Friday, March 21, 2014
No More Flat Affect Stanleys!
Did you know that 2014 is the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Flat Stanley? Neither did I. In fact I'd never heard of Flat Stanley until I got a package in the mail from some friends of mine. Their daughter was doing a project for school that involved sending paper dolls - "Flat Stanleys" - to people like me all around the country. We were asked to send her photos of our Flat Stanley in action in our everyday context. I had fun with it; I used my Flat Stanley as a bookmark and put him in the box crusher in our warehouse and placed him in various other absurd environments. And that was that. Flat Stanley was originally a book. Fifty years later it still is. But the world is a much different place. In 1964 all the other kids would get their pumped up kicks by running around and playing; by virtue of being flat poor Stanley was left out and had to figure out how to function as a two-dimensional being in a world of three-dimensional activity, engagement and meaningful contact. Not so anymore; these days two dimensions are a luxury, and three dimensions are reserved for video games and movies about robots. Flat Stanley travels the world, meets interesting people, gets his hands and feet dirty, connects otherwise disconnected people to each other; most of our lives, quite frankly, are flatter than he is. So I think it's particularly good news that Mike Frost has published his new book Incarnate: The Body of Christ in an Age of Disengagement. Mike is a missiologist, a student of culture and a theologian with a passion to see the church act in real and redemptive ways in the world. He's concerned about the extent to which a faith system that is rooted in the Incarnation - the God of the universe taking on flesh and dwelling on earth - has capitulated to an increasingly virtual, isolated and apathetic approach to life. The church, he fears, is following instead of leading, and it's well on its way toward what he calls an "excarnate" existence.