Embodying Community with Curt Thompson | Podcast Season 01, Episode 01
Listen and Subscribe on: Apple | Spotify | Amazon Music (Audible)
We connected with psychiatrist and author Curt Thompson, MD, on a Zoom call as we were all navigating the Omicron surge in the winter of 2022. As we talked about what an embodied community means, we could not escape the context of the COVID19 pandemic. This conversation is full of longing to be in the physical presence of one another, the challenges that arise as we begin to re-enter into community with others, and how we can approach the next season with open ears and hearts, ready to listen and engage with one another.
About Our Guest:
Psychiatrist, speaker and author Curt Thompson connects our intrinsic desire to be known with the need to tell truer stories about ourselves — showing us how to form deep relationships, discover meaning and live integrated, creative lives.
His most recent book is The Soul of Desire: Discovering the Neuroscience of Longing, Beauty, and Community. Follow Curt on Instagram, Facebook , and Twitter, and check out his podcast, called Being Known.
Find the Community Support You Need
- Embodying Community with Jimmy McGee, CEO and President of Impact Movement, Inc. | Season 01, Episode 02
- Embodying Community with Coté Soerens, Neighborhood Pastor | Season 01, Episode 03
Kate: Welcome to transforming engagement, the podcast, an offering of the center for transforming engagement at the Seattle School of Theology and Psychology. We’re curious about changes that serve the common good and a higher good. Listen along as we learn with ministry leaders, academics and practitioners from a variety of fields to learn about how change happens through relationships. Thank you to Curt Thompson for being our first guest. Curt is a psychiatrist and author working to connect the intrinsic human desire to be known with the need to tell truer stories about ourselves. His most recent book is The Soul of Desire: Discovering the neuroscience of longing, beauty and community. Follow Curt on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter at curt Thompson MD and check out his podcast called Being Known.
Curt: I’m finding, uh, the, the TV inter internet TV series, The Chosen to be both compelling and captivating. There are particular moments of it. Uh, and, uh, the whole sense of in the moment hearing the character who plays Jesus, Jonathan Rumi, hearing, hearing, uh, him, especially when he says, I, I see you, or I saw you. This sense of, uh, presence, this sense of, you know, in some respects saying what you, um, have just described, um, that sense of I’m gonna be there. I’ll, I’ll be there. I’m just really, um, uh, the, the, the impact that this has, if I’m able to take it in. And I think, and, and so, you know, when we talk about embodied community, I think about this work that is, has been, you know, happening in these groups and this notion, they will, they will say I’m taking, I take you all with me. You were standing with me in my HR director’s office when I had to have the hardest conversation I’ve ever had in my life with my employer. And it’s, uh, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a striking thing. And so anyway, I, uh, and I, I’m just thrilled to be on this call with you guys. I’m just like, I, I cannot, cannot get over my good fortune. I’ve been looking forward to this for weeks.
Derek: That’s lovely. That is lovely. That is lovely. You know, I, I, I wanna just tag on a little bit to what you you’re saying, um, with that sense of, I carry you with me quality, um, or I carry this with me, and, you know, years ago, when I would do therapy, that was always a striking sense that, that we were getting close to being finished our work when a person could say, I knew what you would say, Like, I know I have you in my head, you know, that sort of internalized. And it always reminds me of this sort of communion piece. You know, we drink the blood and eat the flesh. I take you in, I know what you would say. And, uh, both and it’s it’s symbolic, but then it’s co-regulating for them, they say it would calm me down. I would calm down ’cause I know what you would say I’m with you. And so what you said that, that sense of a group, um, being with us when we’re in different spaces, I, I think that was originally meant to be family to some degree and maybe community, but as communities and families struggle, then it’s harder to have that, I carry with me, with some degree of regulation as opposed to disruption. So, but, but yeah, that, that strikes me as we, we talked about that.
Kate: The, what we carry with us from our families, I think is so often it’s not the things that are helpful. Um, it’s so often …
Curt: Certain members, we don’t really want in the room with us.
Kate: Yeah. And I think especially, you know, um, I imagine on some level true for everyone, maybe louder for women. A lot of in the mirror, conversations, body image, conversations, my mother’s voice. And in me that I really, that’s not the voice I want and really struggling with. What’s the voice that I replace it with. Who’s the person who loves me better. And it, I, I appreciate that you, you didn’t start Kurt with, um, the Jesus that we read in scripture saying I’m with you, but this actual, physical one, you’re able to see in this dramatization of scriptures, because there is something about needing a person, a face to say it to us, a voice we can hear.
Curt: You do. So I’ll just, I’ll, I’ll, I’ll just start with this too. I’ll continue with this. So I, uh, with no, uh, uh, with, with, with, with some degree of regularity, I will go back and I read, Derek, your endorsement.
Derek: Hmm. Hmm.
Curt: Um, because I just want hear your voice.
Derek: Hmm. Hmm.
Curt: Um, I mean,
Derek: It’s make cry. They’re already,
Curt: It’s, it’s a beautiful thing. It’s a beautiful thing that, I mean, the words you say are beautiful words. And they hold me. I think. Um, but it’s hearing your voice. And so that sense of, you know, in some respects why I can’t wait to get to this call.
Curt: And you too, Kate, I, I just wanna say this, uh, it’s uh, not to, you know, and I’m not, I’m not, not,
Kate:I hear you. You don’t need to qualify that. I also, I have the sentences that Derek has said to me in the past, I can recall in the way that he says them. Um, Yes.
Curt: Yep. Yep.
Derek: Um, I, I, I don’t know what to say. I think I, I feel it more than I know what to say. Um,
Curt: That’s okay.
Derek: Um, and I think, you know, when I wrote it, it was not an abstraction. I didn’t write it… “Well, it was an interesting book…”
Curt: Well, okay. So I, I, I know I’m interrupting you, but I wanna say, like, I think that’s part of it, like, I, I feel it, I feel the words not being abstract.
Derek: Yeah. I, I, I was thinking and experiencing our relationship and what you were wanting to say in the world. And I, I, I wrote it for you. I, goodness gracious. This is true. Yeah. Yeah. I wrote it for you. Yeah. So, um, I’m grateful that you, um, value it and that you hear my voice in it. And, and I think it’s not just simply what I’m saying, but you hear my voice in it. And, um, uh, I appreciate that. I appreciate that. I appreciate that, Thank you. Thank you.
Curt: You’re welcome.
Kate: What is, what is this, like this, this almost is an entry point into that community question of… There’s an interpersonal. There’s a, for me to feel like I belong to someone, and, but then there’s also the more than one someone. Cause I think of like this conversation triad, It’s a different feel than when I talk with either one of you separately. Um, So, and I think that that’s, uh, you know, a very small community, but what’s that tell us about like the nature of communities What’s happening that makes the three of us into a community and not just three individuals. How do we, what, what is that joining process? Um, I think part of it is, and this is what Curt, what you, so you’re so good at inviting that presence of saying what it is that’s happening in you in the moment. That I think like accelerated that process; started the joining.
Derek: But I, I do think, and this conversation, it reminds me a little bit of, um, interactions I’ll have with Resmaa Menakem um, or he’ll, he’s such a body person. That, you know, you lose, well, you don’t lose, but maybe I hope it gets integrated. You, you know, the words and the, the concepts are there, but he will say that’s not enough. And even in the conversation, you’re like, well, it’s not enough to simply say, “Hey, community and embodying community is a good thing.” And Kate, that sort of joining is our bodies doing something. Um, you know, and I, I could no longer focus on the words because I felt my body wanting to tear. And the sense of, I am both seen in something I did. And I saw in something I did that sense of being seen again and with again, and that it’s not meant to substitute for everything else, but it’s certainly meant to be centric to relating. And, um, I think that that sense of identification, there’s a sense of identification. It’s not just something you, Kate, you, Kurt, you are my people, if you will, there is a sense of, um, belonging that’s felt as well as thoughts. So, Yeah.
