Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch (Frontier, That Is)
I picked up my daughter, Caroline, in Nashville a few days ago after she returned from a month on the Work Crew at Frontier Ranch. As we drove back home, and it was so much fun to listen to her talking about the same buildings that I came to know so well in the 1980s and 90s. As she was telling me about her month, I had such vivid pictures in my head of all the places at Frontier, even though the people have changed.
This picture is of Caroline with my two of my nieces at Frontier Ranch just a few weeks ago on one of the nights in which the folks that work at camp recreate a scene from the frontier days each week. That night is one of the most fun nights of the entire week for campers and the camp staff, and when my brother sent me the picture of the girls, it immediately took me back in time. . . exactly 21 summers ago I was also in character and costume on the same night of the week.
This was me in 1993. I’m not sure how I got stuck with the “monk suit,” but it was pretty fitting (pun intended) since I left for seminary that fall. The scene I was part of was a marriage ceremony—again fitting since I’ve now done a bunch of those for real (sans monk suit). As you can see from the smile on my face, I was having a pretty good time that summer. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I grew up at Frontier. One of the ways I grew up was learning to laugh at myself. I came to understand something that summer: one of the ways to get kids to see the incredible life that God offers is to show them how to laugh—at ourselves and others.
I think this ability to laugh at oneself became a lost art in our culture—particularly when the “political correctness” umbrella got opened up indoors, but it’s making a comeback. One of the things I love about social media is that we are learning to laugh at ourselves again. To be sure, there’s a fine line between laughing at someone (in the “making fun of” sense) and laughing with someone’s foibles as simply part of being human. But, I think we are learning to not take ourselves so seriously again.
One of the most dangerous things about religion is that it can take the fun out of life. One of the most dangerous things about a lack of spiritual honesty is that we think that freedom means we can do whatever we want.
Makes me think of a couple of classic quotes from C. S. Lewis:
An ever-increasing craving for an ever-diminishing pleasure. . . (Lewis, Screwtape Letters)
We are half-hearted creatures, fooling around with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased. (Lewis, The Weight of Glory)