Thoughts on being expendable.

This song came into my head on the news of loosing my part-time gig at the end of march.

Have you ever seen an idealist
With grey hairs on his head
Or successful men who keep in touch
With unsuccessful friends?
You only think you do
I could have sworn I saw it too
But as it turns out,
It was just a clever ad for cigarettes

Cause if it isn’t making dollars
Then it isn’t making sense
If you aren’t moving units
Then you’re not worth the expense
If you really want to make it
You had best remember this
If it isn’t penetration
Then it isn’t worth a kiss

We’re so sorry, sir,
But you did not quite make the cut this time
We’d appriciate it if you’d get
Your stuff all out by five
Don’t take it personal
Everyone knows you did your best
If it makes it easier,
You should look at things from our perspective

Cause if it isn’t making dollars
Then it isn’t making sense
If you aren’t moving units
Then you’re not worth the expense
If you really want to make it
You had best remember this
If it isn’t penetration
Then it isn’t worth a kiss

Penetration by Pedro the Lion from the Control album

for some reason that made me think about this quote from Shakespeare’s Caesar:

Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world Like a Colossus; and we petty men Walk under his huge legs and peep about To find ourselves dishonorable graves. Men at some time are masters of their fates: The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves,that we are underlings.

Les Miserables

We saw the musical, Les Miserables, and the following verse hit me hard. This one little may have changed my life… more on that in another post.

Take my hand
And lead me to salvation
Take my love
For love is everlasting
And remember
The truth that once was spokenm
To love another person
Is to see the face of God.

The musical was one of the most beautiful works that I have ever seen. It ended up being the absolute best thing Heather and I could have done to celebrate our one year anniversary.

Everday is precious.

Wow. She was only 35 and now she is gone. I knew her.. we had fun… joked around… debated. she always listened to what I would tell her about my perspective about God and faith… she would listen and take things in.

You could tell that she was a searcher. A lazy searcher perhaps, she wasn’t knocking down my door or anything but I knew she was open to a good conversation about God, and maybe open to being convinced about my take on the nature of God. I didn’t get a feeling from her that she was just passing the time or being polite in our conversations, rather the interest was in her eyes and was genuine.

It blows me away that I let this friendship linger, disintegrate even, over the last two years. Even after I found out last year that her brother died of basicly the same type of circumstances and knew that she may be heading down the same road too, still I never got a hold of her to see how she was doing, to invite her to coffee. I was the closest thing to a pastor that she probably had in her life and right or wrong I feel that I failed her.

Now she is gone and I am left with questions. Was I blind to her needs? Am I so far from God that I couldn’t see? Did I ignore God and choose not to see? Have I sinned here?

I question my commitment to the Kingdom when I see the hurting and the lost and just turn away. I think of my friend and, with the benefit of hindsight, know that she was just the type of person that needed to see the Kingdom of God at work in someone’s life. Would that have saved her life? Would that have made her passing more peaceful? Man, I don’t know.

Perhaps it is simply pride that makes me think that the impact of my life intersecting with her’s could of changed her destiny. Sometimes I think that this guilt that we Christians feel when have not done all that we could of is simple pride. When I think that I failed God when he “needed” me or that I failed my friend when she “needed” me makes me wonder about may perception of place in God’s Kingdom. The very nature of this thinking puts me so much in the center of things, makes me so necessary and integral to the end result. It makes me feel icky, just the thought of being so narcistic.

A more generous view is that I have this gift that changed my life forever inside of me. The very spirit of the living God is alive in me, overflowing my cup and spilling out onto the world around. My life is not so special rather the life that is in me is infinitely special. It is His life in me that is what is lifechanging to anyone and everyone, even for… especially for my friend. It is this life, and the love that comes with it, which I have to offer… which I feel that I have held back too often, that I feel I held back from my friend… and now she is gone.

Why I don’t post.

There is a part of me that wants to wax poetic and/or pontificate deep and meaningful truths in this, my online journal. I imagine people coming from the four corners of the world, commenting on my wisdom, or even better referencing my work in a trackback. My inner megalomaniac imagines being on everyone’s blogroll and maybe even required reading for … for … hmmm, now what class could I be required reading for? Perhaps some theology class. But then comes the part of the post where I start doubting the impact and clarity of the previous three sentences, so i reread and edit them. If they are complete crap, I delete it all and start from scratch.

What was I writing about now? (reread) Oh yes, and the longer the post gets the more I have to reread, just to make sure that I am staying on target and insuring the there is a flow to the text. The more I type the less sure I become of the validity and logical strength of what I am saying and the more I worry about all the missing clarifying statements that would make my point clearer and sway the detractors. Then I think to myself, “Was that last sentence too Pauline?” You know, some of of the Apostle Paul’s epistles have sentences that go on and on. So I reread and determine that I am unable to come up with a better way to communicate my point without a major rewrite, and now I am feeling the crunch of time. I have spent way too much time on this post already, so things will just have to stand as is.