Curt: I, I also, Kate really appreciate that. I mean that, and, and, and Derek too, that this, this sense of the, the, the difference of, uh, what I am with each of you as individuals and what we are together and, and how we are. And, and there is something about having more than just one, that both, Uh, expands my, uh, sense of being seen and being known when I’m being seen by more than one at the time. And I suppose, you know, when we talk about group therapy, we talk about the kind of ideal number of people in the group and how many relationships can we kind of process at any given time and so forth, whatever that, you know, whatever those quantum mechanics are that kind of help us with that. I think it’s fair to say that there is, this felt sense of both a, uh, a, a thickening or a, or a, or a, or a geometric expansion of my felt sense of being known. And I also sense there’s a certain I’ll, I’ll speak for myself. I mean, I’m, I’m just, I’m just learning. I’ve been like, even in over the last, or even like yesterday, having a helpful conversation with a friend who pointed this out, like there is the part of me, uh, with some of my own attachment processes, whereby which when I sense a deep connection with a particular person, Uh, there is a part of me that will want to clutch that for myself. And I don’t just want to, uh, be connected to you. I want to have you for me. And I want to know that I am your best friend. I’m like, I’m the, I like, I am, I am the disciple whom Jesus loved, like in all of my most important relationships. I, right? Because there is this, because it’s, it’s speaking to the, you know, my, whatever, somewhere between birth and four-year-old self that has, this felt sense that like, you’re, you’re leaving, like I’m mom or dad are leaving and I’m, and I there’s, you know, almost a, a, almost a panicky. And so I worked… and the presence of more than one person helps to protect against that in some respects, because I’m, I, I think, I think I’m sensing, oh, we, we, we are sharing with each other. We’re sharing each other with each other. I don’t, I’m not, I’m not just having, I get to have to just, it’s just me to get you, Uh, in any of these ways. And so there’s a certain, yeah. I feel protected for myself in some respects with that at the, at the same time.
Kate: I think there’s also like more of a, more of another person to enjoy, cause I, you know, like who Derek, here is like my closer relationship, I, I really value the way Derek is with me and what our relationship is between the two of us, but who Derek is with you is a different aspect of him and who Derek is when he is addressing the entire staff, the entire student body is another different aspect of him. And when I’m in those spaces, I’m like, oh, it’s both him and I wanna say more, but him indifferent. I’m like, oh, and I like this man too. So I, I get to enjoy different facets.
Curt: Yeah, yeah.
Kate: It’s additive.
Curt: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Like there’s yeah. Like there’s more of us that is put on display, additional parts of us that we otherwise might not encounter.
Derek: Well, and I, I think there’s also more of us known to us with other people. Agreed. So we are actually, you know, I’m not sure if I know who I am until I open my mouth and it’s like, I am this way with you all collectively.
Derek: And so there’s other parts of, um, this conglomeration of cells learning other parts of himself. Yep. If you will. So there is that sort of, but I, I also, again, I wanna go back to that notion, um, of holding. Um, if I have more than one holder, you know, this is interesting sort of trinitarian sort of piece and the there’s something that keeps me from distorting me or the consumptive part of me doesn’t have to feel scarcity because there’ll be more, it won’t just be one and I can manage that fear and it, then doesn’t distort the community I want to build or I hope to build, or I have, and it’s not even, it’s the ideal community that I hope will exist, not a consumptive community. Cause I think there’s things that can be consumptive in, you know, either singular or triads. I mean, people will do consumptive things. And I hear you saying, this protects me from that part of me that’s frightened they will get away that I’ve gotta clutch it. That there’ll be more, there’ll be enough if you will.
Curt: Yep. Not scarcity, but abundance.
Derek: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Curt: I’m, I’m just so easily, like my, the part of me that believes that the world is a place of scarcity. Yeah. It, it, it, it plays loud and large. Way, way more often than I wish that it did.
Kate: And some ways hard to, to talk myself out of, in relationships than in more physical resources, you know, like, uh, I, I can talk myself out of hoarding toilet paper, even during 2020s, everything like I didn’t hoard toilet paper. Cause I’m like, this is absurd. It’s not gonna help. Don’t do it. But with relationships, I can’t talk myself out of… don’t need to be, that person’s beloved, don’t need to be that person’s best friend. I like the, the feeling is there in a way that I can’t just tell it to not be.
Curt: Right. Right. It’s very hard.
Derek: Well, it’s interesting. Cause, lately I have been thinking not just about the individual, but I’ve been thinking about what are the things that hold us as individuals together. Um, you know, so in some ways we’ve described a structure of three, you know, we we’re describing and we have learned, we’ve been together, had conversations enough. We know how to interact with each other, you know, um, we’re not competing and there may be some competitive urges, but they’re, they’re, they’re succumb to a larger something. I’ll have my chance. So I don’t have to compete, I’ll have my chance. And so those sort of social sort of understandings, and just on a larger scale, we talk about community, um, and not distorting, uh, so that we have to kind of hoard if you will, or become competitive excessively. I think I’m not anti-competitive but competitive excessively. Um, cause I do think there’s a need for both kind of agency, which is competitive, but also communion and the balance of those things as opposed to either or um, but we’re living in a context that is so untrusting, um, and that may even be what makes our relating more precious. And I’ll say that language, precious. Is that we are in so many spaces where it feels quite, um, it doesn’t even feel competitive. It feels, um, performance. Um, it feels, I’m gonna follow the ten steps or the five, you know, it feels like we’re trying to do something and it’s harder. And I, I, I appreciate Curt. Um, Kate’s gratitude for you of kind of inviting us into the space because you did invite us into a space beyond the five points and uh, or the 10 methods kind of thing. And I, I think so much of, um, you know, my hoarding is probably knowledge. I want to know more, you know, I have a voracious sort of wanna know more appetite and you know, I realize at some point that is another way of trying to protect myself from being alone. Because if people leave me, I still have my ideas and ideas dont’ leave me. And I can hoard them if you, you will. And um, so there’s different ways of avoiding a sense of loss and abandonment and betrayal of people. Um, and they look good. Uh, they appear healthy, they appear, you know, prosocial, but they function in the similar sort of way. Um, they become our addictions if you will. Yeah. And, um, I, I think that’s the challenge we talk about embodying community. Cause I think I’m realizing that our community is always embodied it’s just this question of how we bring our bodies to it. And um, is it a consumptive thing or a sharing thing? And we’ve talked about sharing space with each other and not, not being, not eaten by each other, but sharing versus consuming and um, fearful.
Kate: Can you, I feel like you’ve used the word consumptive or the metaphor consumptive a couple times. Can you say more about what that is or like what, I don’t know, an example of that or what it feels like?
Derek: Um, I, I, yeah, I think it’s interesting. I like Curt’s description of, hey, I want you to, I, I need you to be my best friend for me to feel valued. And if I’m not your first love, then what am I, you know, so I go from a sense of, and so I want to keep you, consume you, hoard you. So it’s a consumptive of hoarding, even as opposed to digesting. Um, you know, we were talking about, Hey, when I hear these words and I can, and that gets digested and actually integrated, but it’s almost the dragon of, you know, medieval European notion. It doesn’t consume the damsel or the money. It doesn’t spend the money, it just hoards it. And for fear that something will get away. And so it’s a consumptive hoarding maybe is another way of saying that. And sometimes it’s with knowledge, sometimes with power, sometimes it’s with resources, finances, status, um, and all those things can be involved in community building, but they seem to have a distorting quality as well.
Kate: Yeah, I think,
Curt: Yeah. It’s, it’s…
Kate: Go for it.
Curt: Go ahead. Nope. Nope. I’ll wait.
Kate: Well, I was just thinking like, as you were speaking about that hoarding tendency and how it has the, I was thinking about how it has the very opposite effect of what it wants to have, um, that I feel pushed away. Cause I, the first example came to mind was like, oh, like I’ve had that with a church where I became I’d wanna preaching award, which made me into kind of like prize. And it was no longer about me or even it was about who I was or what I brought so much as putting this prize on display and it killed preaching for me. And it made me not wanna go to that church. I, I took a break for a while from church in the wake of the at cayse it so, so their, their hoarding tendency of me actually is the very thing that pushed me away. Um, but the, the push and pull of that Curt, where were you gonna go?
