Daily Archives: August 9, 2007


Did you ever have one idea for a post and then have it morph midstream? This is one of those posts.

At the time I wrote about managing waste, I knew that there was another major provider in the waste handling industry in Fort Wayne. In other words, there was another tribe of garbage people. They used to be called National Serv-all, but somewhere they must have become international. Now they are just Serv-all.

I wanted to talk about an attitude toward helping which is represented by that sign. We are called to serve everyone, to not distinguish based on, well, based on anything. And I thought that it would be fun to do a post talking about that kind of attitude toward service.

As I was bouncing the ideas around, however, the idea of garbage kept coming to mind, This is the sign on a dumpster, after all, and the idea of service and garbage felt like an amusing juxtaposition. It seems like both waste management and serv-all are euphemisms for what is really happening. People throw stuff away. They fill dumpsters with stuff that stinks, that is broken, that is messy. We fill them with what we don’t want. We fill them with what we have ruined. We fill them with our mistakes, with our leftovers.

And we regard the contents of dumpsters as garbage. Think of how we think of people who go dumpster diving, particularly for food. They are unclean as well.

And yet there are people who go around and willingly accept the garbage, the refuse, the trash, the debris. We tend to not think about them much, other than complaining when they are out early in the morning making noise. Far be it from us to think about how much less the stuff might smell in the comparative cool of the morning rather than after baking in the sun for another 8 hours.

I started to think about lives, at least mine. The junk, the anger, the wrecked plans, the bad attitudes, the broken relationships. The insecurity and arrogance all scrambled together where no one can really see it. The failure that isn’t about me just being humble. The actual failure inside.

And I think about the one Person who actually is willing to take the garbage and empty the dumpster. The one Person who is willing to serv-all, without a trace of irony or euphemism. The one Person who makes house calls to take away the trash.

And I thought, that’s where service comes from, at least for me. From the trash being hauled away.

And then I thought, is that metaphor too cliche? But then I realized that I don’t know who has a bunch of broken stuff in the dumpster and who just hasn’t been willing to let someone haul it away. And maybe, just maybe, the sign of Someone willing to accept the garbage might be a hopeful sign.

And hopeful signs are the best kind.

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The Church of Mornington Crescent

A couple days ago, Nik Butler started a game of Mornington Crescent on Kyte TV.

(Glossary to the first sentence:

Nik Butler is also know as loudmouthman, lives in the UK, and twitters, which is where I met him on my birthday, I think.

KyteTV is an internet TV site, allowing people to produce video and store it in a “channel”, like a personalized on demand set of videos.

Mornington Crescent is, well, let me go back outside the parentheses.)

Mornington Crescent is a game which has been played in the UK on a BBC program for many years. As the program is a comedy program, the game itself is comedy as well. (Feel free to go read about it at wikipedia)

Players take turns naming stations on the London Underground. The first person to name “Mornington Crescent” wins the game. In naming stations, people refer to sets of rules and various variations and strategies and levels of play. Games last as long as the people involved decide to keep playing. But there is a secret.

There is no secret.

Or, more accurately, the secret is that the game exists because the people involved have agreed that it is fun to create rules as you are playing and argue about the rules that were just made up, based on rules that you yourself are making up. The secret is that it doesn’t matter that anyone at any time, including in the very first play can say, “Mornington Crescent” and end the game.

This morning I was thinking about this game and watching Nik’s channel which is apparently the first all-Internet video version of this game. I realized that this game is exactly like the game of church.

  • People make up rules as they go along.
  • People take delight in identifying variations of the rules.
  • People read through piles and piles of books, picking up a bit here and a sentence there and stitching them into a rational for a particular action.
  • You have to accept the fundamental principle or nothing makes any sense.
  • For the uninitiated, the fundamental principle makes no sense.
  • For the novice, it doesn’t matter how many times the insider says, “just play,” you still are painfully afraid of saying the wrong thing, quoting the wrong rule, not getting something right.
  • For the outsider, it all seems like a lot of energy for something which doesn’t matter anyway.
  • For the insider, the delight is in the wordplay, in the interaction with others, in the sense of doing something well that others don’t get.

As I watch the videos and as I learn about this game, I’m increasingly aware that much of church and denomination and constitutions and bylaws and much of what we insiders spend such energy doing looks exactly like Mornington Crescent.

And that is scary.

Not because someone might point out that it all is pointless and irrelevant. That part I can talk through. Mostly because people might think that there is nothing true in anything that we talk about in relation to church. But here’s the thing.

There really IS a Mornington Crescent station. It’s just the game that’s made up.

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