Monday, September 28, 2009

"Bo's Cafe" blog tour

I was quite surprised when I opened my inbox last week and found an email from Bruce McNicol, one of the authors of “Bo’s Café,” asking if I’d be interested in being part of a blog tour for their book which was starting today. I happily agreed which was definitely an act of faith since at that time, I didn’t even have a copy of the book. It was on order but I didn’t receive it until a few days later. When I did receive it, excitedly and expectantly, I immediately began reading. I’ve since finished the book and enjoyed it very much.

“Bo’s Café” is a fictional account of events in the life of Steven Kerner, a high powered business executive, who is struggling in his marriage and in his career. His life changes when he meets a man named Andy and begins to meet with a group of folks at a restaurant called Bo’s Café. Through a developing friendship with Andy and this group, he finds authentic community and a safe place to be open and vulnerable.

I really didn’t know what to expect when I started reading. To be honest, I found the group that met at the café to be irritating and I don’t think that I would enjoy spending time with such a zany group of characters but I loved the fact that they weren’t perfect. They were a group of very flawed individuals who were willing to openly discuss their flaws.

This is in contrast to our religious world, where we’re always very careful to pretend that we have it all together. We never allow others to see who we really are.

Here’s a quote from the book. Lindsey says, “Sometimes at church it feels like the ones who look all cleaned up are the admired ones. If you dare let someone know something wrong about you, it’s like you’re suddenly a second-class citizen, part of the leper group. You know what I mean? Who would dare let anyone in with those stakes.” (Bo’s Café page 214)

People schooled in religion won’t let us see their hurts and their flaws so, when we struggle, we’re left feeling like we’re failures and that God is disappointed with us. “Bo’s Café” gives me hope that even with all of my imperfections, I can still be a source of encouragement to others and that’s it’s best accomplished by letting them see my imperfections and allowing them to help me struggle through them.

There are times when I struggle because I feel like I’m not doing anything. Fortunately, I’ve gotten past the feeling that I need to run out and do something . . . anything! However, I do sometimes feel down when I think about the classes I’m not teaching and about the groups I’m not speaking to.

This book reinforced an important truth that I know but I can’t always see clearly . . . and that’s the importance of one on one relationships. Speaking in front of a group may give me a temporary high but that’s nothing compared to the joy of walking through the twists and turns of life with someone in the unity of relationship.

“Bo’s Café” is a book that will definitely challenge and affect your thinking regarding community and authentic relationships. I believe it will also answer some questions we’ve all had regarding what a grace filled life looks like.

Bruce, John and Bill, I’ve enjoyed your book but I do have a question. In the book, several times you had Andy tell Steven that he wants to protect him. To be honest, the use of the word “protect” made me uncomfortable. It sounded too much like the religious concept of a “covering.”

My question is: Why did you choose the word “protect” to describe Andy’s relationship with Steven and what did you mean by it?

28 comments:

Johnny Brooks said...

Sounds like a great book, I will add it to my wishlist.

Joel B. said...

Aida, great! I've been looking forward to your review of this book. Sounds like the whole concept is great. I have the same sort of feeling as you portray here. It's a good feeling to teach and share in front of a group, but it's not anything close to navigating through real life with other people through our relationships.

Anyway, this book is now on my list and I hope to read it soon.

Leonard said...

Guy's, I've heard allot about your book, have listened to God journey pod cast interview, and many of my friends have or are reading it... Don't have any questions but thanks for sharing.
Best
Leonard

Kirsten said...

Thanks Aida for that review, I can't wait to read it myself! I will be looking forward to the authors' response to your question too.

Bruce said...

Fun to meet you via your blog, Aida.

I like your question about “protection”

Here's what's behind the concept of protection. In the OT God said that he was a jealous God, Ex 34 and other places, meaning that he possessed a jealous-for-love for the people of Israel. He told them, "If you I will trust me, I will protect you, from all kinds of junk and evil to which you are susceptible. If you don't trust me, I can't protect you." And, Israel proved God right in both cases, many, many times. It was a trust-love relationship.