Curt: Well, you know, I, I was gonna say that in, in this conversation that I was having yesterday with one of my very close friends, uh, I was talking with him about some of my, you know, questions, anxieties about, you know, some things that we’re trying to do with this little nonprofit. And he’s, he’s, he’s the board chair and, and, but he’s also been my very close friend for more than 30 years. And, and, and, and I was, I was talking with him about my anxiety and, and, and about kind of my, my own exploration of some of the source of this even developmentally where, where where’s some, it’s not just that I don’t have enough information about how to run a business, cause I don’t, cause there’s somebody else’s job, but I mean, what else is, what else like what’s, what is this about kind of thing. And I, and he then very kindly, uh, and I mean, like as if, you know, Jesus was sitting across the lunch table from me and is about to have one of those moments like he’s having with any, any one of us where you’re like, oh, this is gonna be great, great, oh crap. This is not, you know, whatever it’s gonna be, you know, whatever it’s gonna be. And my friend very gently pointed out and he said, I, I watched what happened that you have a relationship with a person A and uh, it’s, it’s a great relationship. And then you also have a relationship with person B and, and you become a point of connection between these two people, but in order for person A and person B to be connected, you feel compelled to be the go between. Uh, yeah, because, and, and he said, when it would really be good for you to just put person A and person B in touch with each other so that they can create the things that would be good for them to create that of course is, uh, they’re, they’re creating because of the stuff that you’re doing and this is, but, but what you, what would be good for you to let them do? And when he said that, I like, it’s this very thing that we’re talking about. There is this, I have this felt sense that if I put person A in touch with person B, like I disappear. I lose. There, there is this, you know, zero sum game. And so I’m gonna hoard, I hoard the relationship with person A, with the relationship with person B in a particular way that actually kind of straight jackets them from being able to create with each other in ways that would be really meaningful and useful, uh, because, uh, and, and so the very thing that I say that I want, we wanna create new, new beauty, and we’re gonna, uh, it, uh, the very opposite is happening because there is this like, you know, three-year-old self that is like, or, or however old, you know, whatever the part is of me, that’s doing this. And, and I’m, I’m, I’m aware that when, and, and when my friends said that, I thought like I could, I could think of a number of places where this is, this is just true for me, where, where I do this, where I’m afraid that I’m gonna lose I’m, I’m gonna, if you, as soon as you start talking to somebody else, like I simply disappear from your conscious. Kind of how I operate and, you know, not something I’m proud of. Uh, but, but I, the, the work for me is to, uh, be present with that part of me at that developmental stage that is afraid that like mom’s left, dad’s left and they’re not coming back. And so, so right back to, um, you know, recently I’ve, I’ve had this, um, Just reflecting on, and, and of course the, the biblical scholars would, would probably like, take great umbrage with me with this. Uh, but, uh, Jesus references in the gospels, his, in his encounters with the disciples at the interface of parents bringing their children to be blessed. And on one occasion, him saying, unless you change and become like these little children, you can’t enter the kingdom of heaven. And on another occasion, uh, in, in it’s, I think both these are in Matthew’s gospel and where in the King James, it’s suffer the children to come into me For such the king of heaven. And I think about that notion of suffer them to come as if he, as if he’s almost in some respects, acknowledging and saying it’s important to be able to do the work. It might be hard to do to let the children come in. And I think about, you know, the work of internal family systems, for instance, and Richard Schwartz work, and this notion of like the parts of these childhood parts of me that, uh, create trouble for me because I, and, but I don’t want to have anything to do with them. And I want them out of the, I don’t want them in the room, please leave me alone. And, but, but I, I end up acting, they, they get the talking stick and they, and they take over because I’m not doing the work of letting them come in the room. And I think there is a certain suffering, a certain suffering of like, of growth, a certain suffering of like, no, we’re gonna, we’re gonna, and we’re gonna say, what do you need? What do you want? And doing that kind of work of the childhood parts of me. That can be seen, safe, secure, and do that kind of work in order to know that when I introduce person A to person B, uh, there, I will experience even more joy, collectively, cumulatively, then I could ever experience by just adding up the joy that I experienced with each of them as individuals in my, in my hoarding and consumption.
Derek: Yeah. But I, I appreciate, you know, it’s interesting, you, you usually state these things as a thing that, um, is a negative, and I appreciate goodness gracious the work, cause I think my kid feels that too, you know, it’s interesting, my sister this week was sending me baby pictures and you know, it was one when I’m an infant could be couple months old and she’s the right there. My mother is holding me or laughing, who is that person feels like, but that still me and that person, um, wants assurances and that person wants to be known. And so I think some of the things you’re describing are us. They’re parts of us, none of us escape what you’re describing and what you’re also, and I appreciate, is the work with those parts. If I use kind of stay in the family systems and what I hear you saying, I am aware of those parts. And I work with those parts. I’m terrified of the people who don’t know, those parts are active and are not conscious that they’re playing out their kid in relationship. And they think of it as a game of hoarding because more power wins or more something wins. And then, then it will happen, then it will happen. And so for me, the trust in your conversation is, hey I’m aware of these parts and they get going and I’m working with them trying to integrate them in. And that’s all of us, that’s all of us trying to be both the beloved child that is, suffer to come unto me and let, ’em let ’em come to me. And the same time, the adult who knows how to turn stones into bread, whatever our ability to turn whatever stone into bread. And this to me is one of the first challenges for us. Can we not use our talents and skills to self satisfy or to hoard? And, um, I, I, so I actually take, um, you know, say, Hey, that’s me too. That’s God, goodness gracious.
Kate: Well, I’m hearing so much lens of what does it mean to lead or to gather people in a hospitable way? Cause I, I think what you’re describing is the difference between both a good leader, effective leader and an untrustworthy leader. Who’s probably, you know, at some point is going to hit the, the cap of how much their one-on-one relationships is able to get done. But I, I think the, the, so often the people who are drawn to being the one who gathers being the one who leads being the one who pastors has that part of them quite active and maybe not always consciously, but very active of, I want, I wanna be all these people’s best friends and goodness. If I get to a congregation I’m 150 people’s best friend, which is, you know, you, you can do that for a hundred people, maybe 150 people, but you’re not gonna grow past that because your work needs to become, how do I link these people to each other so that they can gather without me have ministries and service without me. And to Curt, was that Curt? Said the collective. That it’s the thing that we all do together. Not just my effectively managing a whole bunch of one-on-one relationships and projects. I think that awareness of that hunger has been something that’s hurt a lot of ministries and like the broadest sense, a lot of work, a lot of, um, businesses, a lot of projects that the leader can’t actually allow it to grow past their own social capacity because that fear is too much to admit.
Derek: Yeah. And that, that seems to be the, the trap of, um, that I’m so good at this. I don’t have to think about what’s driving it underneath because I’m just good at this. Everyone can see I’m good at this. And this is what in some ways has helped me find my place in the world has helped me found my role in the world. And I’m good at this. People know they need me for this. I know need me for this. And so let me just do it. And, um, that exploration in terms of, hey, what’s pushing, what’s nudging underneath, what’s the hunger, the desire, if you will, underneath this distorted that can’t live without this now. Um, cause what would I be if I don’t have this? And I think again, be able to voice that in community, if you will. I mean, when I think about your confessional communities, that’s my fantasy about what we’re doing is we’re confessing as a way of, um, working with my parts within community. And I think you said in that text that, Hey, we need that safe community to work with our parts. But if other people aren’t safe and they haven’t done any work with their parts, it becomes more frightening. Um, it becomes more of a risky place than a safe place. And so, um, I think we’ve, we’ve talked today a bit, both about the positive aspects of embodying community and also too, we have to kind of keep in mind the negative aspects of, um, doing community. And, you know, we’re, we’ve been looking at communities on a larger scale in terms of our political environment and they’ve been much more destructive, um, and much more polarizing we are because you aren’t. And so there are different ways to form community, um, in body community. And we’ve been talking about the working, I feel like a working community, um, confessional communities to me as stand as working with our parts, working with ourselves, working with God in how we bring ourselves to that community.
