new blog!

I'm sorry blogger but our relationship is over. I've moved on to a better blog: http://loveandcommunication.com.

Hope we can still be friends.


sitting, waiting, wishing

There are so many layers to human nature. I know if we peeled them all away we would be able to all reveal our initial character, that of our Creator (in whose image we are supposed to be created). I feel heavy from all the layers, though. The concerns for things of this world. The world teaches us to plan, to predict, and to coordinate our lives. From the time we are children, we come up with lists of what we want and what we “need.” Kids know what they want to be when they grow up. I wanted to be a Supreme Court justice – too much Law and Order at a young age, I think. The world also teaches us to worry. We should worry about getting a job post-MVNU, paying schools loans, getting married and having he 2.3 kids, “starving children in Africa,” the state of the economy, the impending war with Iraq – we should always consider the instability of the world around us and plan accordingly. While all of these contemplations seem wise (and I’m not trying to set them aside as meaningless), I believe at the heart is self-preservation. I need to stop building up more layers that separate me from true communion with God. God is the giver of all good gifts and He longs to be our provider. How can He provide and direct us if we have everything planned and tended to? I am told not to be anxious about life. Instead, I need to practice a little thing called complete pursuit. The control freak in me needs to allow Him to work it all out. Right? My theory: sometimes when you need to feel the all-embracing nature of God, paradoxically you need to hang out in ordinariness, in a daily ritual that includes a sometimes forced submission. Then the patience will descend, the fretting will lessen, and the pacing will minimize. At least I hope so.


Come to Commune

I am struggling with the idea of community right now. Or maybe I'm just lacking that fellowship right now. I know there's individual responsibility. Sometimes, though, I think one can find themselves in an environment that is just not as conducive in providing a community. Brothers and sisters in Christ. Fellow followers.

Occasionally, I listen to Bob Dylan. He's a remnant from my childhood - along with Simon & G, the Beatles, and James Taylor. Bobby Dylan wrote an obscure song on his unnoticed album Saved called "Covenant Girl." I read once in an article that he wrote the song after he was in a motorcycle accident and he "found Jesus" for a brief amount of time. He talked about how difficult it was to find a community that helped foster spiritual growth. Or even better help him give up the booze, drugs and women. I'd like to think if he had a solid surrounding of people who cared, he would have a better chance at staying a Christian.
"Covenant Girl"
I've been broken, shattered like an empty cup.
I'm just waiting on the Lord to rebuild and fill me up.
And I know He will do it 'cause He's faithful and He's true,
He must have loved me so much to send me someone as fine as you.
Covenant woman, intimate little girl
Who knows those most secret things of me
that are hidden from the world.
You know we are strangers in a land we're passing through.
I'll always be right by your side, I've got a covenant too.
"Some religious communities foster a vision in the face of life's unshakable tragic dimension, of continuing reasons for despair, and of simplistic tendencies to pin hopes on a particular eschatological future or reduce them to personal wishes. Such covenant communities keep hope alive among those who have the good fortune or the good judgment to land in them."
-Covenant, Community, and the Common Good by Eric Mount


blessings, benevolence, and beauty

I just taught a short story by James Joyce at my field experience in Granville High. The name of the short story is Grace; it's in the collection of short stories called Dubliners. Joyce defines grace as basically the unmerited love of God toward mankind. Ironically, the whole story is about a group of drunk men who misunderstand faith and make many comical errors about the Church.

Who cares, right? Well, maybe it's just me. I'm completely impacted daily by literature, music, and film. The "secular" and religious realms are blurred in the sense that I find spiritual in the stereotypically un-spiritual. It just amazes me that a century ago Joyce struggled with the concept of grace as much as I do now.

I picked up The Dark Night of the Soul by St. John of the Cross this summer. It was less than six bucks at B&N and I thought it would be an interesting, but easy, read of a little more than a hundred pages. Of course, though, it left my head spinning. St. John describes how grace permeates the essence of who we are. In giving grace, God lovingly elevates your inmost being. You are not simply better than you were -- as if God added some quantity of natural goodness to all you already had. God has changed the very quality of what you are in your humanity. Now you have a different way of existing.

Grace. The word is thrown around a lot. Sometimes I lose insight and understanding because I can't grasp the concept.

I don't easily show grace to those who wrong me yet I expect it without hesitation from God. This is when I imagine Him in His heavens, sighing with exhaustion from all my demands. Yet, He will still be the grace-bearer to me. Always.

It's a paradox. I don't show grace and, yet, because I expect grace I feel I don't deserve grace.

“From His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”
{John 1:16}
I met Grace at a food pantry in San Diego. She was waiting for her free shoes and bread.


The Insurmountable Conundrums of Faith

In March, I heard this deep theologian/beautiful musician, give a lecture and concert at Calvin College. He has a Masters in creative writing. Some notes from indie musician Sufjan Stevens' talk:

"Art is not a tool for which we utilize our causes...To make art is to be wholly entrenched in the creative process of the creator. Creativity becomes possible when man ignores limitations and recognizes an unconditional love."

Stevens said, "I'd like my work to disengage from me completely but work in a way without me doing anything. Allow art, music, worship - any form of expression - work on it's own. Let it separate from any original intention."

If you get a chance to hear him in concert...GO.


Love and the Likes.

Tonight I honestly believed - for the first time in awhile - that I was a loved person.

Love. It's such a complicated action to me sometimes. But, goodness gracious, it shouldn't be. Jesus proved that.

I have a small list of people that I would love to see in person before I die. One person on that list is the amazing author Margaret Atwood and I have the privilege of hearing her speak at Kenyon in a month. One of the books I'm reading right now is her newest novel entitled Oryx and Crake. It's a futuristic-prophetic-satirical type of a book, one not enjoyed by everyone. But if you liked any the classics like 1984, Animal Farm or even The Giver...then you'll like this. (Oh, my word. Such an English teacher's sentence.)

Anyway, the book I'm reading now is set in a utopia that ultimately destroys humanity. By definition, a utopia is a perfect place. Yet, this utopia was created without love. Can you imagine? That's why I can't put the book down. A world doesn't make sense without the concept of love. Without the feeling of love. Without the actions of love. And that's how humanity was destroyed in this book: the absence of love.

Now, I'm not going to do any lofty theorizing at this point. I won't draw out the obvious parallel. But it just made me think. Especially after the conversation I had with a wonderful boy. He loves freely.

It's complicated for me because it requires other actions. I know I can love. But I need to trust, as well. I'm working on it. Along with all those other fruits of the spirit.