In a similar way, trusted others in my life get to stand with each me in protective love to guard against those things where I am weak or limited or blind--what a gift to me!

However, protection is not control, where I try to fix you or get you "managed" so you look good. This is not "behavior management". Protective love is more messy than that, but it also goes much wonderfully deeper than that--because only grace expressed in love can overcome the shame that drives the dysfunctions of my life. How cool.

Hey more later, let's keep the conversation going, but gotta take our youngest son to cross country practice, nice to be with you all today! Bruce

Aida said...

Thanks, everyone for your comments.

Joel, I guess the reason I liked this book so much is because relationships are very important to me. Little by little, I’m learning how valuable authentic relationships are. That’s something we all hunger for but the place where I seem to have finally found it is online with all of you. All the other stuff just seems to fade in importance.

Heart Journey said...

Thanks Aida, for letting us join in here.

Did everyone understand Bruce's explanation of "protection'?

Does it mean that we help others get real with themselves and Christ (in us), by walking alongside and perhaps posing questions from a viewpoint that is not under the heavy burden of shame and the traps of dysfunction?

Mishi said...

I didn't quite understand what he was trying to convey about "protection". I'm not sure I understand how God's promise (with conditions) of protection to the Israelites has any implication for us as it relates to one another.

BTW, hello. I have been following this blog for a short time and have really been encouraged by your honesty, Aida. :)

Bruce said...

Heart Journey, well written! I wish I'd said that! (you do get protection)

And, protection will come to life as you you read Steven & Lindsay's story, and watch that loud-Hawaiian-shirt-guy Andy walking the yacht with Steven.

I think you'll also see the captivating results when this jerk-for-a-boss slowly becomes a safe person and the 20-something Meagan watches Steven's life near the end (or maybe it's the "beginning") of the story. Other characters are profoundly impacted too, but she's one of my favorites. Like the rest of the characters she is based on real people.

You can catch some of the Bo's Cafe regulars each week at www.boscafe.com

Aida, thanks for starting our conversation here, you're helping us all to come more in touch with the authenticity of grace, Bruce

Bruce said...

Mishi, your question carries a helpful distinction: How does God's promise to love Israel have anything to do with how we love each other?

See if this helps. We co-authors believe that God wants us to love as he loves. He wants us to be jealous-for one another, rather than jealous-of one another. And, this will always lead us to want to protect, or stand with others against those things to which they are vulnerable.

But, we don't think one can experience this (protective) love of another person, including God's love, without trusting that someone. I can know about God's love or your love for me, but awareness is not the same thing as experiencing the love of another. That takes trust.

We say, "The degree to which I trust you is the degree to which you can love me, no matter how much love you have for me."

Think about the that old classic promise of God in John 3.16. After you read it or say it back to yourself, ask this question: Why don't millions who know about the love of God, actually know this God of love? Because, they don't trust him.

But, if I trust him, he can love me, guide me, teach me--protect me. And, that's what I want God and others to do for me.

You may find further indirect insight on this question by downloading our free Truefaced Message (or it may be called the Two Roads Talk) from our truefaced.com website. Just a thought.

I'm running along to another blog just now, but hope this helps. besides I don't want to take all of Aida's "air time"!

Bruce

Aida said...

It’s been great getting to know you too, Bruce.

Hi Heather and Mishi. Glad you both dropped in. Thanks for your encouragement, Mishi. It means a lot. I hope you’ll continue to visit often and comment. I like making new friends.

I’m not sure I can answer either of your questions so I’ll let Bruce do that when he returns. However, from reading the book, the group asked Steven some really hard questions while teaching him how to be vulnerable but the one scene that really impressed me was when I saw the group in action to help him. In the middle of a crisis situation where he had really blown it with his wife, the group jumped into action and helped him and her in emotional ways but also in some very practical ways.

I think that’s what Bruce meant when he was talking about protection. Being there for the other person and walking with them through their messes but doing it in the middle of a trusting relationship.