Kate: Can I… This Is, I don’t know how you feel about this. I wanna read a sentence from your book that, um, says, says a bit of, think about what Derek’s capturing about what a confessional community is. These, um, small groups that you run. And I, I want, cause the sentence is so rich and loaded and I just want you to expand on like what, what you’re hoping happens, that, that what’s happening in here and then the output from that. So the purpose of this, but I’ll start with, um, you write, this is in your newest book, The Soul Desire, “being part of a confessional community, creates a space in which we gather to name our desires, lament our griefs and traumas, all acts of prayer and out of them become outposts of beauty and new creation in the other domains of our lives.” So much there. And I, I what’s the, what’s your, um, part of me is like, yes, that’s, that’s beautiful and good to do unto itself. But I also know that you have, um, larger impact in mind maybe not impact, uh, influence. Hmm,
Curt: Hmm. I was, uh, well. I’ll, a couple, couple of thoughts. Uh, I was in a, a gathering of people recently who, where in which, uh, one of the members, it, it was, it was a, uh, about, about a dozen of us. It was on a zoom zoom call gathering. And one of the parties, uh, is, um, has been thinking about writing a book around questions of truth and science and so forth and how it is that we are having such difficulty with science in the pandemic and so forth. And, and this is a person who is, uh, uh, highly qualified to write about these kind of a person of faith and a person of great integrity, a person I respect and admire. And the rest of the community was commenting. The rest of this gathering was commenting on their, you know, hope for what, you know, a book like this might be and so forth and they were reflecting, offering, you know, thoughtful, reflections about it. And later on in the conversation, uh, cause the gathering was around, um, it was, it was a book club that was talking about The Soul of Desire. And, and later on in the gathering, I, I reflected, Uh, about how I, I think, uh, that, uh, though I think a book like this could be really helpful and meaningful, as another person commented, especially for, for people who are already longing to be people of integrity along these lines of science and community and faith and all in with all of our fractures, it’ll be helpful for those people, uh, how effective it’ll be for people who don’t agree with the writer is another question despite the fact that the writer would want to be doing this as a way to be hospitable and invite others who would maybe not necessarily agree with them, uh, to be, to be open to that. And I, uh, I, I, I offered later a reflection in the course of the conversation about our book is this, this notion that the kinds of lines that are being drawn on and have been drawn and are now and, and are thickening, right. Um, are the kinds that are really difficult for us to cross apart from being in the room together. So to the, I mean, apart from being in the room with another body, literally, Uh, because we we’ve become so persuaded that like, like what I think about a particular thing that is the essence of who I am without recognizing that if I’m gonna sit in the room with somebody else, my body starts to tell a lot of other things. It also says, I’m afraid. It says I have a longing. It says, it says lots of things that our words don’t say. And, and so Kate, to your, to your question, my, my longing is that this kind of a community would be a placeholder for people who would be willing to take the risk of being in the room with other people, with whom they may, may disagree. Now, I, I, I would say the likelihood of, of that happening feels, uh, you know, it, I don’t know how, how likely it would be, because I think that we are, again, the fractures are, the concrete is hardening so quickly. Um, I’m not hopeless about it, but, but, but for those who are still willing and flexible enough to do that, that would be one thing. Yeah. I think the other thing that really, uh, when you read that passage, I, I think of, uh, we talk in the book about these different stages of development, where people come to the group, people first come to the group because they want to get something outta the group to take back into their real life. And then you get to a place where you’re like, oh, I have other people who are also in the group doing that. I feel like I’m not by myself in taking things from the group to go back to my life. That’s a second stage that people are able to. And then at some point, uh, you know, kind of the penny drops and they recognize that this is, this is the work I’m not coming to get something to take someplace else…
Kate: This is real life.
Curt: In the way that I typically this… Exactly this is real life. And that the work that I do with George and Sarah and Bill and Shelly, and are, uh, that it’s, it’s the work that in, in doing it here with people who are, who, who are here to do that work, that’s why they’re here, uh, that is transformative in a way like unto nothing else. And I think that we do the same kind of thing with church. We come to get some things that I can take it back to my real life, or I come and have people that I love that I can, you know, or I, I wanna come because I wanna be in this, in this body of worshipers, who, with whom I’m reminded every week of the story that I believe that we’re living in and we take the body and we take the blood and then we take each other and by taking each other, we take their, you know, we take their body and blood. We, we take all that’s beautiful and all that really isn’t. And, and I wanna, you know, I, I, I want to dwell and gaze and inquire with you recognizing that this is hard to do. Um, but to love my sister and brother in this way, this is how we proclaim the gospel. You will… They will know you’re my disciples if you do this kind of work. Not just if you’re just nice, each other.
Kate: Polite, but superficial with each other.
Curt: Yeah. Yeah. I don’t know if that’s, if any, that’s what you were.
Kate: No. Yeah. That’s, it’s beautiful. And referring to, I’m thinking, as you’re talking about the work of these communities coming to, we started with, you know, communities that are across different, which could be any many types of differences, um, to have some kind of authentic encounter to be transformed to, like you implied in that to, to heal some of the fragmentation happening in our social world. And I was thinking about that in contrast with, um, Facebook’s mission statement is famously to connect the world, but they never put any purpose to it. It’s just connect the world. And increasingly I think cause maybe New York times had an article about recently how, how devastating connection without purpose is. That connection is leveraged for competition for, or, um, if it’s organized it’s to organize or influence or manipulate certain outcomes that are maybe not what even the majority of the population would want to be, um, backing. And uh, so, so connect the world is actually really a sinister mission statement and I’m I’m appreciating cause I think what makes a community different from connection. And I think it is that sense of purpose that we’re doing this unto our own formation, but also through our formation is a social formation.
Curt: Right. I agree. Yeah. I’m I’m gonna, I want, I I’m I’m I’ll just say this and I’ll hoard the mic for a moment. Um, I I’m, I’m, I’m thinking as you’re talking Kate, I’m thinking of your comments earlier, Derek, about out when we think about trauma and we think about, uh, the healing of that, that we, you know, we, we, as, as we, you both said, like we think about it as a collection of individuals who have it have that we’re gonna work on collection of individuals as… And we forget that actually that’s only half the story, the other equally powerful and synergistic part of the story of trauma is that there, uh, and you know, as we like to say, if you have a person who’s experienced trauma, you also have the person who’s committed the trauma who has also been traumatized by their action, which means you already, anytime a single person is traumatized, you already have a system that’s been traumatized. You necessarily have it and they will feed each other. And you can’t talk about one without talking about the other. And we, and we typically want to just take my own personal trauma and go take care of that without having the wherewithal to, or the structure or the, or the place to do this collectively. And I’m, I, uh, this notion that Kate, even then this, that like, okay, so why are we doing this then? Why are we connecting for, you know, for, and, and even when we say well for the healing of, for the healing for, for, and, and what’s the end of that to what end and I I’m, I’m, I’m regularly struck by this sense that, um, as, as you know, as I’ve, I’ve heard a couple of my friends recently say, oh yes, we, we want the kingdom. We just don’t want the king. This idea that we, at the end of the day, uh, I’m I, there, there will always be Jesus. There will always be the Trinity’s voice that’s standing outside of this in some respects that are, and the Trinity is, is deciding and, and, and creating and calling the purpose And that if I’m left to my own, and even if I’m left to my own with a collection of people that I get along with, Uh, to decide on our own what the purpose is, I will soon devolve into something that’s not gonna be good for me or them or, or the rest of the world. And so I I’m, I’m just, I’m, I’m just really struck by this notion of the power of our collective trauma for us to ignore that. And kind of decide for myself what the purpose of this is, which of course always ends up going places that I don’t create more trouble for me.
