[the monkey and the fish] chapter 4: liquid bruce lee

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August 7, 2009

by Doug Goodrich

Bruce LeeBlack and white, sweet and sour, wet and dry, hot and cold, all are opposites but they also fit together in a strange bedfellow way. What I mean is that when you see them listed on the page together, you don’t think it’s odd. How about liquid and Bruce Lee? Do they belong next to each other?

When I was asked by Dan to pick a chapter for his group blogging project from Dave Gibbons’ book, The Monkey and the Fish, I immediately scanned the list and stopped on the chapter titled Liquid Bruce Lee. How could I go any further? I had to know how Mr. Gibbons was going to tie in two of my favorite things. I have always loved Bruce Lee and all of his movies and, well…I love liquid. I mean we can’t survive without liquid, right? We all should love liquid. Oh and don’t think I didn’t first notice the opposites of the monkey and the fish before I even found my chapter. I knew that even if I didn’t like the book, I would admire how Mr. Gibbons uses his words to immediately grab my attention.

Before I could even get going I am hit with the biggest opposites of all, two quotes on the top of the first page, one from Sinead O’Connor and one from Susan B. Anthony. Now if you don’t think those two look strange on the same page, then I might as well quit right now.

Sinead                 SusanBAnthony

Then this sentence: “You’re probably going to wonder where I’m headed with this…” Best first sentence of a chapter I’ve ever read. Yes, Dave, I thought, where are you headed with this?

Slowly as I read each page it all starts to tie in together. Mr. Gibbons uses opposites to show us the need for all of society to come together and work toward one goal, spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ to every corner of the world. All of us: rich or poor, young or old, black or white, all of us opposites need to form together and praise God to the highest.

The first story Dave tells us is about how the country of New Zealand learned to adapt to a changing market place when other countries moved in on their Kiwi sales. It immediately made me think about the print media industry of today. New Zealand might very well have sat back and not changed when they saw the marketplace change and they would most likely be out of business, much like the print industry is becoming. A lot of companies’ refusal to change with the new ways of delivering the news, like the Internet and the cell phone, is causing their demise.

Could this also happen with the church if we don’t change with the times?

Glass of WaterAnd then I come to the part where he explains how liquid and Bruce Lee fit into the equation. Bruce believed that the best way to perform martial arts is to become liquid. Just like liquid takes the form of a cup or a bowl, he would take the form of liquid in a fight, changing however he needed to win.

It’s genius. Mr. Gibbons uses an Eastern philosophy for Martial Arts to tie in how we as Westerners need to reach the world. We all need to become liquid.

We are now all solids. We can’t change form so we are not welcoming to other people outside of our “solid” lives.

To continue to teach through opposites, Mr. Gibbons lists the difference between how the Western ways of reaching out to the community differ from the new “Third Culture” ways.  Third Culture is defined in the first chapter of the book as “children of foreign service workers” and their adaptive nature into different cultures. I think we can learn a lot from this group and the time is now. Cookie Cutter and Customized are my favorite opposites he uses. It’s so easy for us as an established society to just do the same things, (“cookie cutter”) we have always done but is that really reaching out to the people we need to connect with? Mr. Gibbons wants us all to customize our outreach.

As I was writing this I asked God to lead me to a section in the bible that would tie all of this up for me and I found chapter 4 in the book of Micah. Verse 2 says, “Many nations shall come, and say: Come let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, that He may teach us His ways and that we may walk in His paths.” If this is to be believed, then Mr. Gibbons couldn’t be more right. If we as a nation will one day rise up with other nations and greet our Heavenly Father together, then the time is now to become like liquid and form the relationships we need to for the future.

Let us change form and try things a different way.

Of course there are unanswered questions in all of this. Will this philosophy reach the audience that so desperately needs to hear this? Can a century’s old established community change so drastically? Don’t get me wrong, it’s not Mr. Gibbons’ job to answer these questions for us. He has done a masterful job of poking the reader’s brain and describing what needs to happen for us to move with the next generation, and that is all we can ask for. 

Do yourself a favor and pick this book up and after you read it, give it to the most “set in their ways” conservative friend you have.  And then let’s all become liquid Kung Fu champions.

God will smile on all of us, together.

Now I’m going to go pour myself a big glass of ice water and put on Enter the Dragon.

From Enter the Dragon, 1973:

Han: Your style is unorthodox.
Williams: But effective. 




About the author:

doug goodrichDoug Goodrich has just finished a two and a half year stint working on a Christian Sit-Com for kids from 1st to 6th grade called Wright’s Direction. You can see some of the episodes on this link:  He helped develop, write and act in one hundred and twenty episodes. He is also a member of the Christian Improvisational Comedy troop Himprov, the same group Tim Hawkins was in when he lived in Dallas. God has given him the talent and drive to engage the world in clean comedy and that is what he will do for the rest of his life. Well that and eat those really yummy rice pudding cups you get at your local grocery store. Mmmmm pudding. Look for www.douggoodrich.com to roll out by late September if you want any more info about what’s going on.


  1. BibleDude

    This rocks dude! When I started this site, I don't know if I ever imagined that I'd have people tossing out references to 'Enter the Dragon'! I love how you warpped things up with such an appropriate qoute like that!

    To me, I think that this is one of the central ideas to the entire book… This idea of being liquid and fitting into your environment represents a flexibility that is rarely seen in the church these days. This takes me right back to the parable of the monkey and the fish that Dave shares at the opening of the book… we cannot take the 'fish' out of its environment and expect it to survive, even if our intention is to 'save' it.

    Awesome post dude! Thanks for sharing!

  2. angelakerns

    I am so ready — to …”change form and try things a different way”…Lord, help me know what this is going to look like for this day!

    Just curious… are there others taking an interest in this blog? I know for me, the book speaks so much, my comments don't seem very important — AT THIS POINT it's my actions that are going to matter…
    God, help us all to try things a DIFFERENT WAY and be the LOVE that you called us to be sooooo long ago!

  3. BibleDude

    Amen Angela! And yes… others are taking an interest! The community (particularly on Facebook) is growing every day! It's good to know that poeple are taking an interest in messages like this!

  4. BibleDude

    Amen Angela! And yes… others are taking an interest! The community (particularly on Facebook) is growing every day! It's good to know that poeple are taking an interest in messages like this!


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[the monkey and the fish] chapter 4: liquid bruce lee

by About Guest Blogger time to read: 6 min