Head First: October 2005

Monday, October 31, 2005

I Want to Be a Clone!

I've recently been reminded of this song by Steve Taylor. He had a band in the eighties and showed me that sarcasm and satire were actually spiritual gifts. These lyrics are priceless.

I Want To Be A Clone
by Steve Taylor
©1982 Birdwing Music; Cherry Lane Music Publishing Co.; C.A. Music (ASCAP)

I'd gone through so much other stuff
That walking down the aisle was tough
But now I know it's not enough
I want to be a clone
I asked the Lord into my heart
They said that was the way to start
But now you've got to play the part
I want to be a clone

Be a clone and kiss conviction goodnight
Cloneliness is next to Godliness, right?
I'm grateful that they show the way
'Cause I could never know the way
To serve him on my own
I want to be a clone

They told me that I'd fall away
Unless I followed what they say
Who needs the Bible anyway?
I want to be a clone
Their language it was new to me
But Christianese got through to me
Now I can speak it fluently
I want to be a clone


Send in the clones
Ah, I kind of wanted to tell my friends and people about it, you know
You're still a babe
You have to grow
Give it twenty years or so
'Cause if you want to be one of his
Got to act like one of us


So now I see the whole design
My church is an assembly line
The parts are there
I'm feeling fine
I want to be a clone
I've learned enough to stay afloat
But not so much I rock the boat
I'm glad they shoved it down my throat
I want to be a clone


Everybody must get cloned

Monday, October 24, 2005

Can I really stop at 490?

As I process through this intermediate phase of deconstruction--learning to separate the baby Jesus from the churchy bathwater, so to speak--I find myself repeatedly confronted with the intensely relational nature of faith in Christ. As I considered how to respond to someone else's post recently, it occurred to me that a significant measure of my relationship with Christ is found in my relationship with you.
[/reflective pause]
The subject of forgiveness has become a bit of a roadblock for me lately. It's not that I'm unwilling. God knows, I want nothing more than for all the crap of the last year to be a hazy memory. And it's not that I'm waiting for an apology. I'm not looking for one. In fact, trying to think back on all the times I've had to grant forgiveness, I'm hard-pressed to think of a time when my forgiveness was even sought. Ninety percent of the people I've ever needed to forgive probably never thought they had wronged me. Likewise, I hope people have forgiven me for wrongs they think I've committed (valid or not). I think the point of forgiveness is to release the forgiver from the anger and bitterness that hang him/her up from moving on.

But upon further reflection, my general pattern of forgiveness has been to decide to forgive/let it go, and then separate myself from the offender and let time do its thing (a fringe benefit of being so absent-minded). But if I no longer pursue the relationship, is that forgiveness? I know there's no reconciliation without forgiveness, but can forgiveness be authentic without reconciliation? I'm asking.

And here's where it gets sticky. When the person you need to forgive is not just unrepentant, but persistent in his offense, what does forgiveness look like, then? I mean, I can forgive a guy for swiping a couple hundred bucks from my wallet. I won't even ask for it back. But what about when he comes back every week and does it again, and doesn't see anything wrong with taking it?

You legalists out there, Jesus said "seventy times seven." Can I take Him at His word on that one? 'Cause I might be getting close.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Changes In Latitudes, Changes In Attitudes...

...Nothing remains quite the same.
Through all of the islands and all of the highlands,
If we couldn't laugh we would all go insane.
—Jimmy Buffett

Thought I'd try my hand at messing with the template. I know very little code, but a little photoshop. I'm not sure if I like the way the comments button is laid out. We'll see how it goes.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Thomas Wolfe was wrong...

...you can, indeed, go home. In this instance, home is 20 years ago and halfway across the country. While some may have been concerned that my expectations for this weekend were far too high, and that I might be headed into a reality version of The Big Chill, such was not the case (although I would have been flattered if Mary Kay Place had showed up and asked me to father her child).

The weekend exceeded my wildest expectations. I'm still flying kind of high from it. Perhaps I'll try to talk about it later. Perhaps it's more than I'm capable of articulating. At any rate it's going to take some time to process it all. A couple pix:

Jeff, my best friend for 24 years.

When we left college, Bruce Garrison (this guy's the real deal) went to England and started Searchlight, a missions organization that provides training and literature to local Churches in many countries. They're doing good stuff, including helping to provide wells, food, clothing, education and healthcare for a group of famine stricken villages in Malawi. Searchlight isn't affiliated with a denomination, and has to make it's own way. I'd consider it a personal favor if you'd support this very worthwhile effort. (Damn, when did my forehead get so big?)

One of the many highlights of the weekend came on Saturday morning, when Bruce baptized Jeff's two children, Joel and Taylor. It was a powerful time, rich with meaning, as our relationships have now extended to another generation. I'm getting choked up just thinking about it.

When I think about these friends, I sometimes wonder, how commonplace is this type of deep friendship? I hope it's not rare. I hope a great many people know this kind of love. For me, it gives eternity a purpose.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

School Daze, Redux

I'm taking a few days off to join some of the best friends a guy could have in Springfield, MO for a reunion at Evangel College's (well, University, now) Homecoming weekend. This is the year everybody from my old crew--from California to Great Britain--has planned to get together. While most of us have kept in touch, this will be the first time we've all been together in 20 years. I'm so amped-up, I've wet myself a couple times just thinking about it (that's why I had to change out of the ballerina costume).