Derek: Hmm. No, it’s interesting. I think a couple things both of you said, particularly that the necessity of purpose is what we’re saying, and we may decide it is again, distorted, or we may decide it’s wealth building, or we may decide its community building. Um, we may decide its following Christ in a certain way. And I do think, you know, we’re, we’re not talking about, you know, always this analogy that, um, we’re talking about social things now. And so, you know, if 10 people out of a hundred get sick, you think, well, individuals, but if 60 people out of a hundred, you have to kind of think differently about your intervention. And we’re at that place. We have to think differently about, Hey, what, what needs to happen? What’s really going wrong. It may not just be in one person’s body or 10 people’s bodies. This may be something in the water. This may be something in the air. And, you know, I’m hoping kind of pandemic gets us more in touch with that collective sense of wound so that we turn to think what are the collective things we have to do as opposed to stay in very individualistic sorts of solutions. It was interesting, you know, my, my daughter, who’s in mid-twenties, um, I asked her about trust in institutions and I’m just gonna, you know, proudly read a little bit of what she wrote back to me. And she said, “I think I trust in myself and my family and even individuals more so than institutions. I think it’s impossible to trust nowadays because we are so bombarded with constant conflicting information. I think that’s why it’s hard to trust institutions. I’ve been taught through our society and social media that everyone has capitalistic interest that will always trump integrity, morality, kindness, et cetera. The ideal phrase that comes to mind with individuals is you don’t ever really know people because of social media. Our understanding of people, our introduction to people is so curated that it’s hard to trust for face value, what you are being presented with.” And I said, whoa, um, that in some ways our social style, we talked about social media. Facebook is creating more difficulty with trusting. And I would say having faith, it’s hard to have faith in that context. And the purposelessness of just simply connecting. It appears to be more damaging than salvific. I think we thought this is gonna save us. We can be connected. And I think in many ways it’s been helpful in many ways it’s been harmful.
Curt: I, um, You know, this, again, this, this TV series, uh, The Chosen, I’m struck by the way, the writers, uh, and the actors are portraying the gospel story thus far in a way that feels far more authentic to the time in which it existed. Primarily in terms of, I mean, for me, what I, what seems to strike me is a, the pace at which I, anything happens, which feels very slow. So even in the production and in the release of the episodes, like it’s taking forever. And, and in that, like, I I’m living with the contrast. I mean, like, why can’t we get all these things like, like,
Kate: Come on guys, production team.
Curt: Let’s get, let’s get on with it. Right, right. But there is something I think, life giving in the sense, like you you’re, you’re there. It’s forcing me to sit with things. I think another thing that strikes me is to this to, so, so pace is one thing that I’m paying attention to. And then another thing, this sense that Jesus is really serious about collecting, like creating a community. He’s not creating a collection of individuals. Each of those individuals appears, at least to me, you know, they, I mean, it seems that he, it, it, he, he’s not collected, uh, you know, he’s not collected people who he knows are gonna get along with each other. In fact, in some respects, it seems to be by design. There are people that he’s calling and he doesn’t really give a hoot about what Peter thinks about him calling Matthew. He like him, his like, yeah, you’re gonna get used to it. This is what you’re gonna, because in it’s you together that is doing something together that is really, and that takes time to do that. And I, I, I find within myself, Derek and Kate, this, like, I, I feel the urgency. I, I feel that that, what, what feels the urgency with having to, because things feel so bleak. I, I, it, it feels urgent that I need, I need something to get. And yet in some respects, there’s there isn’t really a different way to do this. The, the, that these kinds of redemptive changes, uh, require, uh, the slow, durable, persevering work, uh, that for which I have little patience. And, um, and, and, and at the, and at the same time, I, I would say that my own, the degree to which change can take place within me is necessarily going to be commensurate with the, with the change that is taking place in my community. I, I can’t, I, I can’t do, like, my work is not going to be durable or sustainable if I’m not thinking in the terms of, like, there are 60 people who were sick in the hundred.
Derek: Yeah. I appreciate. Interesting. You’ve mentioned the series and people have recommended me watching it and I have avoided it. Hmm. And the reason I’ve avoided it for fear that it would be such a culturally adopted US culture. Hmm. Image of Christ, um, certainly in terms of skin tone, but also in terms of quick, Uh, sped up quick story and, um, not a personality I fully identify with. And so sometimes I avoid for fear I won’t be able to identify with this one, it’ll be another sort of productive piece and sounds so unchristian of me to say, but I, it’s almost a fear of like, I, I don’t know if I can take that in. So you’re making me interested in this series, cause I’ve had a couple people say, you should see this. And I’m like, okay, I need to actually wait and hear someone I trust. Tell me it’s okay. Because so sometimes, and we, we talked about this, mentioned this earlier, the Jesus of our making is not the one that’s quite universal. Um, you can’t quite take in. And so what you’re describing is I can relate to this Christ and it feels more embedded in the time and the speed and the tempo and the ethos that maybe was more true then now. And I can actually take that in. Um, but when you say pace and you know, as us, as an institution, we’ve gotta find a better pace or rhythm is the word I’ll use, what’s the rhythm. And then what are the rituals that help us hold that rhythm? Cause without the rituals, it’s hard to hold the rhythm. You know, we do this daily, we do this three times a day that ritual of and helps us hold the rhythm. And then what’s our story again, what’s our purpose. Um, how do we, what’s the story we tell ourselves for the reason to go this slow and to be countercultural if you will. And I think that’s the thing that wounds me as I, you know, look around in the communities, building around a Jesus that I’m like, I don’t recognize that Jesus, Who wants to reestablish a, a, a kingdom now in the American vision of that. And it’s not so much I’m hostile towards that. I just don’t know how to trust it. And so partly I think I, the reason I keep bringing in the, the, both the, the sense of hunger or for community that will be safe enough for me to grow. I’m also aware of the counterfeit communities that grow up to distract me from that other community. And, um, they have the language of polarization. Um, they have the language of, self of protection. They have a language of projection, Um, shaming. And so the community. And I think, I just feel like I need to distinguish that there are communities, but some are healing, some are confessional And some are consumptive and we are in some ways, the, you know, the three of us are talking about the desire for a community that can be confessional where I am seen shown and see. Not one where I blame accuse polarized and stimulate more fear.
Kate: Which I think ties into that pace that Curt was speaking to that, Uh, there’s a, there’s a sign, um, a print in the, the wall of the center’s office that says “transformation happened at the pace of relationship”, which I love, but I’m also realizing right now, I think I have a distorted sense of what the pace of relationship is. I probably think it can happen much faster than I actually can. And Derek what you were just saying about, um, wanting to be a people, a person whose relationships are marked by kindness and meaning making and beauty, goodness, all the positives and goes that actually takes even longer. Like the reason that we as individuals. And I think also some of our, um, more institutional structures push over to fear is because fear can motivate so much more quickly. It taps into just that core, reptilian, limbic part of ourselves that acts and acts right now and doesn’t do it rationally or thoughtfully just, but if the people are being thoughtful to, too, and how they direct that limbic system, you can get an insurrection. You can get a lot of movement very quickly. If you use fear, using love is so slow and we don’t have the time to go faster. We don’t have the time to not go slow. It has to be this slow.
