By: Dori Baker
February 19, 2015
Krista Tippett hosts her popular radio show “On Being” live from the PopTech stage with regular contributors Parker Palmer and Courtney Martin as they discuss the human aspect of rebellion.
When the world is changing quickly, we must care about multiple conversations at the same time.
Do you ever feel guilty for getting distracted by the way any good book, blog or podcast leads down a rabbit hole of connected thoughts, ideas, people and movements? This is part of the contemporary human condition; indeed Nicholas Carr (The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains) suggests humans are losing our capacity to dive deeply and concentrate single-mindedly.
Despite Carr’s warning and my own inner nagging, today I gave myself permission to just follow the rabbit trail. I tuned into Krista Tippett’s podcast On Being while taking a walk. I stumbled upon an interview (above) between a young author, journalist, and activist named Courtney Martin and the wise sage Parker Palmer, whom we at FTE consider a friend and mentor. Krista was leading them through a beautiful, cross-generational, train of thought about the inner life of the rebel and how to sustain an activist spirit.
I got halfway through the podcast and couldn’t contain my enthusiasm. I shared the podcast with a friend via text message in the middle of a golden field as the sun was about set. I actually saw a real rabbit trail leading downhill toward a creek. But I stayed on my chosen path, and as soon as I got home, I followed a virtual rabbit trail to Courtney Martin’s website. Before 10 seconds passed, I had shared a link from her site to an article about domestic violence with a young friend whose art project will focus on that subject.
Sixty seconds later I had downloaded the kindle version of Courtney’s book, Do It Anyway. I started to read it from the beginning, but then quickly skipped to the Popular Highlights. Moved, I photographed a page of quotes and shared them with a second friend, because I know she won’t have time to read the whole book, and what a shame it would be if she didn’t know Courtney exists and is writing for an audience of other young adults who seek to make meaning out of their lives amid much complexity.
My dawning awareness is this: God is in the rabbit trail!
When the world is changing quickly, we must care about multiple conversations at the same time. When we are called to use our gifts in the world, through a church often accused of unyielding antiquarianism, agility matters. Engaging others in conversation quickly, before we get distracted by the dirty dishes or the grocery shopping, matters. Creating little pockets of community on the fly certainly does not take the place of a slow, focused, face-to-face talk with a friend over tea. But God does show her face to me, occasionally, in the very rabbit trail I usually try to avoid.
Obviously, I haven’t finished Courtney’s book yet. But already, I’ve begun a little conversation, inviting a community of others to think with me about the issues she’s raising. I really will circle around, slow down, and read carefully the stories of the eight young activists Courtney recounts. In the meantime, I’ve got to go finish the podcast.