Holding Loosely: The Art of Knowing and Growing {Book Club}

Are you curious which chapters we will discuss from The Curious Christian: How Discovering Wonder Enriches Every Part of Life by Barnabas Pipertoday?! People, I’m on top of most details, but then last week’s book club post was published without a plan. Oh the irony, that for a book on curiosity, inadvertently I left you hanging.

So, here is the plan for this book:

September 12 (today): Intro – Chapter 3
September 19: Chapters 4-6
September 26: Chapters 7-11

I chose this book for this particular month: September. I want to be a curious person. We have all met someone on the field who stopped being curious because they knew.

They knew why your idea would never work.

They knew why this is the only way to do it.

They knew that you were new, an extrovert, too shy, too young, too old, parenting wrong, cooking wrong, communicating too much or too little, and THAT is why X would or would not happen.

Of course, sometimes they are right. I do want to be a person who know things. Who has spent time learning and investing in best practices and understanding my context. And.

I want to know things AND hold them loosely. I want to let what I know morph and change with time, with political realities, with the needs of my family (and the needs of myself!).

How do we hold things, yet hold them loosely?

Curiosity.

In today’s section—you know, the one you just learned about—Piper wrote, “Only curiosity will recognize that what appears complex, complicated, or random and disconnected is, in fact, far more connected at a deeper level to things that do matter to us than we’ve every considered.” (p. 4)

This, in a nutshell, can be our lives, right? Complex. Complicated. Random. Disconnected. Curiosity helps to integrate and pushes us to deeper levels.

I absolutely loved when he wrote, “Curiosity asks what’s next, why now, what if, what about, what’s that, who, when, and most especially why. It asks and asks and asks in part because it knows a surprise waits and in part because it harkens back to childhood.” (p. 17). These questions help me. What’s next? Why now? What if? What about?

Some of you are curious by nature, but all of us could be a little bit more curious.

How would your team be different if you were a little bit more curious about each other?

How could curiosity serve your ministry? Last week I was part of a call that explored denominations in the Chinese church. What do we mean when we talk about denominations? Do they exist in China? How are they different than in The West? And the questions went on. The only contribution I made to the entire discussion was at the beginning, “Hi, I am Amy Young from Velvet Ashes.” I’m not kidding or being modest. But people?! I did not need to contribute one iota to have that discussion stoke my curiosity. I have been thinking about denominations ever since.

How might curiosity serve your relationship with your supporters?

I loved “Common grace doesn’t save, but it does summon. It doesn’t declare or explain the saving work of Jesus, but it draws people closer to the Creator or at least the notion of a Creator. It tugs at people’s hearts and minds, makes them wonder, and through wonder comes discovery.” (23)

I also absolutely loved the end of Chapter 3 where Piper listed how curiosity influences each Fruit of the Spirit. I had not thought before about curiosity and kindness. Or curiosity and self-control. He ended the section with, “These marks are inward and outward. They are personal and communal. They are a metric of godliness, a measure of whether we have gone astray or are pursuing holy curiosity.”

They are personal and communal. In other parts he also mentions how curiosity needs to be practiced like a spiritual discipline. Wanting to practice curiosity and invite others to join, on Instagram this month I am daily practicing curiosity with #CuriousSeptember. Here is a taste of what others Velvet Ashes Peeps have posted.

From shilkemann “Who knew celery would be a hard to find treat where I live? I mean, really? Stew in the slow cooker was on the menu for a day of teaching right up until supper time. My creative replacement was going to be bok choy stalks, but as I stepped up to my favorite veggie lady at the market, what did I see? Celery. Coincidence? I think not. I think God loves slipping sweet gifts to His kids, even in the form of celery for stew.”

From ellebberry: Thinking about how and who God calls after the baptism of these two men today. Using the best of my imagination, I never could have thought up their God stories.

From hadassahdoss: Why was this horse crying? What would make a horse cry? How can I be more compassionate to others today?

Take a photo and join us!

Were you raised in a family that valued curiosity? How were you encouraged to be curious? What would you like to be curious about in your current country?

Curiosity isn’t built in a day :). Or a week, though it is the theme of this week. As you read about curiosity this week, what are you realizing about yourself? I’ve learned, I thought I was far more curious than I am. Some days it is a challenge to come up with something I am curious about. I hope it becomes easier.

See you in the comments!

Amy

P.S. Reading plan:

September 12: Intro – Chapter 3
September 19: Chapters 4-6
September 26: Chapters 7-11

5 Comments

  1. Rachel Kahindi September 12, 2017

    The description of this book intrigued me, so I downloaded and started reading it last week. I coincidentally read 3 chapters. 🙂

    I think I’m a relatively curious person. I like to think deeply and read and learn and experience new things. I’m especially curious about outer space, dinosaurs, and the first century church.

