Why? When? How?

I have a friend from junior high whose name is Marvel. I talk to her occasionally. At one of our early high school reunions, she saw me and exclaimed, “Dean Benton. I thought you were dead!” I am delighted she is one of my classmates with whom I’ve reconnected. Since that greeting, I’ve felt obligated to keep her informed of my state of health. She is interesting. However, I don’t know her well enough as an adult to know if she has lived up to her name. She did Facebook me one morning to tell me she was about to board a ship on the sea near Rome. But she didn’t tell me if she marveled at the sights, felt awe of being in Rome and if she liked the food and/or wine.

Marvel and marveling came to mind as I began to read the bio of Leonardo Da Vinci by Walter Isaacson. My appreciation for painting is thin. Most of the paintings I’ve seen have been screwed to motel walls.

By page three of the bio, I was marveling at Leonardo who was the original Renaissance man. He saw himself as an engineer, a designer of bridges, waterways, cannons, armored vehicles and public buildings. His preliminary drafts of the human body are astonishing. He autopsied bodies to learn about muscles that made movement possible. Before he drew the Mona Lisa, he studied muscles that enabled a smile. Then he painted The Smile.

Isaacson says, “…(Leonardo’s) driving passion which was nothing less than knowing everything there was to know about the world, including how we fit in into it.”

The artist’s notebooks are as important as his paintings. They contain drawings, journaling, ideas and to do lists. One of the things he reminded himself to do: “Describe the tongue of the woodpecker.” Art historian Kenneth Clark called him, “The most relentlessly curious man in history.”

If we could filter him to one behavior, it would be curiosity. “His curiosity was pure, personal, and delightfully obsessive.”
Why would he care what a woodpecker’s tongue was like? “…because he was Leonardo: curious, passionate, and always filled with wonder.”

All of that is interesting to me because I’ve noticed the absence of or minimum amount of curiosity, passion, wonder and marveling. Raw worship is captured by those four words.

John Eldredge and his adult sons were talking about masculinity and how men are wired and what keeps them involved in a spiritual journey. Two things that a man’s heart hungers for: adventure and battle. Most of the things we do at church are kinda the opposite. We sit in church and sing (some are clearly feminine songs), then we go to Sunday school to talk and sit around a table to share, most of which I enjoy. But, where are men challenged to adventure? To what battle?

Some of my friends would ditch church to go hunting for Elk. And in the hunting they engage the presence of God. Increasingly, I think the most important thing we teach youth is how to adventure—stir into a raging fire the asset of curiosity. What is beyond the hill crest and how do we battle appropriately.

What if the sexual harassment and sexual pursuit now rocking our world is the normal and empowering adventure and the hunt “gene” captured by evil to distort and destroy a man?

The step to healing for otherwise healthy men is not to drain him of testosterone and castrate him, but direct his curiosity and instinct to hunt. For example, where is the drive to battle against neighborhoods of poverty and drugs and hopeless? Who are the Leonardo men?

Curiosity, passion, wonder, obsession.

That calls for pastoral messages that evoke questions: “How do we do that? Where do we start? What specialist do we hire to instruct us? Where is the curiosity to stimulate the questions?

Marvel, I’m praying your day will be adventurous and marvelous.

©2018 D. Dean Benton continue the conversation: dean@deanbenton.org

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