I am at the Melbourne International Youth Hostel, reclining in my glorious bunk bed, sharing the lamplight with my 70-year-old roommate, Eileen. There is supposedly a kid from Boston signed in the book downstairs, but I haven’t seen him. In fact, all I’ve seen is Eileen, and another old lady watching TV in the lounge. Eileen are the only people in this 6-bunk room, and I just took a nice shower and there is a cool, rainy breeze coming through the window by my bed. I haven’t seen rain in two-and-a-half months, and it is fantastic. All for $14.75. Can’t beat it. I was hoping there would be a convenience shop or a bar where I could get a beer, but it’s sort of secluded. It’s probably better if I just go to sleep.
I got up this morning and had coffee with KJ and Yendra, and then went to the office with KJ. We were planning to go to Estes Park to hang out and talk about his book, but we didn’t have time because he had to go to a staff lunch meeting that he forgot about. So I tagged along and ate Sechuan Chicken on the Christ Community budget, and saw the inner-workings of a mega-church first hand. I don’t think I could ever work at a church. It felt like I was in A Mighty Wind but with a church — I couldn’t take them seriously, talking about the “Tiny Tots” program and the “Kid’s Connection” program and the “Mommy and Me” program. But hey, it takes all kinds, and if that’s working for them, then great.
We ended up just going to a cafe in Greeley right by the UNC campus called Margie’s, which reminded me a lot of the Beehive but less indie-fabulous. So we talked about the book, tentatively titled The Diner Effect and Dale even came by, because he’s an accountant and he can work whenever he wants (or doesn’t want). So while they talked through ideas, I typed them up as an outline, which I’m going to email to them so they can start writing. Yendra came for a bit too and we all just talked through ideas, dialogued about the three main ideas of the book: (1) grace as cheap vs. costly; (2) the concept of acquaintance vs. relationship; and (3) the church as the bride vs. the whore. It has just been so encouraging to talk with KJ and Yendra and Dale, to engage with them, intellectually, spiritually. I really didn’t want to leave this evening. KJ and I had an awesome conversation in the car on the way here, too; he’s been studying a lot of Judaism lately, really taking the New Testament in the context of the Old Testament, which is where the authors of the NT were coming from. He shed light on a lot of things for me — from evolution to Revelation to communion to baptism — all of which make so much sense when looked at through an Old Testament lens. If I do my b.Phil about Biblical decontextualization, I am totally moving to Greeley for the semester and using KJ as my outside advisor.
So, it has been an awesome few days in the greater Denver area. Spending so much time with cool, relevant, thinking Christians has been wonderful — it has made me realize that I need people like that in my life, and I’m excited to find them when I finally decide a place to settle down in, at least for a few years. It was somewhat surreal to be hanging out with KJ, at his house, with his wife; but it’s really cool how we can just pick up where we left off two years ago and be completely comfortable, have great conversation, smoke menthols. The relationships you form with strangers when you live with them 24/7 for 3 months doing one of the strangest jobs ever are good ones.