But wait, isn’t the purpose off this post to convey something of value to the imagined millions of readers? Don’t I owe the person reading this post something of consequence, something legible, something consise? After all, they are taking valuable time to read this post and I should respect that. Truth is I just do not want to look like a fool.

And spelling, I say big words all the time and don’t even think about it. But spelling is not speaking so spell checks abound. At this point I think to myself that people should not use words in conversation that they cannot spell. But this thought is problematic as I do not want to give up the word vociferous (spell checked) or picturesque (spell checked again) and for some reason their spelling just does not stick with me.

Am I still on point? (reread, edit)

As I look at the time I have wasted, a half-hour on three stupid paragraphs, I begin to wish, yet again, that I could type faster, because I don’t have time for this. Maybe I should save a draft and come back tot the text later. That isn’t going to work, I have posts in the draft folder that have been in there for 6 months.

The draft folder is a leppers’ island of malformed posts, it is where these poor creatures go to to die. Perhaps that is too harsh, I mean these posts may never see the light of day but they still have each other. They are there to comfort one another and they do not judge one another. You will never see one of these draft posts snicker at the misspellings, bad grammar choices and incompleteness of another because it knows it is just as flawed a creation.

No, the choice is either to slave away at the current post or delete it entirely. Deleting the post is a sure way of making sure that the last half-hour has been a total waste of time but even that may be perferrable to the humiliation of a poorly written post, that is being judged by all and by proxy, allowing people to judge me. Oh, the horror!

Man, narcissism sucks!

Confessions of an MPR junky.

Actually, this post has little to do with Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) other then it is my source for world news and current events. This morning alone I have heard reported

1. twelve days of rioting in France by the marginalized immigrant population in that country
2. another defense attorney for the senior ex-Bath party officials in Iraq has been murdered
3. a short history of the fifty plus year struggle for the Kashmir province between India and Pakistan and it’s role in delaying relief aid getting to the victims of that massive earthquake
4. two explosions in busy marketplaces in India a few days back, attributed to the Kashmir separatists

I hear all this in the span of the twenty minutes that it takes for me to get to work in the morning. Events that are happening today, as I type, if you will, but have there roots in decades, if not centuries, of human history.

Top all this with the report of a friend who is in the Sudan, or near it, I am not certain, about this poor fellow who worked for an NGO in the area getting shot right in front of his pregnant wife and children and their car being torched. This one has not made the news. How many other events like this never make the news?

What’s my point? I don’t know. It is just that this is the world that we find ourselves in and I find myself asking the reflection in the mirror, “What are you going to do about it?” I can’t change the world but maybe, just maybe, being more aware of the injustice and suffering going on around the world can, at least, act as a catalyst for me act more justly and love mercy in the little part of it that i find myself in.

No specifics here, no answers, just reflections.

I should post something.

Ok, so I feel like I should post something but then I think of the laundry that needs doing and floor that needs vacuuming. There is also the guitar that needs to be learned the furniture making hobby I have been meaning to start up.

Over in the corner is the stack of books, Mark high, that need reading and the dusty volume of the Bible that really needs reading. That’s right next to the spot that I pray in that needs someone in it.

I look in the mirror and see a guy who needs to exercise and eat right, and needs some quality time with his girlfriend. And what about church, family and friends?

…Ok, so I feel like I should post something.

Called. pt.2

My pastor, John has a good point in a commit that he made on my “Called.” post. The concept of a lack of trust in God being central to this problem and the fact the our calling is at the core of who we are was not well defined in the entry. It puts things in a slightly different light when you think that instead of focusing on becoming who I am supernaturally inclined to be, I need to focus on relationship with God.

It made me immediately imagine a flower that is planted in the shade that was meant for open spaces and full sunlight. After a number of weeks the plant still has not bloomed and the gardener is frustrated because he knows what the plant is suppose to be like from the picture that came with the plant when he bought it at the store. In the picture, the plant is robust, coloriful and fragrant, but the thing before him is a sickly, drab eyesore. Our life can be like that plant, we wonder why it is not thriving, why it is not what it should be. What it is for us to be is still there inside us, it does not have to be manifactured or strived for, it is simply what we are. Rather we need to get out of the shade and into the light of day. We need to set ourselves before God and bask in His love, majesty, power… all that He is and all that He offers if we are to bloom.

All you have to do is trust God and learn to be captivated by our first love once again. So simple, but such a tall order. In my mind’s eye that life can seem a world away sometimes. Still, if we focus only on the situation that we find ourselves in, we are focusing on the shade/sin around us and not on the only thing that can change that state we find ourselves in, the sun/God.

Good comment John, thanks.