Derek: And that’s what my, my yearning for church to be. Um, a community with a different rhythm pace than the one I spend all my time in, or most of my time in. It’s what I want family to be. Um, it’s what I want, you know, a center to be, if you will. It, it’s a, um, aware that the pace is different by necessity. If in fact it’s going to reach its fuller infinite goals, as opposed to finite. Yeah, we got there, we got it done. And um, that’s hard. I find it very hard and conflictual, even in my own body. I’m like, Hey, we’re supposed to, but I, I think we’re supposed, but I, you know, I go back and forth between the communities because, um, there’s such a devaluation of the slowness, that it puts one in conflict and we get it done quickly and then we kinda have to move on to the next day in quickness. And then the next day in quickness. And there’s not a sense of the depth of growth, Kate, that you’re talking about, a deeper sort of something there, it’s just a knowledge it’s awareness, but not a realization, um, or transformation. It’s just a, but not a full consciousness, a distorted consciousness if you will. So yeah,
Curt: I was, uh, speaking with a, uh, group of about 40 young mothers this morning And, uh, as a local church congregation that has a, Um, young moms group that meets once a month. And, uh, and, and you know, these are, these are, these are women who are, you know, they’re, they’re kids are birth to, you know, young elementary school, right? So the mothers and young children, And, you know, I I’ve heard over the last two years, uh, from so many parents, how, how many of them at first, of course, COVID and education and so forth was so difficult. After we re-entered, you know, we started thinking about coming back into 2021, the fall of 2021, and people are like starting school again and so forth. And the parents were lamenting that they, they could see it coming, the pace at which life was gonna pick up and all the prescriptive soccer matches and all of this and all of that. And at the same time that they were so, Uh, you know, there was so much distress about COVID, but there was also a certain unexpected unforeseen, uh, rest from so many things that they, that they hadn’t really been aware of. And now it’s ramping back up and, you know, for, for whatever person, so to your point, Derek, this sense in which we live in a world that is basting us toward urgency and toward a rapid, uh, you know, living life as rapidly as we can. And we talked this morning with, with the young moms about, about how parenting, uh, kind of, I mean, in the spirit of the book, parenting is another form of artistry. And, uh, imagining church to be, imagining family life, to be imagining this to be, we are both, uh, as parents, we are, we are doing the work of artistry with our kids. We are doing a certain sculpting kind of work recognizing that we have to work with the medium and the medium. I like, I don’t get to be in charge of everything. Like, you know, the marble is only gonna do, like, I can, I can’t just make it, do my bidding no matter what, like I, I, or, or the paint or the whatever. It’s like, I there’s certain conditions under which I’m working. Uh, but we’re also, uh, wanting to recognize that this kind of, uh, artistry, uh, is, uh, it, it, it takes a great deal of time to become a master at this. It, it, it takes a long time for us to do this. And, uh, you know, Jesus, we talked about how Jesus, isn’t worried about his own pace. He’s not worried about his own pace. And this is one of the things that like in this TV series that the writers are on occasion. They return to the disciples, impatience with the pace and Jesus being curious about it in a number of different ways. And, uh, I, and I, and I think about the pace of my own transformation that I’m so, Hmm, freaking impatient with. And then, and, and recognizing that, that, that the durability and pace and my own transformation is, is, uh, I, I, I have to recognize that that is, that is gonna happen in concert with my being in a community that’s doing the same thing. I can’t… And not just being in the community so the community can serve my purposes, but that I, I have to be willing to do the work that’s gonna take the time where in which yes, we’re taking care of the 60 people who are part of the hundred. Like it’s, it’s, it’s a thing now. That’s not just about a collection of Individuals. That’s that, it’s an image that will stay with me for a long time.
Derek: Me too. Yeah. Yeah. I think I, I’m just aware of how, even in terms of this conversation, the tempo, our feel, it’s a different feel to this conversation, different tempo. And just how few places, um, allow us to fall into that tempo. And again, I’m struck by one, it’s the individual, um, you know, I can say, Hey, I promise myself to do this, but as you said, Curt, we need a community and the socialization or re-socialization or rebuilding or creating these communities that can be safe enough. Um, you know, I’m still uncomfortable with, you know, I know enough about group dynamics that, Hey, you can get in the group and get everybody together. And we all agree to what a task is and still distort and still in some ways, abuse each other, still take advantage of each other. And the sort of safety piece becomes loud for me. Um, not just simply connecting cause connecting, we have a connection crisis, but then a safety crisis where we can be safe enough with the each other safe in myself. I don’t, I’m, I’m able to kind of manage my own sort of yearnings and desire that may be distorted to take the time to eat good bread. And to have a sort of shifting of my own sort of appetites. Um, um, because my initial appetite can feed my appetite in a certain way and wants it wants meat and I’ve gotta learn something else. If I’m gonna decide it meets really not helpful for my body, I need to need something. I gotta, I gotta take time to learn that appetite and I need the community to go with me cuz I will, I will cheat. And I, my goodness. And so I will cheat. I don’t like accountability when you use it in this, I’m hold you accountable. But I do like in the sense of, you love me enough to say, check on me, goodness gracious, I need to check on you. Yeah. Yeah. And I’m not gonna shame you in that checking, but I’m certainly gonna be aware and you decide what you choose, but I’m check on you. That’s my commitment to check with you. And so these for me are, you know, when we talk about institutions, these are for me, the new institutions that I need. And I don’t think of, you know, I just think granted building in the corner institution, you know, it’s a library or something, you know, and it’s usually some hard rigid building as opposed to dynamic interactions and us learning how we want to be with each other. And both our freedoms and our constraints. And I think the, the sort of, uh, kind of conversation of liberalism can sometimes be there’s no restraints, well, I don’t know how you have a community without restraints, right? And without freedoms and negotiating that those constraints and restraining oneself to be with, is a necessary part of community. But I don’t know if we have a public voice that says constrain, that doesn’t sound like oppressive. Cause when I hear constrained in our public conversations, like that’s oppressive and it’s gonna oppress somebody and somebody can’t do something. And so it’s distorted again split. You know, there’s a freedom gracious, be free, be free, be free. And then there’s a constraint. And I think these are political parties working out and that constraining part feels evil at times as well as uh, no, no restraint at all feels a bit evil. And our challenge as a community is build communities that can both hold and contain as well as restrain. You know, they’ve gotta do both.
Curt: I have a question for both of you. I, the question I would love to hear you both speak to, so this is what’s popping into my head. Uh, I’m I’m seeing the, uh, strip of highway, uh, Langston Boulevard, uh, in Arlington county where the speed limit is 30 miles an hour. Uh, cuz it runs up it’s it’s a big, it’s a four lane. I mean two, two lanes each way, big, big, right. And 30 miles an hour is really hard to do. And uh, I have had the distinct, uh, opportunity see more than several people, uh, be introduced to the Arlington county police departments when they have failed to recognize that the speed limit is 30 miles an hour as I drive, as I drive by them in, in this one stretch. And yet for the most part, we like it’s a constraint. Somehow we, and it, and it, because at this particular place it runs through, it’s basically running up through a neighborhood. It’s a big, big highway it’s running through, you know, a neighborhood. And so it makes it, it makes sense that that would be cuz like nobody’s gonna drive 30 you’re in the, you know, all the things. So I would love to hear you talk about what if, if we’re something about us is willing to be constrained to drive, you know, 30 to 40 miles an hour and, and not just like, I think most people it’s, it’s not just like, well I’m gonna get busted if I do. If I, if I speed, I mean that may be part of it, but certainly part of it for me. Uh, but there’s also the part that like, no, I see there’s houses here and there are kids who come out and run and so forth and like I, but there, so, so there’s the speed limits. They’re not, they’re not is like taking the posts away and saying, Hey, y’all drive at whatever you feel like you want to, uh, nor are the police stopping people when they’re driving 31, they’re stopping people when they’re driving, you know, 45 or 50. And I would, I would like, what is it about us that will, that will do that. And what’s different about that. Go.
Kate: My first thought, cause I think about this often when driving, especially if the pace of traffic is higher or lower than the speed limit and the, the phrase that stuck with me and I don’t know who in my driver’s education said, this said, this phrase, speed doesn’t kill. You can go really fast and not die. Differential speed kills. If you’re going really fast and you hit something that’s not moving or you’re going really slow and someone going really fast hits you. So I think what’s important about like what I think about on the road isn’t just, is there a cop nearby? How, how much do I think I can push above the speed limit? What I’m asking myself is what’s the system, what are other people doing? And how can I fit into something normative? You find that low end of normative or high normative within that system. But it’s, it’s so visible in a way that maybe other, um, social, social shared sentiments, aren’t visible.
Derek: And, and I think that instinct, um, because we’re social animals is close to innate and I would call it reciprocity in corporation. I think we know we cannot live together if we don’t have some degree of reciprocity. So if my children are in the street, I wouldn’t want someone driving through here dangerously and, and you know, I also feel like, Hey, I wanna cooperate with the whole, when you say that we’re, what’s the normative thing I wanna cooperate with the whole, I think we, those things are almost innate with us. We forget that we’re social animals and we are really kind of queued up to do some things. Even if there’s no rules to them. If there’s some sense, we internalize a certain way of being, I think what distorts it again is like, if I, I know this is a, this is a trap, this is a speed trap. Then I start to lose a sense of my cooperation and I try to get around it. Um, and, or, and, or I only drive through their safely cause I know they’re, they’re trying to catch me. Well, different types of societies. And so if a society gets to be corrupt, then it becomes harder to trust those things. Like why should I not drive more than, you know? And if I have to it’s because it’s coercion, but then I’m gonna be coercive in other ways, because this is a society of coercion. It’s not a society of cooperation. So I think there’s something we’re negotiating all the time and we don’t identify it. And that’s, we want to be cooperative if it’s safe, if we it’s about collective wellbeing. I mean, we, we, humans will, self-sacrifice in certain ways that are unexplainable because we want to have a sense, we have a sense of reciprocity.