However, I don’t think I would have chosen the word protection. It’s probably one of those “gag reflex” words for me, Heather, but I did like when Bruce used the term “protective love.” I’ve got to admit even that phrase can be dangerous when put in the hands of a religiously minded person but, if we understand what love really is, it can be beautiful.

If anyone else has any thoughts, just jump in and share them even if you haven't read the book yet.

Aida said...

Bruce, I see you responded while I was typing. This blog moderation is a big pain but definitely necessary at this point.

I just appreciate you fellas asking me to participate. Come back again if you have time.

Frances said...

'Protection' sounds like the "I've got your back" kind of feeling you get from a true friend. There just don't seem to be all that many 'friends' like that in most communities. "Bo's Cafe" is a wonderful story of what that might look like. I am hoping that someday someone will write a similar book where the main character is a woman.

Aida said...

Frances, that's exactly what I was thinking after I read what Bruce had written.

I think we're taught to put walls around ourselves and others have been taught to respect those walls and not get too close but to be a friend, the walls have got to come down and we have to let people in. That's really hard especially when we've tried it and been taken advantage of.

As you said, there aren't many friends like that and it's possible to spend you entire life without any. I'll tell you from personal experience, it's scary to take those walls down.

I love how Bruce said, "He wants us to be jealous-for one another, rather than jealous-of one another. And, this will always lead us to want to protect, or stand with others against those things to which they are vulnerable."

I think this is a beautiful picture of true friendship and as Bruce explained, this type of relationship is only possible if there is trust. I know I would never trust my back to someone who I felt wasn't there for me.

Heart Journey said...

YES, I agree Aida..... and it's a mindset (being jealous FOR another) that we can choose to be aware of once we realize and walk out a life where we are loved by God. When we realize that we have a lot of love coming in, it's not quite so scary to give it out.

And the "protection" isn't keeping others from heartache, and keeping them all comfy, but it's more protecting their true selves and their hearts. It's like a parent who will let the child disobey, and make a wrong choice, but watching for a teachable moment. Watching for an opportunity to come along side.

Aida said...

Heather, that was beautifully said. Sometimes, the best way we can protect someone is to let them make the wrong choice.

God could have stopped Adam and Eve from eating the fruit but he didn't. Instead, He let them learn from their mistake and then he was there to cover them up and to walk with them into life outside of the garden.

Mishi said...

Bruce, thanks for the in depth explanation. I will spend some time chewing on what you said. The Lord is working on me in the area of what my walk looks like as it plays out with relating to others. I think the word "protect" is having the same "gag reflex" reaction for me as Aida described.

I will check out the web page. :) The book sounds very interesting and I might just have to give it a read too.

Thanks for the warm welcome!

Bruce said...

Gotta head for bed,

Heart Journey, you're right, a safe place is not a soft place. An environment of grace is a place where the truth will flow most freely, the truth about who I am, how I'm doing, and how we're doing.

Hey, Frances, wait for Meagan's story, one day. Meanwhile, remember Cynthia's journey along the Pacific Ocean. She is the seasoned "protector" of Bo's Cafe, and yet, here's the irony, she will always need "protective love" herself.

There are no together people, just those who dress better--and Cynthia does a fine job of that.

It has been a fine day on Aida's blog, thank you Aida for bringing us into the conversation, 'till next time at Bo's, Bruce

Deb said...

Hi Aida :-)

A great review of what sounds like a very good book! I can't say anything about this particular book because I haven't read it...but your review of it is very good! :-)

Thanks for sharing!

Love,
Deb

Aida said...

I don’t know if Bruce is going to respond anymore. I know he’s going to be busy at other blogs for the rest of the week but I did have some more thoughts regarding his last comment. He said, “a safe place is not a soft place. An environment of grace is a place where the truth will flow most freely, the truth about who I am, how I'm doing, and how we're doing.”

I’ve recently been thinking a lot about what constitutes a safe place and is it possible to have one on a forum or another online group. This has been a concern for me because I see the abuse that takes place on forums and Bruce’s comment helped clarify that for me. Although I still believe abuse should never be tolerated on online groups, I think as we work through issues as part of a community, we will be uncomfortable, we will hurt but it’s not because someone is abusing us. It’s because we’re being confronted with truth about who we are and how we respond to life and seeing truth can at times be very painful.

