Weekly postings on Mondays

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Moving on

Five of my elder relatives and friends moved on the past two years.

What does it mean?

I'm richer for their lives, poorer for their deaths.

Dr. Russell Arndts was among the travelers. He departed July 23.

In his retirement years I sat on the couch opposite his easy chair many times to debate biblical theology with the former chemistry professor, while soaking in the famous Betty Arndts hospitality.

Nor did it stop there. You should see our email logs.

Now a resident of the Next Life, my elder friend has presumably discovered the truth: Mattson was right all along.

Or wrong.

In one sense it doesn't matter.

I'd give a lot to resume the toe-to-toe scrapping with my friend, not in his current State--I can wait awhile for that--but in the familiar St. Cloud setting: fireplace, Diet Pepsi, leaning into my point, up in the man's face, he in mine.

We relished not merely debate, but friendship. He'd smile at me and half-apologize for his intensity but I'd wave him off. I knew he cared for me as much as correct theology, which is saying a lot.

Russ, save me a spot on the Couch. The next chapter of our talks will undoubtedly stretch on interminably.

Readers: Do we have good friends these days that challenge us? Debate with us. . . and still love us? Tell us your story.


Jonna said...

I meet with three men every 6 weeks or so. They are intelligent, well read and full of heart. I never think more than with I am with my theology pub guys. Though we disagree on perspectives or even actually truth claims, we hold in unity a passion for Jesus and for his church. Our conversation while direct and vigorous is completely lacking the totalizing vitriol of much debate in America today. I feel so lucky to have found such intellectual companions.

Rick Mattson said...

Hey Jonna, I'm sure you know that Richard Mouw has been making the case for a decade or more that our society has lost the art of civil discourse. Whatever happened to respectful disagreement? Giving the benefit of the doubt? Truly listening to the other?

I guess the polarized forces think there's too much at stake to be nice. But "nice" and "respect" are not synonymous.

In my view, there is too much at stake (loving opponents because they're made in the image of God and we're commanded to love) NOT to show respect.

By the way, I'm told by your discussion group that they feel fortunate to have you as a member.

Bill English said...

It is sad - the "richness" of what senior, experienced, seasoned people in the faith can give us. I have two mentors who have died recently (last 2 years). The hole they left behind I doubt will be filled anytime soon. At least not in my life.

Rick Mattson said...

Bill, sorry for your loss as well. This comes with my prayer for new mentors for you.