Kate: Well, and we’ll even self-sacrifice selfishly will, will. Um, you know, like I, if, if there’s someone going 15 miles an hour and we should be going 30, like I wanna figure out what is that like, is, is this car breaking down? Like what, like how can we help this person that we can like get traffic moving? Um, this why you also, people like pull off the side of the road to help in a, you know, car crash situation, get the cars off the side of the roads that traffic can keep moving. Um, like we’ll actually slow down to help the slowest among us so that we can go fast again. And it’s, it’s selfish, but giving for selfish reasons. And I think we’ve kind of lost that in a lot of pieces of society of on any given issue. If we’re trying to go a hundred miles an hour, well, where are the people who really have their breaks? Their parking break is like slammed down and do we care? Do we, do we go figure out what’s going on with their parking break to, to bring them along? If nothing else I love this metaphor Curt.
Derek: Well, well it’s, it’s, it’s funny cause it’s, you know, the example Kate that came to mind is, you know, I walk my dog to a park which is, you know, maybe half a mile away and lately it’s clear that somebody’s been driving their car into the grass and it’s just eroding the grass and, and they’ve done it multiple times and, and I have this sort of, it’s like this aversive sort of anger, like how dare you. Now it’s not really, I mean, you can push it down and replant grass. So it’s not a permanent, but there’s such a sense of violation that I have. This is a public park. This is something we share and you’re defacing it. It’s an interesting sort of, you know, so we have these sort of internal internalized mechanisms within us around cooperation. And again, the sense of, if we slow down, we can go fast. Reciprocity. We can kind of, and there’s some calculus that we’re all. But right now for me, the question with the dropping of trust across.. where the institutions that hold these sort of rules for, for us where I don’t know, you know, I have to kind of adjust my frame. I’m thinking, well, you know, what’s the big deal. It’s just grass, just dirt, muddy, gotta stick over the, and I’m trying to make myself, let go of some sort of standard that we wouldn’t deface beauty, if you will. And I think that’s the dilemma. I feel we’re in a cycle, largest society is in a cycle of saying, Hey, it’s okay if we deface beauty. It’s okay. If we let the moral and I don’t mean morals, just simply sexual cause people think, but our wellbeing, when I care for your life and your wellbeing, that’s a moral principle. Hmm it’s okay. If you do your own thing, I do my, and I there’s as much danger in that piece. As in the impression, you can’t get, you can’t even walk over here and how do we have build communities, rebuild, embodied communities that can hold those tensions, um, that can in some ways, hold us
Kate: Curt. What do you think it is that keeps you going, uh, 30 on the highway other than its your neighborhood?
Curt: Well, yeah, I mean, I, I, I think it is, I think it is a mix of what the two of you have been saying. I, I think it’s not just, it’s not just, uh, you know, monochromatic for me, it’s there is the part of me that thinks, um, if okay, my full confession here, there is the part of me that thinks if you want traffic, if you want this to be a 30 mile an hour, you know, speed limit, uh, then I think it would’ve been helpful if you’d built a highway that would not, uh, invite people to wanna run 45 miles an hour, because that’s exactly how big the highway is. The highway’s built to run 45 miles an hour. And, uh, and, and if you’re on this highway long enough, you that there are places out beyond where it is, the, the speed limit is higher than this. So, so there’s a part of me. That’s like, like I hate 30 miles an hour. It doesn’t, it doesn’t make a lot of practical sense. Right. It could even be 35. And then there’s a part of me that looks around and sees like, we’re, we’re running up past houses. I get that. I get that. And I, and, and, and I would say that there are different days when I have different. Like, there are different, there are days when I’m happy to run 32 miles an hour all the way to work because I’m like, ahead of schedule. And then there are days when I’m like, what the heck is the speed limit being 30 miles an hour, because I’m late for work. So there’s these, these, I think these, these different parts of me, me, uh, and then there’s a, and, and, and of course, then there’s a part of me that is, you know, the moment when I’m actually, uh, running 35 miles an hour, and I’ve got somebody who’s on my tail, who wants to, who, who, you know, and I wanna slow down to 30 miles an hour.And that’s pretty much what I do And, and, and all, and, and all the things. But I, I, I find, um, it, it is, it’s an interesting observation because I find that, you know, there are days when I’ll be in a column of traffic, two lanes, and the traffic is running at 35 to 38 to 30 to 40 miles an hour, which is about as slow as people go. But everybody’s running, nobody seems to be pressured. We’re all pretty content. And I’m, and I find myself not just like, okay, I’m glad we’re not having to compete about this, but I’m all like, you know, I’m really kind of glad that we’re able to do this. Like, it feels good to be able to do this, as opposed to when we’ve got somebody who’s running 28 and we’ve got somebody who’s running 50. So to your point, Kate, about the differential in this, in this speed when I, you know, and, and I, and it makes me, it makes me think like, okay, so as we’re talking, I’m thinking I have, I, I, Curt, I have a relationship with the Seattle School that has now been, uh, in development for, uh, I don’t know how many years, a number of years, uh, and this, and, and I I’ve, I’ve been there a couple of times. And the Seattle School has supported providing CEU’s for people when I was running a course back a number for a number of years. And, and I said, well, I love the Seattle School. And I’m aware that I don’t just love this abstract thing. Like, I can say that, but I know that if immediately, if somebody would say, well, Curt, what do you love about the, Seattle School? And I would say, well, I love Derrick McNeil. And I love Kate Davis. And I love Dan Allender, and I love, I, I love Cathy. I, I mean, I, I, there are these people that are that institution who have loved me well. And, uh, and, and it’s not just because they’ve all been it’s, you know, it’s not all, you know, just all nice. I mean, like, these are people who I would trust that if would, would, would ask me hard questions about me, like my friend Neil yesterday. So this is what I see you doing. So kinda like with the accountability, but in a way that is not with abject condemnation or contempt.
Kate: Curious and for your interest.
Curt: And yeah. Yeah, yeah. And so I, I think I want,
Curt: I mean, it’s really difficult when, uh, you know, you’ve got, you know, a handful of cars that wanna run 50 miles an hour and they’re like, and they don’t care whether the cops are there or not. And they figure like it’s 19 degrees, it’s 16 degrees here on a Thursday morning in Arlington. Like they’re like cops are not gonna be out. And they’re probably right. And so they’re gonna go, and it’s really difficult when I am with another group of cars that are running within a reasonable speed and we’ve got all these and like, it, it, uh, like my, my tendency is not to wanna say, well, how could I more helpfully convince them besides, you know, like hoping that they run into a barrier up over the, over, over the rise, you know, know, I, I, I have, I have, I, I, I turn violence in my own, right. Like, and I want to know how I can with invitation with hospitality, um, and without violence, uh, say to a person who, uh, is in a different space than I’m in. I wanna say, I, I wanna know more about you. I want to hear more about it, recognizing that, you know, the minute that they find out that I think something differently than they do, they’re gonna want to, uh, not do that. It’s, it’s really, it’s really hard. And yet why, why am I saying all this? I’m just kinda like running around, like aimlessly here. I think, I just wanna say that the, that I, for me, the Seattle School, there’s something about the people who are doing you, who are doing the leadership work. There are, uh, like the, the whole becomes larger than some of its parts, such that the institution itself, the community as, as, as an organism, um, is having, it, it, it, it is, it is carrying, uh, weight in the world. It is carrying inertia in the world, collectively. And I want to, uh, I, I, I, I think that more, the more time I spend with it, therefore with you, uh, the more, I will not only, uh, be invited to do the same work in my own communities, but my own personal life will be healed and recommissioned in the process, But I, I want that. So I want more places like you to show up, so whatever you are doing that has both been hospitable to me and, um, all the things…
Kate: Yeah. We’re trying to share it.
Curt: You know, we gotta bottle it and sell it.
Kate: Yeah. We’re trying to find, find out how to get it out. Yeah. Find out what it is and how to get it out. Um, I’m watching our time and I both don’t wanna stop this conversation, but I also wanna leave us a little bit of time to debrief. And I know Curt that you have a hard stop coming up. Um, so maybe just as an ending question for you, Curt is what are your questions? What are you working through about community, what it means to be, or become a community, what it means to embody community? Um, what are the questions that you’re working through in yourself and your life and your relationships this season?