Bruce, thank you for giving us the privilege of being part of your blog tour. It's been great!

Aida said...

Mishi, thanks for participating and sharing your comments. I hope you’ll visit again.

Thanks, Deb. I’m glad you enjoyed my review.

Aida said...

Thanks everyone for participating. It's been a blast and I hope I'll see you around here again.

Crissy Armstrong said...

Hi Aida;
I just got through reading Bo's Cafe lastnight and am really seeing things I never saw before. I see Jesus in it and you know what? I want this. I want friends like this. I want a "Bo's Cafe" to meet at every week... where do I find people like this? Do they really exist? It seems too good to be true that these people could even be real in my town... I wish for this so much... I am thinking, the place to start is with my husband. I want to be honest on a core level with him and to stop trying to protect myself. Its one thing to want to have friends like that. It is another altogether to BE that kind of friend, if it isn't returned. I long for these real relationships... with all that I am...

Aida said...

Hi Crissy. I’m 100% behind what I’ve learned to call healing communities. However, they do seem to be few and far between in this day and age so I think you’re right. Take advantage of the relationships you have and allow God to work through those.

I’m learning to not stress too much about the lack of regular face to face relationships and, like you, I see God working in my marriage.

I’ve also learned to enjoy the online relationships that I have. I have a number of friends that I’ve met through the internet and those friendships are precious to me and, in some ways, more real than the sporadic face to face ones that I have. I think the key is to enjoy the relationships that we do have however they might present themselves and allow God to bring others to us in his time.

Thanks for dropping by. I appreciate reading your thoughts.

Crissy Armstrong said...

Thanks for your reply Aida. I see what you're saying and I want to do what you're suggesting -- let it happen with who I'm in relationship already. I also feel this drawing to a few others I've met before, but not pursued a friendship with. I want to take steps towards that too.
I too built up friendships with people online and have had a couple of years of experiencing online friendships. I have found it is too easy to hide behind typed words... and I still feel that they can't possibly know the real me because we have never met face to face. I feel its the same with Jesus -- we can't know Him through words alone -- there has to be an experience with Him, where at least our hearts perceive Him...
I guess the first place to start is with what I already have, like you say. And to be the courageous one who is real with herself first and with those she has...
Hoping to find others with a like-mind in my town...
maybe... who knows... there could be a few here, just like me, just waiting for one of us to make the first move...
Bless you.

Aida said...

Crissy, I’ve found that when there’s a strong online connection, we’ll sometimes have a phone conversation or we’ll even Skype. That takes the relationship to a higher level where a deeper connection can take place. I’ve also had the privilege of meeting some of my online friends face to face and a couple have spent nights in my home and I’ve stayed at the home of one of my friends and gotten close to his wife and family as well. Of course, those opportunities are few and far between but I take advantage of them when I can and they do make the relationships gel in a way that draws us closer.

You said, “I guess the first place to start is with what I already have, like you say. And to be the courageous one who is real with herself first and with those she has...”

I love that. That’s really the key in my opinion. Start with what’s available and see where God takes it. I’ve made some great connections locally by doing just that.

In my life, learning to be real is a process which is still ongoing in my life. I hope you soon find some great relationships. I’m looking forward to hearing the rest of your story of where God is taking you on your journey of discovery.

NaomiStar said...

Great post, Aida. I spent time reading the comments too and got some good insight. I never thought I would be making friend on the Internet. And yet, it is becoming an amazing tool for me to find others in the same heart journey.
But in my life this is happening after spending many years stablishing relationship and getting to trust God's love in me.

Aida said...

I know you understand how valuable aloneness is when it’s just you and God but it is exciting when you start to meet others with a like heart who are on a similar journey.

However, since we all tend to be scattered throughout the world, the internet has been for me a place to find a genuine community of believers who love me and understand where I’m coming from and I’m very glad that our Father has worked through the internet to bring you and me together.

I look forward to building on that relationship.