Blogging, Still

I got really occupied this week. We all did, here at the snow-covered monastic institution overlooking the lake.

Someone asked via someone else’s blog, “Are you still blogging?”

I’m not sure what tone was meant…

But I am still bloggin`along, just didn`t get anything posted to the site this week so far. There`s tomorrow, because I am dog-tired tonight. (Although I don`t think the dogs here get all that tired, for all the sleeping they do…)

Plain Television

How often do you see real Plain people on television? There’s the occasional news story, usually sensational, and then there’s – nothing.

Do you watch Cake Boss? It is a reality show about a bakery in Hoboken, New Jersey, run by a large family of Italian background. They are an excitable, quick-tempered group who seem to love each other and have a good time while bickering over how to make cakes and run the business. The cakes are incredible, often beautiful, and usually monstrously large. They put together cakes to feed thousands!

In a recent episode, the pater familias and his brother-in-law had to take a delivery truck full of cake from New Jersey to North Carolina. They for some unknown reason got way off the highway. I’ve driven that route many times, and never got lost in Lancaster County. You get on the Interstate, you keep going, you get there. I’ve never been detoured through Pennsylvania.

The two men claim to be hopelessly lost. Their camera crew is equally lost. They pull into a farm driveway and begin to argue. The map seems to be no help, since they don’t know what road they are on. Slowly, a horse-drawn buggy approaches. They are certain that asking directions will be futile, that this Amishman will not know where the highway is.

In desperation, they ask directions and he points out to them that they have a ways to go Southward before they’ll find North Carolina. They are still excited, arguing, blaming each other. He sits quietly in the buggy, patiently waiting for them to finish. Without any further argument from them, he says he’ll show them the right way to go. Within minutes, slowly following the horse, they are back on the right road.

Screaming, shouting and arguing did not get the job done. It probably delayed the directions they needed to go the right way. A few seconds of patience would have set them right. They needed to listen, and then follow – slowly – the guide before them.

It’s a bit of a Christian metaphor, isn’t it?

A Great Cloud of Witnesses

I got asked this question a lot this week: “How many Plain Anglicans are there?” I guesstimated that world-wide we number about five hundred. Now I’m not so sure how good that number is; I probably counted people who aren’t officially Anglican, and some who aren’t officially Plain. It’s not as if we need to sign a confession or a covenant to be Anglican or Plain, but it is a matter of self-identity.

I’ve never been too concerned about whether my friends are Anglican, Plain, or Anglican Plain. How we live in witness to Christ and fulfill His mission in this world is the real issue. Some of us are called to be the visible witneses, to put our sincerity on the line and let people see that Christians can be what they say they are. (Most of the time, or at least without failing some of the time. All have fallen short of the glory of God!) Plain does mean that any hypocrisy will be very visible to the world. We stand for the apostolic Christian faith, the first century church translated to our own day, and when we fall short of the apostolic model, people know it. So we are called to be sincere, to be fully informed, to be mindful, and to pray, pray, pray for help at all times. I certainly do not want to shame my Lord or the others who carry His name.

How to define what it is to be Plain? Our variety of practices is great, yet we are united in faith. We are, mostly, people called through the witness of the Anabaptists and the Quakers, we are convicted of Biblical principles of life, we are generally traditional in lifestyle. We don’t all agree on doctrine or practice; we do agree on the conviction of conscience. I think I work at keeping a balance between open-heartedness and the way of Christ, so that I am not in error and do not accept error from others.

As Christians who are Plain, almost Plain, or just living a life of simplicity and faith, our practices in appearance range from my austere Plain to a feminine simplicity of others, with men who are in the category mostly in the Mennonite or Conservative Quaker mold. Some of are noticably Plain, others less so. Some of us could be identified as belonging to a specific group, others not. It is not a concern for me; we don’t have an ordnung and likely never will.

Are you called to Plain or the simple life? If so, how will that express itself? In your daily life? In your household? In your appearance? If you are a seeker in this mode of faith, be assured that there is love and support along the way. No one expects that you will turn out as a finished product overnight; most of us have worked at our expressions over years!

But welcome; there is room for all.

Off to a Conference

I am going to a conference on Vital Church Planting this week. It is the first time in almost two years that I’ve been able to attend a large gathering. I’m not a church conference kind of person, but this one looks like it will be worthwhile, with new information rather than a bunch of people congratulating each other on what a good job we are all doing! Nicholas is equipped to stay alone for two days – meals in the refrigerator to be microwaved (a skill he has recently reacquired). Although I’m a woodstove and handpump kind of gal, there are times I appreciate modern conveniences, too. This is one of them! I’ll let you know more about the conference as it happens.