Archive for the ‘Random Thoughts’ Category

Ten Honest Things

December 8, 2009

Alright, sis, I got your tag…I’m supposed to write an Honest Scrap post, telling 10 honest things about me… You know, I think the older I get, the more things I feel like I can’t be completely transparent about. I know it shouldn’t be that way, but the more people I get connected with, the more people my words can affect, and so I just can’t share everything. But here goes my best shot:

1. I read the Twilight books and liked them. Well, I still haven’t read the last one, so don’t tell me what happens. But I think they’re pretty good. I don’t get what irks people so much about popular novels. It’s almost like some people presuppose that if it’s popular, then it must not be worth much. Then even when they read something genuinely good, they can’t appreciate it because they were already primed to dislike it. I also don’t get how some of us Christians get worked up about anything that smacks of magic or witchcraft or whatever. I know what the Bible says about practicing those things, but that’s not what folks are doing here. They’re just reading a story. And I think it’s really well written. Didn’t like the first movie. Thought the second one was much better.

2. I really don’t like country music. How I grew up in Mississippi without liking country music, I don’t know. But I just don’t like it. It’s too twangy for my tastes, and often it’s really cliche. Of course, so is most jazz, hip-hop, and rock music, but I like the sound of all of that better. Most of the time I listen to whatever plays on the top 40 stations. I’m sure that makes me uncool to not have more definite preferences in music, but maybe I’m just uncool.

3. I am determined to regain the six pack abs of my high school days. Growing up in affluence tends to make you vain, and just like you don’t have to be rich to be greedy, you don’t have to be gorgeous to be vain. It’s wired into me at this point. Having admitted that, I’m still going for it. I’m eating broccoli and carrots and salads and drinking lots of water and protein drinks and running and swimming…you get the picture. I’ll probably get close to the shape I want and then quit because it’s just too much work to keep it up long term. But it’s fun to be in good shape for at least a little while.

4. I like to lay out and get a tan during the summer. This one’s an extension of number three. I can rationalize and justify it with comments about how vitamin D is good for your heart, your bones, and your mood, but then I also know skin cancer’s not good for any of those things, so I’ll have to watch that. But I still think there’s nothing more relaxing than going out in the middle of a summer’s day and just soaking up as much of that light and heat as I can. It’s more relaxing than a hot tub or a massage, I think.

5. I haven’t been able to read my Bible much for several months. That’s a big deal for me, because studying the Bible has been like an occupation for me since I was 16. But nowadays, reading the Bible just reminds me how much my spiritual journey has led me to view so many things differently from how others around me see things. Every page of the New Testament stirs my desire to see things done differently than how things are done, yet I feel powerless to effect the change that I want to see.

6. I’d like to teach more white kids again. I know I shouldn’t admit something like that because it’s just so noble to work with underprivileged, “at-risk” kids like I do every day. But I don’t really think I’m making much of a difference. These kids come from such a messed up culture, replete with broken families and dysfunctional home situations, that I don’t think my time with them is making much of a dent in their world. In fact, I think I seem totally irrelevant to most of my students, because why would they internalize stuff they learn from a guy who is so completely different from them? On the other hand, I see them sit enraptured listening to a black co-worker of mine as he talks about…whatever! And they hang on his every word. I feel like his opinion on stuff sinks in for them like mine never will. So I think I need a little more diversity in my classroom. Right now it’s almost all black, with a few imports from Mexico thrown in for good measure (they’re the best behaved ones of them all).

7. I still wish I had a super power. If I could stop time, I could get tons done while everything else in the world just stands still. Or if I could read people’s minds, I could get so many questions answered so easily. Then again, I can think of quite a few downsides to that gift. Super strength would be nice, or super speed. Invisibility from time to time would be useful. And of course there’s flying. Who wouldn’t love to be able to fly? No matter how old I get, I still wish I had a super power, with or without the cape.

8. Music moves me to tears when nothing else can. Although I am a very sensitive person, more sensitive than most straight men that I know, I find it difficult to allow the emotions of something get to the surface until I can be alone, and even then I may not be able to do it. It takes me time to process things that are important, so my emotions usually lag behind a bit. But when I get inside some really good music, almost any kind, everything comes oozing to the surface and I feel it all. It could be an orchestral piece, it could be just a song on the radio, or even a Publix commercial (man, those things will getchya!)…as long as there are some stringed instruments in there somewhere marking the emotion of the moment, it’ll probably find it’s way inside.

