What a curious thing among collectors, the tendency to value imperfection, error and error over perfection. This is especially true of those who collect postage stamps, coins and coins. A much higher value is found in those few elements among the millions of others which are the exception to the rule, the abnormal, the unique. With postage stamps, errors fall into three general categories: misprints, typos, and non-perfs. Printing errors are just that, printing efforts that fail, are misaligned, or even omitted entirely, including colors, lettering, and naming. Some of the most valuable misprints have reverse printing, letters or images that are upside down.
Errors and non-perforations describe the misplacement or omission of the correct perforations between stamps, perforations that allow them to be separated easily. These more often end up on spools or rolls of stamps if the machine creating the perforations is misaligned. Imperfections attract our attention. We display them proudly, and because there are so few instances of them occurring in automated processes, they create value in themselves. Fake-perfs and non-perfs range from $10 to $30 or $40. Printing errors can exceed several hundred dollars depending on the particular error involved.
How curious that society apparently values compliance over non-compliance, the spirit of the status quo rather than challenging it. By philatelic standards, one would think the opposite would be true. If justice in an unfair environment is so rare, why isn’t it more embraced? We are hesitant even within our churches to think outside the box and explore questions and concerns that no one has dared to ask. What will others think? Will they condemn me if I don’t speak, act, and believe in exactly the same way they do, or the way the church expects of its members? There is a long list of imperfections to choose from!
And what if a personality lands near the hallowed altars of respectability and religious sameness, and we identify them as a misprint or an error or a misperf? Will we find ways to reject them or come to a new understanding of their value and think about all the ways they should be highly valued? How exciting would it be to look for the imperfect rather than starting with the assumption of perfection? As with stamps, this could turn into one hell of a treasure hunt.
God’s gifts and God’s call are fully guaranteed – never cancelled, never cancelled… God ensures that we all experience what it means to be on the outside so that he can personally open the door and welcome us to new. like this extravagant generosity of God, this deep, deep wisdom? It is way over our heads… (Romans 11:29, 32-33, The Message).
It’s as exciting as discovering imperfections while rummaging through the dab drawer! It is time to recognize the value of imperfection in other places as well, including in our own church communities.