My Joy can be serious

My Joy says I should explain Borderlands to my readers.  She is right, but an explanation isn’t easy!  When Rhoda and I visited College Mennonite Church for the first time, Rhoda chose to go to a class that studied the International Lessons which she was accustomed to.  I decided to go to a class with Rhoda’s sister. She warned me that her class was different and tried to interest me in one of the other classes, but I insisted on going with her. She seemed reluctant, but that piqued my interest even more.  Her class turned out to be Borderlands.

I learned that Borderlands doesn’t consider itself a class. Borderlands doesn’t have a single designated teacher for each participant teaches.  Borderlands doesn’t have a roll call, but it seems that any one missing is missed, and every new person is always welcomed. It doesn’t take an offering or support a particular ministry, yet it is intensely interested in people, the earth, and the universe. Borderlands doesn’t follow a prescribed curriculum, still every one is learning.  It may not be a class, but in my eyes Borderlands is classy – it helps make College Mennonite Church be the big tent that it is.

When the first two or three participants arrives in room 110 on Sunday morning,  talking begins.  As others arrive the group begins to form a circle. Oddly, we sometimes seat ourselves in an old Mennonite fashion with men on one side of the circle and women on the other side.  We laugh when that happens, for we are not traditional Mennonites.


Be sure to look at the header

Any adult comes to a SS Class with his/her own wisdom.  This is especially true of   Borderlands. Some of us have had long-time experience in the Mennonite Church.  One attended Bob Jones University, was a member of fundamental, evangelical congregations before coming to College Mennonite.  Some of us have little formal education, but most of us are degreed. There are PHD’s and MD’s and others skilled in various trades and professions.

In the circle we begin by sharing news, as may be customary for an ordinary class. An unfinished discussion from the preceding Sunday may provide a beginning point for a fruitful discussion.  If we seem to be floundering, we do a “one on one” when each one in the circle is given the opportunity to speak for one minute without interruption. This is always interesting and instructive.

In one of the early discussions everyone present was asked to share their first and most recent mental image of God.  Some have abandoned all attempts to image God, and only trust science as truth. For me God is as close to me and as pervasive as the air and wind.  Wind and breath is air moving.  Or to use a biblical term, Spirit(ual).

smileWe sometimes try to define “worship” and “spirituality.”  Most of us cling to science because it can be weighed and measured.  But spirituality is more difficult. Do you understand why my sister-in- law was reluctant to introduce me to borderlands?  She was afraid I would not be up to it.  It requires the sturdy faith of an Old Fool.

About Martin Lehman

I was born 92 years ago, the son of a Mennonite pastor and organic gardener in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. At age 10 I was baptized as a member of the Marion Mennonite Church. I own the "Old Fool" moniker because I want to walk the Jesus Way even though the world and much of the church takes me as a fool for doing so. In my life I have moved from being a young conservative to an elderly radical. I tell that story in My Faith Journey posted on my website.
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6 Responses to Borderlands

  1. Rohrer Eshleman says:

    Your “Brotherlands” class sounds very exciting. Many of the group must have read the book, “Falling Upwards”, by Richard Rohr. I cannot understand some of his ideas that he writes, but it is a wonderful MIND stretcher, and adds to my second half of life growing experience. Keep up the good work, you Fool, Blessings, Your school mate, Rohrer

  2. This morning My Joy and I are attending our church service by computer. It is cold and blowing snow. Eldon, son-in-law has neck surgery tomorrow morning to take off an arthritic bit of spine that is pressing against his nerve. I remember going fishing in the gulf with you and that you used a surgical knife to clean fish. We had a good catch as I remember it. Eldon has taught an SS class at Waterford Church on “Falling Upwards” by Rohr. I haven’t read it, but we have had table conversations about it that I’m sure you would have enjoyed. Thanks for the comment

  3. Miriam says:

    On Facebook today, I noticed that my psychotherapist was checking to see if any of his friends played “B2” (a role-playing game called Borderlands). It made me smile to see the coincidence. 🙂 I agree that your Borderlands group sounds delightful.

    I wonder if your friends who have abandoned attempts to image God “only trust science as truth.” The scientific method is a process that allows us to learn by observation and experience, and shows us the limits of what we can know for certain. I love science for how it advances my humility, not just my knowledge. In fact, it is the former which makes science so appealing to me. What I admit to not knowing about God (or anything else) does not mean that I only trust science. It means that I don’t like to say I know something that I do not actually know. But there is much truth that can be approached without absolute certainty.

  4. Rohrer Eshleman says:

    Martin, I must correct a typing error in my comment when I said “Brotherlands” instead “Borderlands”. Borderlands sounds better to me! Precious memories, Rohrer

  5. Roy Hartzler says:

    As one who attends the Borderlands group, I thank you for your description. That might be the first written public recognition of our group! We are pretty much a “word of mouth” group. One small correction: we call it “once around” rather than “one-on-one.”

    You note we refer frequently to science for assistance to understand the world and ourselves. While that is true, I think it is more than that. I sense in Borderlands, we welcome all insights, discoveries and wisdom of the past 500 years. While science as a way of thinking has provided major insights into nature and cosmology, science has also made major contributions to knowledge of human nature, religious origins, biblical sources, and morality foundations. I refer to the past 500 years because prior to that, people with ideas contrary to the church’s dogma, were banished or put to death. I like to think of Borderlands as being within the church but free to think about contemporary issues without fear of banishment. Personally, that is my wish for all seekers. Thank you for sharing this space with me.

    • Thanks for this comment. I hope everyone who reads my Borderlands post will also read this comment. Roy is my brother-in-law married to Rhoda’s sister Lois who introduced me to Borderlands.

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