When I heard about the South Pacific Christian Anarchist gathering I immediately wanted to go. Two primary reasons: the first, I am a Christian anarchist and I wanted to hang out with some others. the second, it was being held in Brisbane, hosted by the Waiters Union and Dave Andrews would be there, meaning I could spend some time with one of the people most inspirational to me, and my view of community and leadership. But there was also a desire for me to bring a number of people from my faith community. I thought it would be great for them to meet some others that are trying to do some of the things we are doing, and to hear some of the ideas that inspire the way we are trying to do community and church. But I also thought a long hard road trip might be just the thing to help us grow together as a community. Many hours trapped in a car with each other, on an adventure, might just be a great bonding experience. Or it might just destroy our community!
Things started off pretty well, we left close to on time. We made good time. There were some issues of flatulence that needed to be addressed, but things were going reasonably well. We were getting to know each other even better, and I was happy. The toilet stops were kept short, the lunch break was reasonable. There were a few hold ups with the weather, but we arrived in Sydney at a decent hour. But then we ran into some whereis.com problems. I think they should change their name to howtogetgoodandlost.com, I was however not too upset, just went with the flow and called our host for some help getting to their house. Peter and Gillian are wonderful people, with very generous hearts. As if offering their home to house 10 people wasn't enough Peter drove to where we were and had us follow him home. Then served us a wonderful dinner, and made sure we were all sorted for the night.
The next morning we all woke up long before dawn and were on the road by 5:30 am. And this is where the problems started. We got completely lost leaving Sydney. Typical issues really, streets changing names every other suburb, streets ending for no apparent reason, forks in the road and the most frustrating of all, there are no street signs. Sure there are occasionally a tiny little unlit sign hidden back away from the street, but coming from SoCal where every intersection has a huge lit up sign telling you what street you are crossing, well they might as well not even be there. Now, I have anger issues, and I started to say words that were not polite, I yelled at my wife for no apparent reason, and basically started to insure that no one in my church would ever love me again. Now lest I seem the typical man, I will add that I will always stop for help or directions (infact I yelled at my wife for not stopping so I could get directions), so we stopped. I ran up to some men working on the street and asked for directions to the fwy to get to Brisbane, and these wonderful hospitable Sydney men gave me directions. Which were wrong. So we got lost again. And I asked someone else, who was wearing a bright flouro yellow vest so you know he can be trusted and he gave us proper directions, but then told us to turn left when we should have turned right. While taking the necessary u turns the other car almost got smashed by a rubbish truck. I was at this points so far from Jesus, the way of non violence, and any suggestion of civility, that I should have been excommunicated on the spot. But the good news is, I now knew what to teach for the next few weeks...
There were so many road work sections where the speed limit dropped to 60 so we could carefully drive by witches hats and barriers that served only to show that at some time in the near future or past, there might be people actually doing something in the basic vicinity, but were obviously not there now. So we were falling way behind schedule. Now, before you get all cute and suggest that anarchists should not worry about speed limits, I will just point out that we are Christian anarchists, which means we prayed about whether we should break the laws or not. :) Unfortunately the overwhelming majority decided God wanted us to keep to the speed limits, with one dissenting opinion. :)
So understanding that we were now at the risk of missing dinner, which we were all by this point longing for, and suffering from the horrible disappointment regarding the giant banana (was not really that giant at all) we were not in the best head space for yet another version of whywouldyoueverlookupdirectionsonline.com fun. And yes my dear friends I cracked the shits again. Two turns that were obviously very important were not listed on the page, and after much driving around, two stops for directions, one mutiny, and three permanently damaged bladders we found ourselves on a right path. And we arrived at the conference. We knew it was the right place because of the blue van with the words "CHRISTIANS AGAINST ALL TERRORISM" painted on the back.
We cheered, broke into laughter, singing, and tears of joy immediately followed by a race to the toilets. We entered the hall where thankfully dinner was still being served, and fell into our seats with joy, and perhaps a bit of pent up bitterness towards me. The forgiveness sermons will have to be very very good I am thinking.
Over the next few days i will post more about the conference, and some of the great things we experienced there, but I will just say now that this was not in any way a gathering of angry, wacko lefties, but rather a wonderful group of people honestly trying to see what following Jesus means in their lives. We met two of the Pine Gap four, we met Ciaren O'Reilly, we met Dave Andrews and his family, and the most wonderful people from communities in Australia and New Zealand. There were many stories shared, and much inspiration gathered.
And I was reasonably well behaved all the way home.