Sorry I've been offline for what feels like many days now. I spent almost a week in a remote setting in far northern Minnesota, sometimes alone, sometimes with my brother Les and sometimes with my good friend and hunting partner Jason. The shack pictured here has been my family's getaway spot since before I was born. It's fifteen miles from the nearest paved road, ten miles from the nearest permanent neighbor, and lies along a dead end road through the peat bog. It is the site of many of my fondest childhood and adult memories, and a place of refuge and renewal for me. The interior includes a cast iron pump, four squeaky bunks, an uneven floor, an oil stove that is singularly ineffective at heating the place on cold nights, and a bevy of well-used mouse traps. (Score last week was five to nothing -- in my favor.) The trip turned out to be some much needed decompression time -- time to play (I have the scars and several ruffed grouse breasts in the freezer and one significant deer tick bite to prove it) and time to reflect.
The play time involved walking on average about ten miles each day on remote forest trails, hunting and exploring and tracking and climbing trees. I spent a lot of hours just thinking back to good memories of my Dad, who loved this place and started coming here with his "gang" of hunting buddies back in the 1950's. He brought his kids up here for a weekend or two each summer to play in the woods, and sometimes to drive out to Upper Red Lake and fish for walleyes.
The reflection was mostly journaling and scripture and listening. The listening involved a lot of just listening to the silence, but also listening to some excellent biblical teaching by Anglican Bishop N. T. Wright, one of the premiere evangelical teachers of our time. If you're interested, you can access the stuff I've been listening to at the Unofficial N. T. Wright page. There's a ton of material here, but there are some excellent talks -- especially the ones delivered at the InterVarsity Press Conference right at the beginning of the audio section. I've listened to several of these talks three and four times, and get something new out of them each time. I so appreciate Wright's earnestness about taking the Bible seriously for what it really says, not what we assume it says. That can be a real challenge. I don't think he always reaches the right conclusions, but I think he's right (no pun intended) more often than not. He talks a great deal about the world of the first century and what Jesus' words and actions might have meant to his original hearers. Unlike so many "historical Jesus" scholars (e.g. the whole Jesus Seminar crowd) Wright takes the Bible seriously as the historical source for what Jesus actually said and did. By taking this approach, Wright helps us get beyond our formulas and our preconceptions about Jesus and really to begin to take his message, his life, his death, and his resurrection seriously.
I have found this listening an amazing way to deepen and broaden my biblical study and reflection -- I encourage you to check it out!
This coming week I should be around a little more full-time and hopefully will have a chance to post more often. Thanks for checking back!