    But this book makes me realize that I tend to stifle or tamp down my curiosity about people around me. Too much curiosity can be suspicious or rude. Too little prevents really getting to know another person or understand their perspective. I think that appropriate curiosity that builds relationships is a fine line. And where it is drawn and how you approach it without crossing it probably varies by culture. I ought to explore this in the culture I live in instead of shying away from it completely out of fear of offending people.

    This quote, at Kindle location 695, expresses what is possibly my favorite thing about cross cultural life:

    “Perspective comes from seeing things differently, from experiencing things widely. Perspective comes from feeding curiosity and giving it a chance to roam and see and feel. And it comes from seeing and experiencing all these things in a context of biblical truth.
    “Perspective feeds curiosity because it sees life from different sides and from different points of view. Curiosity then feed perspective because it asks and seeks and explores and find new points of view and hidden truths.”

  2. Cecily September 12, 2017

    I have been discouraged from being curious. “Stop asking so many questions!” “Stop questioning and just do what I say!” Some of these wounding words are still pretty fresh for me. But, maybe I can be curious within. I don’t know, though. I was working through a book today and one of the questions was asking how the local body has helped me to be aware of sin in my life that I was blind to. And my response was that the hidden sin in my heart was exposed when I asked questions and received painful answers. So, my curiosity was a good thing, at least in this context.
    (Do you want to ban me from posting on here? 🙁 It seems that I am always heading down the sad side of life when I write here.
    I am just curious about the things that hurt, maybe, and that is why I am always talking about them.
    I need to go hang with the joyful! Sorry for being such a downer, AGAIN!)

  3. Spring September 13, 2017

    Really I have loved reading this book . About a year ago my mentor talked about being curious keeps us from getting bitter. She encouraged me to keep asking questions instead of assuming I know. It has been life changing. I think I don’t have a full grasp of what it totally looks like. I am excited that you renewed the concept in my mind.

    The book is calling me to be curious about many things around me.

  4. Kiera September 14, 2017

    Well, yes, Amy, I was curious about the reading plan. Haha. When I first heard about this book, I was sort of ambivalent about reading it, but I looked it up and the description intrigued me (dare I say, I was curious?) 🙂 I wanted to read it, but how to get my hands on a copy (preferably for free because having just moved back to the US, finances are tight.) I tried the library first, but it is too new and so no copies available. But then, I spied a deal on Audible to join and get 2 free audiobooks. I’m not gonna lie, I joined, downloaded my two books (one of which was The Curious Christian, of course) and then I cancelled my membership. But, I had the book!

    I didn’t know who Barnabas Piper was – the name Piper did not clue me in that he is John Piper’s son. But, then I listened to an episode of the God Centered Mom podcast (no. 163, if anyone is interested in hearing it) and although he talks about topics not really related to this book, it gave me more of a picture of him as a person and an author. Then, I started listening to the audiobook and imagine my delight when in the first few seconds, I discovered that he reads his own book. I love listening to authors read their own work! It’s so neat to hear it in their literal voice. Anyways, Barnabas is funny and I often find myself snickering as I listen.

    My takeaways from the first 3 chapters: 1. I am more curious than I thought. 2. I feel like I have naturally been asking a lot of questions lately because I am meeting new people and I am really interested in their stories, but in comparison I was a lot less curious in the final season of my recent life overseas. So, curiosity is serving me well right now, but I also want to keep it as this new place begins to feel more familiar. 3. I had never considered the deep reaching implications of curiosity before – the way Barnabas describes the impact that caring to ask questions makes on our churches, neighbourhoods, marriages etc. 4. There is a conversation I want to have with someone here about an issue that I see, BUT I want to do it from a stance of asking questions, not of telling someone how it should be when I just got off the boat – I saw that happen more than enough in my life overseas to have the warning bells go off. This book is reminding me about the virtues of curiosity over thinking I know how things should be. I am reminding myself – don’t be a know-it-all, be curious!

    Can’t wait to read (listen to) more! 🙂

  5. Phyllis September 21, 2017

    I’m listening to the audio version, too. I checked it out online from my mother’s library, with her card. 🙂

    I think I’m a pretty curious person. I know my children are! We visited the USA this summer, and their curiosity was apparently very noticeable; they got mentioned in a sermon, because of it.

    I’m enjoying this book, and I hope my curiosity will grow more and more as I read/listen.

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