9. I wish I had theme music. This is an extension of both numbers 7 and 8. When I was a kid I wanted to be Indiana Jones. Then I wanted to be Superman. Then I wanted to be Luke Skywalker. Then one day I came to realize what all three of them had in common: Theme music by John Williams. Finally it dawned on me that what I really want is for John Williams to write me some theme music, and just have a full orchestra follow me around and play it at the right moments. Better yet, let them play a score for my entire life, so I can feel all the right things at the right times. I can cry when something sad happens, get excited when something cool’s gonna happen, and even become alarmed when something bad is getting ready to happen. How convenient would THAT be?!

10. I love being married, and having kids. No matter how unimpressive your career choices may be, and no matter how inconsequential you may feel to the rest of the world, you know there are a few people at home for whom you are the world. You set the tone of life for a handful of people, and that’s a powerful job to have. It’s very fulfilling, and I pray that God will entrust me with a very long time to enjoy it all.

Alright, Cat. There you go. Ten honest (if not entirely rosy) things about me. I’ll have to give some thought to whom I will bless with this honor. Thanks for thinking of me.


Person in progress

April 13, 2007

Sorry for the pause in posts. Sometimes you’re too busy living life to stop and write about it. I figure in the end no one loses when that happens.

Having finally finished the initial drafts of a book, I finally regained the time to start reading again. When I get free time now, I’m reading through any one of the myriad of books that friends insist I must read sometime. Making my way through them, I am reminded of how difficult it can be to expand a mind that has fallen into a groove.

I remember being in a place where I was constantly learning things. And I don’t mean just information. I mean that my mind was being changed. That’s not mere assimilation or accommodation of knowledge, it’s an alteration of the way I think. It’s exhausting but exhilarating. Like the familiar world around you suddenly becomes new again, charged with attraction and interest.

I remember days like that when I was younger. I don’t have them as much anymore. I suppose that’s good in some ways and bad in others. It’s good because a mind that’s constantly shifting and reforming can hardly hold anything in at all. Like my astute wife asked one of her high school teachers one day: “Is it possible for your mind to be so open that your brains fall out?” I think so.

But it can also be a bad thing to have a permanently fixed mental map of everything, because that means that you’ve quit learning. I really can’t imagine how that can be a good thing. I hope I’m still learning, still curious, even when my hair is all white.

Maybe the important things get settled first, then the details change over time. Every now and then you have to renovate something structural in your mind, but for the most part you keep the same foundations. Never mind the fact that it’s out of fashion these days to speak of philosophical or theological “foundations.” Metaphors break down at some point or another, but I think this one still has its merits.

What I’m trying to say is that we should always be people in progress. We should never decide that we’ve arrived and that we have nothing important left to learn. I mean that for just about every area of life. But in particular I’m thinking about my spiritual life and the life of my church.

I think we should always allow ourselves permission to not have it all figured out. I think that we must experiment… try new things out once in a while. Maybe even “play” with things a little bit.

Little children learn by play. They learn by discovery, sometimes even unstructured exploration. They’re not supposed to already know “the right way” to do everything. So they play at it for a while and try out different things. Toys, playgrounds, dress-up clothes… really everything becomes a playground for someone who’s still learning what things are and how they work.

I think that’s the way we are with spiritual things. Sure, some things are steady constants. We already know we need fellowship with each other, and communion with God, and faith, etc. But the way we work these things out is filled with potential for discovery. Let’s never fall into the trap of thinking we’ve got it all figured out. Let’s never become hardened in our own traditions, even while maintaining those things that we know bring life and reflect His nature.

And please allow me the freedom to not have all the answers, either. I tend to blog my thoughts on things that matter to me, and often I speak in answers as much as in questions (Who wants to read a blog full of nothing but unanswered questions?). But I can’t promise that I’ll always write that way. I’m discovering that I’ve still got plenty of loose ends in my own mind about some things.

What kind of things? Alright, I’ll list the biggest one for now:

What is the church’s role in the world?

I think I know what Paul thought about that. And for now it’s still what I think about it. But I find myself needing to ask if there were questions that Paul didn’t answer because his circumstances didn’t require him to ask them. Like how does the Church function within a democracy? Or how do you plant a church in an area already saturated with Christian culture and symbols? That’s just a sample. We’re gonna have to discover some things for ourselves using what we already know as our guide.

So forgive me if I sound contradictory for a while. I’m a work in progress.