Thursday, November 15, 2007

raving insecurity man validated by famous author

brian mclaren is a big author. i've seen him at conferences and workshops. his books are big sellers. he's traveled all over the world. on top of that, he's been saying for fifteen years or so the stuff that I'VE been saying for that long too. we're both former english teachers, who then did church leadership and pastoring, and now have gone off the grid. so i feel connected to him. and he's humble and nice and courageous and smart.
so - it was odd when leslie and i were at bob and lisa carlton's house monday night; those of us who had helped organize mclaren coming to austin were there, having wine and good food and just enjoying this cool moment. and i look over, and there's brian mclaren. just talking to the person who drove him over from the airport.
i'm not kidding, i felt as if bono had just walked in. okay, maybe not that big; it was as if george clooney had walked in.
i wanted him to notice me. validate me. but i was also scared; what if he didn't like me?

welcome to american star-worship culture.

anyway, he walked in, unassuming as usual, and bob introduced me, and mclaren said, "i remember you - i've met you before." it was at a conference like five or six years ago, briefly, after a talk he gave. my heart soared. suddenly i wanted to tell him my whole story. i'm a writer like you, i used to be a college english teacher like you, i talk about the same stuff you do, i'm committed to the emerging model of christianity like you are, journeyers are all about what you're about.

i talked to him briefly monday night, but we journeyers were out on the screened-in patio eating barbeque and drinking cokes and wine and beer and laughing; inside, a group of pastors and church leaders were sitting with mclaren around a dinner table, and it was quiet and intense. part of me wanted to be in there with the adults. i wanted to hear what mclaren would say, and contribute. i'm smart too! what is wrong with me?
welcome shadow. i just want to feel like i matter. like every other human being on the planet.
and, too, i wanted mclaren to hang on the patio with the journeyers. i thought maybe he'd've liked that better than sitting and having a serious conversation at the end of a long day when he'd spoken in dallas and then flown to austin.
here's the funny part: at the end of the evening, and then WHEN I WAS PERSONALLY DRIVING BRIAN MCLAREN IN MY AWESOME MAN-TRUCK FROM BOOK PEOPLE TO THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH WHERE HE WAS SPEAKING NEXT, we talked about just those very things. about ME things. and then we did again during lunch on tuesday when it was just me and my wife and dave madden the awesome musician AND BRIAN MCLAREN eating lunch together!!! just sitting there talking.
does anybody see how funny this is?
okay, here's the really cool part: brian mclaren is just a guy. he's been all over the world speaking to people who want to hear what he has to say. he's got lots of books that lots of people are reading. he's an important voice in the emerging church movement. and yet he's just a guy who wanted to do a good job talking to people. and we just made conversation. the poor guy was exhausted at lunch - a little quiet - and as he ate and checked his computer to make sure his laptop powerpoint was ready for the session that was going to start a half hour later, while leslie and madden and i talked with him but gave him his space, i told him about some thoughts i had about the people helping emergent stuff be born, and we chatted, and i thought ... brian mcclaren thinks i'm an idiot!
what is wrong with us? what is it about thinking that famous people are not normal human beings? give the guy a break already! he's not responsible for validating every human being that comes up to him wanting to know they matter.
so, having said that, it was a cool thing, and it was even cooler for it to have passed, and then to look back at it, and say to myself, Oh, come on, we don't need important people to affirm us. it's okay. we're all The Beloved.

but ... it was nice to have brian mclaren IN MY AWESOME MAN-TRUCK!!! and THAT MAKES ME COOL!


lisa carlton said...

You are so me!

I too had the feeling like somehow we were the kids on the porch and it was me who grabbed the final chair I own and put him at the end of that table. I kept thinking damn why didn't I find a spot for him out here. Too funny how much we all want to be seen and recognized. I do know that he would have had great laughs if he had joined us on the porch.

Yes, I find great humor in our collective desire to raise out little hands and scream..."me, me, me....please pick me."

I am glad that you got to drive BRIAN in your man truck and I bet it was the highlight of his trip!

Joe said...


I feel happy for you that you spent time with Brian. I admit that I've admired his passion toward turning what I'd call "thinking Christianity" into "feeling Christianity." But in a positive, thought-filled way ... not "slain in the spirit," etc.

You rock, dude!



nonprofitprophet said...

you are WAAAAAY COOOOOOOL and you validate me. How 'bout that? ~npp

journeyingrick said...

i don't know whether it was the highlight of his trip, necessarily, but it was certainly different from the rental cars he probably usually gets at the airport ... :-)
and i mentioned to him tuesday morning that he would've had much more fun on the porch with us than having an important discussion in the dining room, and he politely deferred and said how nice the people he was talking to were ... and that he was sure he'd've had fun with the riffraff outside too ...

journeyingrick said...

thanks joe! you rock too! and like you i absolutely admire mclaren and what he's putting out there into the universe, and into the christian and post-christian culture.
and he's cool too.

journeyingrick said...

how could i NOT validate you?? YOU ARE THE COOLEST OF ALL OF US!!!!!! there is no god but god and the nonprofit prophet is god's prophet! word!!!

happytheman said...

Have Dave bring Molly Vinter to Journey on the 2nd and have her do "Both Sides Now" I'll send you the song with Dave playing.

But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way

I've looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It's cloud illusions I recall
I really don't know clouds at all

journeyingrick said...

funny how all it takes is a simple shift in perspective for us to see our illusions -


DM said...

i validate you, rick.

there, keep that somewhere safe. because eventually, after i've made my millions, only one thing will be more valuable than my rich, famous, successful validation: my vintage validation, from way back in the day, before i was rich, famous and successful.

journeyingrick said...

i have arrived.

brian mclaren? who's HE?