It’s been a year now, and my time in some ways is up. Last June I was given a challenge to explore the wild, where “scary people” often drink and smoke and cuss without so much as a second thought. There, in the wild, parents enroll their kids in parks and rec sports without ever considering the option of Upwards. In the wild, instead of asking for “day sponsors” radio stations air commercials. It’s a delicate ecosystem that simultaneously celebrates diversity and drowns out divergent opinions. I crept softly so as not to spook the inhabitants and consequently be tamped down myself. Research was my disguise and discovery my agenda though I was always forthright about who I am…who I am professionally at least.
For a time during college I dated a girl who was a Christian but her parents were not. Even then it was clear I was on track to a career in ministry though the path was quite unconventional, meandering through ropes courses, whitewater rapids, and sizable portions of Appalachia. This scenario on one occasion led my own mother to ask, “What do her parents think of what you…do?” Having already pondered this question I replied that while I believed they were by no means opposed to them, her parents definitely regarded my varied exploits with a heightened level of curiosity. “Don’t we all,” said my dear mother, her voice trailing off as she turned to look out the window.
And then it happened; a simple text message. “What you doin Thursday brotha?” This simple query represented a monumental turn in my foray into suburban American millennial post-Christianity-ness…and other sociological labels contradictory to any typically applied to me. Maybe I’m just as suburban and American as the next guy, but I digress. At this point I had interviewed about 25 individuals and managed at least one follow-up interview with just four of those unfortunate persons. I was still contemplating what a realistic new year’s resolution would be in regard to continuing this project when the phone beeped. For the first time an interviewee requested to meet with me rather than the other way around.