sense. I want to reach into the deeps and pull out truth, and reach back in and pull out more, and keep reaching, keeping clinging, keep turning my eyes to Jesus—the master author, the master finisher. I want to promote what is most holy, most pure, most full of grace and goodness, and that is Him. And friend, there are so many counterfeits out there—probably a few in our own lives, other authors or speakers or friends or children or parents or books or shows or jobs—things that threaten at every turn to take our eyes off of Him, off of All That Is Good.
Away from our instagram feeds and twitter streams this weekend, we talked and laughed and gifts burgeoned up. Guitars strummed, clear voices sang in the night around the fire—Edward Sharpe's Home and Amazing Grace and a few originals. The work of our hands was there in decor and food and dresses and bouquets and music and it was so good. The canyon and the river and the untouched hills and the stars—friends, it was pure and so good.
It was the real thing.