Curt: Uh, you know, there, I, I would say there are a couple of things that come to mind, uh, two, two or two or three, uh, images pop into my head. One is that, um, uh, and this involves these confessional communities. One is so we’ve, we’ve been bringing them back in person. And a little pause here in the last couple, two or three weeks with Omicron, but we’ve been bringing them back in person. And one of the groups, when they came back in person after being away, they, they had formed before COVID had been away from each other almost two years on. I mean, I mean with, I mean, virtually they’ve been in, in disembodied states, kind of, they came back in, in the very first night, we had this moment where, uh, the person who there was a person who was speaking and she, she’s 30 seconds into what she’s starting to say. And she just paused. And she said, oh gosh, I have to say, and these are people that she’s now that she’s been with for four and a half years, but the last two years of which she’s been on zoom. And she said, I just have to acknowledge that. Like I know that we know each other for as long as we do, but I find I’m just aware, like I’m really uncomfortable with all of you looking at me. And so this sense of, uh, these are people who who’ve worked to trust each other. And when you put them in the space where their embodied selves have the opportunity to engage, these are people who love each other. And still there’s a distress at being seen this, uh, deeply this, this, this, in this embodied way. And so I think that there is, I, I just wanna say that I, I long for people to be able to be intimate with each other. And these are people who are like, they’re here to do the work with each other, let alone enemies. So just to acknowledge that, that’s, that, that’s hard. Another example is that one of the other groups are about, we’re about to bring them back online. I mean, back, um, in person In a few weeks and there’s, and there’s one member who for a number of different reasons is, uh, really, uh, struggling with their fears about being backed in person and all of COVID and so forth. Um, And it is entirely possible that they’re gonna have to leave the group because we’re gonna meet, this is the, this is where we’re going. And, uh, And it’s really painful. And it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s infuriating for some because they have, you know, all, all, all the thoughts. And so to me, and, and I, and I, and I, it, it will be, it will be a great grief because this group also has been together for nearly five years. And so there is a, there is a certain, Like really painful grief at recognizing that people are gonna leave people that you love people that you want to be together. And for whatever reason, they’re not gonna be, they’re not able to tolerate the intimacy. Um, and these are even people who have done the work of intimacy, but for whatever reason, you know, you encounter something in the some point and the story and its old voices at some point overwhelms, even the work that they’ve done of building and being in that, in that space. And, you know, I think, you know, Kate, you were asking about for me, I, I, I think, uh, those two examples, Um, uh, are helpful reminders for me in, in that I, uh, I I’m reminded of the, the frequency with which A, I still always will have these things where when you’re looking at me at some point, you’re gonna look at me and I’m gonna be uncomfortable. Even if I’ve known you for, even if you’ve seen all the things that I think that you could possibly have seen.
Curt: And I, and, and, and, but what was so beautiful about that moment with that, with that patient was the naming of it meant that everybody could get on board and say, yep, this is hard coming back to this. This is hard. This person didn’t just not name it. And then just like pull the rip cord and get out. They named it. And I think, you know, coming, I, I think for me coming back to this, uh, item that we were talking about earlier about suffer the children to come unto me, Uh, I know that there are, uh, events that have, uh, taken place in our adult lives that are, that truly are traumatic. They, they truly are. I mean, in the last six months in the last two weeks that are truly traumatic, I’m also, uh, that, that, that we, that we need to address. And I, I think in the work that I’m doing, I’m becoming increasingly persuaded, Uh, mostly because of where I’m seeing it, my own life, uh, discovering, You know, how angry I am. And discovering, uh, I mean, I was just talking with my wife about this the other night, this, this, this whole sense of, the irritability that comes pretty quickly when I’ve been disappointed by something. And because I so dislike disappointment, and my anger is a, is a defense against my disappointment. Cause I can’t tolerate this because so much of it has to do with a litany experiences in the first, you know, 15 years of my life, where the parts of me that are, you know, the children, part of me never got addressed. And of course then there’s the part of me that wants to turn in my prayer to God and say, why the heck is this only showing? Like, why can’t, why, why didn’t you point this out when I was 20, when I was all, all the things. And so I, I think, um, this I, This new book project on suffering, I think that it, it it’s this King James translation suffered the children to come into me, I think is probably gonna have some significant role for me because I think that what we, what I think that we find along these lines, uh, when, when we have all these fractures, it, it feels like a, uh, a cultural regression. You know, how it is when you have children who, uh, are now, uh, you know, four and five or six years of age, And they’ve learned to dress themselves and feed themselves. And a lot of things that they do and, uh, something happens and they get sick. Or something happens and they get really frightened. And suddenly you find that they’re regressing into the stage of a two-year-old. Now when they’re four or five and they do that, we’re not so surprised cuz they’re sick or they’re hungry or they’re this, or they’re that or whatever, uh, when they’re 25 and they do it, then you’re like, Hmm. When they’re 60 and they’re like me and they regress to this in my family room with my wife, Sometimes she’s like, Hmm, other times she’s not so that. She’s, She, she is rightly she is rightly having a different response. And, and to me it, it’s kind of like, you know, if you’re the parent and you have a six year old who regresses to the age of a two or three-year-old and, but it’s just one of them, you’re like, okay, I get it. And if there’s two parents in the house, there’s one like I, I can do this, but if I have a room of 20 kids and they all suddenly do this, it’s really difficult to get ’em back online. It’s it’s difficult. And to me it feels like all of our anger and death, da da is like, it’s like, oh, we we’ve all turned back to two-year-old concrete operations. And this is, and, and so we’ve got all this unfinished business. And so I’m, I’m really, we’re working with people and I have, and, and in myself, like my gosh, like I’m almost 60 years old and I got all, I’ve got like a library, like a Carnegie library’s worth of unfinished childhood texts that have to get rewritten.
Derek: Uh, I’m remembering something that I think I read in your book, uh, about acceptance of those parts that are undone and I’m paraphrasing. And it is in this community that I think, and I appreciate cause you’ve offered yourself to us and I almost feel like I hope I’ve been worthy of what you’ve brought to the conversations. And, um, you’ve, you’re offering of vulnerability, um, you’re offering or practicing safe exposure. Um, those are the things I think, as we talk about, um, what you’re building in these confessional spaces and is hurt in them, the sort of notion that we would do this and not get hurt or not risk or not be disappointed or not all the things we’re trying to avoid. That’s a part of it. And to, in the midst of that, keep bringing sort of practicing safe exposure. Here I am, again, you you’ve hurt me here. I am, again, I’m disappointed here I am. Again, I have goals and hopes that you can’t fulfill here. I am, again, I appreciate you brought that self to us. Um, and these conversations and these ways of being,
Curt: Oh, that’s very kind, but I, and, and I wanna say, I mean, I there’s, there’s no question that, uh, you know, our, the work that we are doing together here, the three of us continues to encourage me to do that. I mean, like, I, I like, I, I will be that much more confident to do this again and again, and again and again, So one, one more reason why, like, I need the community in order for me to grow in my capacity to do it because I can’t just be the only person in the room who does this. Cause at some point I’m like, no, I’m, I’m not, I can’t, I’m leaving. And so I, I, uh, I’m just so grateful to have our time.
Kate: Thank You. Thank You. Yeah. Yeah. It’s um, it’s interesting. Next time, you know, I’m aware of the little, the green dot on my camera and the red dot on the screen. And um, I’m like, oh yeah, we’re also recording this for figuring out you’re our first conversation. You’re our first guest figuring this out with us. Mm. And this is it’s, it’s this, that presence and that vulnerability with safety, that disappointment and risk, then this is the feel of a conversation that I think from the last time we spoke, we were like, this is what people need to, what we would hope people could enter to as listeners with us to get a sense of, oh, this is what it means to quote, do the work in a more, um, emotional or maybe therapeutic sense. Um, and part of me is like, wow, we, we really held to that. Um Hmm. And in some ways that’s trying something that isn’t normally shared and I’m, yes, so grateful for you experimenting with us, um, and learning alongside us. Cause yeah.
Curt: Grateful to be invited. Hmm. Always.
Kate: Thank you.