For the next several posts, with other topics scattered here and there, I'm going take a stab at reviewing the books I'm reading. It never fails that I want to get some of this stuff down, think it through, yet that rarely happens with the housemates. Our reading preferences go in exactly 4 different directions most days.
And what am I currently reading?Bill Bryson's The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-town America.
Bill Bryson is one of my all-time favorite authors, a travel-writer who is unique in many ways, but one that always shines through is that he was born and raised in Iowa, fled to England, then came back, in this book, to stumble upon as many small towns in America as possible.
At first glance (through chapter 12): though he is transparent about his stereotypes about the South, it doesn't quite make up for the face that he obviously doesn't spend enough time here to know us. But then again, he didn't set out to become friends with the towns he visited; he never sets out to make friends. It's part of why he's so darn funny.
Despite these stereotypes, he's already got me laughing out loud at inappropriate times, in classic Bryson style - always a good sign.
She is thinner. He is more handsome. Their children are better behaved. That church has cooler music. He is a better teacher. She sings more beautifully.
Comparison abounds in us. We seek to outdo - or, at best, match-up - with those around us. Every cell phone company promises unlimited this and unlimited that. Every big box store promises the lowest prices. And our own desire for greatness and affirmation press us to compare ourselves, endlessly, to those around us.
While it isn't wrong to want our broken parts to be more like the good in others - the good that races after Jesus - the bulk of comparison just really stinks.
My comparison? Community. This is going to sound silly to some, but... I compare our community here at the Malcomb House with others who, in my mind, are living it bigger and better. They have bigger potlucks, and know the kids on their block better, and grow better gardens, and "do community" better.
But somewhere in this thinking the line can become blurred, where comparison strives to become competition (a contest for some prize, honor, or advantage. dictionary.com) and threatens the very meaning of community. What prize could we be competing for? We run in the same direction, for the same prize, set before us in Jesus, more than enough for all of us.
This is no prize to be won by only one, the best. This is the prize we can only win by going along with others, by winning it together.