It is really hard not to use Christianese, terminology and phrasing specific to the Christian culture, when you have been running in Christian circles for so long. The only word I know for what I want to communicate is the concept of being “called�. Being called is what one is called to do and be by God, kind of your purpose and reason for being. Come to think of it, the term ‘calling’ is not unknown to the post-Christian culture. I have heard it used by people in non-profits and social work as a reason for doing what they do. Still, when I think of the term ‘calling’ I think of a concept that is very religious or spiritual in nature, if not specifically Christian, that many do not understand.

All that is not the reason for this post though, other then to say that I have been thinking about God’s ‘call’ on my life. What is the reason and purpose for me being here? This is a question that I feel I can answer with some level of confidence, yet I never do when posed the question. See, I think that I have a pretty good bead on the work that God has for me to do in His kingdom, it is just that I feel so far away from that person that I need to be to in order to do what I am ‘called’ to that I do not think I am that person yet.

This was pointed out to me in no uncertain terms yesterday, and it pissed me off. I am more mad at myself then anything else. What am I waiting for? I have known for some years the direction my life needs to go to fulfill this ‘call’ on my life, but yet I hesitate to commit myself to this path.

The answer is fear I am afraid :). I have a huge fear of failure and of not being accepted that in some ways it has kept me chained to a place in my life that I do not want to be. Maybe you do not know what is like to be scared into inaction. It does not feel so much like fear I think, rather you feel numb and tired. It is kind of like a bug bite, you do not feel the bite so much as the itch that is your body’s response to it.

When I think of the task before me, I would rather sleep or watch movie or something, anything other then what I must do. It is almost a paralyzing way of interacting with the world but I have been able to get by pretty well none-the-less. Did I mention hating just getting by. I am not without hope though, it is impossible for me to believe that God has put this ‘call’ in my life and not also started me down the road of change necessary to become a person that can fulfill that ‘call’.

In truth I do not really ever want to feel like I am qualified for my ‘calling’ because in that I can see a sense of security and superiority that leads to complacency and self-dependence. The tension between my inability and the service I am ‘called’ to is the, potentially, perfect recipe for dependence on God and His sufficiency… but that is another story for another day.

So, what am I ‘called’ to? You know that when you speak something forth, it takes a certain unexplainable hold on reality. It is the nature of being created in the image of God that our words have the power to created or destroy, and am just not ready to create or destroy this ‘calling’ yet. So I will do something uncharacteristic and hold my tongue on this question.

Two blogs that have got me thinking about preparedness vs. God sufficiency:

Judy by Gordon Atkinson at Real Live Preacher

“You know about that deacon thing, how I was nominated and all?�
“Well, I was gonna say ‘No.’ I thought about it a lot, and I decided that I just wasn’t worthy of something like that. I mean, I just finally stopped smoking, and I still cuss sometimes. I’m trying to do better with that.â€?
I opened my mouth to say something, but she continued before I could get a word out.
“But then I read your book.” She began to smile. “And I thought, dang, if this guy can be the PASTOR of the church, surely I could be a deacon or something.â€?

Legalism by any other name is… by Scot McKnight at Jesus Creed

Instead of using “legalism,” which has become a bogey word for bogey opponents for each of us, why not shift this term to “covenant path markers” so we can get a fresh start on a genuinely serious problem we all face?

Here’s what covenant path markers do (and now I begin to extrapolate from Holmen’s study): first, they quantify covenant faithfulness into behavior that can be measured and seen; second, they enable us to “judge ourselves” on whether or not we are faithful; and third, they enable us to judge others on whether or not the others are faithful.

Legalism, aka covenant path marking, is a vicious form of life: instead of living faithfully, we are judging faithfulness. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for covenant faithfulness.)

Life Sucks! …somtimes.

What to say? My mom has cancer and she just had the big operation that was suppose to get rid of it. Unfortunately, life is not that simple …simple being relative at this point.

The doctors are being compassionately pragmatic but are saying some very worrying things. They don’t speak in definitive terms but it seems that the form of cancer that my mom has is “aggressive” and needs to be treated aggressively.

So it looks like chemo, radiation and a drug trial are all part of a future that will drag on for the better part of a year, maybe more. Even then, after it is all said and done it may not be enough. I am getting the feeling from talking to my mom that the odds may be against recovery.

It is all so disturbing, I broke down for the first time last night. Dealing with the mortality of one’s parents is surprisingly difficult. Who thinks about these things before they have to? Who is prepared for these struggles?

It really makes me hate sin. I keep on thinking that if it were not for sin there would be no death and if their were no death my mom wouldn’t have to go through what she is right now. Over simplistic, I know.

I have no illusions about living a sin-free life from now foreword but I have become more aware of the cost sin has exacted from humanity through the suffering of my mom. It is a lesson I would rather not have to learn.

Breast Cancer Resources:
Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation
National Breast Cancer Foundation