Where’s Waldo?


Have you ever spent time looking for Waldo…?

Looking for Waldo is the crazed attempt of artists, with too much time on their hands, to hide a red & white striped shirt, skinny guy in pictures. This engagement causes us to search pages of intensely detailed make-belief worlds searching for the one and only…Waldo. Looking for Waldo is the proverbial “needle in a haystack” application for people bored with real life searches.

The goal of the experience is to allow us to have the “found him” moment as we search to find this little striped guy with glasses among a myriad of other people, objects and distractions in all kinds of settings, as we look page after page in a book. After a series of pages answering the question “Where’s Waldo?” we become trained to know what we are looking for. It gets easier to know what we are looking for as we flip through the pages.

We find what we are looking for in life but what if we don’t know what to look for or how to find it? What if Waldo is no longer where he normally hides or what if Waldo wears different clothes and had laser surgery on his eyes?

We are in a great time of uncertainty in the church in the Western world. Like one not seen in a generation, more leaders, pastors and spiritual fathers are uncertain about the landscape we find ourselves living within. Ambiguity, questions and apprehension carry the day spiritually for most. How to lead is precarious at best and where to lead is even more confusing.

Not that the goal has changed but maybe the process and conversation has changed and our ability to recognize the goal.

Where is Waldo now? or in spiritual terms….What is it we are about as followers of Jesus anyway and why?

That is a much more commonly asked and widely embraced question today. A question that only the clergy were publicly asking and more importantly answering a generation ago. The questions and freedom to answer them are out of the bag of what only belonged to ordained spiritual leaders in public forums in past generations.

Now anyone is free to ask the questions of life and faith at deeper and more informed levels through social media, the internet and conversations in public forums. More importantly they are free to answer them too. A card-carrying official “asker” means little today.

The most authentic answers win the day. Sometimes the most sexy answers carry weight and sometimes the more black and white answers carry the day. Upstream, with the stream, against the stream, out of the stream… depends on your view of the place of followers of Jesus in relationship to the stream. Depends on your theology and experience of God ultimately.

The question is even ebbing from, Where is Waldo? to a series of questions.

Why Waldo?
Is Waldo all we are looking for?
Is Waldo always dressed in strips and glasses?
What if Waldo gained weight and is less recognizable?
Is Waldo hiding in all of us?
And so on…

Even within the experimental and post -modern conversion you have extremes. There are the Rob Bell’s, who are reaching to paint with a brush, the uncomfortable and uncertain questions and answers to realities we face spiritually in this generation and the Mark Driscoll’s, who are making sure that our painting shows that black gets blacker and whites whiter to deal with impending and growing uncertainty.

The common ground we have is uncertainty. The answer to the uncertainty is widely debated in Christianity now. To the point where the edges of Christianity are being explored once again.

The uncommon ground is what to do about it? Some are indicating Waldo changed his clothes and we need to look with new eyes to see him again, while others are saying Waldo has the same clothes on we just can’t find him as we forget what he looks like.

Find him again or look for new clothes? The question remains the common ground.

Todd Rutkowski

~ by blueporch on September 20, 2011.

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