Some people are genuinely surprised at how close I am with my college chums. A friend remarked to me that he hasn't kept in touch with a single soul from his days at school. I find that curious. My first response was to attribute our intense camaraderie to fact that we were all at a Christian college and shared core values, yadayadayada. But I found Evangel to be more than just "Christian" (even in the better sense of the word, if there is one).

It was there that I learned (ok, I was told it there--didn't learn it until much later) that my faith in Christ (or "X," as we liked to call Him) was meant to inform every part of my life, and that the traditional notions of the dichotomy between the "sacred" and the "secular" were, well, crap. "All Truth is God's Truth" was their motto. That was fairly radical thought 20 years ago.

In fact, I've been reading about this "new" line of postmodern theological thought called "Radical Orthodoxy" (google it). I don't know exactly who's behind it, but it seems to be pretty much the same stuff Evangel's been teaching for a few decades.

Not that I really "got it" while I was there. There was freedom in being 1200 miles from home, and I went a little nuts with that (the heretics know what I'm talking about). I still had a lot to learn, but I feel like I was put on the path there, as were my friends. Perhaps our closeness is due to our common understanding...perception, maybe...

Actually, I have no freakin' idea why I love those guys so much. I just know that I'd walk through fire for them, and they for me. There's a lot of security in that knowledge. I feel fortunate, no, blessed to have such friends.

Anyway, I'll be out of touch. My better half is taking the laptop with her to a family wedding in PA (it is hers, after all). Have a great weekend.

Crap. I wet myself again.

Monday, October 03, 2005

This is One Freakin' Long Post

I realize Jeff's already posted on this, but the nostalgia induced by this topic warrants a post here.

I'm really starting to love the Trinity Heretics. Three guys in a christian college, totally pissed off by the distance between the truth and the rationalized reality they see around them. Once you get used to reading Jesus and the f-word in the same sentence, they make some pretty raw points. Makes me wish I was young again.

Anyway, they put up an interesting post about emotionalism, to which I responded with an ENORMOUS comment that I fear, by its sheer size, may have killed the thread.I didn't mean to, but once I got started, I couldn't find a good place to hop off. So, by way of penance, I'm giving props to them here.

Here's an exerpt from my comment:

I remember going to Assembly of God Youth Camp (sponsored by Kleenex Tissues and Old Pompeii Olive/Anointing Oil) almost 30 years ago. Sweet Lord! What a show!

By the end of the first or second mandatory evening service (this following a daily two-hour morning service), in response to the speaker's invitation to "lay it all down" and be "sold out" for Jesus, there were several hundred young people crowded around the altar, speaking in tongues (or trying, or faking it), screaming, crying, flopping around like fishes, motionless (like loaves?), falling down etc. It was truly a life changing week...for about 2 days. No matter how often we "laid it all down," it seems that by the Tuesday following camp, we had picked it all back up (maybe it was the reminder on the last day to "take home everything you brought with you").

***In the interest of time, I'll skip my experiences at Evangel College. Some of the better ones were drug-induced, anyway. I will say, however, that my closest, deepest and most lifelong friends were made there. I'm going back this weekend for the 20-year reunion of my old crew.***

Anyway, we grew up. We became men and put away childish things. I was recovering nicely from the childhood trauma that was church, when someone invited me to a men's retreat. Holy crap. I sat there in deja vu as the speaker assumed aloud that we were all filthy, rotten, porn-addicted pigs and then invited us to "lay it all down" and be "sold out" for Jesus. Sure, it was a little more sophisticated, but it was still the same message. And the guys packed that altar. By the way, has anyone out there kept all seven promises of a Promisekeeper?

I won't say that no one's experience was genuine. I've had moments of truth in some of those situations. But this isn't a volume business. Throwing a pile of crap against a wall and seeing if some of it sticks seems like a hell of a system for encouraging spiritual growth, not to mention the guilt-ridden casualties left in it's wake.

I remember one visiting preacher who changed my entire way of thinking. He was introduced, came to the podium and gave the invitation BEFORE THE MESSAGE! I don't want to debate whether the sinner's prayer is the ticket (it's NOT) or how you become a follower of Christ (you follow). The point, as he explained, was that the four people who responded to that invitation did so because their minds informed their hearts that they needed to (perhaps the work of the Holy Spirit?), NOT because some slickdaddy preachermeister got them all worked up to the point of spiritual/emotional orgasm. That was 25 years ago, and I do believe that those people continued in the faith.

I've come to understand that following Christ is a day by day routine (that's not the right word, but do you know what I mean?). I don't want to totally knock the "mountaintop" experience, but I know too many people who live from one of those to the next, and miss the more mundane stuff that's really the mortar holding things together. Like my marriage, it's not all romance and emotions. Usually it's taking out the trash and fixing the storm door. Those aren't moments when I "feel" married, but I still know that I am, because I remember the decision I made to be so almost 17 years ago. But, oddly enough, it's the stupid, day-to-day crap that inadvertently deepens that sense of commitment.

Like commodities traders, we forgo the steady growth in search of the big score. It's a myth.