Monday, April 27, 2009

Day 351

the shriek of the stiff wooden stairs blends in with the other groans of this old house and with the howls of nearby trains. heavy sleeping habits overwrite any permanent distraction and only does the sharp noon sun raise my awareness to notice a housemate coming down to wish everyone good morning. i got up from my makeshift yet comfortable bed on the couch. about an hour later parker and i are leaving the house on our bikes for my first official day as a temporary resident of oregon.

riding a bike in this town is just as efficient, if not better than, a car. it was only a few minutes until we'd crossed the river into downtown and pulled off at stumptown coffee. most everyone inside had a beanie perched like hipster yamakas atop their exposed foreheads. below the neck hang cardigan sweaters and most of these people are hunched over computers as they bang away without breaking eye contact with the screen. i wonder what they're working on as parker and i walk outside to a table on the sidewalk near our bikes.

also, it seems that a semi-beard is just as popular as any kind of full beard. maybe i'm looking too hard at these people, but most guys seem to dexterously manage a heavy five o'clock shadow without an all-out commitment to the lumberjack groove.

still, the coffee here is tops and these bikes are a good idea and i've adjusted to the road bike hunch. there are no mountains inside this city. parker continued to give me the tour and we pedaled in between cars and along the bike lane while keeping constant watch for the potentially devastating tram car grooves.

powell's is, i think, the world's biggest independent bookstore. there are different color-coded levels and we spent a good chunk of time wandering the warehouse of pale, wood shelves. there's a bob dylan scrapbook that i'd always seen for forty-five dollars. they had one for fifteen bones. and no sales tax. needless to say i bought it. and here again begins the impulsive purchasing of books.
after leaving the bookstore and riding the tram and walking around we chilled in a starbucks where one of parker's friends hooked us up with some free coffee. the imago dei college group was meeting at a house across the street in an hour and i explored the pockets and articles of dylan book and parker read the other one i'd bought. here's where i hope i start remembering more details about the night.

i was surprised how crowded the house was. luke and levi live there and seem to be either finishing up some sort of school or are working and i guess they're about five years older than i am. maybe twenty five people are scattered between the kitchen and living room and hallways. a row of bikes hang from one of the walls.

we watched a rob bell video called bullhorn where bell asks his christian viewers to stop using bullhorns on street corners to try to tell people about Jesus and hell and heaven and repenting and sin. he says that christians should focus on acts of love instead of announcing judgement through abrasive messages for repentance.

so we have group discussions and a surprising few seemed to believe that loving people is more important than having the name of Jesus being involved and acknowledged as the bottom line motive. they called it avoiding having an agenda. i told the story from the weekend about the guy chris and what he'd said when i asked him why he feeds the homeless and works charity. Jesus wasn't a factor for him and he does what he does just to help and love others, so do chris' actions parallel that of a christian who, some believed, should love for loves sake and not necessarily include the name of Jesus, even if it was in some minor presentation? some of the same earlier people answered that since God is love then anyone, anywhere can do something and have it involve Jesus without having to put him into the equation. i wondered back, then, what was the difference about letting people know then that what you've done for them is both out of love for Jesus and for that person, since it's all supposedly connected anyways by whoever does whatever in the name of love. several others agreed that this was indeed our responsibilities as christians.

i'm not making any judgement calls here. the small group tonight was really interesting and i'm glad to have met people who love Jesus and are the same age as me. still, i'm interested to see how things unfold further.

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