Sorry it has been so long again. My life is pretty crazy at this point. Only had 11 days between a trip to the East Coast and turning around to make my third trip this year into Canada, this one to British Columbia. And it’s been busy since we’re trying to get out a new hardback version of The Shack, for those who have been asking for a more permanent copy for their libraries.
I also got a shocking package in the mail Friday from an old publisher of mine. Thomas Nelson sent me a new copy of a Portuguese translation of In My Father’s Vineyard) (pictured at left, which is no longer in print in English). I had no idea this was even in process. This is the beautiful coffee table book that is now out of print. They did a beautiful job on the book. I miss the fact that we no longer have that available in English. It brought back so many rich images of growing up on my dad’s vineyard.
I had a great time with some old friends in upstate New York and down in central Pennsylvania. This trip produced some interesting conversations, some newfound friends and even defined some new terms. And in Pennsylvania, I picked up a new term for believers on this journey that we discussed on the last podcast. In case you missed it, I’ll fill you in here.
Someone was talking about a wine list they saw at a restaurant that was offering “free-range wine.” They were asking me what that was, knowing I’d grown up on a vineyard. The term really tickled me. According to Wikipedia “Free range is a method of farming husbandry where the animals are permitted to roam freely instead of being contained in any manner. The principle is to allow the animals as much freedom as possible, to live out their instinctual behaviors in a reasonably natural way…” I don’t know how you apply that to vines. We never had to cage them up in our vineyard because they weren’t ever trying to get away.
But as we talked about it, we thought what a great term it was for believers who are no longer a committed part of Sunday morning institutions. We haven’t left Christ. We’ve not lost our passion for the body, but many of us have found it far easier to grow and help others grow without all the overhead, machinery and rituals of organized religion. To some of us it was a cage that did not promote healthy spiritual growth, but actually stifled it by all the personal expectations and political necessities of an institution. Now, I know not everyone feels that way and many continue to find great life and growth in such places. If it is helping you know God better and live more deeply in him, good on you! But it is also fabulous that others are finding more opportunities for growth in the freedom from some of the restrictive realities of many of those institutions.
‘Free-range believers’ is a good way to say it. Now don’t worry. I’m not coining a term to identify a new movement or exploit a new market. I just think it’s a wonderful way to express what many of us are finding to be true—maybe we all don’t have to grow up in the same environment. What may be a joy for some can become a prison for others. And yet we are all believers still in this marvelous journey. Free-ranger believer. That has all the overlays of freedom and not growing being hyped up through artificial nutrition. As many write me, it certainly is not an easier way to live, but for many it is more real and more life-transforming.
Now I’m on my way to Canada again. There are so many wonderful people up there on an incredible journey and I’ve got a slew of people on this trip that I’ll be meeting for the first time. I love it up there. Not only are the people awesome, but so is the chicken at Swiss Chalet and the chocolate dessert at Kelsey’s. (I know, it’s not the best for me, especially after my check-up at the docs last week. It’s time to get serious about a few dietary essentials. Bummer!
One last thing. If you want a bit more of The Shack, check out Willies blog from this weekend. It’s an awesome story in the same vain, and with the same poignant wisdom! You will thank me!