Thursday, February 19, 2015

Ambition and Stuff

Lazy is bad. Ambition is good.  Or it might depend on how we identify ourselves, in which case it is not always good to be good and bad to be bad.  Maybe it's how we justify ourselves once we know if we're good or bad.


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Rated R

Did I mention this one is rated R?  One of my all time favorite movies is Planes, Trains and Automobiles...Steve Martin was being interviewed about the movie when it was first coming out and as to why it was rated R, he said language, but it's all in a row, in a short scene.  I love that scene.



Sunday, February 1, 2015

Redemption Demand

Judgment. Condemnation. Not things that someone who is guilty or someone who has failed wants to face. In a Christian, biblical context, this is what we all face and we are in desperate need of a solution.  In a non-Christian, regular-life kind of way....it is simply the guilt that accompanies failure.  Real failure, like failing to do something right, failing to be the parent that we should be, failing to treat other people the way we know that we should, failure to say something kind, failure to forgive someone, failure to follow the speed limit, failure to say something encouraging instead of something judgmental, failure to give more than we do, failure to see other people as equals, failure to think of others first, failure to care as much about someone else's pain as we do our own, failure to recognize our failures, failure to help someone because we don't like them, failure to like people, failure to be humble, failure to not get angry, failure to be patient, failure to pass a test, failure to show up for the test, failure to not make excuses when we don't show up...

Life and people all come with failure and while most of us would not want to be the person throwing the first stone, how many of us have...thrown stones?  How about throwing stones at the person who threw the first stone?  How many of us want to hold people accountable, but have an encyclopedic-sized book of explanations that the failures are too small or too complicated or too (insert justification here) to throw the book at ourselves?  It is the difference between calling somebody a liar and calling the half-truth that we barely recognize in ourselves a "well, it's complicated."

I don't think judgment and condemnation have personal interpretations...if they do then all the more reason not to ever have accountability about anything.

Back to the Christian context...there are no personal interpretations in which being better than some people means that you have a case to build for yourself.  Nope, the deal is that you should "x" and be "x" and if you fail "x" you are judged and condemned.  Period.  As the Master Control Program said in Tron when he finished stating his position..."End of line."   Judgment and condemnation are a lot like the Terminator...there is no defense...you are to be exterminated.

But what Christianity really is about is the End of Condemnation.  No Judgement.  Free to Go.  The Failures (guilty) are given innocence...immediately and without stipulations or debt.  Period.  End of Line.

Christianity is a place where judgment is trumped by grace and failures walk away scot free, still failures.  Unfortunately, it is also the place that many see as the source of judgment and condemnation.  The message of freedom has been shackled with methods, instruction and a complex book of ways to get yourself out of your own failures.  In other words...you CAN do it...so you SHOULD do it.  Sound encouraging?  And, of course, the problem is that humans fail and always will fail...so humans will never graduate from that program.  It's a Dead End. People who are pelted with the stones of criticism even if in the name of living out their faith or walking with God etc, are being hit with pebbles (sometimes boulders) that are the Death Eaters of Judgment and Condemnation.  If they don't become Death Eating stone throwers themselves, they will only be angry, burned out, and maybe...hopefully...demand the redemption that is theirs.

At least, that's what I was thinking, but I could be wrong.


Thursday, January 29, 2015

Ep 3 - The Art of Vandelay

What do Vandelay Industries and having a Meta-Narrative have in common?

Apparently nothing...but here is me talking about something or other...


Monday, January 26, 2015

Live Long and Prosper, Spock




I recently read an article (here) which a friend posted from the NYTimes written by David Brooks titled The Devotion Leap, and I found myself connecting with his thoughts.  Both my personal and my Gospel radar were alerted (I wish that they were both the same in a conscious way).

"Being in love can’t be done by a person in a self-oriented mind-set, asking: Does this choice serve me?
When online daters actually meet, an entirely different mind-set has to kick in. If they’re going to be open to a real relationship, they have to stop asking where this person rates in comparison to others and start asking, can we lower the boundaries between self and self. They have to stop thinking in individual terms and start feeling in rapport terms. 
Basically, they have to take the enchantment leap. This is when something dry and utilitarian erupts into something passionate, inescapable and devotional. Sometimes a student becomes enraptured by the beauty of math, and becomes a mathematician. Soldiers doing the drudgery of boot camp are gradually bonded into a passionate unit, for which they will risk their lives. Anybody who has started a mere job and found in it a vocation has taken the enchantment leap. 
In love, of course, the shift starts with vulnerability, not calculation. The people involved move from selfishness to service, from prudent thinking to poetic thinking, from a state of selection to a state of need, from relying on conscious thinking to relying on their own brilliant emotions."

Rationality seemingly rules our world, and maybe, as a result, when a person is under the influence of something even so universally influential as love, it can still be seen as great weakness. Perhaps because it so often results in pain and failure, love is associated with bad choices…something which feeds our tendency to rely on our rationality in order to avoid those experiences we would rather not face.  Connect this with the ‘Theology of Glory’ and our ‘rational control' of our lives easily becomes our modus operandi to get ourselves from point A to point B in as successful (failure free) a way as possible.  Vulnerability is pleasantly avoided, as well as failure, loss of status, identity crises…and more things that I (and probably you) would like to avoid.  But for all of its current fame and lofty position of an almost superpower status, does rationality really work?  Can we use reason to direct the deepest currents of our lives and our very selves in the same way we use it to organize dirty dishes in the dishwasher?

This isn’t to bash practicality, I have definitely spent a lot of time trying to develop a pragmatic approach to many things in life.  But while it seems beneficial and prudent in so many ways, practicality in the context of 'life-development and control' eventually seems to undo itself by the very rationality that it employs.  It offers the hope of control, but in a world that is so obviously uncontrollable.  And it tries to offer simplicity, but it offers it to a being who simply cannot navigate the complex, unpredictable waters of life.  Jack Miller said “Life is not a canal, it is a river,” wisely, I think, pointing out that just like we cannot engineer or tame a river, we cannot rationalize our way into the life that we envision.

Bring in the Gospel at this point, because when life is uncontrollable and rationality seems more like a very weak whip against a very large lion…someone needs rescue, baby.   Not that letting go of the whip in the face of a lion is easy or even possible…but it just might be the lion that gets us from point A to point B anyway, which is something no rational mind would ever choose.  At that crucial point, at our weakest and most vulnerable, the question is not ‘Do I love the lion?’, the question is ‘Does the lion love me?’